A worldwide educational mission has a home in Monmouth County, changing thousands of lives throughout the Northeast and beyond.
Eatontown, NJ - Discussion of supporting a school and health clinic in Haiti is taking place in a conference room. A leadership team is figuring out how to assume responsibility and operate a school in Jamaica. Staff members are working through the details to send tuition support to students affected by Superstorm Sandy. A meeting focuses on how to best use the human resource of over 300 religious educators in some of the most successful schools throughout the Northeast.
This sounds like multiple non-profit organizations are hard at work. Reality is, all of this is centered in one office, for one religious community; the Brothers of the Christian Schools District of Eastern North America, in Eatontown, New Jersey.
The Brothers of the Christian Schools District Office, just down the road from its more publicly known local ministry, Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, is part of a larger national and international network of educational enterprises that call themselves Lasallian, and have their foundation in the vision of John Baptist de La Salle, the Patron Saint of Teachers.
The network reaches over 82 countries and includes schools on every level, and provides places for children and families to find care and support. The District of Eastern North America (DENA) is the local administrative unit that oversees the work and ministry of Christian Brothers and their Lasallian partners in various ministries in seven states in northeastern U.S., Canada, Jamaica, and resources in at least nine other countries. DENA’s domestic footprint stretches from Toronto to Washington, DC and from Detroit to Providence.
In its fifth year as DENA, the District is headed by a new Leadership Team, that took office this Fall. Brother Dennis Malloy, FSC is the Provincial/Visitor, leader of the District, answering to The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the largest religious order strictly dedicated to teaching, in the Catholic Church, and assisted by Auxiliary Visitors Brothers Edward Phelan, Charles Kitson and Thomas Scanlan. Director of Finance, Brother Timothy Froehlich, Director of Administration, Brother James Martino, and Executive Director of the Office for Mission and Ministry, Mr. Alan Weyland, round out the leadership team which works to continue the 330 year old mission of Christian education to the poor, especially the young.
Eatontown to the World
PHOTO: DENA Delegation to Haiti – Mr. John Thawley (Christian Brothers Academy – Lincroft, NJ) Br. Robert Schaefer, FSC (Central Catholic High School - Pittsburgh, PA) and Yanick Chamberland-Richer (Lasallian Educator from Montreal, Canada), three members of the most recent delegation to Haiti, pictured here with children in the tent village of Cazeau, just outside of Port-au-Prince. A number of the children from this village attend the Christian Brothers’ new school that opened in 2012, that the District of Eastern North America is partnering with to support its mission.
Partnered with the Christian Brothers in the District of Antilles / South Mexico, DENA is exploring ways it can be of service to a fledgling school and health clinic in earthquake and poverty torn Haiti. Two delegations comprised of some of the best minds from our high schools, colleges, and mission teams have visited, putting plans in place so that our diverse faculty, staff, and students, can donate their time, talents, and treasure to help educate the most needy of Port-au-Prince.
Answering the request of the District Office, two Christian Brothers and a Lasallian Lay-Partner willingly volunteered to take over operations of the last remaining Catholic School in Jamaica. These men left their current ministries, and families, because they as Christian educators believed it is part of their vocation to insure that young people in impoverished Bull Savannah have an excellent and affordable education.
The Mission Closer to Home
Calling on the District’s network of almost forty schools and ministries, Lasallian students and faculty raised tens of thousands of dollars to aid fellow students and families that lost so much during Superstorm Sandy. As a network, the belief was that the last thing members of our Lasallian family should have had to worry about was where their tuition was going to come from. In addition to funds raised, hundreds of hours were spent through hands on community service by students and faculty, immediately following the storm, and for many months after in continued clean up and rebuilding.
PHOTO: Lasallian Youth 2013 Group – Over 100 students, faculty, and Christian Brothers gathered for the 2013 Lasallian Youth Assembly this past July, hosted by Manhattan College, a ministry of the District of Eastern North America, in Riverdale, NY. Students aided in clean up, relief, and rebuilding efforts for those affected by Superstorm Sandy throughout the New York metro and northern New Jersey areas.
At the center of more than 22,000 students and over 5,000 educators in Lasallian Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, and Youth and Family Service programs, DENA conducts training and formation programs, and provides opportunities for community service and cultural immersion, locally and abroad.
Professional development conferences and spiritual retreats allow Lasallian educators to grow in their connections to their faith, profession, and each other, all while learning about the deep rooted mission of Christian education, and the immense impact of the work they do. Youth service assemblies and mission immersion trips broaden the understanding our Lasallian students have of the need for social justice, and the change they can affect both in their local, and global community.
Creating a family across thousands of square miles is no small task, but the Lasallian mission of the District of Eastern North America would be less without it. All the good that happens at each of our ministries, and its surrounding communities, is magnified through the District Office’s efforts. In a quiet way, quite an impact is being made in the lives of Brothers, Partners, and most importantly, thousands of Lasallian students, receiving, in the words of the Christian Brothers’ founder, John Baptist de La Salle “a human and Christian education.”
The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, inspired by the life and vision of John Baptist de La Salle, the Patron Saint of Teachers of Youth, is an international Roman Catholic order of lay Religious Brothers. Together, and by association with their Partners in mission, the Institute strives to provide "a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor.” The Institute sponsors schools and other educational ministries in over 80 countries worldwide, with the District of Eastern North America (DENA) spanning from Toronto, Canada to Washington, DC, and Warren, MI to Providence, RI.