Are young people still joining religious life? Yes.

We are members of the male religious order known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools or De La Salle Christian Brothers.

Visit to find out more about what our 325-plus year old religious order is all about.

To put it simply: we are teachers living together as consecrated men.

This blog is designed to give you an inside look at what religious life is like for the "younger generation."

As Brothers under 45, we hope sharing our life will give you a sense of who we are and/or possibly serve as an invitation from God to join us in this vocation.

UPDATES: 3 NEW POSTS for Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Discernment Retreat, Mont La Salle, Napa, CA

The District of San Francisco hosted a Discernment Retreat for men interested in gathering with others in retreat for the purpose of discerning their vocation and how the life of the Brothers may be a calling for them. The retreat took place at Mont La Salle in Napa, CA from Friday, May 30 - Sunday, June 1.

By Thursday evening most of the participants had settled in. The retreat officially began with mass on Friday morning. The participants joined the Provincialate and Novitiate Brothers' Communities (already living at Mont La Salle) at 7:15 AM for liturgy, followed by breakfast. Br. George then opened the retreat that morning. The retreat was well-balanced with prayer, personal time, group sharing, and one on one time with Br. George, Director of Vocation Ministry and Br. Richard Moratto, Director of Novices. Meals and fun were provided too!

At the end of the retreat, the men participating were asked to share what they were looking for as they discerned their vocation. The responses included:
  • A way to bring others to God
  • Strong prayer life
  • Being present to students like the Brothers are
  • Unity (community) in doing the ministry
  • Devote one’s life to teaching
  • Life in the classroom
  • The support of a community with the same goal: service to the poor
  • Continue the journey from God to God for myself and accompanying those we serve in their journey
  • Ability to talk about God: young people need to be able to talk about God and shown God—the Brothers do this with young people
  • The Brothers and their schools are based on something (mission)

Morep photos from the Retreat here:

Br. John Luczkowski, 27

My name is Br. John Luczkowski. I’m currently finishing the novitiate year for the Christian Brothers and will return to teaching this August at St. John’s College High School in the Nation’s capita. This year in the novitiate continues to provide me with opportunities to look back, take stock, and examine life as it happened to me and my responses to it, to really begin to understand my own personal journey. I joined the Brothers right after college so from a societal standpoint, it may seem that I “rushed into” this life, but it came to me. I’ve come to a deeper understanding of and appreciation for my life as a Brother. I pray that I may continually develop and share my life as a Brother well into the future.

Somewhere inside of me lies a deep faith, a faith that manifests itself in the ideologies I hold, the truths I speak, and the values I live by. I grew up in a pretty normal Catholic family and environment in Philadelphia. Just this past weekend the Brothers on the West Coast, where I’m currently living, invited a few men to a weekend of discernment concerning their own personal vocation. At one point, having been asked to share my story, I was struck with an inspiration. I absolutely love being a Brother and a teacher because both challenge me. The life of a Brother and the requirements of teaching use my best talents and confront my worst qualities. I couldn’t imagine my life now or my makeup as a teacher if I had not chosen nor stayed with the Brothers.
My parents lost their faith, at least externally, as I entered my teenage years. At a time in life when all people question the faith of their childhood, or should, I found little recourse in my family. My dad was a Navy guy, so naturally in high school I looked at the military, particularly the Marines. They were all talk concerning what I would get, how smart I was, etc. but then they got the physical exam back and saw that I failed the hearing test. Well, it was like night and day. All of sudden the language went from being “you’re so great” to “well, you’d have to get an act of Congress passed”. What!?! Did I miss something here? I had a similar experience with the group of priests that ran my high school alma mater. It wasn’t that their language changed. It was more like I was being ignored by the vocation director, who may have thought I was too immature, not serious enough, or not a good fit for the priesthood. Whatever the reasons, I’ll never know because after one face-to-face encounter, I never saw the guy again and only heard from him rarely.

