Saint Mary’s Staff Has Impact at International Lasallian Alumni Conference

The seventh World Congress of the Association of Lasallian Alumni met in Minneapolis last November.
Left to right: Hwa Seong “Christine” Oh, MA ’05 & ’16; Courtney Carmignani Lohmann ’05, MA ’07;  Brother David Caretti, FSC, ’99, EdD; Yolanda Franco ML ’18; and  Karin McClelland ’90, MA.

By Michael McAlpin

The seventh World Congress of the Association of Lasallian Alumni (UMAEL) was held in Minneapolis last November, with plenty of representation from Saint Mary’s. The international assembly, which celebrated its 25th anniversary, met for the first time in the United States. Its theme, “Beyond the Borders: One Heart. One Commitment,” highlighted global commonalities and goals, as well as leadership opportunities for Lasallian women. 

“The real gift of this international association is that it is a coordinated effort to share and discuss the long-term priorities of the Institute of the Brothers
of the Christian Schools to make
Lasallian education available to the most vulnerable, and in turn, it inspires us all to bring our gifts to the table to support these priorities—locally and beyond our perceived borders,” said Saint Mary’s Director of the Mission and Ministry Center Karin McClelland ’90, MA, in a recent interview. McClelland organized the Congress and served as the Lasallian Region of North America’s (RELAN) appointed representative this past year, and is the first woman to serve on the UMAEL executive committee.  

Saint Mary’s Senior Director of Alumni Engagement, Courtney Carmignani ’05, MA ’07, was elected vice president of the UMAEL executive committee, the first woman to hold the office. “I’m really excited to be a part of this leadership team,” said Carmignani. “This is an exciting time for
Lasallian schools in the United States, where many alumni are thinking globally about their identity with the Christian Brothers and how to partner together in the work of the mission throughout the world—in collaboration with our fellow international Lasallian institutions.”

Yolanda Franco ML ’18, who
participated in the gathering, came
away inspired. “What was most impactful about the UMAEL Congress was the convivencia (coexistence) of all participants despite the cultural and language differences,” she said. “Getting to know so many people from around the world who are committed to the Lasallian mission reminded me that Lasallian charism transcends any language, culture, and religion.”

Brother David Caretti, FSC, ’99, EdD, the newest member of the Mission and Ministry Center, directed the prayer services during the Congress. “The UMAEL experience was unique among my encounters with our Lasallian Family,” he said. “For the first time in my years of ministry as a Brother, I was able to represent the Saint Mary’s College community as not only an alumnus but also as a Brother. Without question, these are two major parts of my identity, and it was a privilege to share this with other Lasallian alumni from around the world whose lives have also been changed forever through their association with the De La Salle Brothers and Lasallian education. Through this experience, I realize that Saint Mary’s has new opportunities to connect our alumni with the Brothers, the wider Lasallian Family, and the Lasallian mission for many years beyond those we spend on this campus. We now have creative avenues and possibilities to engage our own alumni in deeper ways to advance our mission worldwide.”

Made up of more than 50 alumni associations and federations, UMAEL facilitates opportunities for global Lasallian networking and collaborating. This impressed SEAS Success Coach Hwa Seong “Christine” Oh, MA ’05 & ’16. “One of my most memorable events at the Congress was hearing the news that Emily Redfern ’17, the first SMC alum in the newly established international Lasallian volunteer program for the Institute, is continuing her work serving those most vulnerable in Lebanon. She’s proof that our Lasallian mission doesn’t stop inspiring our students after graduation.”