Salesian School in America
America. In the month of May 2019, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Salesian School Network in America.
For over a century in America, the Salesians (SDB) and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) have dedicated their lives and energies to apostolic activities, especially to the care of young people, seeking to adapt the teachings of the founders and the Salesian charism to each region and to each historical moment.
The scenarios in which they carry out their mission constitute a complex multicultural mosaic, influenced by the transforming forces of globalization and scientific and technological progress. These changes particularly affect the poorest regions of the continent and, in them, the majority of the population, having a greater impact on the preferential recipients of the Salesian mission.
In this context, the first Continental Meeting of Salesian schools took place in Cumbayá-Quito (Ecuador) from 15 to 25 May 1994. It was convened by Fr Luc Van Looy and Sr. Georgina McPake, General Councilors for SDB and FMA Youth Pastoral respectively; 117 people were present. This event was a response to the signs of the new times, seeking to unite the forces of the Salesian Family for the articulation of its educational activities throughout the continent, an initiative that has already become known as the Salesian School in America (ESA).
The theme of the meeting was "Salesian educational process and emerging cultures", producing a common educational effort. The nuclei of reflections during the meeting were: youth reality, Salesian charism, and Salesian school.
In 25 years the process has been articulated at continental, regional, national, and provincial levels. The options and operational guidelines have guided the journey of the Salesian school on the continent and have been established as references for pastoral educative action. With the participation of the subjects involved, a reflection was built, generating projects and resources to accompany the process lived in every reality and in every country, with pedagogical itineraries to inculturate Don Bosco’s Preventive System in the American context.
As a network, the goal of 25 years of educational work is celebrated under the aegis of the Pedagogy of the Preventive System, whose basis is reason, religion, loving-kindness, and the family spirit. We try to contribute honest citizens and good Christians to society, strengthening the bonds between the branches of the Salesian Family that work in the field of education with the Provinces, leaders, educators, students, their families, thus forming a large network for the educational development of the American continent to build a better future through education.
After Cumbayá I in 1994, Cumbayá II took place in 2001 with the presence of 250 participants who took up this option: "As Salesian Family, faithful to the charism of Don Bosco, we have chosen a school and a Professional Formation Center in Solidarity, present in the reality of youth, where reciprocity is lived, which are inclusive, educate to the socio-political dimension, and develop a proposal for Edu-communication which forms to active citizenship, giving significant responses to the different forms of poverty".
The third Latin American Meeting took place in Brasilia in 2008 and was entitled: ESA III. The theme of the meeting was "Re-signifying the educational proposal of the Salesian School in America in its intercultural context".
The fourth Latin American Meeting took place in 2017, in the city of Medellin, Colombia, and was an invitation to study new educational and pastoral strategies for greater impact and greater growth potential of ESA in the coming years.
During the fourth meeting, a book entitled "Educabarometer" was presented which was divided into two parts. The first part was a series of 208 testimonies of people who have been part of the Educational-Pastoral Communities of these institutions, called "stories with a magnifying glass". The second part was the result of a questionnaire carried out with 1,175 people from the management team, 5,546 teachers, 10,710 families, and 27,458 students.
Starting from the work of the Provinces/networks and of the central team, the process of convergence towards a proposal to guide schools and Pastoral Educational Centers (CEP) in the following years was started. The axes for action were: Attention to the educational needs of the students; Permanent formation of the CEP actors in the Salesian Schools; Qualification of the educative-pastoral proposal of the Salesian Schools and of the Institutional Management of the Schools and of Professional Formation Centers.
The American Salesian School was enriched and strengthened over the last 25 years by the Institutions and the charismatic choices of the various groups of the Salesian Family: Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Daughters of the Divine Savior, Sacred Hearts, and Salesian Dames who gave life to many schools and Professional Formation Centers.
The living reality of the Salesian School of America with its respective meetings, policies, guidelines for action, and indicators was a source of inspiration and encouragement for the Salesian schools of the continent.