De La Salle Christian Brothers at Lewis University

Brother on the Bench

The De La Salle Christian Brothers have sponsored Lewis University since 1960. They are an international Roman Catholic Institute dedicated to education that was founded by Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of educators. He transformed education by developing a spirituality of “teaching and learning.” In his time, he opened schools to students regardless of their social class, especially the poor and the underserved.

Today the Brothers work with 90,000 lay partners and sponsor about 1,000 educational centers in 79 countries around the world as part of the Lasallian network that benefits around one million students. In the United States and Canada the Brothers sponsor about 100 schools, universities, and other ministries.


 SPONSORSHIP AND THE OFFICAL NAME

Sponsorship

Bishop Martin D. McNamara of the Diocese of Joliet invited the De La Salle Christian Brothers to assume the ownership and administration of Lewis College in 1960. Continuing the vision of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the Brothers brought a new tradition of Lasallian values to an active partnership with the dedicated administrators, faculty, and staff already on campus.

Signum Fidei

The first group of seven founding Brothers combined their dedicated, professional and enthusiastic efforts on campus with those of their colleagues, formed a strong Lasallian partnership, and inaugurated a comprehensive system of improvements. Among those initiatives were securing nationally recognized accreditation and constructing new facilities. Those changes led to significant growth. Since those beginnings, more than 110 Christian Brothers have served at Lewis at different times.

Christian Brothers continue to serve at Lewis in the classroom, in the library, and in other forms of ministry, and Brothers are members of the Board of Trustees. The Brothers continue to dedicate themselves to university life to enhance the quality and commitment to fidelity, service, and social justice.

The Official Name

The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools is the official name of the Brothers’ congregation. The Brothers call themselves De La Salle Christian Brothers in ordinary conversation to retain the connection with their Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle. The initials FSC for Fratres Scholarum Christianarum, the Latin name of the Institute, are placed at the end of each Brother’s name. In 1725 Pope Benedict XIII granted formal/official approval of the Institute. The educational mission of the Brothers, however, began when De La Salle formed a community of dedicated teachers to provide a human and Christian education to young people, especially the poor and disadvantaged. He encouraged a spirituality centered on mission and promoted teaching as a vocation oriented to the students’ overall development. The Christian Brothers have transformed lives through Lasallian education since 1680, and for many of those years with their dedicated Lasallian partners.


 CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AT LEWIS UNIVERSITY

Br. Kenneth Arnold, FSC
Brother Kenneth Arnold, FSC

a double alumnus of Lewis University, started residing in the Brothers' community at La Salle House in August of 2020. While teaching chemistry, physics, math and computer science at different Lasallian high schools in the Chicagoland area, Brother Kenneth became interested in programming software for high school administration. He switched careers and began working at the Educational Data Center located in De La Salle Hall. In 1997, he moved to Memphis, Tenn. and worked in the Information Technology Services department of Christian Brothers University. In 2013, he moved back to the Chicago area and worked at Christian Brothers Services in Romeoville as a programmer before retiring in October of 2019. Brother Kenneth became a fan of volleyball while working at Driscoll High School and he went on to play in park districts and coached grammar school volleyball for three years. He walks, cycles, reads, cooks and kayaks for recreation.


Br. John Blease, FSC
Brother John Blease, FSC

a Lewis alumnus, returned to campus in 2016. Currently, he is serving as Sub-Director of the Community of Christian Brothers at LaSalle House and is a volunteer for the Midwest District of the De La Salle Christian Brothers and the Christian Brothers Generalate (international headquarters of the Christian Brothers in Rome). A teacher in the Chicago area at St. Patrick High School, De La Salle Institute and Saint Joseph High School earlier in his career, Brother John served as a translator of Spanish to English and Italian to English for 21 years at the Generalate, providing written translation as well as simultaneous translation. His hobbies include reading, walking, foreign travel and computers.


