The Institute’s first-ever International Women’s Symposium was hosted by the PARC Region in Pattaya, Thailand from April 29 – May 3. This historic event was organized by the Pacific Asia Regional Conference (PARC) in response to the challenges presented by the 44th General Chapter and Circular 461 to strengthen association with lay Partners and their contribution to the Lasallian Educational Mission.
The symposium provided an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Lasallian women to the mission, share best practices, and learn about the impact of women in De La Salle’s life. In the spirit of association, the women took part in community prayer, discernment, sharing of their Lasallian journeys, sharing of their personal spirituality and relationship to God, Mass, and networking. For mission, they discussed emerging needs affecting the poor, especially girls and young women, through conversations on topics like poverty and disease. They also identified mission priorities of formation, advocacy, and health and well-being. Individual action plans were developed, which included the creation of a web portal to keep participants connected, sharing the outcomes of the symposium locally and at the International Assembly in 2013, and hosting similar events in other countries and Regions.
In his keynote address, Superior General Brother Álvaro Rodríguez Echeverría challenged the women to be guarantors of the mission by nurturing and involving each other, and especially young Lasallians. He stayed for the duration of the symposium and attended all events, together with Bro. Charles Kitson (DENA) of the Institute’s Lasallian Family Secretariat.
Representing the USA-Toronto Region were Alisa Macksey, Regional Programs Director, and Emily Vogel, a faculty member at De La Salle Institute in Chicago, IL. They were joined by 42 other women and five Brothers from 15 countries, which include Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
“I was inspired and motivated by the work of the other women in the PARC region—especially those who are working in challenging ministries,” said Macksey. “Their commitment, dedication and energy are amazing. I will definitely use what I experienced in my work. Being able to share these stories and expose more people to the global Lasallian mission through our formation programs is important.”
Vogel is looking forward to sharing what she experienced at the gathering at De La Salle Institute, especially what she learned about the impact women had on St. John Baptist de La Salle’s life. “I’m excited to share this with our staff and students as a way to further promote the special spirit that women bring to this world,” she said. “Also, being able to share the stories of our other schools around the world will help students/staff to understand that our school in Chicago is part of a worldwide family.”
Plans to organize a similar women’s gathering in RELAN next year are in the works.