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RELAN Women Inspired by Women’s Symposium

RELAN participants stand with Brother Superior Robert Schieler, FSC, center. Courtesy DENA

“In the quiet moments while we walked together…our tears fell, tears of joy because we were each moved by the everlasting relationships we all formed, the power of our voices together in song and sharing and the knowledge that we have made a difference.”

That’s how PJ Thompson described the final moments with fellow Lasallians at the Lasallian Global Women’s Symposium, which took place in Auckland, New Zealand, July 16-19. Thompson, sales and marketing manager for Professor’s Choice at Saint Mary’s Press in Winona, Minnesota, was one of 10 women from the Lasallian Region of North America who came together with more than 100 women from around the world.

The symposium, themed “Lasallian women as change makers,” offered a unique opportunity to go to the heart of what it means to be a woman in today’s Lasallian mission. It looked back at the role of women in the mission’s history and the impact women can make today and in the future. The symposium aimed to empower Lasallian women to have a confident collective voice and to develop ongoing relationships that support association between women, with opportunities for growth and support.

“One of the many amazing aspects of the symposium was that not all of the women were educators or even Catholic,” said participant Lauren Davenport, assistant director of retreats and spirit at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco, California. “It just further reinforces that the Lasallian mission knows no bounds and is not confined to a Catholic school classroom. The mission itself is global and the women of the symposium live it out beautifully.”

Participants took time to prioritize initiatives that they discussed during the symposium. Courtesy PJ Thompson

Outcomes from the gathering will be formally prepared and submitted to the Brother Superior and the General Council for endorsement. The outcomes include creating an International Women’s Council, engaging with District and Regional groups, having an inclusive and collective Lasallian voice, effectively communicating to engage all Lasallians, creating mentoring programs, and more.

Before the outcomes are finalized, Lasallian women are back in their home Regions inspired to bring their experience to their ministries.

“The ‘work’ of the Symposium begins in earnest when you return home and prayerfully consider how the inspiring encounters you experienced will take root and bear fruit in your daily work,” said Maryann Donohue-Lynch, associate executive director of the Office for Mission and Ministry in the District of Eastern North America (DENA). “What did our time together mean in terms of educating the young, conducting service with the poor and evangelizing the ‘Good News’ of Jesus in a way that is welcoming and inclusive? How do we create the structures that allow women to fully engage and participate in their vocational call to the Lasallian mission? To quote Brother Superior Robert Schieler, FSC, ‘Don’t wait for Rome!’ So let the work continue with zeal!”

Read Brother Robert’s opening remarks >

The RELAN participants included:

  • Tina Bonacci, Counselor/Administrator, La Salle High School, Pasadena, California
  • Alannah Boyle, Student, Peace Studies and Theology, Manhattan College, Riverdale, New York
  • Lauren Davenport, Assistant Director of Retreats/Instructor of Religious Studies, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, San Francisco, California
  • Maryann Donohue-Lynch, Associate Executive Director, Office for Mission and Ministry, District of Eastern North America (DENA), Eatontown, New Jersey, Visit Maryann’s blog (right column) >
  • Lori Dressel, Community Director, La Salle Manor Retreat Center, Plano, Illinois
  • Jacquie Martin, Lasallian Volunteer, 15-17, first year Lasallian Scholar, Manhattan College, Riverdale, New York
  • Haley Rennison, Student, Peace Studies and Theology, Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois
  • Pamela Jean Thompson, Sales and Marketing Manager, Professor’s Choice, Saint Mary’s Press, Winona, Minnesota, Visit PJ’s blog >
  • Emily Vogel, Campus Minister, De La Salle Institute, Chicago, Illinois
  • Mary Wilby Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Brother Edward Phelan, FSC, Auxiliary Visitor for the District of Eastern North America (DENA), also attended the gathering.