Oh brother! Let’s get this straight. They’re not priests.
So what are they? They seem to be an esoteric mystery, these figures clad in white, often seen walking leisurely in the campus. But despite their friendly demeanor, most students keep a respectful distance from them, almost as if they fear that to lay their eyes upon such vessels of holiness shall incinerate their mortal eyes. And perhaps this fear (an irrational one, no doubt) is brought about by a lack of understanding as to what exactly the brothers are. We sat with future brothers Patrick Lo (IV, BS-PSY) and Timothy Henares (II, AB-ISE), subjecting them to an inquisition in order to divulge the truth behind being a brother.
Brothers are part of a religious community, and although they are not ordained (unlike priests), they still take the vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. What makes a Lasallian Brother different from other brothers is that their ministry is dedicated to the educational formation of the Youth. The brothers, therefore, are not a scary order from the Da Vinci code or religious judges ready to shame you for trespasses; they are dedicated to serving the youth through education. As our interviewees put it, the brothers should not be seen as intimidating folks; rather, as their name implies, they should be seen as brothers, as a family.
Was it this sense of family that led our interviewees to become brothers? We asked them the reason behind choosing such a life. Brother Aspirant Timothy had originally set his sights on becoming a priest. But then, like the flickering twilight, the dream vanished. Then a friend introduced him to the brothers. He joined a program wherein he was invited to live with the brothers to see if their way of life suited him. And the life did. It was then that he discovered a new dawn in his life; he decided that this was God’s calling for him. For Brother Aspirant Patrick, it was also when he joined a program that let him experience the life of the brothers that his path in life became apparent.
What about the life of the brothers makes it so appealing? The answer is as deep as you think. The food. It is rumored that a certain Brother Hans bakes the best cookies this world has ever seen. Seriously though, what makes the life of the brothers so appealing is the sense of community. The brothers are not of the morose nature commonly associated with holiness; rather, they are the jovial saints. Aside from serving, they engage in athletics together, and make holiness seem not like a duty one must do, but something fun that one wants to do. To enter this way of life is the dream for our interviewees.
Understanding the program
However, with every dream chosen, certain steps need to be taken. The same applies to the Lasallian brother program. Necessary stages, processes, and requirements must be accomplished for one to achieve the desired goal – to be a Lasallian Brother.
The first, among these steps, is the Contact stage.
As the name implies, the contact stage would refer to the applicant’s association with the Lasallian Brothers. It’s simply when the “brothers know you and you know the brothers,” as Brother Aspirant Timothy would say.
In this stage of the process, interested students may join the Brothers’ Live-in program – a five-day stay in the Brothers Community. There they’ll be able to catch a glimpse of what it is really to be a Lasallian brother, through personal interaction with the brothers themselves. Additionally, this stage is not limited to those in college; even high school students may opt to join if they want to.
Though the real beauty of the contact stage is that there is no pure commitment to continue the program. You may opt to stop after experiencing the live-in program or you may continue to the aspirancy stage – the next step on the road to brotherhood.
Being an aspirant is the second step you need to take, and it is quite different from being a contact. As an aspirant, you’ll have to attend some meetings and do some apostolate work. Although this may sound taxing, aspirants need not worry as they each get a brother mentor of their choosing. These brother mentors guide aspirants in fulfilling their duties and help them when they do experience some difficulties during the course of the program. On the other hand, not everyone can be an aspirant because some requisites need to be met. The first is that the applicant must be a college student, and the second is to sign and let his parents sign the contract to join the aspirancy program. When these are accomplished, the contact may now become an aspirant.
Before entering the third stage of the program, the aspirant is asked whether he would still like to continue the program or not. If, indeed, the aspirant chooses to continue it, the following stage would be the Postulate stage. To be a postulate, it would require you to stay-in the brother community of Greenhills for one year. While you’re there you’ll be able to handle clubs, teach Christian living classes, and continue living life with the brothers. Despite this, privileges are given to the postulates such as monthly home visits and the opportunity to study in another university. But you must take note that postulates must have their undergraduate degree.
The final step is the Noviciate stage. This last stage will truly test your determination in being a Lasallian Brother, as you would be required to stay in Lipa for an entire year. “It really is [a] test of will – how strong you are to pursue the life of a brother,” Brother aspirant Patrick explains.
After that one year in Lipa, the Noviciate may take then take the vow and finally become a scholasticate, or otherwise known as a Lasallian Brother.
On new opportunities and self-discovery
Despite all of that, some may still wonder, why go through it all? Well, for aspirant Timothy, it’s a chance to seize a new opportunity and gain new experiences. He says, “… [We’re] not sure what we want to be when we grow up, [so] just give it a try.” Through it all, he feels more fulfilled with his choice to continue in the aspirancy program. On another note, for aspirant Patrick, it’s not only additional experience but also a way to self-discovery. “You have a lot of plans for yourself, and you get to know it in the aspirancy program,” Patrick adds.
Through all of this, it can be said that the road to being a brother is not an easy task. It’s one that requires determination, passion, and a true sense of vocation for the Brotherhood life and community.