Monthly Archives: April 2018

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Former LV Appointed Co-Secretary of Lasallian Association

Heather Ruple Gilson, LV 01-03, will serve as the co-secretary of Lasallian Association for the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (De La Salle Christian Brothers). In making the announcement, Brother Superior Robert Schieler, FSC, noted, “Her appointment is a concrete sign of our commitment to engage all Lasallians, especially women, in delivering the Lasallian educational mission.”

After graduating from Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga in 2001, Ruple Gilson served at The San Miguel School of Providence in Rhode Island, first as a Lasallian Volunteer from 2001-2003 and then in various staff roles from 2003-2011.

Ruple Gilson described her time serving as an LV and living in community as a life-changing experience of mission, formation and association that shaped her vocation and laid the foundation for her understanding of the Lasallian mission.

“The school community of Lasallian educators and the community of supporters in the Lasallian family beyond the school walls provided a lived experience of ‘together and by association.’ Having the opportunity to be a part of District and Regional activities as an LV further solidified my understanding of the scope and breadth of the mission and the educators that make up the global Lasallian family,” she said. “Having the chance to live and work side-by-side with Brothers living their vow of association was a powerful witness of this critical element of our charism. The experience of fellowship, prayer and day-to-day community life helped me to fully understand that it is only in association with others that the mission can be accomplished. It is only in association with others that the mission can be sustained in the future.”

Following her time at San Miguel, Ruple Gilson served as director of Lasallian Students Programs for the then-District of San Francisco (2011-2014) and director of Young Lasallians for the District of San Francisco New Orleans (SFNO) (2014-2016). She has taken part in a number of District, Regional and International events, including as a delegate to the International Symposium of Young Lasallians (2006) and the International Mission Assembly (2013). She has also served on a number of District boards and councils for the District of Eastern North America and SFNO.

Ruple Gilson is a graduate of the Lasallian Leadership Institute, a former Christian Brothers Conference formation program, and was the first recipient of the LV’s Bassen Service Award, which recognizes LV alumni who have continued a life of service. She previously served as a member of the LV Advisory Board and the Regional Vocation Formation Committee.

Ruple Gilson will take up her new position on September 2018.

Read more from the Institute >

By |April 30th, 2018|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Former LV Appointed Co-Secretary of Lasallian Association

Ivette Morales: The Leap and Seeing God

Ivette Morales, 16-18, De La Salle at Blessed Sacrament, Memphis, TN

Being a Lasallian Volunteer is challenging, but I’m sure to many of you, that’s not news. LV life comes with many difficulties, often times it’s intense hours with the need for flexibility; but there are so many beautiful aspects of it as well. Every new journey we take can be scary, but for me, it was 100 percent worth the leap.

These past two years have not only been the most challenging, but also the most rewarding. I have grown in so many different ways, and I owe it all to the experiences that the LV life has allowed me to live. I’ve learned from my students, my community, the Christian Brothers, and life in Memphis. So, I thought I might share just a few aspects about my journey…

Teaching is… HARD. I have such a greater appreciation for all of the teachers in my life, because goodness gracious, I often think, I don’t know how they do it! It’s the constant lesson plans, revision of those plans, grading, class behavior, catering to different student’s needs, late nights, etc. However, that is why I think this is a beautiful way to serve… because service is about being selfless, even when you may not feel like it. Our students look up to us, they count on us, even when we don’t think they do; and to have that many lives in our hands every day… that’s a blessing and an opportunity. Which leads to my next lesson:

We are here to plant seeds and leaving those seeds to flourish as they may, is one of the most difficult things to do. All I can do is teach from my heart and I have to let God do the rest, because one day soon I will have to leave them, and that will be the most challenging part for me. When you have spent so many hours each day with a community, you grow to love them fiercely, and you want to try to protect them and teach them forever; but that’s the whole thing about it right? We can’t. Hence the lesson in seeds… and ultimately trusting God to do the work. It is a humbling, necessary, and yet heartbreakingly beautiful lesson to learn.