Then along came the Brothers, who I first encountered in college. (GO LA SALLE!) The vocation director was always available, the Brothers I met at different communities in the area were interested in me, in my story, and for the most part, exuded a love for life, for their lifestyle, and for their work. I was immediately challenged and rewarded. The experience at the house of studies challenged me to live communally, to healthily set aside my own needs and wants from time to time, for the sake of the men I lived with. Without knowing it, I was still living like a teenager, with little sense of responsibility and no real experience of commitment. But the life also drew out my deep reserve of care and awareness for the needs of the community and the individuals I lived with. Then, I began teaching. What a disaster that was at first. I learned how emotional I was, how selfish I was, how undisciplined I was, how lazy I was. With time I became better, thanks in large part to the men I lived with at my second community, to the people I worked with and taught along side, and because I discovered that the demands of a teacher, at least today, call out my bottomless reserves of organization, structure, strength, energy, clarity, and love.
What I’ve discovered this year seems simple now. After several opportunities to work hard to achieve something I seemingly wanted, which I either didn’t do or truly desire, I’ve found a congregation of men, a ministry, and a lifestyle that keeps me honest, challenges and reforms my vices and failings, and calls out of me the best I can offer this world. In short, I found something worth fighting for, worth undergoing trial and error, worth basking in, a vocation that fits me as well as anything ever will. That’s it! I just got an insight. This year is like the gym for religious! Lose some weight in order that the life fits us better. Word.

Br. Mark Brown, 40

Brother Drummer

Its spring, which means it is time for the Spring Musical. This is my third year at St. John’s College High School in Washington DC and will be the third show I have played drums for. This year’s show is Pippin. I enjoy playing the shows, although it is a bit of a workout getting over being rusty. Playing drums again often makes me think of how I got to this place.

In grade school, at St. Matthew’s in Baltimore, I enjoyed when the Calvert Hall band would come to perform a concert. I decided that playing drums would be something exciting to do. So I joined the grade school band, and when I was in eighth grade it was an easy choice to attend Calvert Hall. There I was part of the marching band, concert band, and jazz band.

It was also at Calvert Hall that I met the Brothers. And while it was not something that at an earlier age I would have considered, the invitation of the Brothers to consider their vocation spoke to me. And to make a long story short, I kept in touch with the Brothers throughout college, and after graduating joined.

I must admit that the reaction of some of the Brothers to my playing the drums was met with a certain bit of puzzlement. I can only guess at what thoughts were passing through the director’s mind when I moved my drum kit into the scholastic. But through it all they were supportive, or at least tolerant, of my loud hobby.

But it has paid off. At my first full time assignment, Archbishop Carroll in Radnor, PA, I remember talking to the band director in August, asking if there was anything I could help out with. He asked what instrument I played, and when he heard my response was delighted. He had plans to form a pep band for the football season and had no student drummer. So for the first year I was playing for the pep band. At Central Catholic in Pittsburgh I continued to help with the music department. At West Catholic in Philadelphia I even had the opportunity to be the director of the Jazz Band, as well as to play in the pit for two of their musicals. And now at St. John’s I continue to help out with the music department, coach the drum line for the Regimental Band, and play for the musicals.

For those in need of a conclusion, here is a thought. I think the Lord blesses us in many ways with various talents. I have been blessed by my vocation in the Christian Brothers. I have been blessed again by the support and encouragement that the Brothers have shown me, in particularly with regards to my being a drummer.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Br. Robert Peach, FSC, 24

Note: reprinted from THE CATHOLIC STANDARD and TIMES by permission of the author
Discerning God's Will: A Journey of the Heart

At the beginning of October 2005, I professed First Promises as a 22-year-old postulant for the Christian Brothers. I committed the next year of my life to live according to the vows of a lay religious order and the Rule of its French founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle. A man with an acute sense of God's providence, St. La Salle was not much older than me when he made it his purpose, in the spirit of Christian charity, to serve the educational needs of the poor. Inspired by the possibility of making this call my own as I had seen my teachers, mentors, and friends do as Christian Brothers, I decided to take a chance, to step into what American Catholic novelist Walker Percy coined, the "zone of possibility."

