Excerpts from my letter to the Lasallian Family in Malaysia:
“I was inspired by the efforts of your sector to revitalize the Lasallian Schools through active engagement in their governance by Brothers and Lasallian Partners through their respective school boards. Formally organized as the Malaysian Mission Council with the five regional councils represented, it has been an effective structure that has prioritized the Lasallian ethos as the essential spirit that distinguishes the Lasallian school from any other. This year, we can definitely refine and improve this organizational structure and further clarify the different degrees of membership and accountabilities of the many categories of schools. We can also begin serious discussions on how to further animate the alumni associations so that their strong ties and loyalties with their respective Alma Maters could further grow from active engagement in fundraising and supporting school projects into a more solid commitment to advance the Lasallian Mission in the country, in East Asia and in the world.
I was energized by the creativity and innovation of those who sought to respond to other educational challenges of learners that could not be addressed by the existing mainstream programs. Those pioneering adventures and stories of courage of Brothers and Lasallian Partners (several of whom come from other faith traditions) need to be retold especially as they journeyed to the peripheries, encountered the new poor and revolutionized traditional pedagogical methods in response to these specialized needs. Those initiatives are worth documenting as they can provide us and future generations of Lasallians with models on how the Lasallian mission may be contextualized in our times.
I was moved by the very palpable Lasallian Spirit that continues to burn brightly in the hearts of alumni, teachers, and students within an environment that does not always share the same priorities, values and aspirations of the Lasallian Family. This dynamism could not thrive without an effective formation program for youth and adults which your sector has invested in for close to three decades now. When one takes stock of what has been accomplished during those years preceding LEAD and then the foundational years after its inception, we can only look back in gratitude for the great things the Lord has accomplished through you. While we have yet many things to accomplish, it is also good for us at this time to pause and celebrate.
I wish to borrow Br. Barthelemy’s advice to a Brother who was then experiencing depression following the death of the Founder: “No, dear Brother, ...I forbid you to die... Do not be saddened any more by this, because he to whom you cry as dead, is alive and in peace.” In unity of mind and heart, I join all of you in prayer that our gracious God would grace us with the same spirit with which he gifted the first Lasallians so that we, too, could dare venture into the deep, for indeed, while a boat in the harbor is safe, it is not what boats are built for.
Let us continue to live and celebrate today the 300-year legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle in East Asia!”
(Photo: Br. Andrew Loke FSC)