Philippine Lasallians respond to Church's call to educate the poor

The PLFC event emphasizes the importance of lay partners participation in the Lasallian educational mission and encourages everyone to engage and respond to the call of the Church in disseminating the mission and vocation to strengthen the faith and relationship of people to God.

Jun 05, 2023

PLFC 2023 delegates, committee members, and observers (courtesy of De La Salle Philippines)

By Rechilda Estores

Ms. Fritzie De Vera, a Filipina co-chair of the 2023 Philippine Lasallian Family Convocation (PLFC) shared that the first PLFC event was convened by Br. Armin Luistro FSC, “In 1999, the first Philippine Lasallian District Synod was held to gather the Lasallian brothers and partners with the hope to strengthen the presence of lay partners and give them the voice in setting the directions for the Lasallian mission.”

She said that the role of the lay partners in being involved in the decision-making process helps the journey of the Lasallian people and Lasallian districts.  

“Not only the brothers but also the lay people are part of the visioning process and setting of directions for the Philippine Lasallian family,” Ms De Vera told Vatican News.

The PLFC co-chair also highlighted the significance of the event because it “focuses on convocation talks on how to further the Lasallian educational mission in the Philippines,” she elaborated. “Not just educational ministry but also the mission of the schools and formation of the young people and lay partners.”

Ms De Vera recalled how the charism of St. John Baptist De La Salle is incorporated into the PLFC.

“The PLFC is based on his charism, mission of education,” she explained. “St. John Baptist De La Salle is the inspiration and we wanted to make sure how the schools will respond to the core of the Lasallian mission which is to provide human and Christian education, especially to the poor.”

In PLFC the lay people are involved in the discussions of the Lasallian mission to further educate and lead many towards their discovery of their vocations, she said that they are  “open to Brothers, educators, and the religious in the Church.”

Ms De Vera believes that “vocation is an area of focus where schools can contribute” she said. “Lasallian vocation is not solely for the Brothers but it is the process of how students discover their purpose and calling which is also one of the priorities.”

Ms De Vera also pointed out that the Lasallian academies serve as an avenue to spread the mission. “The convocation process starts in the school; the process of convocation started with conversations and institutional reflections to talk about the Lasallian mission,” she said.

She also emphasized that La Salle schools are all Catholic schools and in the Philippines, they are a reference for Catholic teachings.

“Catholicism is integrated with the outcomes of the convocation. That’s how we make the Church values part of the whole process,” Ms De Vera said. 

As the co-chair of the PLFC 2023, she hopes that “the schools and people will continue to be engaged.”

In spreading the Lasallian mission and vocation to all sectors, the PLFC mission is extended to many different Lasallian schools such as the De La Salle University – Dasmariñas (DLSU-D) in the Philippines which also held an event entitled Lasallian Mission and Vocations Festival (LMVF) 2023 to celebrate the identity, mission, and vocations of the Lasallians.

Lasallian Mission and Vocations Festival
Mr. Jose Ritche Bongcaron, a Filipino Vice President for Mission and Formation at DLSU-D has expressed the participation of the university in advancing Catholic faith, mission, and vocations to the youth.

“As a Catholic Lasallian academic institution, conducting a mission and vocations festival is about celebrating a community that strives to live out its faith expressed in its commitment to serve the least, the last, and the lost,” he continued. “As we celebrate, we are also reminded of our responsibility and our ministry in the Church, in the context of being an institution of learning entrusted to accompany the young [people],” he told Vatican News.

He also elaborated that the theme of the event “#OurLasallianDNA: Joyfully Living Together Our Lasallian Mission is a celebration of how the DLSU-D community lives out its identity and continues to creatively fulfil the Lasallian educational mission.”

The Vice President for Mission and Formation mentioned that the lay collaborators in the Lasallian family are being recognized.

“We are blessed to be part of the Lasallian family worldwide as our involvement in the mission as lay partners are affirmed and celebrated as an important vocation,” he said.

In his 24 years of service, he also stated that he felt belongingness as a lay partner in the Lasallian family. 

“We are seen, and embraced as partners with the De La Salle Brothers in mission “together and by association” – a way of living out our Lasallian core value of “communion in mission,” he said.  

Mr. Bongcaron said that the event was participated by the “members of the community led by DLSU-D President, Br. Francisco "Sockie" de la Rosa VI FSC together with the Brothers of the Residencia De La Salle Community."

He also added that young people, teachers, parents, and other sectors also participated in the festival this year.

“More than 8,000 students and 1,000 lay partners attended the LMVF 2023,” he recalled.

The LMVF was a six days celebration during the month of May and Mr. Bongcaron stated that they held a Mass at the end of the event to give thanks to the Lord and everyone who participated. 

“The LMVF ended with a thanksgiving eucharistic celebration, and a simple fellowship to express our gratitude to God and to everyone who helped and made the festival a success,” he said.   

Mr. Bongcaron concluded the interview by expressing his hopes in the future to “continue to explore ways to make the celebration a more meaningful opportunity to celebrate the faith, encourage service and walk together in communion, and continue to be a “church in campus”.--Vatican News

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