Bonds of Brotherhood – what’s in a name?
|Br Mark McKeon with Bankstown students.|
This year marks the 360th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the De La Salle Brothers, John Baptist De la Salle. John was born in France in 1651 and opened the first Lasallian School in 1680.
Since that time the De La Salle Brothers have spread to 83 countries around the globe and work in varied places such as Madagascar, Palestine, Australia, China, the Southern Sudan and Chile to name just some of the places.
The core work of the De La Salle Brothers is to provide a human and Christian education to young people especially those most in need. Br Mark McKeon, who is currently the Director of Vocations, has been a De La Salle Brother for almost 30 years says.
“The name ‘Brother’ says it all for me. Being a Brother is all about relationships. These relationships include the Brothers I live in community with, the young people I meet in my work and the adults I work with and my relationship with God,” Mark said.
“I love being able to speak about how I came to be a Brother and probably more importantly why I stay being a Brother. The bottom line is I love what I do and each year in the Brothers gets better for me.
“My time in the Brothers has given me opportunities to teach in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia. More recently I have worked in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.
“An essential aspect of the Brothers’ life is being available to respond to needs. It is a challenge to pack up belongings and head to a new place but I’ve always found, after an initial settling-in period, the new place quickly becomes home for me.
“What helps these changes is the reality that community is integral to the life of a Brother. Living in community with other Brothers provides me with both support and encouragement. It is the genuine interest that Brothers show in me that also helps me in the various ministries in which I am involved.”
Giving a voice to the marginalised
The De La Salle Brothers are involved in education in a variety of ways. In some parts of the world you can begin kindergarten in a Lasallian school and finish in a Lasallian University.
|Br Rick Gaffney with Aboriginal students in Balgo Hills, WA.|
In this part of the world we have Brothers working in school, teachers’ college, university and welfare work.
Education is not limited to the formal setting of school. A number of Brothers are involved in the work of BoysTown, which is the main welfare work of the De La Salle Brothers.
The focus of BoysTown is best described in its mission statement: “To enable young people, especially those who are marginalised and without a voice, to improve their quality of life.”
In Western Sydney, at Blacktown and Campbelltown, a number of Brothers work for BoysTown Employment Services. BoysTown is often driving new welfare initiatives Australia wide, e.g. an anti-cyber bullying program has been jointly developed with BoysTown Kids Help Line and Optus.
The life of a Brother is not for everyone but it might be the best option for you. Over the past couple of years the De La Salle Brothers have provided opportunities to experience the life of a brother first hand.If you would like to “Test Drive” the Brothers’ life all it takes is an email or phone call. For more information about the De La Salle Brothers go to www.delasallebrothers.com and you might discover the life of a Brother is just what you are looking for.