A New Vision for De La Salle Week

The Saint Mary's College community of students, faculty, and staff came together in late April for five days of varied events commemorating the work and heritage of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of the Christian Brothers.

De La Salle Week, a new tradition at Saint Mary's College, featured liturgies, lectures, concerts, social events, and recreational activities designed to celebrate and raise awareness about the mission of the college, a Lasallian institution since 1867.

"We wanted the campus community not just to know about the mission, but to feel a part of it," said Dean of Mission Carole Swain, who worked with Assistant Dean of Student Life Brother Michael Sanderl and 25 other organizers representing key campus constituencies to create a new vision for the annual event.

Celebrations were centered around the landmark De La Salle statue, where crowds drawn to barbecues on Monday and Friday also raised funds to fight hunger, and at the Chapel for special liturgies, tours, and organ concerts.

The week kicked off with an open house at the Brothers' Residence, drawing some of the newest faces of the campus community along with some of its most venerable members. For Kathy Roper, professor of history since 1969, it was the first time inside the doors.

"Of several open houses over the years, this was the first I was able to attend," said Roper, adding, "of course, years back women were not allowed in the Brothers' residence." Nowadays, events such as "Soup and Substance" brown-bag readings offer opportunities throughout the year to meet in the residence with the Brothers.

Brothers also hosted many of the week's most notable events. College President Brother Ronald Gallagher led a tour relating the life and legacy of De La Salle as depicted in the Chapel's 12 stained-glass windows. Brother Martin Yribarren performed organ music from the time of De La Salle, and Brother Kenneth Cardwell led guided hikes to the cross. The Staff Council hosted another meet-and-greet with the Brothers at an open house in Siena Hall on Thursday.

The week wrapped up with the third annual Carnival 4 Kids on April 29, which welcomed to campus 250 children from Oakland and San Francisco for fun and games. The event was organized by a team of student volunteers led by senior Megan Schulman, and more than 125 Saint Mary's students served as big buddies to the children as they played games and watched dance performances at Ferroggiaro Quad.

Several SMC staff members, dressed as clowns, kept the children entertained by making colorful balloon animals. Later, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Ken Dorsey and Saint Mary's basketball coach Randy Bennett talked to the children about the importance of education and going to college. Each child left Saint Mary's with a backpack and Dr. Seuss book, made possible through donations by faculty and staff.

For Pamela Thomas of Campus Ministry, the weeklong effort brought to mind De La Salle's words: "Those who possess the hearts of others, do possess the whole earth."

"To meet, to greet and to speak in a personal atmosphere," said Thomas, "we make the connections that make us a community."

-- Kap Stann
Office of College Communications