Speaking of students, mine have been such a huge part of my life, and they will forever hold a piece of my heart. They taught me so much about patience, love, and teaching. There were many moments of joy and laughter, as well as many moments of struggle and pain. They challenged me to be better, constantly needing me to be more patient and understanding. But one of the most beautiful aspects of it all is that they shared their lives with me and were never afraid to try new things. It has been a blessing to see them grow and to get to know each and every one of them. However, the most important lesson of all, is that they taught me to see God in everyone that I meet and that has changed my entire perspective on life and the way that I treat others.

Everyone has a history, a story, and their truth; I have known this, but it was a whole different experience to learn this from the children that I spend time with on a daily basis. From the most well-behaved one to the most challenging one… and it is up to us as adults in the world to teach our youth about empathy, compassion and what it truly means to love one another.

Being an LV has given me the space to reflect and grow spiritually and mentally. It has allowed me to overcome challenges I never thought I would even encounter, and it has given me the ability to go out into the world and be a Lasallian presence to everyone that I meet. Everyone in my life these past two years has taught me something valuable that I will never forget.

So, remember to always try to see God in everyone you meet, because everyone needs someone to see that Light within them, especially when they may not see it themselves.

Ivette Morales is a second year LV serving at De La Salle at Blessed Sacrament in Memphis, TN and is a 2016 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California.

By |April 19th, 2018|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Ivette Morales: The Leap and Seeing God

April Ministry of the Month: San Miguel School Tulsa

In this month’s Lasallian Volunteers “Ministry of the Month,” the Midwest District is featured, highlighting the Lasallian Volunteers serving at San Miguel Middle School of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Lasallian Volunteers are Rachel Bowers, LV 16-18, and Madison Chastain, LV 17-18. Rachel is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and Madison is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California.

WHAT IS SAN MIGUEL TULSA?

San Miguel Tulsa is a co-educational middle school in the Kendal-Whittier neighborhood of Tulsa, dedicated to helping children from challenging environments, regardless of race, nationality or religion, to achieve academic and personal success through a non-tuition driven, Lasallian education. 90% of the students will go on to graduate high school (compared to 76% of students in Tulsa Public Schools), 97% attend school daily, and 100% of parents attend quarterly conferences with staff.

HOW DID RACHEL AND MADISON BECOME LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

For Rachel, she encountered the Lasallian Volunteers through her brother, Dan Bowers, LV 14-16. She says, “My brother was a Lasallian Volunteer, and he suggested the idea to me. I was unsure of what God had in store for me next as a college senior, so I figured what the heck! I gave it a shot and have had absolutely no regrets. My experience has been filled with blessings and I must say, I am hooked on being Lasallian!” Having attended a Lasallian college, Madison felt called by her work at Saint Mary’s in Mission and Ministry. She says, “Having gone to a Lasallian college, the charism was really near and dear to my heart and I knew I cared about contributing to the mission of educating those in need. I’ve had many friends go through the program and I believed it could be a place where I could be useful and give of myself for the sake of others.”

Madison and Rachel at the Brother Charles Kitson Institute

WHAT SERVICE DO MADISON AND RACHEL PROVIDE AT SAN MIGUEL TULSA?

Madison is a 6th, 7th and 8th grade religion teacher. Rachel serves as the physical education teacher. Both volunteers are responsible for academic support in the mornings (where students can receive one-on-one assistance during class if they need extra help or a quiet place to work). Both volunteers are study hall supervisors and Madison is the after-school choir instructor. In the fall semester, Rachel and Madison coordinated San Miguel’s first ever BizKids Student Entrepreneurship after-school program designed to teach middle school students business skills and prep them for a presentation during which they pitched an original cooperative business model idea.

HOW DO THESE VOLUNTEERS TOUCH MINDS AND HEARTS AT THEIR SERVICE SITE?

