Three March sessions of the Brother John Johnston Institute of Contemporary Lasallian Practice brought participants together to continue their exploration of the Lasallian heritage in light of contemporary realities. The Johnston Institute is a two-year program that started in March 2014.
The Johnston Institute sessions took place on three consecutive weekends on the West Coast, in the Midwest and on the East Coast. The March sessions focused on District, Regional and international governance and structures, along with the documents from the 45th General Chapter and recent international assemblies and how they relate on Regional, District and local levels.
Kate Ward-Gaus, director of the Alcohol and Other Drug Education Center at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, attended the East Coast session and said the topics built on her experiences in the previous two sessions. “In some ways those two sessions made the connection between what I do and the ‘heart and soul’ of the mission, and this session was an opportunity to make a connection to the ‘structure’ of the Institute,” she said. “Combined, I have found that it has given new life and meaning to what I do on a daily basis. It takes on a greater significance when motivated by the greater commitment to the mission.”
Dr. Evette Castillo Clark, who serves in Student Life at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga as dean of students, also credits the Johnston Institute with enhancing her work. “I think it’s helped me to become more successful in how to articulate and understand Saint La Salle’s work in relationship to my work,” said Clark. “I think that going to the Johnston Institute has confirmed my life’s work in student affairs and helped me to fulfill that in a more meaningful way.”
For Clark, attending the West Coast session with four colleagues from Saint Mary’s was a powerful experience and brought them closer together.
Jerry Heet, math teacher at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis, Missouri, who attended the Midwest session, agrees with the strong impact the Johnston Institute has on deepening relationships. He called the opportunity to network a “critically important facet” of the gatherings, which is just one experience he will remember.
“The strong message that I took away from the conference is that the Brothers are trusting us to be co-owners of the Lasallian charism, with a shared responsibility for keeping the mission alive and thriving in the world,” said Heet.
The Johnston Institute features three gatherings by geographic area, two Regional gatherings and online learning. All participants will come together for their second Regional gathering July 12 – 17, 2015, at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.