It is in this zone that I have found myself progressing, albeit precariously, into what I'll call a "zone of purpose" or "zone of meaning" founded upon faith. In this exploration of faith, I am slowly discovering that my own will to meaning is nestled deeply within God's will, the God in whose likeness I was made, and whose love I was called to share in baptism with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

To say it simply: I am discerning my vocation, a call that echoed down from the mountaintop of my heart's desire to live fully and travel freely as a Christian pilgrim.

That said, I'd like to share with you my reflection on what it means to discover God's call for all of us to live a life of holiness. My journey to discover, filled with its own set of obstacles, has as its map a set of values I have learned in dialogue with God through people, prayer, the sacraments, and service.

Needless to say, I have much more to learn, and whatever I do say is a mere paraphrase of what has already been voiced by the prophets.

Vocation as journey, journey as meaning

Discerning God?s call for us, as individuals, puts us on the road. We do not have to look too far beyond the signposts of our unique personal experience?or those of the saints?to understand this either.

To quote psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor, Viktor Frankl, "Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment." Highlighting the singularity of our individual calling in life, he adds, "Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated."

Realizing our unique vocations in life requires that we face a certain challenge to journey through pastures of paradox, land marked by mountains of tension that stand between our own weaknesses and strengths, our failures and successes, our doubts and faith, and our suffering and redemption. Discernment makes us treasure seekers who must cross those thresholds of our existence with the hope and peace only God can guarantee as our bounty.

My older brother, who is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, put it to me this way when I confided in him at the beginning of this semester: "God motivates us with desire, and his will brings peace and joy."

In my own transition to this new life as a Brother, I am slowly realizing that his advice is to be trusted. For the journey of discernment truly is inspired by our restlessness and fueled by our desire. Essentially, our souls will always be afflicted by this longing to understand the ineffable mystery of our merciful God who is both transcendent, yet immanent; beyond us, yet in us.
Ultimately, this adventure makes of us pilgrims set on a path to find God by way of self-discovery, of opening ourselves up to the love within us and the endless possibilities to which that love can lead us. It is this love that gives us a will to meaning, and in that will we find God's. When we finally respond to this love, we experience what St. Augustine meant when he said, "My soul is restless until it rests in you."

A guide for the journey

It is important to remember that, as Christians, we do not enter this arena of possibility alone.
I remember having a conversation over dinner with a priest-friend of mine in Baltimore. Somewhere in the midst of our exchange, he expressed his desire to write a book. And in that book, he would discuss the "the moral imperative" or, more plainly, the Christian's call to holiness.

His overall theme, he said, could be summed up by the simple phrase: "God meets us where we are." I think he is right. For, we have Christ as our constant guide at all stages of life, stages that bring us into relationship with the other.
By actively engaging ourselves in prayer and scriptural reflection we learn what we must do to enter the journey and thus "take up the cross" to follow Christ who meets us in his mercy for us, which is God's. And by the same token, we learn whom to trust in taking up this cross as Christ did with Simon.

A great friend of mine, who is also a Christian Brother, eulogized a deceased Brother with a beautiful poem on the nature of Christian friendship. He wrote, "the weight of his hand on / your shoulder lightened / the weight you carried," adding, "Not a / thing up his sleeve but / Love."

This is a love we read about in the Gospels, written in the words of humans just as vulnerable to loneliness and weakness as we are. It is the framework against which we define ourselves and become scaffolds of support for the other. Love serves as the gauge by which we should measure our existence and by which we are empowered to discover our vocation, which is at once our meaning and our purpose in life.

Whether we find this purpose in the single life, vowed religious life, or the married life we are all called as Christians to live within the same framework of holiness bestowed upon us by Christ in the Beatitudes.

