Monthly Archives: January 2016


LVs Reflect, Build Community at Midyear Retreat

Best GroupThis year’s vibrant and dedicated group of Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) gathered together for the annual Midyear Retreat on January 15-18. Our Camino, as was the theme for the retreat, brought us to Point O’Pines in upstate New York where reflection, discernment, and community was embraced.

The Midyear Retreat is a time for us as Young Lasallians to really look at our first half of the year, and reflect on our time and our experiences of faith, service and community. Second year LV David Anderson who is serving as a recreational coordinator at La Salle School in Albany, New York, said, “Going into Midyear I was prepared to reflect on what was to come next after the end of my second year of service. The retreat didn’t just help me relax, but it also helped me prioritize my hopes for next year. I still have some uncertainty but the retreat helped me realize it’s okay to not have everything figured out.”

Our facilitator for the retreat was Kevin Regan, an educator at The San Miguel School of Providence in Providence, Rhode Island. LV staff and Christian Brothers also accompanied us.

Like many of us, we have people we look up to and use as examples of how we want to live our lives. Kevin introduced us to Walker Percy, Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Conner and Thomas Merton with the intention for us to relate, connect and learn from them. This aspect was so important because although these people are no longer living, they became examples for us in our mission to serve others. They provide us with a base but also the question of “Who is OUR Dorothy Day today?” or “Who has a new way of viewing religion like Thomas Merton?” They were ordinary people with a passion, just like us.

Maddie - Cross
First year LV Kacie Kusinski who is serving as a social studies teacher at De Marillac Academy in San Francisco reflected on what Midyear was like for her and said, “Midyear for me was such a rejuvenating experience. Hearing about everyone’s experiences, discernment and reflection with all of the other LVs left me feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of my service year.” In order “to tackle” the rest of our year, we all will share the tasks of being guides in the front, companions on the left and right of us, and protectors in the back as we continue on with our Camino.



Submitted by Maddie Hodapp, 2nd year LV serving at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Brooklyn, New York.

By |January 22nd, 2016|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on LVs Reflect, Build Community at Midyear Retreat

Jacquie Martin: On the Camino – A Midyear Reflection

In the context of community, my faith life has been able to thrive. I had never been one to pray regularly, but this year it has become a daily practice. I enjoy the intention behind the prayers that each member of our community creates. I learn a little more about them as well as myself each time they lead prayer. Our daily prayer books use inclusive language, and we steer away from gendering God. Many of our prayers are steeped in social and political issues facing our world and our communities. This intentionality as a community to create a safe, open, and active space for prayer has helped me to grow spiritually this year.

Jacquie Martin, 15-16, Serviam Gardens, Bronx, NY

Jacquie Martin, 15-16, Serviam Gardens, Bronx, NY

For me, serving others and working towards social justice is the most important way I practice my faith. This relationship of faith and service is what made me want to become an LV in the first place. My service with the senior citizens at Serviam Gardens this year has been life giving. I have enjoyed creating relationships with them, and getting to hear their stories. Many partners in Lasallian ministries teach children and young adults. Instead, I learn from the seniors every day. Despite the great difficulties they have faced and continue to face, they always keep a positive outlook on their lives. Many of them have words of wisdom to share with us about love and life. It is rewarding to plan events for them and see them enjoy spending time with other residents. When I was leaving for Christmas break, a resident, Mr. Jones told me: “You are going home to your family in California, and then you are coming back to your family here.” I am grateful to have been so included and welcomed into the resident’s community at Serviam.

LVs at Brant Lake, NY during the 2016 Midyear Retreat

LVs in Brant Lake, NY during the 2016 Midyear Retreat

At the end of the last full day of our Midyear Camino, all the LVs sat together and shared affirmations and words of encouragement with the rest of the group. Sitting and listening, I realized just how uncommon a group like ours is in this world. We are extremely diverse, but are the same in the most important way- we are all willing to spend a year of our lives serving others instead of working for money. Every LV in our cohort inspires me and gives me hope for the future. Our Midyear Camino together affirmed my decision to become an LV in the first place, and helped me to realize that I want to do a second year of service. I have had such a positive experience as an LV this year, and I want to continue to grow in my relationships with my residents, my community, my fellow LVs, and God. The Midyear Camino has given me clarity, affirmation, and a renewed energy to continue on my LV journey.

Jacquie Martin is a 1st year LV serving at Serviam Gardens in Bronx, New York and is a 2015 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California.

By |January 20th, 2016|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Jacquie Martin: On the Camino – A Midyear Reflection

Sarah Laitinen Named as New RELAN Representative to ICYL

Sarah-L.-School-Picture-212x300Sarah Laitinen has been appointed by the Superior General as the new representative of the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN) to the International Council of Young Lasallians (ICYL).

Laitinen is a sixth-grade teacher at The San Miguel School in Providence, Rhode Island, and was a Lasallian Volunteer from 2007-2009. She has attended various formation programs, including the Regional VEGA (See, Judge, Act) program in 2010, and graduated from the Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies in 2012. Laitinen attended the 3rd International Symposium of Young Lasallians in February 2014 and is currently a member of RELAN’s Council of Young Lasallians as well as a member of the District of Eastern North America’s Young Lasallians Steering Committee.

Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, Superior General, remarked, “Sarah’s dedication to the mission, commitment to Lasallian association and her service on District and Regional committees make her an ideal choice to represent RELAN on the ICYL. We look forward to her contributions to the Council’s work.”