Br. Tom Dupre, FSC
Brother Thomas Dupré, FSC

is an Associate Professor in the Computer and Mathematical Sciences Department. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Christian Brothers University and a Master of Arts and doctorate from the University of Illinois. Brother Thomas was born in Evanston, Ill. and has taught at Lewis for more than 35 years. A consistent advocate for social justice, he is active in the University’s Catholic Relief Service Corps Ambassadors program which is committed to assisting the poor and vulnerable by promoting social justice and peace. Among many other initiatives, CRSC Ambassadors regularly write letters that ask for peaceful and just action to assist victims of injustice. Brother Thomas also volunteers annually through University Ministry to accompany the students and staff on the Catalyst Social Justice retreats in Chicago. For many years, he also participated in Mission trips to the Philippines. Reading, camping and working with CRSC are among Brother Thomas’ interests.


Br. Christopher Ford, FSC
Brother Christopher Ford, FSC

is a 1989 Lewis alumnus and formerly worked in the Writing Center, tutoring and mentoring students. He has earned a Bachelor of Arts from Divine Word College, a second Bachelor of Arts from Lewis University and a Master of Arts from Saint Louis University. He is A.B.D. for a doctorate in rhetoric and professional communication from New Mexico State University. As a scholar, Brother Chris is interested in exploring the intersection of scientific and religious discourses, as well as emerging rhetorical issues in popular culture. Presently, he provides very generous volunteer service to many others.


Br. James Gaffney, FSC
Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President Emeritus

served Lewis for more than forty years, including twenty-eight as President, prior to retiring June 30, 2016. He was part of the University community since the early 1970s as a faculty member, Provincial for the Christian Brothers who sponsor Lewis University, Chair of the Board of Trustees for ten years and President. He has received many honors for his leadership, including the Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice Medallion from the Vatican, numerous honorary degrees and various community accolades. On February 6, 2021, Brother James was honored by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) with the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC Award, the oldest and most prestigious award the ACCU bestows upon someone who has made outstanding contributions to Catholic higher education.

A native Chicagoan, Brother James holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Education from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, a Master of Arts from Manhattan College and a Doctorate of Ministry in Pastoral Theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL. The Board of Trustees named Brother James President Emeritus in recognition of his dedication and service to Lewis University. His name was also given to the newly built student center on Lewis’s campus in 2018. Brother James currently serves as Community Director for the 17 Brothers who reside at La Salle House. He also serves on eight boards of directors, chairing four of them.


Br. Chuck Gregor, FSC
Brother Chuck Gregor, FSC

joined the staff in 2016 at Lewis as an Instructional Technology Specialist in the College of Education, after 40 years as a teacher, administrator, Lasallian animator and technology expert. He formerly taught at Montini Catholic High School, but now is working at Lewis and supporting programs for the Midwest District of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. A graduate of Christian Brothers College, the Maryland Institute College of Art and Fontbonne University, he holds a Master of Arts in Computers in Education, a Master of Fine Arts in Art Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities. His previous teaching experience includes eight years at Archbishop O’Hara High School in Kansas City, Mo. Internationally, he was founding principal of Mwangaza College in Nakuru, Kenya from 1991-1996. His hobbies include cooking and art.


Br. Peter Hannon, FSC
Brother Peter Hannon, FSC

taught Culture and Civilization courses during summer sessions at Lewis for more than two decades prior to joining the History Department in 2012. He currently serves as an Assistant Professor of History. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Lewis University, a Master of Arts from De Paul University in History and a Master of Arts from Catholic University of America in International Political Science. A native of Chicago, he formerly taught at St. Joseph High School, De La Salle High School in Chicago and Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis. A talented and avid photographer, Brother Peter has worked with students to establish a Photography Club as a student organization. Among his interests, Brother Peter includes sports, world travel, history and international politics.


