Monterrey (Mexico). On 8 and 9 September 2023, the Directors of the Salesian Schools of the four Provinces of Mexico: Mater Ecclesiae (MMO) and O.L. of Guadalupe Provinces (MME) of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; and Christ the King and Mary Help of Christians (MEG) and Our Lady of Guadalupe Provinces (MEM) of the Salesians of Don Bosco that constitute the Salesian Network of Schools in Mexico, were invited by the National Education Team (ENES) to participate in the 9th National Meeting of the Directors of Salesian Schools, at the Excelsior Institute in the city of Monterrey, of the FMA of the MMO Province.
The meeting, which took place in the context of the Church’s reflection on synodality and in the national context of the New Educational Model of the Mexican School, brought together more than 200 Directors who met to continue to promote Salesian education in this time of change and crisis.
“Salesian Education: a journey of hope and synodality”, was the theme at the center of the conferences, workshops, and all the reflections that took place throughout the days. The main points addressed were: education and synodality in the face of changing times; the ethical impact of Artificial Intelligence; the New Mexican School and the Salesian Educational Model.
In line with the guidelines of the Salesian School of America, the objective of the meeting was to “offer educational leaders formation consistent with the Salesian mission, to face the challenges of contemporary education, encouraging their joint and co-responsible participation.”
The event began with a joyful traditional Mexican greeting from the students of the Excelsior school, followed by the Opening Ceremony with the presence of Sister Socorro Hernández, Provincial of the MMO Province; of Fr. Carlos Alberto Montoya SDB (MEG) President of the ENES team; of Fr. Oscar Martínez SDB (MEG); of Sister María Cristina Silva, FMA (MMO); of Sister Patricia Rodríguez and Sister Leonide Roldán, FMA (MME); and of Mr. Carmelo Reyes, SDB (MEM).
The President of the National Salesian Education Team, Fr. Carlos Alberto Montoya, solemnly opened the meeting, while Sister Socorro Hernández in her greeting, invited us to be “dreamers” like Don Bosco, to continue to create in every Salesian House, family and domestic environments for their “children”.
Fr. David Jasso of the Archdiocese of Monterrey and member of the Synod team on synodality, in his presentation explored the theme of synodality as a path that God asks for a response, especially in the next decade, to the demands of this change of era that will be decisive for humanity. He therefore left to the Salesian Family the commitment to ask for the gift to be proactive in listening, in community discernment, and in silence. In an atmosphere of fraternity, the participants united to ask with the priestly prayer of Jesus, the gift of unity, so that the world may believe.
In his Goodnight, the Provincial of MEG Province, Fr. Filiberto González encouraged the participants to keep St. John Bosco as a reference model to continue in the formation processes.
The day of 9 September began with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr. Filiberto González, followed by the Good Morning of the MME Provincial, Sister Margarita Chavarría Primavera, who urged us to “look, be, listen, and ready the heart” as Don Bosco did.
With the online conference “Ethical impact of AI in education,” Alexandre Sayad presented Artificial Intelligence as a “new lens” for interacting with the world. According to the speaker, artificial intelligence is a multidisciplinary field of knowledge that affects the way people perceive the world politically, socially, and economically, and which reduces its influence through critical reflection. He also spoke about the use of different digital means of research and consultation used by teachers.
Afterwards the teacher, María Luisa Ibarra shared the proposal of the New Mexican School, a controversial topic nationally. The emphasis was placed on the use of the active methodologies proposed by the New National Educational Model, in particular Project Based Learning, presenting the scenarios in which it is proposed to work with the different projects. The teacher invited us to deepen our knowledge of the New National Model and to identify the points of convergence with the Salesian Educational Model.
The workshop model was a very participatory experience. In the workshops, some themes of the Global Educational Pact were addressed: the person at the center, the family as the first and indispensable educator, integral ecology, and the culture of encounter.
Subsequently, a space for dialogue was offered to the Provinces to share the contents learned and the considerations that emerged during the event, as well as to present the steps and positions taken by the Schools in relation to the New Mexican School. Regarding this, some Province contributions were also shared.
At the end of the meeting, Fr. Carlos Montoya and the teacher, Alejandro Suárez, gave some communications from the National Salesian Education Team, relating to the Course on the Salesian Educational Model held last school year and to the next Meeting of the Salesian School America, which will take place held in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, in May 2024.
The Directors who participated in the event returned to their communities with renewed enthusiasm and commitment to continue to passionately carry forward the Salesian educational mission in Mexico.