Gery Short, who has dedicated his life to working in Lasallian schools as a lay partner to the Christian Brothers, was honored at the annual Saint Mary's College Convocation on April 29, during De La Salle Week.
Brother President Ronald Gallagher conferred upon Short an honorary doctorate in educational leadership during the convocation in the College Chapel.
"Your work in the establishment of new schools, Lasalle Yakima, De Marillac Academy San Francisco, De La Salle North Catholic Portland and San Miguel Tucson greatly benefits the (San Francisco) district," Brother Ronald said. "Saint Mary's College is proud and honored to welcome students from these schools who animate our Lasallian spirit and call us to nurture mind, body and spirit."
Short received a standing ovation from the audience of faculty, staff, administrators and students. Fourth and fifth graders from De Marillac Academy, located in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, then performed a lively version of the song, "Lean on Me."
For the past 13 years, Short has been the director of education for the De La Salle Christian Brothers for the Western Province, which supports and oversees 11 high schools, a middle school, Saint Mary's College and other education works in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Tijuana, Mexico. He lives in Sonoma with his wife, Rosanne Alexander; they have three children, Nora (Saint Mary's Class of 2009), Megan and Joseph.
Short, who began teaching at Saint Mary's College High School in Berkeley in 1978, worked in a variety of positions for the district before becoming director of education, including coordinating formation activities to engage educators in the Brothers' mission. He was the first lay person to join any national Christian Brothers Board. He recently designed and instituted a new leadership program to identify and prepare the next generation of Catholic school principals and presidents for the Lasallian schools.
Short told the audience that he was inspired to work with the poor while living in Colombia for a year in the barrios of Bogota. He studied theology on his return to the United States, and was inspired by Fr. Kenan Osborne at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley.
"Kenan helped me to name and become confident with my vocation as a lay person in the Church when this wasn't so common," Short said.
His Lasallian vocational work was shaped by his association with the Christian Brothers, whom Short met when he was hired by Saint Mary's College High.
"I recognize that I represent a movement," Short said. "I represent those lay men and women who work in a Lasallian institution, college or school and have discovered their vocation within the context of the Lasallian mission, to quote the Brothers' Rule, 'the human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor, according to the ministry which the church has entrusted to it.' "
Short noted that it is important for more lay partners to aid in the Brothers' mission as there are fewer Brothers in schools. Still, he told a story about a 2003 visit he took with Brother Miguel Campos, the general councilor from Rome, to La Salle High School in Milwaukie, Ore., which had not had a Brother since 1991.
"Knowing that there had not been a Brother's presence for some years in the school, Brother Miguel asked the students, 'who taught you, who best represents this Lasallian mission to you?' " Short said. "Without hesitating, the students started to answer: Mr. George, Ms. Bromly, Mr. Casciato, Mr. Kuffner â€¦ At that moment, a light went on for me. These students were saying to us that lay men and women could also be the heart and guarantor of the mission, just as the Brothers have been for many of us."
-- Erin Hallissy
Office of College Communications
Photograph by Gorbachev Lingad '10