Posted by Br Gary Wison
on 7 July 2021
A Brief Personal Perspective
Many being drawn together
"Oh, I just thought I'd give teaching a go". Sometimes you hear it said by someone in a Lasallian institution. At other times, people could see teaching or yourtown work as the role-modelling of an important person in their own schooling or family. Personally, I found taking on teaching, as a Brother, was due to the commitment of two of my Brother-teachers. It was not their deep religious spirit as such, but their genuine humaneness, and interest in me as a person. The fascination with "Lasallian" grew...
Does one just "fall in by Chance" to working in a Lasallian school or yourtown? perhaps Fate? Someone may have had a strong sense of "making a difference" ...a "passion", maybe vague or nameless, to offer what one has to young people? What opens up an engaging career which grows into "being a Lasallian"?
Obviously, there are many pathways that draw people into a Lasallian enterprise.
What's Common with Others Educators?
Finding causes for a course of action is often unreflective at first. In our current global world, what is in the zeitgeist? (how's your German?) Woke movements make impact today - indigenous rights (vs. discrimination or racism), women's rights (vs. violence), to name two. Social media for some. Our world values diversity, "human rights", freedom, children's safety, compassion, respect, education these seem universal.
Lasallians share much with other people in the helping professions-
Developing a strong self-belief that I have a service to offer / a gift to give, because I have been gifted - in talents, in my family, in my community
Working with people in communities which have somethings in common and offer strength & identity
Developing, critically, relationships - with attitudes of great respect / dignity for the other
Demanding good communication in the relevant language of the profession or group
Having a desire to serve, which might to described as a 'mission' personal or corporate
Marg Marriott, Religious Education Co-ordinator at De La Salle College, Revesby Heights speaks of her "ministry of education" which, as a committed Christian, could be the stance of many Catholic teachers. She talks about Care, a personal Call to Respond, Conformity with Christ, and Collaboration...and these features she identifies, as well, as "Lasallian". These become 'Lasallian' because she sees them as lived by her in her 'ministry'.
Experience and Change
Brothers are trained to live Christian values and grow in a "spirit" of faith and zeal in Christian schools especially for disadvantaged young people. They identify this work as distinctively Lasallian. However, the Lasallian "movement" - over 340 years - has seen huge changes in the workers (100 Brothers in 1719 when the Founder died) to 103,542 lay women and men, with 3238 Brothers today. For Lasallian Partners their lived experience, often in family life, offers enriched and wider perspectives.
Continuity over time of a particular "spirit" and an in-house cause
A "spirit" that is confident, joyful and active that is sensed in Lasallian institutions today
A growth of 'Young Lasallians', groups that talk of "Faith, Community, Service"
How the Pattern Impacts Differently Partners and Brothers
For the Brother, his Rule holds that behind John Baptist de La Salle stands the person of Christ, and the Spirit who inspired the "charism" (a technical word for a divine gift for a community) for the good work of "Christian and human education of youth". The understanding of 'Lasallian-ness' is a gift givenby a pervading Spirit of God, first in Reims in 1680, and continuously energising the educational 'mission' until today. It is not a glorifying of the Founder, however creative and profound his human influence.
Christian believers see the Spirit of God working, workingquietly, courteously, mysteriously on a global scale, as detailed too in their Scriptures. Not restricted, either, to a 'religious world', but interpenetrating the human, social, scientific activities of today as well. For those of other faiths or unbelievers, there may be a perception of the same hidden, mysterious working, that may be discerned, or at least observed in a Lasallian community.
The Rule of the Brothers puts great emphasis on Partners "who recognise and live" the spirit, who identify themselves as partners, without which the global mission today would not exist - at least not near as healthily. We all "share the same mission", we offer each other formation, we work in a strong spirit of "association". 'Partners' are mentioned in 24 articles in the Brothers' Rule, and 'association' of the two 10 times, not to note 'Lasallian Family" and 'shared mission'. It is very much a joint venture.
Robert Dempsey, Director of Mission at St. Michael's Adelaide picks up this sense of Lasallians 'associating, sharing in Lasallians having "a clear vision of our mission through profound writings, examination of Scripture". He sees specific Lasallian examples in
"a program called 'Beyond Borders' for refugee students to join our community providing educational opportunities for about fourteen Muslim students. We have fee reduction or remission for those members of the community who would struggle to pay fees making a quality education available to more students. Being Lasallian, we have a strong liturgical focus with weekly Mass, whole school Mass, daily prayer and Chapel services".
Grace Wrakia, National Lasallian Family Co-ordinator in PNG speaks of her Catholic family and schooling, and her search for her "path in life", trying teaching. She points to an almost mystical element which is concretely visible in disadvantaged youth, as well as other Lasallians:
"I found the Lasallian Family in my first year of teaching-Being a Lasallian, to me means finding God in the young people who are lost, hopeless, underprivileged, poor, outcast, sick, frightened, alone, abused, neglected, hungry and unhappy. Being Lasallian means I have a support network, I have a community, a 'family' who will walk with me and share this journey with me".
Marg Marriott also picks up on "especially the poor" of the Lasallian mission, equally Christian, and specifically and intentionally Lasallian:
"Concern and Compassion for 'the last, the lost and the least' - this requires a special love of those students most in need: spiritually, socially, academically or financially. As a Lasallian educator, I often walk alongside some of these students".
What Does It Mean for Me?
If I have gained personally from interaction / working / serving in a Lasallian school or other work, how do I find meaning in this?
If I have made lasting impressions on younger people, why?
Have I been given a gift?
Do I experience a spirit, a sense of community, a togetherness- working with 'associates' for the good of young people?
Is there a common pattern a plan I begin to recognise, which is bigger than my smaller world of concerns and activity??
Where is the joy in the toil and action of my day? Where can I find meaning in my work? Is there an invitation to accept a gift?