Posted by Br David Hawke
on 16 February 2017
A couple of chance meetings between John Baptist de La Salle and Adrien Nyel and Madame Maillefer lead to the foundation of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the De La Salle Brothers.
A chance meeting between Lewis Harwood and the De La Salle Brothers during World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008 lead Lewis to this day of his Perpetual Profession. However well before 2008 and as an infant Lewis received the gift of faith from his parents and was baptised and today he again expresses his baptismal commitment as a consecrated religious. It is good that Lewis' mother Linda Harwood and his brothers Jon and David are here and we remember his late father Ian and regret that his sister Kathleen is unable to be with us.
During the month of November, Br Lewis and Br Shashi who was also preparing for Perpetual Profession spent a month of preparation in a Carmelite Monastery. During that time he reflected upon the fact that Perpetual Profession is not measured in terms of time but that it is an occasion when one gives oneself to God absolutely, today, forever in time and beyond time into eternity. Lewis today expresses a desire to be united for all time and beyond all time. He desires to be united with his God uninterruptedly for this moment unto eternity as a De La Salle Brother.
Lewis by his perpetual profession expresses his commitment to unite himself and to remain in society for his whole life with the Brothers as he expressed in the formula of vows during the Eucharist this morning at St Theresa's church.
Lewis what you have professed today and what we have witnessed gives a clear indication that a new form of being religious commenced by John Baptist de La Salle over 300 years ago and new to the Church in his day is just as relevant today in the 21st century.
Some years ago the well- known and now late Br Damien Harvey reminded me very strongly that we are "Brothers of the Christian schools, schools David he emphasised." Lewis I will never forget some years ago when during an evening where young men were invited to the Brothers' house in Grey Avenue to take a closer look at our life you spoke with such passion as to what it means for you to walk down the drive each day to school. That passion St La Salle called "zeal" and that has been my observation of you ever since. Your zeal for the human and Christian education of young people shines daily in your life as a Brother. It is catching Lewis and like me I know many others are inspired by your zeal. Last week I was speaking with a teacher from Oakhill College where you worked prior to your current ministry. The teacher remarked how you were loved by the staff and students and recalled fondly a trip you made to Vietnam with Oakhill students.
I admire that your zeal prompts you to speak with conviction about your vocation as Brother and how you always put this in the context of Church. You promote so well the vocation of the Brother as a vocation within the Church which of course it is but not understood by many in the Church. I am confident that people who meet you or who have met you understand better the vocation of the Brother.
Lewis your profession today gathers many people whom we name today as our Lasallian Family. What a wonderful cross section of people from within the District and beyond rejoice with you today and affirm who you are and what you contribute as Brother. Ladies and gentlemen your presence here not only celebrates Lewis' perpetual profession but it is a tangible sign that each of you has a relationship with the Brothers which we value and Lewis is the reason we all gather. Thank-you for being here.
I want to say something to the young men here today, most of whom I expect have a connection with De La Salle College, Mangere East. As we look into the future when will we gather again for a perpetual profession of a Brother here in Mangere East from one of the suburbs of South Auckland? When will we witness the perpetual profession of a Pacifica young man or a New Zealander? Along with Lewis I am convinced that God still calls young men to be Brothers and may I add for the young women we have a community of La Salle Sisters across the Tasman in Sydney. An occasion such as this serves to remind each of us that God still calls, the invitation is always there and a response is always welcome. The life of the De La Salle Brother is certainly an adventureyes young men you are welcome to experience the adventure.
Lewis, thank-you for bringing us "together and by association" to Mangere today. Linda and the late Ian, Jon, David and Kathleen thanks for the gift of your son and brother Lewis to our Lasallian family. And thanks to all for witnessing this wonderful occasion in the life of the Institute in New Zealand and our District of ANZPPNG.