Posted by Br Peter Ryan
on 18 June 2021
Peter Ryan's dissertation is a valuable resource for Lasallian educators who are interested in the preservation and deepening of the Lasallian identity in their ministries. Though directly addressing secondary schools in Australia and New Zealand, his research and the method he proposes for the enhancement of Mission (A Method for Nurturing Lasallian Charism [MNLC]) pertain to Lasallian schools and ministries at all levels, as well as to other Catholic schools guided by the charism of a religious Founder/Foundress.
In the Introduction Ryan offers a brief discussion of the concept of charism, a discussion amplified in the first chapter of the dissertation, noting that for purposes of the dissertation he is using Michael C. Green's definition of charism as a "Spirit-given way for people to share in the life of the Church, a way of being Christian that is appropriate to them as individuals and groups, and suits the needs and imperatives of their particular circumstances" (21). Further, in his Introduction, Ryan describes the intent of his dissertation as "a study of meanings: a search for the 'deep story' of the Lasallian tradition, how this founding story and vision is developed, nurtured, sustained, and transmitted to others, brought into conversation with the contemporary world, and embodied in individuals and/or cultures as an expression of charism" (22). In order to do this study Ryan makes use of Bernard Lee's concept of practical theology and Thomas Groome's "shared Christian praxis" and utilizes a qualitative methodology using focus groups (three schools, each with a focus group of students and a focus group of teachers, staff, and administrators for a total of six focus groups). He notes that this methodology presents several limitations, including the inherent bias of his serving as researcher and the nature of the questions posed for discussion and synthesis. His research questions are threefold: What is Lasallian charism? How is Lasallian charism experienced? How can Lasallian schools nurture and sustain an authentic expression of the founding charism?