When Brother Jack Curran first stepped foot onto Manhattan College for a job interview in April of 2013 he happened to pick up an issue of The Quadrangle that highlighted “De La Salle Week,” the predecessor to what is now known as Mission Month.
De La Salle Week was the college’s way of celebrating the life, work and legacy of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, after whom the school modeled it’s mission and identity.
Michelle DePinho, then the opinions and editorials editor of the newspaper, wrote an article titled “How Lasallian Was De La Salle Week?” In the piece, she questioned how ice cream socials and barbeques on the quad reflected the Lasallian tradition.
“It was strikingly on point and candid,” Curran said. “It frightened me at first, because I said ‘Oh my god the students aren’t involved in this core identity of the college.’”
Curran decided if he was going to be involved with the event, he needed to figure out how to transform the celebrated tradition into an event that garnered the reverence and respect it needed.
During the faculty convocation that fall, President Brennan O’Donnell discussed how the college brings to life its mission as a Lasallian catholic college everyday with “great gusto, grace and patience.”
“That’s when I said ‘That’s it,’” Curran said. “That is when the light bulb went off.”
Curran then reached out to faculty members and student groups who were sponsoring events during April, the month John Baptist de La Salle was born and died.
“I asked them if they would mind being a part of Mission Month, which recognized that what they were doing was bringing to life the core identity of the college,” Curran said. “They didn’t mind at all.”
The week of luncheons and dinners turned into a month long celebration of the events and lectures that happen around campus every day.
Senior Nicole Maher has been a witness to the transformation the event has undergone.
“The event has come a long way since I was freshman. I think Mission Month does a much better job encapsulating what the school is really about by celebrating what we do on a daily basis” Maher said.
Events on the calendar this year include lectures on religious terrorism, autism awareness, the migrant crisis and even tutoring and information sessions. The first Mission Month in 2014 only included 50 events. This year there is over 150.
The most highlighted occasion, however, is the unveiling of the new stained glass windows on campus in the Chapel of De La Salle and His Brothers in Smith Auditorium on Thursday, April 7th.
The windows were created in the early 1900s by the renowned French workshop of L. Mazuet et fils of Bayeux. They portray scenes from the life of Saint John Baptist de La Salle from childhood to his death and subsequent glorification in heaven.
“They will be a great addition to the campus in terms of reminding ourselves of our heritage,” Curran said. “It will be a very special day.”