Many of the students come to San Miguel grade levels behind academically. This means that the teachers and students must be creative in getting the students caught up in time to go to high school. Rachel believes that combining her roles in academics and physical education helps her students find success. She says, “I enjoy when my P.E. role and academic support role blend into one; this allows me to pull struggling students from the classroom who may just need 10 minutes of playing soccer and debriefing a situation to brighten their day.” Madison says, “These kids need patience, to feel like the weight of their words is valued, to feel like they belong, to be listened to, to be pushed to know more than they think they can. Isn’t that what anyone wants? Mutual respect and empathy are the backbones of all of these things.”

Madison and Rachel with their students

HOW HAS LIVING WITH THE DE LA SALLE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS IMPACTED MADISON AND RACHEL AS LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS?

Rachel’s experience with the Brothers began in Tulsa, although she visited her brother Dan at his community in Chicago. She says, “Having support from Christian Brothers as I serve and live the ways of Saint John Baptist de La Salle has been awesome. They have years of experience living out faith, service and community; three values that I have recently been introduced to. Whenever I feel like I may be struggling, the Brothers remind me that there is nothing wrong with that, that it is okay to not be perfect. I see them as role models. Living with the Brothers has allowed me to recognize that they are a lot of fun too!” Madison had interacted with Brothers at Saint Mary’s, so she knew many before she came to Tulsa. She says, “The Brothers have hobbies, senses of humor, express love in particular ways, are aging like all humans do, were raised in certain ways, and they each participate in the mission of the Founder in unique ways. No two Brothers are the same, and no two interpret their vocation the same. Each of us is a different kind of “Lasallian” and there’s room for all in the mission.”

Rachel and Madison with their Brothers

WHAT DO THE VOLUNTEERS IN THE 2017-2018 COHORT SAY TO COLLEGE SENIORS ABOUT THE LASALLIAN VOLUNTEERS PROGRAM?

Both volunteers encourage seniors discerning a year of service to think about applying to Lasallian Volunteers. Madison says, “I became a volunteer because I didn’t want to jump straight into graduate school and never have experienced true, selfless giving of myself to others. Giving of myself is crucial to me and serving has yielded the deepest rewards in this experience. Service is not easy; I went into it thinking it would be much easier than it is. But I stay for the kids. I stay because they deserve a really good, committed religion teacher who is passionate about them learning the material.” Rachel says of her experience, “Serving at any of the Lasallian ministries would be an eye opening, life-changing, and unforgettable experience for any post-grad who is looking to volunteer. Be open to opportunities where you may be serving a new culture, living in a part of the country you would have never expected to, or generally stepping outside of your comfort zone, because ultimately you will discover yourself and who God wants you to be in the process.”

By |April 10th, 2018|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on April Ministry of the Month: San Miguel School Tulsa

Jo-Ann Mullooly: Aunt Susan

Jo-Ann Mullooly, 16-18, San Miguel High School, Tucson, AZ

Every family has its struggles. Even the ones that don’t look like they do. You know the ones, their family Christmas card features them in perfectly coordinated outfits on the beach somewhere. Their house always looks straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog. They do quintessential things like have big parties at their house regularly, and tell stories about how their Aunt Susan makes the best chocolate-chip cookies and how you have to try them. It must be nice to be Aunt Susan. For many years, I was envious of that life. I so badly wanted that perfect family to be mine. I was constantly wondering why my family was not like that. I became the star of a show I called “The Perfect Human,” in which my character could be described as type-A organized, over-involved, life of the party, and never broke a sweat through it all. But behind the scenes, things were very different. Life was far more difficult than I would ever let meet the eye. I was determined to hide my secrets for as long as I could. I never wanted anyone to know what life was really like for me. So, I hid it all away in a box inside and I locked the key.

In the last few years, my mindset has changed. I now know that I wasn’t the only one putting on a show. I now know that I wasn’t the only one struggling behind closed doors. In the last few years, I have felt myself growing and I have started to look at things with new eyes. And while this is fairly common for most people as they grow up, I can’t help but credit Lasallian Volunteers for accompanying me through this journey and for allowing me to change, undoubtedly, for the best. Dedicating the last year and a half to Lasallian Volunteers has given me the sense of family that I have always desired, and has taught me new ways to appreciate my own.