Laitenen will be replacing Jolleen Wagner, who has served in the position since 2011. Reflecting on her time as the RELAN representative, Wagner said, “Serving on the International level offered a glimpse at the amazing things Young Lasallians are contributing to around the world. This expression of, together and by association, combined with our focus on service with the poor was powerful and life-giving to my ministry here in RELAN.”

On Wagner’s commitment to the Council, Brother Robert said, “Jolleen brought much wisdom, experience and administrative ability to the ICYL. We thank her very much for her generous service and wish her all the best in her new ministry.”

By |January 6th, 2016|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Sarah Laitinen Named as New RELAN Representative to ICYL

Dan O’Connell: Learning How to Juggle

Being a Lasallian Volunteer is like learning how to juggle.

About a month ago on a Saturday morning, I groggily walked downstairs of our community in Pawtucket, RI to find several community members enjoying breakfast…and a show. I watched in awe as one of my seven fellow community members grabbed three shiny apples from our fruit basket and began to juggle. I was mesmerized by the fluidity, faith, and concentration that she employed to make the apples defy gravity, floating from hand to hand in perfectly organized chaos. I needed to learn how to juggle.

So I asked her, and the other community members (social workers, teachers, and outreach coordinators) in the kitchen, to teach me. They sprang into action and pointing to imaginary points in the air coached, “Alright Dan let’s start with two apples. Toss one at a time and hit these corners.” They encouraged, “Nice job. You aren’t as awkward as you look.” They joked when the apples hit the floor time and time again, bruising beyond recognition, “We weren’t going to eat those anyway.” They challenged, “Now add the third apple.” They joked again, “Ok maybe back to just two.”

Coach Dan with the girls from his Lady Saints team that made all-division for soccer.

Coach Dan with students from his Lady Saints team that made all-division for soccer.

At first try, being an LV, like juggling, feels impossible. A task so daunting that you don’t even know where to begin. How do I set up a gradebook? What does a gradebook even look like? How do I make “The Eastern Schism” cool to juniors in high school? How do I explain “demand elasticity” to my sports marketing class when I struggled with that topic just over one year ago in college? How do I encourage a slumping striker on our girls’ soccer team to pick her head up before attacking the net?

The answers to those questions are: you try a different approach… and you inevitably fail more times than you will succeed. You add that third apple to the mix only to immediately drop all of the apples in three different directions. Then, you ask for help from your community members, LVs in other communities, teachers at your service site, your parents, God. You ask how you can improve. How can I keep all three apples in the air?

Sometimes it takes a different perspective. “Dan why don’t you try to juggle with these dish towels? They’ll float more in the air and will give you more time to react.” When stumped with how I would introduce Emperor Constantine to my juniors in Church History, a community member’s fresh perspective came to the rescue, “So, Constantine was the first Roman leader to recognize Christianity, right?” “Essentially, yes.” I replied. “He was innovative and made something cool before anyone else did, right?” they probed. “Right,” I responded. “Well, explain to your students that he was the first ‘hipster’.” I took their advice, and my students were more engaged than ever. With a new perspective—dish towels and the first hipster—I’ve got this juggling thing down pat.

That is until I tried again with the apples and ended up making apple sauce on the kitchen floor. My Constantine lesson plan may have been a home run, but I struck out the very next day with Western Monasticism.

Dan O’Connell, 14-16, Saint Raphael Academy, Pawtucket, RI

Dan O’Connell, 14-16, Saint Raphael Academy, Pawtucket, RI

By the end of last year, as a first year volunteer, I thought that I had come to understand my vocation—impacting my students’ lives in an acutely positive way. Now as a second year still learning how to juggle teaching new classes, living with new community members, exploring new perspectives on my Faith, and apples – I have a different understanding of my role in my students’ lives.

Now I know that my vocation is to empower my students to impact their own communities, their own lives. I initiate only a fraction of the empowering and they take it from there.

Now I know how to operate a grade book on paper and online. Now I know that creating a lesson plan for the Eastern Schism based entirely in the language of DJ Khaled’s snapchats (#BlessUp) will hold the attention of 28 sixteen-year-olds for fifty minutes. Now I know that connecting demand elasticity to Pawtucket Red Sox ticket prices helps my budding sports marketers learn to think critically. Now I feel comfortable coaching that Lady Saint on the soccer field through any challenge.

And now I am no longer afraid to fail. I can juggle tennis balls for a minute at a time, and when they fall in three different directions they don’t roll as far away. I too am able to apply the same fluidity, concentration, and faith of my community member to my vocation as a Lasallian Volunteer. I’ll be juggling apples in no time.

Dan O’Connell is a 2nd year LV serving at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and is a 2014 graduate of The Catholic University of America.

By |January 6th, 2016|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Dan O’Connell: Learning How to Juggle

Application Available for Requesting 2016-2017 Lasallian Volunteers

Is your ministry interested in requesting new Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) or seeking the return of current LVs? The application for this request is now available for the 2016-2017 service year.

LasallianVolunteersLogo_main-minFind all materials and information here >

To effectively communicate the needs, opportunities and realities that exist throughout the country to the prospective and returning LVs, each site must complete an application in order to be considered. This year’s shortened application requires approval of the District Administration before submission. The completed application is due on February 15, 2016. Click here to review the process timeline >

By |January 4th, 2016|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Application Available for Requesting 2016-2017 Lasallian Volunteers