“The more I go through the formation process, I am energized and amazed by the extensive connections and relationships that are built in the Lasallian world,” said Brother Michael Phipps, a postulant from the Midwest District.
Brother Michael, who serves at St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, was one of 15 Brothers in various stages of initial formation in the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN) who gathered November 6–9 at Daylesford Abbey, outside of Philadelphia.
The initial formation gathering centered around the 45th General Chapter and the theme This Work is Also Yours. Brother Robert Schaefer, FSC, a delegate to the 45th General Chapter and principal at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presented about his experience of the Chapter.
“I am very much moved by the over 300-year tradition of the Institute and how the Institute has evolved in response to the times,” said Phipps, “there is a strength there.”
The participants gained insight about the General Chapter through presentations, as well as the preparatory reports of the International Young Brothers Assembly, International Symposium of Young Lasallians (ISYL), and International Mission Assembly documents. Four RELAN delegates who participated in the ISYL were present for a session. They shared reflections and talked with the Brothers about their experience of the symposium and their lived experience of association.
“I am very hopeful for what is happening at the District, Region and Institute level in regards to participation from all kinds of Lasallians, especially young ones! I am inspired by the participation and commitment of many of them,” said Brother Anwar Martinez, FSC, who serves at La Salle Academy, New York.
Brother Ken Kalinowski, FSC, who also serves at La Salle Academy, New York, said his experience at the gathering was uplifting. “Listening to different perspectives and getting a sense of the Chapter in Rome. To witness the possibility of six or more novices next year is a great sign of vitality!”
The Brothers also participated in a roundtable discussion on vocation ministry and shared their ideas and what they are currently doing in their ministries and communities to foster a culture of vocations.
“For me, the Brothers in Initial Formation weekend was marked by pure joy – a joy that we are doing God’s work, that the charism is very much alive, and that religious life is being lived out by young men,” said Brother Dan Monroe, a postulant from the Midwest District living at the Regional Postulancy at Jeremy House and serving at West Philadelphia Catholic Preparatory High School, both in Philadelphia.
The Brothers in initial formation will gather again in March at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona. The gatherings, which happen twice a year, are opportunities for Brothers to connect on a Regional level to build community, as well as participate in formation experiences together.
“It’s not often I get the chance to accompany all of our Brothers in formation at once … they may not know it, but being with them continues to shape the Brother I am today. They are the youth of our family and I’m proud of them!” said Brother Charles Kitson, FSC, Auxiliary Visitor from the District of Eastern North America who organized the gathering. “Seeing the Brothers who will carry on the Lasallian mission with our lay Partners long after I am able, gives me a sense of sincere joy and renewed hope. I left Daylesford Abbey pretty tired but energized by their willingness to make an extravagant gesture with their lives.”