We just finished day three of the working conference on Lasallian Association. Our goal at the end of the two weeks is to produce a document that provides guidance and direction on what it means to be "in association" with the Lasallian network, and to provide a toolkit that local Districts can use to strengthen the Lasallian mission. Today's work focused on the concept of vocation, or calling. Huh? That's a lot of "inside baseball" type words. Let me try to explain it in good old fashion regular language.
St. John Baptist de LaSalle was a Catholic priest who was born in France in 1651. He had it made. He was born into a rich family and had a guaranteed position as a super important priest. Then in 1679 he happened to meet a guy named Adrian Nyel and one thing led to another and St. John Baptist de LaSalle ended up selling all he owned and used the money to start a school specifically designed to teach poor boys in Reims, France. Eventually this led to the start of the Christian Brothers, a group of committed men who taught in these free schools for boys. The teachers, originally just brothers, believed strongly in their mission to provide "a free and human Christian education, especially to the poor"and understood that this was a vocation, or calling, from God. As time went on, those committed to the Lasallian mission expanded beyond the brother to include "lay partners" and the number of schools continued to multiply and expand all over the world.
Today, Lasallians, those who follow in the footsteps of Lasalle, are in more than 80 countries with 4000 Brothers and 90,000 lay partners, serving one million students in over 1,000 different ministries. This journey from 1679 to 2019 didn't happen by chance - it happened because people believed in and attended to, the Lasallian mission. The mission to provide students with an education that is live giving, an education that has high standards and an education that is based in the Gospel value to love one another. Our work during this two week conference is to provide the tools necessary to ensure that future generations can connect to this very important mission.
We talked a lot about vocations today - the sense of being called by God to a particular path or way for your life. For Lasallians, this calling or vocation is rooted in a "human and Christian education". It's about being called to working with young people in schools and having the heart and desire to provide guidance and love to these young people. In my small group there were Lasallians from Kenya, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Mexico, New York and then me, from Minnesota. It was a rich discussion and I was rather surprised that even though we just met three days ago, we spoke the same language of being called by God to the ministry of Lasallian education - being called to a Lasallian vocation.
So why "Vocation/Vacation?" -- well, after an intense day of reflection and discussion, myself and two other women decided to take advantage of being in Rome and had a "vacation-type" evening. We took the train to Trevi Fountain and did the whole throw a coin in the fountain thing and made a wish. We weren't really sure if we were suppose to throw three coins and make one wish, or throw one coin and make three wishes. We ended up each throwing a coin and who knows what will happen! It was a beautiful fountain and it was fun to "people watch."
We also walked up the Spanish Steps, which were built around 1723. We also spent some time in nearby Piazza de Spagna and enjoyed the street vendors, the fruit and flowers were beautiful.
We ended up having dinner at a place called "Sacro e Profano" (translated, Sacred and Profane) which was originally a church built around 1200 AD. We had a wonderfully delicious cheese tray for an appetizer and I had the Ahi Tuna for my entree - excellent choices on both accounts. It was a relaxing night and I really enjoyed being able to connect the two women with whom I share a Lasallian vocation....and a little vacation!