For instance, my own experience of love has aroused in me a greater appreciation for brotherhood and camaraderie as a family member, classmate, teacher, friend, boyfriend, and co-worker. These relationships subsequently sparked my desire to embrace the mission instituted by a young French priest over 350 years ago in France. It is a mission inspired by Christ's Gospel message of love, a love that asks us to be an advocate and brother.

It is our ultimate vocation then, with whatever we decide to do, to act out of charity, of compassion, and of peace. And when we pray, when we participate in the sacraments, and when we read from scripture we must interpret these events through a theology of love that understands the reality of war, of violence, and of poverty but chooses to act on it in a spirit of peace, of nonviolence, and of generosity to the less fortunate.

God's call brings us into service and is answered by our lived response to those challenging questions of faith and identity: Who am I? How can I come to know myself? In trying to know myself, what can I pinpoint as the greatest of my heart's desires. Then, how can I grow beyond myself? And how can I be a model of Love?

Living an imaginative reality

When I was on a vocation retreat back in January of this year, a fellow Christian Brother told me that my goal in discernment should be this: to live by way of an imaginative reality. By this he meant that our imagination teaches us to visualize how we see ourselves and others in God. Really, how we see God in everything.

Imagination is the key that opens the doors of our hearts to the sacramental life, a life of poetic vision which sees all things through the lens of Divine Providence. It is this sense of imagination that led St. La Salle to proclaim, "God be blessed!" and, "Lord, the work is yours!"

Our imagination also engages our ability to be creative as God is and thus let God work through us. Through our human creativity rooted in imagination, we find the means of conceptualizing God through language and metaphor so that God becomes less of a divine abstraction and more of a human reality. It is through this imaginative reality, that God's will becomes real in our own lives, and we can thus concretize the stuff of visions and desires.

In my own visions, I often saw myself teaching in front of a classroom (even wearing the religious habit) or praying in community. In order to make them a reality, or see if they could become a reality, I decided to take the next best step, relatively speaking, and join the Christian Brothers, a community of teachers whom I have always admired.

Imagining myself as one of them led me to enjoin the possibility of the future with the reality of now and therefore transform my vision into something more tangible.

The uncertainty of the future is both a source of anxiety and excitement as I plan for what could be. As far as joining the Christians Brothers is concerned, I feel as though I need to try things out. There's no use musing about the future anymore; it's time to live in the certainty of the present despite the general ambivalence I may feel.

I know that my vocation, more than any set mode of living, is that life which will allow me the freedom to be of greatest service to God's love in and through myself and others. Right now, I feel a desire to enter into community with other like-minded men in the spirit of Christ nurtured by the tradition of St. La Salle.

It is my hope that I find happiness as a Brother in community with other Brothers. It is my hope that I might serve the needs of those less fortunate than me though this way of life. It is my hope that I find some virtue in all that I do.

In looking back and moving forward, it is easy to get caught up in how we want to, or thought we had been able to control our own reality in order to achieve greatness. But the thing to remember is a phrase I stumbled across in a novel: God is the sole worker of realities.
Understanding and living that idea has been the biggest challenge for me along the way. This is especially true in light of all the pressures to succeed in society while discerning a vocation to a life lived in a liminal space, anchored to society's periphery.

And so here I am, trying to piece together all of the random thoughts about a life of Christian holiness, a life to which I aspire because, like the rest of us, I want meaning. I want purpose. I want to know that my humanity stands for something greater than myself.

Answering God's call is ultimately an acceptance of this humanity, a brokenness mended by the strands of meaning and purpose we find in each of life's concrete situations. In the end, it is this fruitful sense of meaning sewn and reaped in the rugged terrain of our existence which gives us the power to say, I believe or better still, I love you and will therefore dedicate my life to you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Br. Chris Patiño, FSC, 23

My name is Brother Chris. I am currently a novice living at our novitiate headquarters for the US/Toronto region in Napa, California.