Br. Philip Johnson, FSC
Brother Philip Johnson, FSC

returned to Lewis in 2014 after a one-year leave from the University to serve as Sub-Director of Novices at the Regional Novitiate for the De La Salle Christian Brothers in Napa, CA. Previously, he was highly regarded as Director of University Ministry at Lewis for ten years and then taught and served as Coordinator of Special Projects for the Office of Mission & Identity during the 2012-2013 academic year. Now a member of the staff in the Office of Mission and Identity, Brother Philip has taught English and English as a Second Language, assisted with Writing Placement, mentored students in the Bridge Program and served as Director of Student Activities. He has been at Lewis University for more than three decades. Born in Chicago, he holds a Bachelor of Arts from Christian Brothers University and a Master of Education from Wayne State University. Brother Philip enjoys traveling to warm places with water, reading and walking.


Brother Thomas Johnson, FSC
Brother Thomas Johnson, FSC

is returning to the Lewis University campus as a resident at La Salle House while serving as the Midwest District’s Director of Initial Formation for Brothers. Brother Thomas, a Lewis alum from 1969, is a former member of the Board of Trustees. He has recently served as Director of Novices for the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Vicar General of the Institute in Rome, Director of Christian Brothers Conference in Washington and Visitor Provincial of the Midwest Districts. He is also a member of three Lasallian ministry boards. Brother Thomas holds a B.A. from Lewis and an M.A. and M.Ed. from De Paul University. Brother Tom’s leisurely interests includes reading, jogging and walking, as well as movies.


Br. David Kuebler, FSC
Brother David Kuebler, FSC

a native of Lockport, IL is currently serving as a research librarian at Lewis University, a role he has had for more than ten years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Christian Brothers University, a master’s degree in English from the University of Memphis and a second master’s degree in library science from Dominican University. His favorite pastimes include reading, especially nonfiction, watching classic films, planting pollinator gardens and enjoying restaurants with good friends.


Br. Joseph Martin, FSC
Brother Joseph Martin, FSC

retired from his position as Special Assistant to the President at Lewis in June 2017 and he retired from his position as Executive Assistant to the Provincial at the Midwest District Office in Burr Ridge in June 2019. Previously, he served at Lewis as Mission and Planning Coordinator, Assistant to the President and Coordinator of Special Projects. Born and raised in Detroit, MI., he earned a Bachelor of Arts from Walsh University, a Master of Education from St. Michael’s College, a Master of Arts from Holy Names University and a Doctor of Ministry from Graduate Theological Foundation in Donaldson, Ind. His hobbies include reading, traveling, movies, writing, publishing and family history. He has lived on campus for twenty years.


Br. Raymond McManaman, FSC
Brother Raymond McManaman, FSC

one of the seven original Brothers to arrive at Lewis in 1960, retired as a Professor in the Theology Department after 51 years of service to the University. Highly respected, he was presented with the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award in Spring 2016 for his unparalleled length of service and continuing excellence in teaching. Brother Raymond was named an Honorary Founder of Lewis University in Spring 2021. He served the University for 51 years, except for brief periods when he carried out leadership and teaching assignments in area Lasallian Catholic high schools. A native of Waukegan, Ill., he obtained a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, a Master of Arts from Seattle University, a Doctor of Ministry from Aquinas Institute of Theology and a Doctor of Sacred Theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Brother Raymond enjoys reading and following Notre Dame football, the Chicago White Sox and the Lewis athletic teams, especially the Lewis baseball team.


Br. Sheferaw Mekonen, FSC
Brother Sheferaw Mekonen, FSC

is from Ethiopia in East Africa and is presently enrolled in the doctoral degree program in Educational Leadership for Teaching and Learning at Lewis University. He will be the fourth Brother from the English-speaking Lwanga District in Africa to earn a doctoral degree from Lewis University. Brother Sheferaw’s motto continues to be, “Be a better Brother for a better tomorrow” for potentially thousands of students in his rapidly developing nation. He began his teaching career in Saint Joseph Catholic School, a comprehensive school (kindergarten through grade twelve) conducted by the Brothers and their lay partners in Nazareth, Ethiopia and assumed limited administrative responsibilities there soon thereafter. The following year, Brother Sheferaw was assigned to serve as Principal of that same school. Throughout those years as Principal, he also earned two master’s degrees, including one in secondary school administration. Brother Sheferaw continued as Principal until 2021 when he prepared to come to Lewis University.


