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The Lasallian Mission: Remixing, disrupting and being radically candid about our services with and for young people

Santa Teresa, Ormiston, QLD, saw five yourtown staff join five St Michael’s (Adelaide) staff for a time of exploring the Lasallian Heritage, a formative experience facilitated by Br. John Cantwell and Philippe Dulawan. In gathering over meals, sharing in practical insights, it was an eye-opening and enriching experience for all involved which included; classroom teachers from primary school and high-school, leaders of learning, service design coordinators, CFO’s, internal audit and People and Culture leaders 

Tracy Adams, CEO of yourtown, accompanied by Julie Kleidon, highlighted the courageousness, challenges and ambition to serve the vast needs of young people from the Founder’s story. In her address to the group, she called for each of us to channel this courage to not settle for the status quo in pursuit of serving young people. “De La Salle the disruptor” was the image of many who experienced this session. Much like Google, Uber and Spotify, De La Salle in his day disrupted the established norms to improve access to all. All delegates were challenged to consider this question, “What needs disrupting now internally in our organisations and in the broader society”? 

Fresh off representing the District at the CIL Program: Women in the Lasallian Family: Moving Forward Together as Leaven for Transformation, in Rome, Julie Alibrandi, Director of Operations, Lasallian Mission Services, shared her experience of Rome and the longer story of women as protagonist in the Lasallian story. Lasallian Mission Services, shared her experience of Rome and the important role that women play as protagonists in the Lasallian Mission today. With 58.3% of all Lasallian Mission staff being female, and with a disruptive Founder in mind, it was challenging to think once again, how our structures and circles of influence inhibit women in our Lasallian ministries. This presentation encapsulated the Lasallian backstory and the important role of women in the life of JBDLS and the women of influence well before his birth. Br. John shared intriguing information about Nicolas Roland, Nicolas Barre, Madame Maillefer, Catherine LeLeu, Sister Louise and so many other connections that serendipitously conspired to launch this mission. Could this group of conspirators have been the first Lasallian Family?

On Tuesday afternoon, Kay Hodson, the Transition to Work state manager at yourtown, arranged a visit for participants to visit the Transition to Work, Kingston site, showcasing the human-centred designed facility that young people were co-designers for. The space is a welcoming environment for all that wish to use the services and little details like removing the cupboard doors in the kitchen meant young people feel comfortable accessing the food supplies available to them. This was in the shared lunch area that is for both young people and yourtown staff who walk with them. It is around these tables that connections are often built. 

Delegates engaged in a perspective-taking activity, understanding their own world view and contrasting that with the experience and lens of a young person. In using both these lenses, the heritage of the Lasallian story was “remixed” to be translated and transmitted when back in the communities. Furthermore, Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker), and an examination of the Uluru Statement of the heart continued to remind all present, that we aren’t the only “pebble on the beach”, there are many rich examples to draw from. A couple of examples of the (remixed) wisdom shared include: 

“It’s not about the game, it’s about the mateship” - Adelaide Lasallian; “Know your students individually and be able to understand them” - De La Salle. In describing the structural issues within society, a yourtown staff member said: “We are trying to even the playing field, but the whole game needs changing. Who created the game? Does everyone fit?”, drawing from the lived reality of more positive investment by the government into currently punitive systems of incarceration. Likening this to the quote, “You can perform miracles by touching the hearts of those entrusted to your care” - De La Salle.  

This experience was formative for all involved and there was a commitment beyond the Ormiston retreat centre, to continue the Lasallian energy of this lived experience back in their Lasallian communities. Delegates set a date to reconvene on Zoom, where they will follow-up on their commitments made in the final session. 


(Author: Philippe Dulawan, Associate Director of Formation for Mission)