In celebration of Saint Mary’s Centennial, several Saint Mary’s trustees joined Brother William and SMU staff members in France (April 21-27, 2013) to retrace the university’s Lasallian Catholic roots. The group of 25 stayed in Paris and visited sites in Paris, Reims and Rouen, significant in Saint John Baptist de La Salle’s life.

Members of the board chose to fund their trip in an effort to more deeply understand the university’s Lasallian heritage and to get to know one another better. In addition to countless photographs, they brought home a profound appreciation for De La Salle and his work, which will help them shape and form the trajectory of the university’s second century.

Sandra (Kaiser CST’72) Simon said her favorite part of the trip was walking in the footsteps of John Baptist de La Salle, visiting the towns he lived and worked in, as well as developing a camaraderie among other trustees.

“This trip helped me to understand what SMU means to the community and what it provides to students both educationally and morally,” she said. “I think this trip allowed the trustees to find out not only about Saint La Salle but also to find out about each other. We are supporters of an institution whose values are clearly defined by its mission. It is our obligation as trustees to work together to help the university evolve during this new century while maintaining the core values and mission of the Lasallian tradition.”

Terry ’76 and Kathleen (Conway ’78) Russell enjoyed getting to know other attendees and their families in a relaxed atmosphere. Having Cathy’s brother, Brother Pat Conway ’75, M’80, also along on the trip, held special meaning.

Terry learned a lot about the Lasallian heritage including that Saint John Baptist de La Salle is credited with pioneering many now-standard classroom techniques, combined with spiritual instruction. De La Salle wanted education to be accessible to all children, regardless of their financial status, but he and the Brothers were persecuted due to the  political movements of the day. “Most of all I was humbled and amazed by the dedication and sense of mission of the past and present Brothers,” he said. “The Brothers we met in their communities, as well as those who accompanied us on the tour, were generous and very knowledgeable.

“The deeper relationships forged with fellow board members and staff were priceless; however, the sense that we are a small part of the Lasallian mission makes one dedicated to furthering the goals of SMU.”

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