William Mann, FSC, D.Min.
First of all, I want (a) to say that it’s a real pleasure to be here with so many Lasallian friends and colleagues from all over the United States and Canada and (b) to say “thank you” to the organizers of the conference for the honor of being invited to come from Rome to address you about the deep story of inclusivity . . . the “wide embrace” . . . of our Lasallian educational mission. When I was a young Brother, we used to joke among ourselves about our District’s Auxiliary Visitor, the only person we knew who would travel from New York to New Orleans by way of Seattle; and I found myself mindful of him . . . chuckling even . . . as I traveled from Rome to Chicago by way of visits to Thailand and the Philippines.
And so, on this trip . . . quite literally around the world . . . I found myself one day walking in a restricted and guarded residential community in Manila. There was broken glass on the top of eight-foot walls, and there were security guards in booths armed with machine guns. Only the well off, the known, the invited, the announced, gained access. Entrance was restricted to keep out those who were unknown, different, feared, mistrusted – unwelcome.
I recall similar “guarded communities” in so many places that I have visited . . . cities like Johannesburg, Nairobi, Bangalore . . . where those who are well off protect and isolate themselves from the squalor and the so-called “riff-raff” . . . from contact with the poor . . . a scene whose variation was well expressed by Jonathan Kozol’s opening description of New York City in his book entitled Amazing Grace: The Number 6 train from Manhattan to the South Bronx makes nine stops in the eighteen-minute ride between East 59th Street and Brook Avenue. When you enter the train, you are in the seventh richest congressional district in the [USA]. When you leave, you are in the poorest. The “haves” and the “have nots” often live side by side, but their worlds are separated by a cultural divide as wide as the Pacific Ocean that I crossed by airplane on my way here to be with you.
About the Author
William Mann, FSC, D.Min.
Brother William Mann, FSC, who holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School (1990), is president emeritus of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He is a former vicar general of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (2000-2007), who served as president of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota from 2008 to 2018 and as president of the International Association of La Salle Universities from 2015 to 2018.