Br. Richard Merkel, FSC
Brother Richard Merkel, FSC

entered the Christian Brothers in 1973. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Cincinnati and his Master of Arts in Religious Education from Seattle University. Brother Richard taught for 46 years in the Midwest District at Christian Brother high schools in Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., Newport, Ky. and Tulsa, Okla. Currently he is on sabbatical and looks forward to exploring and learning more about the Chicago Metropolitan area and Lewis University during his sabbatical year.


Br. Pierre St.Raymond, FSC
Brother Pierre St. Raymond, FSC

is a Professor of Chemistry and a native of New Orleans, La. He has taught in the Chemistry Department for more than 25 years and chaired the department for many of those years. He also serves as Director of Emerging Scientists in First Year Chemistry, a post that was originated in 2012. Brother Pierre has a Bachelor of Science from the College of Santa Fe and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Maryland. For leisure, Brother Pierre likes to attend current movies.


Br. Robert Veselsky, FSC
Brother Robert Veselsky, FSC

a Lewis alumnus, returned to his alma mater in 2012 as an Associate Campus Minister, working part-time in University Ministry and inviting young men and women to consider the consecrated life. He previously had served as a staff member at Lewis in University Ministry for nearly ten years in the 1990s, serving as a University Minister for Mission Effectiveness and assisting in Peer Ministry and with freshman students. Brother Rob formerly was Director of Campus Ministry at Christian Brothers University. Along with his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Lewis, he holds a Master of Arts in Religious Education from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from Loyola University Chicago. Currently, he exercises a “Ministry of Presence” for Lewis faculty and staff. Brother Rob’s leisurely pursuits include reading—mostly biographies, long walks and coffee house chats with friends.


Br. John Vietoris, FSC
Brother John Vietoris, FSC

iis an alumnus of Lewis University and a native of Joliet, Ill. An Associate Professor of History and Director of the Global History Program, he teaches upper division history courses, ranging from the Civil War to Modern Europe. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Lewis, a Master of Arts from the University of Notre Dame and a Doctor of Philosophy from Marquette University. Prior to joining the faculty at Lewis, Brother John taught at St. Paul High School and St. Patrick High School in Chicago. He also served as Assistant Principal at St. Patrick’s and Principal of Pacelli High School in Stevens Point, Wis. Brother John’s personal interests include hiking, reading, travel, classical music and opera.


 BROTHERS VOCATION

The Christian Brothers serve as the eyes, the ears, and the heart of God in our world – a world that needs brotherhood so desperately.  They are called to see the oppression of the least privileged of our world, to hear their cry, to feel their anguish, and to participate in their liberation.  Saint John Baptist de La Salle, their founder, taught the Brothers to experience life as a process of affective, intellectual, moral and spiritual conversion which increasingly draws them to address the causes of injustice and poverty.  The brothers seek to be one with those who suffer injustice and the impact of poverty, and they offer a quality education as the foundation for a better life. 

The De La Salle Christian Brothers are here to carry on the mission of Saint John Baptist de La Salle and invite all members of the Lewis University community, as Lasallians, to join them in this mission.

If you are interested in learning more about the Brothers vocation or are discerning becoming a Brother and would like to speak with someone about your journey, contact Brother Rob, Veselsky, FSC at veselsro@lewisu.edu.

Brothers Vocation Homepage


Brothers Vocation Video
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 LA SALLE HOUSE

La Salle House
La Salle House

La Salle House is the residence of the De La Salle Christian Brothers living on campus at Lewis. Constructed in 2015-2016, La Salle House currently has 18 Brothers in residence there and four guest rooms. La Salle House also features a beautiful lower lounge where the Brothers host the entire faculty and staff of the University for the Christmas Holiday Wine and Cheese celebration, an annual tradition for more than 45 years.

The new residence was built after the Brothers had lived in the building that is currently the Admission Welcome Center for two decades. Upon their arrival on Lewis’ campus in 1960, the Brothers lived in Stritch and McNamara Halls.