One thing that sets Lasallian Volunteers aside from others is the opportunity to live in an intentional community with religious. Now, that may sound daunting or intimidating or maybe both. Truthfully, if you had told me a few years ago that I would have chosen to do this, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I was raised Catholic and went to Mass almost every Sunday morning with my family. I was perfectly content with doing the basics: Mass, brunch, repeat the next week. Mass, brunch, repeat the next week. This was the routine. I did no praying until the following Sunday. When I went to college, I began to understand that there is a lot of good stuff that happens during the week, in between masses, that I never really considered to be religious or spiritual experiences. But I started to realize that God is most present in my conversations and interactions with others. That’s when I feel Him and I can see Him. God is present when I’m singing and playing music. This helps me feel boundless joy. God is present when I’m praying alone and God is present when we’re praying together. He encourages me to go deeper, be open and vulnerable in all of my relationships, including my relationship with Him. Being a student, studying my passion, participating in immersion trips, and meeting new people…. I thought my undergraduate education was going to be the best four years of my life. I thought that that was it, and then the “real world” was going to hit me like a ton of bricks and I’d never know the same joy again.

However, at some point of my senior year, something called me to apply to Lasallian Volunteers. Maybe it was the fact that I had known some friends of mine who had done the program and had good things to say about it. Maybe it was because I had participated in one of Manhattan College’s Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E.) trips to Browning, Montana, and upon return, felt that I should be doing more and that I needed to be doing more. And that I needed more than just a week to do it. Either way, it has led to some of my best memories and the ride of my life.

Joining the Lasallian community has felt a lot like coming home. It has taught me so much. I have learned practical skills, like how to cook and how to manage my time on days when there are just not enough hours in the day. At the San Miguel Community in Tucson, Arizona, community means making sure everyone gets up on time for work. Community means saving an extra slice of pizza for someone who’s had a rough week. Community means volunteering to drive someone to the airport, even if it’s way before the sun comes up. Community means seeing the grumpy side of someone that no one else gets to see. Community means feeling the pain and the hurt when someone else feels it first. Community means watching “Jesus Christ Superstar” when only one community member was really interested (hint: that was me). Community means being present, spending time, enjoying each other’s company. Investing time and energy into the community is always worth it. Through thick and thin, there is always community. Just like family.

Similarly, it’s easy to think that the students, clients and families that LVs serve are vastly different from us. That we are entering communities that are unlike our own. However, my students and their stories have made me feel way more normal and more accepted. Because I’ve learned that abnormal is normal. I’ve learned it’s okay to feel pain, and hurt, and suffering. And really feeling it is the healthy thing to do. This year, my students invited me to participate in their KAIROS retreat, a weekend I will never forget. I learned that my students and I actually have a lot more in common than we do in difference. The more stories I hear from them, the more I connect with them. The more I connect with them, the more I love them. The more late nights I spend at the school for basketball games, fundraisers, events, the more I treasure my time for them. I don’t regret a minute I’ve spent with my students. I collect their stories and I carry them with me. They inspire me. Since I began working with these young people, I haven’t been able to get these thoughts out of my head: people need people. People have the ability to change people. We can do a lot for each other, if we extend a hand. The only way we will continue to heal and grow is with constant consideration for one another.

Working with young people requires a commitment that asks for prudence, gentleness, tenacity and zeal. Students that are entrusted to our care need to know that we are devoted to them, and we will never stop caring for them, no matter what. I am passionate about helping individuals find what sets the fire inside them, and what is going to get them out of bed each day. My unique experiences as a Lasallian Volunteer have been some of my life’s greatest blessings. I know now that I am dedicated to accompanying students as they navigate life and the challenges that come along with it. I can only thank my students, my community, my mentors, my coworkers, and my family for all they have done for me in helping me discover my purpose and feel prepared for whatever comes next.

Jo-Ann Mullooly is a second-year LV serving at San Miguel High School in Tucson, AZ and is a 2016 graduate of Manhattan College.

By |April 4th, 2018|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Jo-Ann Mullooly: Aunt Susan