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Inspired to continue building community, Lasallians gathered for the second day of the Huether Lasallian Conference Friday, November 20, which featured a general session speaker, two rounds of breakout sessions, and more small group meetings, all along the theme Lasallian Educational Community: Hands and Hearts Associated for Mission.
John McKnight captivated Lasallians with his keynote address, which discussed the ideas surrounding Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). ABCD is a way to provide for the development of communities based on its strengths and potentials. It involves assessing the resources, skills, and gifts already available in a community; organizing the community around issues that move its members into action; and then determining and taking appropriate action. McKnight is co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and national best-selling co-author of Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Identifying and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets with Jody Kretzmann. McKnight also co-authored The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods with Peter Block.
Sarah Laitinen, a teacher from The San Miguel School of Providence in Providence, Rhode Island, felt that many of McKnight’s talking points resonated with her. “As Lasallian educators, we need to recognize the gifts that our students and clients bring to our community and celebrate those gifts within the community. McKnight also reminded us that it is important to recognize how can we relate to the community, not how can the community relate to us.”
Following McKnight’s address, participants met in their casas (small groups or home communities) that were established on opening night to discuss what they heard. These groups, inspired by the Huether theme Lasallian Educational Community: Hands and Hearts Associated for Mission, provide a chance for participants to experience community.
After the meetings, participants attended two rounds of breakout sessions that explored important trends and issues associated with the conference’s theme.
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Dennis Block, theology instructor at Montini Catholic in Lombard, Illinois, remarked “The ‘Rhode Island Lasallian Association Group (RILAG) as One Model’ breakout session left me very hopeful. There are a lot of people of good will in the Lasallian world, who want to form these associative bonds and want to gather more with people other than from their direct ministry. We have a lot of people in the Chicago area and this was a great way to see how they do things in Rhode Island, and what we can can do in Chicago and other Midwest District ministries.”
Friday ended with participants gathering by Districts for dinner. Saturday will feature speaker Brother Armin A. Luistro, FSC, secretary of the Department of Education, Philippines, who will highlight his experience building educational communities, especially his work in higher education in multi-religious and multi-ethnic communities and as secretary of education. The conference will wrap up Saturday night with a banquet honoring Distinguished Lasallian Educators in the Region.
Huether, hosted by Christian Brothers Conference, is an opportunity for educators to not only learn new techniques and find inspiration, it also allows them to interact, share best practices, and grow more deeply committed to their vocation of providing students with transformative, holistic experiences.