Saint Mary’s Community Invited to Symposium on Justice and Lasallian Education

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To commemorate the legacy of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, patron saint of teachers and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the mission officers of the Lasallian Association of Colleges and Universities (LACU) will present “Justice in the World and the Mission of Lasallian Education Today: Enacting the Common Good” on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 4 p.m.; the feast day of De La Salle. This virtual symposium will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Justice in the World, the 1971 Synod of Bishops’ social teaching document, and address Circular 412, The Educational Service of the Poor and the Promotion of Justice (1980), of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.

Kevin Ahern, PhD, associate professor of religious studies and faculty advisor to the Just Peace organization at Manhattan College is the keynote speaker. Respondents are Carol Ann Gittens, PhD, dean of the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College; and Jerry Kavouras, PhD, biology department chair at Lewis University. Moderating the discussion is Ernest J. Miller, FSC, D.Min, vice president of mission, diversity, and inclusion at La Salle University.

In one of the most cited passages from Catholic social teaching, Justice in the World, the 1971 Synod of Bishops articulates a challenging mission for the Catholic Church with the claim that “action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world is a constitutive dimension” of the “Church’s mission.” This claim that social action for the poor is a core dimension of Catholic identity and practice has deeply shaped the Church over the past 50 years. For many religious congregations, including the Brothers of the Christian Schools (Lasallians), the promotion of justice became a critical dimension of their own understanding of mission. Circular 412 of 1980, for example, calls for a deeper integration of social justice in Lasallian schools and universities worldwide, and today many of these institutions point to social justice as a defining element of identity.  

The 50th anniversary of Justice in the World offers a chance to evaluate these commitments and their relationship to Catholic identity. Is “action for justice” really a defining feature of Lasallian educational mission and identity today, particularly in the face of racism, militarism, classism, and anthropocentrism (ecological injustice)?  

This presentation will explore the nature and meaning of Catholic education through the lens of the 1971 Synod document, and the recent teachings of Pope Francis. After introducing the document and the debate surrounding the text, the presentation will examine the possibilities and risks for Lasallian educational institutions to take seriously the justice mission articulated in Catholic social teaching. 

Faculty, staff, administrators, and students from all Lasallian ministries are welcome to join what promises to be an engaging and informative online symposium. For more information and to register, click here.


The event is presented by the mission officers of LACU who minister at Bethlehem University, Christ the Teacher Institute of Education, Christian Brothers University, Ethiopian Catholic University – La Salle, La Salle University, Lewis University, Manhattan College, Saint Mary’s College of California, and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, in collaboration with the Office for Lasallian Education at Christian Brothers Conference.