Bahía Blanca (Argentina). In July 2022, the first edition of the Diploma in Catechesis “School catechesis in a curricular key: new approaches” concluded. It opened in September 2021, with more than 40 students who are about to graduate. The course is coordinated by the Province of Saint Francis Xavier (ABB) of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and by the Salesian University of Bahía Blanca (UNISAL).
The proposal is addressed to Coordinators and Pastoral Care workers, Pedagogical Directors, Catechists, and Animators of the Salesian Youth Movement (MJS) of the ABB Province, with the aim of offering a space for reflection on theological, pastoral, charismatic, and pedagogical contexts; to provide resources and tools to review the evangelizing strategy; to promote dialogue in local environments for the revision of programs and methods of evangelization.
The formative year is made up of four modules: 1. Deepened study of the Salesian spirit in dialogue with the catechetical knowledge of the itinerary; 2. Deepened study of the person and the relationship with God; 3. Deepened study of the New Childhood and Adolescence in the context of school and teaching; 4. Deepened study of the way of knowing, teaching, learning, and catechetical practice.
The itinerary was conceived in 2014, when the Pastoral Coordinators found themselves reflecting on “Catechesis in the school in a pastoral key”. From that moment, the discussion on different points of view and experiences of faith was kept alive. In the process of research together, a Salesian of Don Bosco, Ariel Fresia, from Blessed Ceferino Namuncurà Province (ARS), was asked to accompany the group to take further steps.
The first step was to address the proposed themes from a broad perspective, looking at the entire educational community, since the difficulties of catechesis are part of the pastoral vision of the entire educational proposal. At the same time, four areas of work were defined: pedagogical, ethical-political, administrative, and theological.
The methodology of Participatory Pastoral Planning was used, with the aim of opening spaces for dialogue, re-elaboration, and re-signification of the educational-pastoral vision and practice. The Pastoral Educational Plan was developed and carried out with the aim of renewing catechesis in a dialogue between faith and science.
The Process: An analysis of the reality was carried out in each area to discover where the catechists work, how they feel, and what they have at their disposal; the meanings that intervene in practice, and the dominant ideas to redefine the mission starting from the charismatic sources, from local experience, and contributions from the Social Sciences and Education.
The concepts were then studied and the theoretical models defined, recognizing the difference between current desires and practices. For this reason, guidelines for action were identified for the future, with a community commitment to which everyone must contribute, starting from their role within the School.
The first dimension studied was the religious one, seeking to reflect and open up to new perspectives that create dialogue between the complexity of beliefs, religious traditions, doctrinal visions, and the personal research of the young people and the teachers, situations that challenge us, stating some solid points for educative pastoral action.
A dream that comes true
This inter-institutional work led to the creation of the Diploma in Catechetics, with the first session opening in September 2021 and a second in May 2022.
The evaluation of the experience was very positive. The Houses and the people involved are grateful for this formation course which responds to a long-standing need. The certification of the Salesian University also offers participants new catechetical approaches, opens up work opportunities, and constitutes an element for relaunching the catechetical mission in the Schools.
On 12 November 2022, on the occasion of the territorial assemblies of the local Coordination Teams, the ceremonies for the reception of the diplomas of the first edition will be held. The second edition, which opened in May, has 30 participants.
The Province Schools Team believes that this is a first important step on a long journey, and every year it renews its commitment to continue to think, to discuss, and to establish significant presences and responses for the children and adolescents that are part of the realities of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.