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Gathering in Rome Focuses on Association

Lasallians from all over the world gathered in Rome October 13-26, 2019, for a formation session on Lasallian Association held at the Generalate of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Themed “Great things are possible: Lasallian Association for the Future,” 55 Lasallians attended, representing 32 countries. The session was based around the idea of the global commitment to Association between Brothers and Lasallian Partners in order to strengthen the Lasallian identity.

Participants from RELAN included Philippe Blais and Brother Robert Lavalée, FSC, from District of Francophone Canada, Brother Lawrence Goyette, FSC, Kerry Conroy and Brother Ed Phelan, FSC, from District of Eastern North America (DENA), Dr. Greg Kopra, Janell Kloosterman, Brother James Joost, FSC, and Brother George Van Grieken, FSC, from District of San Francisco New Orleans, and Brother Armand Alcazar, FSC, Dr. Sue Skinner and Brother John Blease, FSC, from the Midwest District.

“The spirit was one of camaraderie, collaboration, curiosity, and community,” shared Kloosterman. “It was a powerful experience to work in community with those from around the world whose vision for Association may differ in terms of the framework of ‘being’ an Associate. However, at the end of the day, we all believe in the power of the journey of Association and the impact it has on our calling to carry out the future of the Lasallian mission.”

During the small group breakout sessions, Lasallians were invited to share what they thought was the most powerful moment of the session. Kopra shared that he believed the most significant topic was what Association might “look like” in the near future.

“For some, Lasallian Association for Mission should look much the same for everyone worldwide. For others, Lasallian Association for Mission should be flexible so as to be most responsive to differing local realities,” said Kopra. “Our situations are so different from one part of the world to the next. For two weeks, we were able to learn from each other about our respective local realities, and I found that to be very instructive. This discussion did not end after two weeks—it continues, and I hope it will continue, for the foreseeable future.”

Participants established three goals before the session concluded: (1) develop the ability to initiate actions to promote Association in their Districts by assessing the needs of the District and analyzing the existing procedures and structures for Association, (2) create a “tool kit” containing possible ways for taking Association forward, (3) work together to create an “identity card” for the Lasallian family.

Participants left the gathering feeling inspired to continue the work at home.

“Interacting with Lasallians from all corners of the globe is always a wonderful experience,” shared Brother Lawrence, “but I also found it to be a motivating experience, too, and am now looking forward to working with our Associative groups to strengthen the programs/groupings we already have. DENA has done and is doing a great deal in regard to Association matters, but there is still so much more to do and the timing is right.”

“Through respecting how different people and groups, normally reflected in RELAN in terms of ‘ministries’ or ‘communities’ or ‘programs,’ need formation experiences to fully embrace their respective commitment to serving people in education as ‘Lasallian,’ I can assist with formation activities I’m responsible for organizing or participating in,” said Brother James.

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Top photo: Lasallians at the formation session on Lasallian Association in Rome.