Posted by Br Gary Wilson FSC
on 23 November 2020
Catholic schools and religious sisters or brothers? These days it is not a huge connection on a regular basis, as it was in previous generations. A Brother in a school setting is happening each week at De La Salle Catholic College Cronulla, a senior high in Sydney. Br. Lewis Harwood has taken it on recently.
Supported by the central Lasallian Mission Service, Lewis' presence aims to offer senior students different avenues into spirituality and Christian faith, as well as to show the importance of, and serve those with special needs. On Wednesdays, Lewis is involved in a variety of activities. It can be helping in the Special Needs section, with assignment work, writing and research. It is taking a class, at a teacher's invitation, for a "Wisdom Wednesday" exploration of impact and meaning in music. This can lead to some brief reflection or prayer in the group. Sometimes it is introducing in English classes a poetry technique, like "slam poetry". There has been leading some staff prayer, and just mixing with students with table tennis at Recess break.
Br. Lewis has seen, he says, a "real sense of community" a strong community atmosphere. Teachers are very personal, knowing students' names, and pastorally aware. De La Salle, as a Lasallian school, has the benefit of a part-time Lasallian youth minister, Monique Bova, who works closely with the appointed Evangelisation & Youth Minister, Therese Hughes. The Lasallian tradition is valued, Brother says, by the Principal, Stephen Mahoney.
A noticeable symbol is the Lasallian Star, prominent in the central campus area, near a statue of St. John Baptist de La Salle, who assigned the "Star of Faith" to his young Institute of Brothers 340 years ago. The College incorporates the Star in its badge, and in its diagrammatic presentation of its 'Teaching and Learning Framework'. Its light shines in the College community, and in the life of learning and faith, as it spreads out to the wider world of the Sutherland Shire.