The Generalate. For lack of a better way to describe it, it's the world headquarters for the Christian Brothers, and of course, it's in Rome. A more theological way to describe it would be that it is the Mother House for the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the spiritual and practical home for the international central offices of the Christian Brothers of the Lasallian schools. It's the place where the Superior Brother General lives, along with the Vicar General Brother, and other Brothers on his staff, and during some parts of the year, members of the General Council live there too. There are offices of several different "Secretariats and Services" that conduct the business of the Institute. There are locked gates that surround the Generalate and the front entry is quite grand as you can see from one of the pictures I posted. The building itself was built around 1937, during Mussolini's era. This all sounds pretty formal and maybe even a little stuffy, right?
That's what I had in my mind in coming here. ....but I was wrong. While the building, especially the Sanctuary is beautiful and can give a first impression of opulent grandeur, the welcome we received from Superior Brother General or "Brother Bob" and his staff was nothing less than warm, generous and humbling. When Brother Bob greeted us he welcomed us "home", home in that this place is for all Lasallians. We popped in on him when he was working in his office, he gave us the sense that he had all the time in the world to chat with us. I couldn't help but notice that his desk was a little messy. It was the kind of messy that's not too messy, but messy enough that it looks like you're working.
Brother George Van Grieken, who also lives and works here, took us down to the library and introduced us to Mrs. Anna Cascone, the Librarian. I hope she wouldn't be offended by this, but she reminded me of a professor at Hogwarts - the kind who is SUPER into her work and a little on the wild side. Her energy and love for the collection of books was inspiring. She showed us around and let us hold a book that was from the 1500's - I was so in awe that I forgot to take a picture!
As I wandered around the Generalate before evening prayer and dinner, I felt a sense of warmth, welcome and love. Why would I not? The Lasallian charism is all about making personal connections, being present to each other and following the Gospel call to love one another. While I miss my absolutely amazing husband, I feel very much at home here in Rome.
PS - I think my room is right above, maybe a little to the right of the Superior Brother General's office....I'm trying to be "vewy, vewy quiet". (those of my generation will get that reference!)