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Formation Programs Continue to Inspire Lasallians

Two formation programs will be offered by the Christian Brothers Conference this summer with a total of 217 participants. The Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies, held at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga June 27 – July 9, has 90 people in the program, which consists of three levels. The Lasallian Leadership Institute (LLI) Cohort V has two groups. The Midwest District group has 56 participants attending the summer session at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL from July 18-23. Seventy-one Lasallians from DENA will attend the session at Manhattan College in Bronx, NY from July 25-30.

With the downturn of the economy and a cost of $2,200 per person for Buttimer I, Brother Thomas Lackey, Regional Director of Mission Formation, was concerned that the program would not have enough participants. “It’s really surprising,” he said. “We expected a drop last summer because of the economy and it just didn’t happen.”

Despite the tuition of $2,200, LLI continues to attract Lasallians as well.

“These programs provide incredible enrichment to the participants by deepening their understanding of the Lasallian Mission and how we live it at Saint Paul’s,” said Brother Ray Bulliard, Principal of Saint Paul’s School in Covington, LA. “The programs further enrich the participants by showing them that we are part of something larger than one isolated school in Covington — namely, an international movement with a 300+ year heritage.”

The transformation comes along with the dedication participants make to the programs. Buttimer is an intensive formation and education program that studies the life and work of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the origins of the educational mission. Participants meet once a year for three years, focusing on the history of De La Salle in the first year, pedagogy in year two, and spirituality in year three.

Matt Meehan Scalzo, Lasallian Animator and Theology Teacher at St. John’s College High School, completed Buttimer in 2009. Scalzo said the program gave him a deep appreciation of De La Salle’s ability to let God direct his steps and helped him recognize that the driving force behind De La Salle was a deep spirituality. “Buttimer has undoubtedly enabled me to meet my students where they are, touch their hearts not only their minds and see that educating the whole person will allow each of my students the chance to recognize their God given calling and begin to pursue it,” Scalzo explained.

LLI, a three-year program which meets three times a year, focuses on more modern components with a goal of preparing participants to have a great impact on their ministries. The first year studies the founding story and its current reality. The second year focuses on spirituality, while the third is about leadership.

Greg Albanese, a Religion Teacher and Campus Minister at La Salle Academy in Providence, RI, graduated from LLI in 2009. He says the experience taught him what it means to be Lasallian and how to keep the spirit of De La Salle alive, along with the providing an opportunity to work with other Lasallians who have the same goals. Albanese decided to attend LLI because he wanted to devote his life to being a Lasallian educator and immerse himself in learning more. “The Brothers are handing many leadership roles and great responsibility to the lay partners at schools; I wanted to be part of it,” he explained.

The increased reliance on lay Partners is one reason Brother Tom sees the future of formation programs as bright. LLI is being evaluated this year and will consider changes based on feedback, including the length of sessions.

Brother Raymond Blixt, Executive Director of Martin de Porres in New York, calls the programs critical in providing a unique opportunity for educators to deepen their understanding and commitment to the Lasallian Mission. To expand the benefit, staff members who have attended the Regional formation programs mentor and create workshops for other staff members at Martin de Porres. “This responsibility has helped to transform and energize our staff and ultimately to benefit of all young people entrusted to our care,” he said.

Brother Ray suggests that creating additional programs that are localized and short-term would be beneficial to meet the growing and diverse formation needs in various ministries.

Brother Tom sees the creation of a new formation program in the next few years, as LLI and Buttimer participants express a desire to continue formation after completing the programs. The enthusiasm that exists for formation is an indication that the Lasallian Educational Mission will continue to be strong in the years ahead.