Today, Saturday, October 9, we celebrated the Meeting of Educators of the School of Mother Candida organized within the framework of the Jubilee Year for the 150 years of the Congregation. It coincided on the same day that the Church begins the synod, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”. Our meeting also wanted to be a response to this journey together.
The invitation was made through the Provincials to the centers of their Provinces. The maximum number of participants per center was 10 educators, with the suggestion that the Directors/directresses will not be missed out.
We have met nearly 400 educators from the Schools of Mother Candida, with representatives from 58 educational centers. A good number were from “our” schools, from the Daughters of Jesus. The rest are the schools that we direct or that bear our seal, such as Fe y Alegría of Bolivia, those of the Dominican Republic or the schools of the Jesuitinas Educational Foundation of Spain. Mozambique and Cuba were also invited. The two University Colleges of Spain, a boarding school in Bolivia and another in Bangladesh have participated. These are educational works a little different from the previous ones.
In her greeting, the Superior General, Graciela Francovig, placed before us the objective of the meeting and invited us to do it from within:
Today we want to start a network, we want to respond to the Call of the XVIII General Congregation.
We stop to LISTEN INWARDLY to this call, to remember it: “To promote the union and articulation, at a universal level, of the educators of the schools that follow the educational model of the M. Cándida, to reflect on the educational challenges posed by the current world and to project paths of the future. It will help our schools to gain evangelizing strength and open themselves to education with broader horizons”.
We let it resonate again in us like the first time we heard it. What was your reaction, what came up in you? And we reflected on it in silence to remember it, we shared it and communion began to be built. Graciela received three words: mission, commitment, and joy. And then he invited us to listen to the gospel of the day: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and fulfill it.” It is an invitation to mission with the promise that Jesus will encourage us in our search.
I had two other nice coincidences today.
It is Saturday, which reminds us of Mary, and it is day 9, and that of our Foundress. Like them, when we each listen to what Jesus puts in the depths of our hearts, and educate, and live, and accompany from there… we are happy, even if we have many difficulties or that brings us problems. Jesus also had them. We receive God’s confirmation in our mission with the gift of peace.
Thus, with a willing heart, we continue our meeting with the two presentations: The educational challenges posed by the current world and The School of Mother Candida
First, Juan Antonio Ojeda Ortiz, FSC, Project Manager of the OIEC (International Office of Catholic Education) and Consultant to the Congregation for Catholic Education, after a brief analysis of current education, explained the educational challenges of our world, in general, and for the Catholic school, in particular. He pointed them out as a decalogue.
1.- Diagnose and understand what is the real state of education that you offer in your centers, classrooms, corridors, courtyards …
2.- Face change from a collaborative perspective, working together and in a network, involving all the agents of the educational community (Managers, teachers, families, children / young people, collaborators …), also counting on the context.
3.- Teachers of soul, committed to education as a common good, capable of “enlightening, blessing, vivifying, lifting, healing, liberating” (EG, 273).
4.- Put the person at the center of their learning, facilitating their active participation and collaboration, empowering them to transform their lives and their contexts.
5.- A school on the way out, capable of going and reaching the internal and external peripheries of the school or educational center itself, reaching the weakest, most vulnerable and needy, avoiding inequalities and discarding…
6.- In this scenario, the Global Educational Pact is presented to us as an opportunity and a commitment to change education and respond to the needs and challenges of today and tomorrow, working together, to change society, so that it is more human, fraternal, supportive and sustainable.
7.- Generate a referential Christian community, which is the heart of the school.
8.- Innovate and experiment, not by fashion, but by a commitment to better serve and educate.
9.- A school connected to life.
10.- Changing education implies being able to modify and enrich the curriculum.
After the intervention of J.A. Ojeda, we had 5 minutes of personal reflection to underline, from our own experience, what challenges our school feels called to respond to.
Next, Mª Teresa Pinto Terradillos FI, General Councilor and responsible for the field of Education in the Congregation, made a presentation on “The School of M. Candida”. From the
Counsels on Education that our Foundress left written, some illuminated by the Constitutions of the Daughters of Jesus, Teresa was commenting on accents that M. Candida printed in our schools.
The sisters who studied the pedagogy of M. Candida saw three hinges in her: the greater glory of God, the love of students, and the Christian education of virtue, as she began by telling us. These three hinges are found in the Counsels that Teresa presented in three blocks: the method, the person (the student, the parents, the teachers, the leaders, the team), and the place of faith and religion in the school of M. Candida.
Expressed with the words of her time, Teresa finds in her Counsels references to emotional intelligence, leaders, teamwork, integral ecology … and affirms: “It seems that Mother Candida was not far from the Global Educational Pact!
She concluded her presentation looking to the future and affirming with Javier Cortés, SM: “The great challenges that our students are going to face in the coming decades are going to be fundamental of an ethical type”. And she recalled what we well know, that the main Subject that we Educators transmit is what we live from within and that the students capture it without any effort.
She proposed two questions for the work of the teams:
After the ever-enriching work by language groups, we had the sharing in which some secretaries spontaneously participated. Among the most repeated ACCENTS was the closeness to the student, educating the whole person and doing it from life. For this, we need to be educators with soul and intensify spiritual formation in the charism.
And some MEDIA that have been suggested to create the universal network: teams that continue to promote the network, use the possibilities of technologies, share experiences and materials, generate a small structure that links and maintains us…
Graciela rounded up at the end:
I really liked that the subject of the students being in the center came up. I would add educating the whole person and for social friendship, coexistence, and relationships since today, our world is so in need of this.
The last minutes are reserved for the Ignatian examen of the meeting. It is to look back at what we experienced during these three hours. We go to the depth of ourselves, I need help and I ask for it from those who can give it to me. “Come with me, shake my hand, and tell me how you have been with me in this time, in what I have heard, in what I have felt, in what I have desired, in what I have shared.” And I read the feelings that have surfaced in me in these hours and I stop on the strongest, most powerful feeling. And I grasp what it leads me to, what it pushes me to. And we share it again in the chat: gratitude and commitment; challenge and desire to network; joy and encouragement; gratitude, attunement; real change from within; committed…
Each center is left with the task of discovering where God points the way, looking at the reality in where we are, and listening to the charism that we have received, personally and as a Body. The General Government undertakes to continue the path begun already in the previous six-year term.
On Monday, we return to our schools, but we know that we are not going alone. The network has begun to weave. Thank you to all the people who have been, who have shared the interest that has been. We ask the Lord that none of this be lost, that it is He who pushes us to continue making our path.
Until the next meeting.
International Communication Team