How did I end up here? PROVIDENCE. Providence is a core of our Lasallian spirituality, something our founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle relied on during the beginnings of the Institute. However, I guess providence as an answer doesn't give you much insight.

I am originally from Los Angeles, CA where all of my family currently lives. I am of Hispanic background and grew up in the Mexican-American Catholic faith.

High School

I attended Catholic school from 1st grade through high school. It was at Cathedral High School in L.A. that I first discovered that there was something beyond the priesthood and nuns. Having a desire to teach from an early age, discovering the Brothers was pretty cool. They were men, I was male; they taught, I wanted to teach; they seemed happy, I wanted to be happy; they seemed down-to-earth, I wanted to enjoy life; and they were inviting and I felt like going along! Little by little, I began to discover their life more and more. I talked to them often outside of the classroom. I worked with them being part of school clubs. I joined them for prayer and dinner. I liked what I was witnessing. That could be me!

Of course, a lot is going on during high school and as much as I could see myself being a Brother, was it really for me?


For bizarre reasons, I ended up deciding to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. Go Wildcats! In some ways, I figured that as a college student the whole Brother thing would disappear. Wrong! As soon as I moved to Tucson, I discover that the Brothers are preparing to open a high school there. I knew automatically I wanted to be involved. Little by little my desire to get involved turned into moving in with the Brothers, working at the high school (San Miguel), which in itself was life and vocation transforming, and realizing that God was making it clear more and more that I was being called to be a Brother. The details of all this part of the journey could be read at my personal blog (see below).


So here I am a novice. A novice is the last official stage of discernment before taking first vows as a Brother.
It is a year away from one central piece of our vocation: apostolic ministry, teaching! A year to focus on the spiritual foundation of being a Brother before returning to apostolic ministry, working with youth. Since this blog is about giving you an inside view into our lives as Brothers, what does a novice do? Well, let me tell you about a typical day.

We begin each day with prayer at 6:45 AM. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays our morning prayer is followed by mass at 7:15 AM. We have time for breakfast in the morning before attending classes at 8:30 AM. The classes/seminars are held here at the Novitiate residence. Our classes deal with scripture, religious life topics, Lasallian history, the liturgy, and more. Typically, we have two classes for an hour each with a break in between. This means we are done by 11 AM.

From 11 AM until 5 PM it is basically YOU time. Time to discern by reading, writing, studying class material, exercising, and the list goes on. It is also time for one to do "human" things: write to friends, email, check sports scores, EAT, and so forth. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays there is also some volunteer work. On Fridays there is housing cleaning. So, the point is there's no need to worry too much about boredom. At 5 PM each day we are responsible for some spiritual reading to be done on our own in a place of our choice (our room, outside, in the chapel, etc...). At 5:30 PM we have evening prayer, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays when we have mass. This takes us to dinner at 6 PM. We each have a cooking night and so take turns preparing dinner for the community.

We enjoy our time together at the table. After dinner, we clean up and head to night prayer, typically around 7:15 PM. After night prayer, it is considered quiet/study time until 9:00 PM. They "formal" day officially ends at 9:00 PM. There is no "lights out" time in the community, basically be at morning prayer the next morning. For myself, I typically head to the gym on the property for some "work out" time. Then, get ready for bed, maybe do a little reading, writing, or email. I try to be in bed by 10:30 PM, since I am an early riser and like to be up by 5:15 AM.

Plenty goes on during novitiate year both in terms of growth and discovery (spiritual and personal), challenges (i.e. community life) and time for the Brothers to have a little fun. For example, during the weekend we may choose to go out for a movie, a nice dinner, sightseeing, or whatever else we might be able to entertain ourselves with. Sundays for me is a day where I attend an early mass, usually in Spanish, and do the house grocery shopping (one of my duties in the community). Life stays active in many ways.

Some pictures? Yes, take a look at my web photo album @

I also keep a personal blog at