The second Bay Area Lasallian Symposium took place at Saint Mary’s College of California on February 4, 2019. Over 470 Lasallians from nine District of San Francisco New Orleans (SFNO) schools gathered for a day of Lasallian formation, professional development, and fellowship.
The participating schools included Christian Brothers High School (Sacramento), Cristo Rey De La Salle East Bay High School (Oakland), De Marillac Academy (San Francisco), De La Salle Academy (Concord), De La Salle High School (Concord), Justin-Siena High School (Napa), Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory (San Francisco), Saint Mary’s College of California (Moraga), and Saint Mary’s College High School (Berkeley).
The first Symposium was held in 2017, the capstone project of the graduating SFNO cohort of the Brother John Johnston Institute of Contemporary Lasallian Practice. This year’s Symposium was the result of a 14-month planning process and spearheaded by the 2019 SFNO cohort. Planning Committee members were Stephanie Roybal (Christian Brothers High School), Linda Byrne and Lillian Dickson (De La Salle High School), Megan Alexander-Short and Robert Bailey (Justin-Siena High School), and Andy Chan (Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory).
The day’s agenda began with keynote speaker Roy Petitfils, LPC. A Lasallian alumnus and therapist at Pax Renewal Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, Petitfils spoke on the role of Lasallian educators as prophets for wholeness and empowerment in the lives of today’s young people. His is a familiar voice, having addressed numerous District and Regional gatherings.
“He really hit the point on prophecy,” remarked planning committee member Linda Byrne. “For us as Lasallian educators, we’re all prophets, right? I liked his story. He has that Lasallian background and was very specific to us. It was very good that people could come out of there feeling inspired that they do valuable work, that the word ‘Lasallian’ means something.”
The keynote was followed by Mass, which was planned by the participating schools and celebrated by Father La Salle Hallissey, OP, chaplain at De La Salle High School.
The morning portion of the schedule continued with “Lasallian Learning Lab” sessions designed and facilitated by Symposium participants. The Labs covered a variety of areas, including data and institutional strategies, wellness and balance, curriculum and learning, diversity and inclusion, and co-curriculars.
After lunch, participants gathered in groups according to their ministry roles for processing and best practice round table discussions. This was a highlight for many of the participants.
“I felt,” Byrne observed, “that collaboration and sharing of best practices was really important, to learn how other schools are doing things and share the knowledge that I have so that we all can do our jobs better. That’s the whole point of the Symposium.”
The day concluded with closing remarks and prayer, followed by a social. After, participant and SFNO Office of Education director Michael Daniels reflected, “I was inspired by the initiative and leadership of the planning committee, the generosity of all learning lab presenters, and the quality of the round table discussions. The success of our inaugural 2017 Symposium was sustained by this second gathering, and I remain grateful to Saint Mary’s College and all involved for the opportunity to ground ourselves in mission, professional development, and community.”
By all accounts, the Bay Area Lasallian educators left feeling that their day at the Symposium had been time well-spent, getting to move outside of familiar circles and routines and discover new opportunities for personal and professional development.
“This,” Bryne concluded, “is one of the opportunities we have – not just faculty, but staff as well – to really collaborate and help carry on our charism. The Symposium is an example of how in our association so much important knowledge is passed from one community to another. Lasallians support mission so effectively by offering all the District, Regional, and even local level formation opportunities. I feel that we do this right.”
Parts of this story contributed by Linda Byrne, De La Salle High School, Concord, CA.
All photos courtesy Brother Lawrence Haley, FSC, De La Salle High School, Concord, CA.