Today's Journal-News, our local Gannett newspaper, has a front-page article that starts off about Iona College's incoming lay president but goes on to look at the vocation of the religious brother--and the declining numbers of brothers in the U.S. It's by Gary Stern, formerly the paper's religion reporter (and a very good one), and now a general reporter.
The Salesians aren't mentioned in the article. But lay brothers are a very important part of who we are--in Don Bosco's mind, an essential part of who we are. (In most parts of the world, we also call our professed seminarians "brother" until they're ordained priests.)
For the record, on Dec. 31, 2010, there were 1,915 Salesian lay brothers. We had 53 in the U.S. and Canada--2 of whom have died this year (see January posts).