Mexican educator Brother Gustavo Ramírez Barba, FSC, was lauded as “a brilliant educator who exemplifies the spirit of faith and zeal” at the annual Saint Mary’s College academic Convocation on Wednesday.
Saint Mary’s President Brother Ronald Gallagher, who praised Brother Gustavo for his devotion to educating students and his leadership in the Lasallian community, conferred on him an honorary doctorate of education. He noted that as executive secretary of the Lasallian Latin American Region, Brother Gustavo leads Brothers and other partners in “serving the needs of 35 percent of Lasallian students worldwide.”
The Convocation is the centerpiece of a weeklong celebration of the life of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, founder of the Christian Brothers and the patron saint of teachers. It brings together students, faculty in their academic regalia, staff and Brothers in a colorful ceremony, accompanied by stirring music.
Among those who performed at the Convocation were the Saint Mary’s Chamber Singers, the Glee Club, and the Sacred Music Choir, along with organist Brother Martin Yribarren and the San Francisco Opera Brass.
For Brother Gustavo, the Convocation was a homecoming of sorts. Earlier in his career, he had earned a master of arts in education at the College.
In his acceptance speech, he noted that the educational Lasallian mission is “in a transition to a period of greater vitality,” as witnessed by the proliferation of Lasallian colleges and universities that are being created to meet a growing demand for education in Latin America.
He also offered inspiring examples of imaginative Lasallian initiatives in Latin America, particularly programs serving the poor and disenfranchised, such as native people, impaired people, working children, migrants and victims of violence. An example is the Techno-Agricultural Research Park in Colombia, which offers education to young people from rural areas plagued by violence and prepares them to lead “social and political transformation” by promoting productivity.
Among the distinguished guests at the Convocation were Brother Donald Johanson; Visitor of the San Francisco District, Rev. John S. Cummins, former bishop of the Oakland Diocese; and Sister Mary Peter Traviss of the University of San Francisco.
Hon. Álvaro Rodríguez Echeverria, the superior general of the Lasallian Brothers, wrote a moving tribute to Brother Gustavo for the occasion, describing him as “a complete man” in the tradition of Saint John Baptist de La Salle - “a solid and wise man, and a man who delivers himself wholeheartedly to his mission and his vocation.”
By Teresa Castle
Office of College Communications
Photos by Shomari Carter '13