Convocation Honors Lasallian Education Pioneer

Vice President for Mission Carole Swain with Brother Jose Cervantes, the 2008 De La Salle Week Convocation honoree

Brother Jose Cervantes is a dreamer, but his half-century of Lasallian educational initiatives have shown him to be far from quixotic.

At an April 30 convocation in the Chapel, the College granted an honorary doctorate to Brother Jose, who has established Brothers' colleges in Mexico and helped create the International Association of Lasallian Universities (IALU).

The convocation came during the middle of De La Salle Week, the College's celebration of Christian Brothers founder Saint John Baptist de La Salle.

"In the spirit of de La Salle, (Brother Jose) is a founder - a founder of three universities in Mexico," SMC Brother President Brother Ronald Gallagher told an audience of more than 200 faculty, students and guests.

In addition to the campus community, eight presidents of Christian Brothers' universities in Mexico were also on campus to honor their colleague. The ceremony featured an academic procession and included music from the College's Sacred Music Choir and NightinGaels.

In his address to the Saint Mary's community, Brother Jose focused on the opportunities that exist within international Lasallian educational network, which includes more than 900,000 students in 80 countries.

"The university is the ideal place to find and talk to foreigners," said Brother Jose. "Meeting different people might be a moment of fear, but also a moment of recognition, understanding and gratification."

Brother Jose also suggested that the university community can help serve as society's critical conscience, skeptically evaluating the "temptation to find refuge in a single story" of fascism, communism or market capitalism.

He pointed to Nazi Germany and the Soviet gulag as obvious examples of dangerous totalitarian visions, but also cited Karl Polanyi's notion that market capitalism can become a "religion of economy" where "human conscience is pushed aside."

"At the center of this concept lies the fiction that everything - absolutely everything - can be treated like a commodity that can be marketed and sold," Brother Jose warned. "But we know that what is fiction is also a lie."

--John Grennan
Office of College Communications

Photo by Gabrielle Diaz '11