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               A view from the Retreat Center.

For centuries, the natural beauty of the New Mexican high desert has attracted religious communities whose spirits were fed by crystal blue skies, snow-capped mountains, and the scent of piñon.  Many continue to flock to the Santa Fe area for spiritual renewal through religious reflection and artistic explorations.

On November 10-13, 24 District of San Francisco New Orleans (SFNO) Lasallians trekked to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Retreat Center, located in enchanting Santa Fe, for the Lasallian Commitment Retreat.  There, experienced Lasallian educators accompanied their colleagues on a journey through both iconic moments in the life of the Founder and pivotal moments in their own vocation stories.

Facilitated by Charles Legendre, AFSC (SFNO Director, Office of Education-Covington) and Greg Kopra (SFNO Director, Formation for Mission), the retreat provided space for prayer, quiet reflection, art, and community building.  It also included a visit to the Saint Michael’s High School Brothers Community.

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  (L-R) Selena Vega, Gina Hall, and Pamela Vega.

Retreat sessions and presenters included Overview of Lasallian Spirituality by Brother Michael Livaudais, FSC (Vocation Ministry Team, SFNO); The Invitation by Diahann Larson, AFSC  (Campus Minister, Saint Michael’s High School); Community by Janis Chitwood (English Teacher, Saint Michael’s High School and Paul Baca (Math Teacher, Saint Michael’s High School); Women in the Life of the Founder by Diahann Larson, AFSC and Gina Hall, AFSC (Guidance Counselor, Saint Paul’s School, Covington, LA); Spirituality in Pedagogy by Mrs. Gina Hall, AFSC; and Discernment in Vocation by Joseph Schuchardt (Assistant Principal for Formation, Mullen High School, Denver, CO).

Looking back on the impression left by the gathering on the participants, a common awareness expressed during their shared reflections was that the Lasallian mission simply “fits.”  Retreatants expressed how much it means to have a spirituality which gives meaning to their work, focuses on the real needs of young people, calls adults into a faith community, and places ultimate importance on relationships.

Retreat participants were:

Cathedral High School, El Paso, TX: Lucy Abraham; Armando Heredia, Jr.; Pamela Lopez; Sylvia Moreno; Leonardo Steinhauser; Selena Vega

De La Salle High School, New Orleans, LA: Alan DeRitter

De La Salle North Catholic High School, Portland, OR: Melissa Harrison; Andrew Poundstone

La Salle Catholic College Preparatory, Milwaukie, OR: Kerri Kelvin

Mullen High School, Denver, CO: LaVoynn Miller

Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, San Francisco, CA: Lauren Davenport

Saint Michael’s High School, Santa Fe, NM: Todd Austin; Gladys Rimkus

Saint Paul’s School, Covington, LA: Liz Brett; Matt Pinero

Story and photos contributed by Charles Legendre, AFSC, Director, SFNO Office of Education-Covington