The La Salle University Alumni Association recently presented its highest honor, the Signum Fidei Award to the St. Gabriel’s System (SGS), which has served troubled youth in the Philadelphia region since 1898.
The annual award is given to an individual or organization that has made “most noteworthy contributions to the advancement of humanitarian principles in keeping the Christian/Judeo traditions.” Signum Fidei is “sign of faith,” the motto of the Christian Brothers, the order that operates La Salle University and the SGS.
Accepting the award on behalf of SGS was James Logan, Director of the De La Salle Vocational School in Bensalem, Pa.
“On any given day, as many as 500 young Philadelphians are receiving services from the committed professionals working within the Saint Gabriel’s System,” said Logan. “I have had the privilege of working in many of these programs, and I can attest to the fact that all of us who work in the system consider ourselves privileged to have the opportunity to work with, but more importantly build relationships with, young people who, yes, have made mistakes and in some cases serious mistakes, but also whose strength, courage, and ability to overcome incredible obstacles is nothing short of remarkable.”
The St. Gabriel’s System started in 1898. In response to an invitation from Archbishop Patrick John Ryan, the Christian Brothers assumed the mission of caring for and educating wayward boys in Audubon, Pa. A year later, trade shops were started.
Today, the system operates Saint Gabriel’s Hall, a 200-bed residential facility for young men ages 11-19; two high-school-age day treatment programs: De La Salle Vocational in Bensalem and De La Salle In Towne in center city, Philadelphia, serve about 100 young men each; Reintegration Services, a program that provides follow-up care and services to the young people returning home from residential care; the Brother Rousseau Academy, another day treatment program for middle-school-age boys and girls; and finally, the administrative offices, which also house various outpatient clinical services including anger management programs and a comprehensive treatment program for juvenile sexual offenders.
“What all of our programs share in common is a commitment to excellence in the service of delinquent young people,” said Logan. “Following in the Lasallian tradition of educational excellence, our facilities offer a full educational program of either a middle- or high-school curriculum. Our major goal is to help our youth re-engage their education and improve their reading and math skills, areas in which they are usually far behind age and grade levels. Last year these educational programs graduated over 120 young people who most likely would never otherwise have completed their high school educations.”
In presenting the award to Logan, Beth Harper Briglia, Vice President of La Salle’s Alumni Association and chair of its awards committee, said, “The administrators and staff of this organization work tirelessly, generally without recognition or significant reward, to ensure that delinquent youth, those that are of the least, the last, and the lost amongst us, can realize a positive future.”