The second weekend in November marked La Salle University’s Homecoming and Family Weekend. So perhaps it was perfect timing for Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, ’72 to return to campus.
“It is good to be home,” said Br. Robert, the Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
One of La Salle’s most visible alumni, Br. Robert delivered a Nov. 8 keynote address from the University’s campus, engaging a few thousand Lasallian educators on Lasallian Association by simulcast to multiple cluster sites across the Brothers’ District of Eastern North America (DENA).
The Superior General’s visit continued the University’s celebration of the 2019 Lasallian Jubilee Year and recognized the 10th anniversary of DENA, an amalgamation of the former Districts of Baltimore, New York and Long-Island-New England.
“In highlighting the legacy of a saint,” said Brother Ernest Miller, FSC, D. Min., La Salle’s Vice President for Mission, “these events remind the University community here and abroad of the heritage and values that bind them together.”
The keynote by Br. Robert livestreamed throughout DENA—from Providence, R.I., New York City, and Albany, N.Y., to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Boca Raton, Fla. He called on all DENA Lasallians to reflect on their vocation as educators as part of this Jubilee Year, so designated by Pope Francis.
The 27th successor of Saint La Salle and a native Southwest Philadelphian, Br. Robert spoke of the significance of association for the mission of Lasallian education. He addressed an audience in Founders’ Hall Auditorium that included Brother Dennis Lee, FSC, DENA Provincial, and Brother Timothy Coldwell, FSC, General Councilor of the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN). Br. Robert encouraged Lasallian educators to continue promoting the education of young people and drawing inspiration from Saint La Salle’s “deep relationship with Jesus Christ.”
In particular, he cited the work of the Bamboo School. This Lasallian school located near the border of Thailand and Myanmar serves children of migrant families, grants them access to educational opportunities that otherwise would be out of reach, provides at least one meal per day, and assists in regularizing the students’ immigration statuses.
“At the very beginning of the Lasallian story, a call is heard. It’s a cry that comes from the children of the artisans and the poor, and it is chanted by all children and young people who are in need of education,” Br. Robert said. “The cry does not abate throughout the narrative. It is sustaining our story, and puts into action its protagonists and attracts new actors to participate in the story. We can see that the story will end when the cry is no longer heard. Today, let’s renew our commitment to the human interest in education of our sisters and brothers—especially those who are on the margins of our society.”
Later in the day, Br. Robert met with La Salle students, faculty and staff representing different segments of university life. Faculty and staff representing different departments—from political science and religion and theology, to integrated science, business and technology—participated in a discussion on community engaged teaching and learning.
These presentations followed an interactive exercise at the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, where Br. Robert sat in on the University’s annual poverty simulation. The exercise immerses students into role-playing capacities that give them a greater understanding of financial instability and prepare them to treat clients and patients who are living at or below the poverty line.
“This University is committed to the local and international community,” Br. Robert said to La Salle’s nursing and health sciences students. “You not only learn, but you learn to give back. Our happiness is in giving back to others.”
Dr. Colleen Hanycz, University President, presented Br. Robert with the Brother Teliow Fackeldey, FSC, Presidential Medal Award for Outstanding integrity, Merit and Public Service—one of the highest honors awarded by the University. The Presidential Medal is named in honor Br. Teliow, the founding president of the University.
“We recognize the tremendous responsibility you bear in the call to lead the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the worldwide Lasallian community,” President Hanycz said, addressing Br. Robert. “Allow us to express our deep appreciation for your dedication to this ministry, and our tremendous pride in the integrity and faithfulness that you witness in your vocation as a De La Salle Brother. We consider you one of our great Explorers.”
—Christopher A. Vito