Mexico City (Mexico). On 27 and 28 May 2022, more than 1,250 people from different countries participated in the XXVII Inter-American Congress of Catholic Education, organized in Mexico City, at the Hilton Hotel, by the Inter-American Confederation of Catholic Education (CIEC). The event was attended by about 120 members of the Salesian Family, including 50 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Salesians of Don Bosco, lay people committed to spreading the Salesian charism in America.
Among the participants were Sr. Ivone Goulart Lopes, collaborator of the Youth Ministry Sector of the FMA Institute, head of the Salesian School in America (ESA) and of the Institutions of Higher Studies (ISS-FMA) and Don Claudio Cartes, SDB, Referent of the School Sector of the Youth Ministry Department of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The theme of the Congress was: “The future of Education: learning to transform”, with the aim of reflecting, rethinking, and putting into practice the UNESCO initiative “The future of education” in synergy in the Catholic School in America with the Global Educational Pact proposed by Pope Francis.
With a view to 2050, UNESCO states that “knowledge and learning are the greatest renewable resources available to humanity to respond to challenges and invent alternatives.” If before the pandemic the issue of education was already fundamental, during and after the pandemic it will be even more an important requirement for exercising one’s rights as citizens.
Faced with this situation, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 4 of the 2030 Agenda – Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting continuous learning opportunities for all – must be rethought. To this end, UNESCO has created an initiative called “The future of Education: learning to transform,” with the aim of redefining the role of knowledge, learning, and education, to make a contribution to the good common.
In this regard, the Catholic School in America, joining the appeal of Pope Francis to rebuild the Global Educational Pact, is committed to putting this proposal into practice, adopting the initiative of UNESCO.
At the opening of the Congress, the President of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Msgr. Miguel Cabrejos, said: “What would become of the Church without educators, who make possible a more open and welcoming education? Education is an act of hope, thanks to men and women like you. We thank all those who commit themselves to the Global Educational Pact and we congratulate the CIEC. Holy Mary is the first educator”.
The intense program of the Congress included 10 conferences, a debate, five TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conferences, as well as cultural activities such as Alégrate, the tour of the historic center of Mexico City, the Mexican Festival, and participation in the Catholic Education Fair.
During the event, the Salesian Family distinguished itself for the participation as a member of the Board of CIEC, of Sr. Ana Julia Suriel, FMA of the Dominican Republic, who held the conference with Mariano Jabonero (OEI) on the theme: “The digital agenda for Latin America: a humanized and responsible vision of the technological transformation in schools.”
In addition, the ‘Jesús Maestro’ Prize, granted to individuals and Institutions, was conferred on the Province of the Dominican Republic of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
On the 2nd day of the Congress, the Eucharistic Celebration, prepared by the Salesian Family, was presided over by Msgr. Alberto Lorenzelli, SDB. The choir that animated the Mass was made up of adolescents and young people from some Salesian centers in Mexico City. Fr. Héctor Ugarte, SDB, in the introduction said, “What is a Catholic school? It is not the one that prepares for catechesis, but it is the one that makes it possible for every member of the Educating Community to meet Jesus Christ. This happens through pastoral activities, but also through culture and science.”
In his homily, Msgr. Lorenzelli underlined, “To educate is to build life, to respond to the challenges of life. The Brazilian pedagogist Paulo Freire says, ‘Nobody educates anyone, we educate each other’. To build a meaningful life it is necessary to educate to to be protagonists, to educate to values, to act responsibly, to peace, to hope. We must become a sign of hope with our way of living and looking at life. A seed of hope awakens in the young person when he/she perceives that they are not alone.” He concluded by wishing,”To educate is a matter of the heart. May the heart of each one of you always beat with joy and hope.”
The participants returned to their own realities with some provocations that lead to concreteness, following the example of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello: what is the future of Salesian education in America? What must we do to respond to the great educational needs of our continent?
The Catholic School of America sees a time of creativity and hope, a time in which the strength, coherence, and consistency of the Salesian proposal will be able to bring new winds of life and meaning to childhood and youth.