Brother Robert Schieler, F.S.C., Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and a La Salle University alum, will receive an honorary doctoral degree from his alma mater at its Undergraduate Commencement exercises on May 17.
“More than 40 years have passed since I walked across the stage of the Philadelphia Convention Center to receive my diploma from Brother President Daniel Burke,” Br. Robert said. “When I reflect on my student years, I do so through kaleidoscope-like glasses that color my recollection of all my past experiences. The lenses of these glasses have been crafted and shaped by my student years and by my life as a Christian Brother, a man called to announce the Gospel to the poor through the world of education.
“While being subtly influenced and formed by professors Dr. John Lukacs, Brother Patrick Sheekey, and Dr. Minna Weinstein, did it ever occur to me that I would be receiving an honorary degree from La Salle University? Of course not. However, these stellar educators and the entire Catholic Lasallian educational environment, in a way imperceptible to a young student Brother, began to mold the man who today receives an honorary degree from his alma mater,” he said.
Br. Robert was elected Superior General in May 2014. He said, “As Superior General, my role is primarily pastoral–that is, working with my leadership team, in a spirit of co-responsibility and subsidiarity, I strive to inspire the Brothers and all members of the worldwide Lasallian family to create and sustain communities of human and Christian education, especially for vulnerable young people who live on the margins of contemporary society.
“The greatest challenge is to alert people to the Kingdom of God already present in this world,” he said. “The greatest reward is to see our students wake up to God’s loving presence manifested in the hearts of those most in need of the hope inspired by Jesus’ resurrection.”
A Philadelphia native, Br. Robert earned a bachelor’s degree in history from La Salle in 1972. His first assignment was as a teacher at La Salle College High School from 1972 to 1975.
Br. Robert was first introduced to the Christian Brothers as a student at West Catholic Boys High School (now West Catholic Preparatory High School) in Philadelphia. He joined the order in 1968 and made his final profession in 1979. He holds master’s degrees in European history from the University of Notre Dame and in Asian studies from the University of the Philippines, as well as a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
He is the third American Brother to serve as Superior General. Brother Charles Henry Buttimer, F.S.C., became the first American Superior General in 1966. Brother John Johnston, F.S.C., became the second in 1986.
He is the 27th successor of St. John Baptist de La Salle, who founded the order in 17th-century France. Br. Robert also formerly served as a member of La Salle University’s Board of Trustees.
For the past seven years, Br. Robert served as General Councilor for the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN) in Washington, D.C. Before that post, he was the Director of Education for the United States-Toronto Region. In that capacity, he developed, coordinated and directed national educational formation programs for teachers and Brothers in the 104 Lasallian schools across the country.
La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. La Salle is an educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values. Money magazine named La Salle University a “Value All-Star,” ranking it the eighth-best college nationwide for adding the most value for a college education. Globally, the Lasallian educational network includes 1,000 schools (60 of which are institutions of higher education) serving 940,000 students in 80 countries.