Worldwide Lasallian Educators Spend Summer at Manhattan

More than 120 education professionals from Pakistan to Papua New Guinea visited Manhattan College in June to attend the Buttimer Institute, an annual program that delves deeper into the aspects of our Lasallian Catholic heritage.

Brother Shahzad Gill, an auxiliary visitor and the principal of La Salle High School in Faisalabad, Pakistan, traveled to Manhattan College in June for his second year participating in an intensive formation program that invites education professionals to more deeply understand the teachings of Saint John Baptist de La Salle. During the two weeks he spent on campus attending the Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies, which was held from June 25 – July 8, he and his fellow attendees were also challenged to discover ways that they could carry out the Lasallian educational mission. Brother Shahzad Gill visits Manhattan College

While at Manhattan, Br. Shahzad also had the opportunity to meet with Mehnaz Afridi, Ph.D., a Pakistani-American and Muslim scholar who serves as director of the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith (HGI) Center on campus, and Haris Ali ’18, a current student who was born in Pakistan. Both of those meetings were facilitated by Brother Jack Curran, FSC, Ph.D., the College’s vice president for mission.

This summer, Br. Shahzad was one of 23 international participants who arrived in Riverdale this summer from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Nigeria, among other countries, where they were joined by representatives from Lasallian Christian Brothers institutions located across the U.S.

As a second-year or “Buttimer II” participant, he was part of a group that studied and reflected upon De La Salle’s pedagogical writings both individually, and in smaller groups.

Buttimer is a three-year intensive Lasallian education program that seeks to better acquaint higher education professionals with the Lasallian mission by helping them develop skills they can utilize to benefit their own ministries. Courses are conducted during a period of three consecutive summers, and at the end of the final year, students are eligible to receive graduate credits. The Buttimer Institute was named for Brother Charles Henry Buttimer, FSC, a 1933 Manhattan College graduate and former Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. The program is carried out by the Office for Lasallian Education at Christian Brothers Conference, the Office for the Lasallian Region of North America. 

“I have learned a lot in this very short time, which seems to have passed so quickly. I have experienced the tremendous and wonderful diversity of the groups and especially my Buttimer II group,” he said of the experience.

As part of Buttimer, participants took part in three classroom sessions per day, morning and evening prayer sessions in the Chapel of de La Salle and His Brothers, and numerous social activities that helped them get to know each other. They also visited the Manhattan College archives in O’Malley Library and had a guided tour of the Chapel with archivist Amy Surak, who spoke about the 12 newly-restored stained glass windows that showcase the Life and Work of John Baptist de La Salle. Prior to their installation at the College in early 2016, the collection had undergone a lengthy restoration and reacquisition process with the District Council of the District of Eastern North America (DENA).

Sarah Scott, Ph.D, associate professor of philosophy at Manhattan College, and Jack McClure, Ph.D., the program director for the Education Doctoral Degree in Leadership program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, were among those who participated in Buttimer III this year. In their final year, Scott, McClure and their cohort focused on De La Salle’s spiritual vision, and immersed themselves in the founder’s spiritual writings and works. The Buttimer Institute

“The Buttimer Institute is a powerful bonding experience with people of so many different places. It’s rewarding and sad that it’s coming to an end," McClure said. 

Included in his graduating class was Manhattan College philosophy professor Sarah Scott, Ph.D., who presented her research project, “Education as Spiritual Resistance: Hannah Arendt, Martin Buber and the Lasallian Charism,” as part of her completion of the program.

The effects of delving deeper into the origins of their Lasallian heritage proved to be profound for College faculty and administrators who participated, as well as for those from other institutions, according to Br. Jack.

“Watching the presentations of the 25 graduates of Buttimer III, and seeing them receive their certificates, it was enlightening to see Lasallians from all over the world share their insight on the life and work of our patron saint, John Baptist de La Salle. It was an honor to host an event equally significant to our heritage as it is to our future as disciples of the Lasallian mission, to touch hearts, to teach minds, and transform lives,” he said.

“As President O'Donnell wrote in his welcome letter to Lasallian educators from around the globe, their time as participants in the Buttimer Institute here at Manhattan College is an encouragement to all of us in ‘making Lasallian education a beacon of hope, a project of faith, and an expression of love.’”

This year was the first time Manhattan played host to the Buttimer Institute in 25 years. Following its launch in 1986, when the first cohort meeting was held on Manhattan’s campus, the conference has been held at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga. 
By Christine Loughran