Lasallians from around the world are taking a powerful discussion on justice and education back to their ministries. On April 7, the feast of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the mission officers of the Lasallian Association of Colleges and Universities (LACU) presented “Justice in the World and the Mission of Lasallian Education Today: Enacting the Common Good.” This virtual symposium commemorated the 50th anniversary of Justice in the World, the 1971 Synod of Bishops’ social teaching document, and addressed Circular 412, The Educational Service of the Poor and the Promotion of Justice (1980), of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
Following an opening prayer by Dr. Mary McConner from Christian Brothers University, Kevin Ahern, Ph.D., the keynote speaker from Manhattan College, and the respondents, Carol Ann Gittens, Ph.D., from Saint Mary’s College of California and Jerry Kavouras, Ph.D., from Lewis University, explored the nature and meaning of Catholic education through the lens of the 1971 Synod document and the recent teachings of Pope Francis. The symposium discussion, moderated by Ernest J. Miller, FSC, D.Min., from La Salle University, also examined the possibilities and challenges for Lasallian educational institutions to take seriously the justice mission articulated in the Catholic social teaching tradition.
More than 200 participants from 15 countries were moved by the discussion, taking time to reflect on how they can promote justice in their ministries and with all those they serve. The symposium led Chris Bridges Estes, chair of religious studies and director of Lasallian formation at La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island, to reflect and pray on her role as a teacher and a mother. In her reflection, she wrote, “Learning the skills of inclusive justice, like all learning, requires me to practice them daily. Decades of old habits and thinking patterns will not die overnight. They require work and the commitment to confront my role in the system and how I have benefited from it. This work is often unsettling, unnerving, and makes me uneasy. As a Lasallian, I can pause and rest in that messiness, remembering that I am in the holy presence of the One who loves me even in my contradictions.”
In his reflection, Brother Joseph Mahon, FSC, who served for 26 years in youth and family services and at San Miguel schools in the District of Eastern North America, wrote about microcosmic and macrocosmic efforts to work for justice. He noted the importance of volunteering as a transformative experience in understanding social justice. He wrote, “I believe that the volunteer experience needs to be over an extended period of time with the same people or in the same agency. It takes time and patience to be transformed by those on the margin.”
Brother Chris Patiño, FSC, director of vocation ministry for the District of San Francisco New Orleans, closed his reflection on the symposium with a challenge: “As Lasallians, we have the roadmap to continue our commitment to the poor and the promotion of justice. The question is, do we have the courage to respond boldly and creatively to the building up of a more just society?”
Read more reflections:
- Klare Scarborough, Ph.D., director and chief curator, La Salle University Art Museum
- Marcy Van Fossen, Ph.D., member, board of trustees, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
- Brother Dylan Perry, FSC, theology teacher, DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Ma. Cristina S.C. Eusebio, coordinator, Lasallian Formation Integration Program, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines
- Brother Brian Henderson, FSC
- Alfred Kah Meng Pang, Ph.D., educator and independent researcher, Singapore
This symposium follows the “Responding to Racism: A Lasallian Dialogue” livestream held June 25, 2020. Both were was presented by the mission officers of LACU who minister at Bethlehem University, Christ the Teacher Institute of Education, Christian Brothers University, Ethiopian Catholic University – La Salle, La Salle University, Lewis University, Manhattan College, Saint Mary’s College of California and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, in collaboration with the Office for Lasallian Education at Christian Brothers Conference. Learn more about the Justice and Lasallian Education symposium >