Rome (Italy). On 22 November 2021 in Rome, in the Aula Magna “John Paul II”, the Academic Year 2021/2022 of the Pontifical Faculty of Education «Auxilium» officially opened, the 67th in the history of the Faculty.
The event was attended by the Vice Grand Chancellor, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, newly elected Superior General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; Msgr. Gianrico Ruzza, Bishop of Civitavecchia-Tarquinia and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Porto and Santa Rufina; Professor Andrea Bozzolo, Salesian of Don Bosco, Rector of the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome; Dr. Marco Della Porta, new President of the XIV Municipality of Rome; students, teachers, administrative and service staff, guests, and civil and religious academic authorities.
The academic act of the inauguration opened with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Msgr. Gianrico Ruzza who in his homily reflects on the reality of research as an act of spiritual, intellectual, and relational love, “Research that must be attentive to questions of faith, of knowledge, of authenticity and must be placed at the service of progress to ensure a worthy life for all.”
Following, the Report on the Academic Year 2020-2021 by the Principal, Professor Piera Ruffinatto, which traces significant cultural events and initiatives experienced in the Academic Year ended and concludes by relaunching to the whole academic community the commitment chosen by the University Pastoral for the new AY: Called to prepare for the future. “Preparing for the future, Pope Francis insistently repeats, is different from being prepared for the future, as it means doing our part so that the future goes in the direction we want,” she explains.
Professor Ruffinatto highlights three paths to give concreteness to this call: the commitment to the Global Compact on Education, drawing on the pedagogical heritage of the Preventive System and making a contribution according to “the identity of women who educate and reflect on education”; the creation of synergies and alliances to achieve a true integral ecological conversion. Finally, the commitment to continue, as an international and Salesian Faculty, to make the academic community a privileged place in which the culture of encounter and welcome between people of different cultural traditions and with projects of sharing and service to the least is developed, especially young people. “This is and wants to be our way of being there and collaborating in the process of regeneration of Italy and of every country in the world that this assembly represents so significantly.”
“Preparing the future: new paradigms and formative alliances for the University today” is the title of the academic lecture given by Prof. Susanna Sancassani, Head of the METID Service – Innovative Methods and Technologies for Teaching at the Milan Polytech and Coordinator of the table “Digital ecosystems for didactic innovation” of the Conference of Rectors of Italian Universities (CRUI).
The Professor spoke about how the pandemic crisis situation has led to the acceleration of all the processes of digitization of higher education, which challenges universities, highlighting the need for a “paradigm shift” to interpret the new scenario. “It means creating and sharing a new paradigm in which the unhinging of faith in the ‘here and now’ drags a whole series of consequences that are far from running out in alternating between a few hours of online teaching and a few hours of classroom teaching”.
A possible new paradigm for learning can arise from renewed forms of alliance, integration, fusion, mixing between the dimensions of physical teaching and online learning processes, hence the Professor’s proposal of six ‘continuums’ between the physical dimension and online, as part of the educational offer.
In her greeting, Mother Chiara Cazzuola highlighted the harmony of the themes dealt with by Prof. Sancassoli with the reflections carried out during the just concluded General Chapter XXIV, on the educational challenges that, in the context of contemporaneity, emerge from the life of young people, from the families, from the various nations in which the FMA Institute is inserted. “We highlighted how urgent it is, as an Educating Community, to assume prevention from a pedagogical point of view. In fact, the Preventive System, the charismatic inheritance of St. John Bosco and St. Mary D. Mazzarello, has within itself a humanizing power based on respect for the dignity of the person and his/her rhythms of growth.”
In concluding, Mother Chiara invited the academic community “to give greater value to the study of the female dimension of education, the promotion and empowerment of women through university formation, and the preventive perspective that characterizes the pedagogical approach” and entrusted the new AY to Mary, “She, who has guided our religious family in these 150 years, continues to be present in the post-Chapter journey and to ‘walk in our homes’, awakening the original freshness of the vocational fruitfulness of the Institute in today’s society.”
As Vice Grand Chancellor, Mother Chiara Cazzuola then proclaimed Professor Antonella Meneghetti, Professor of Liturgy, Professor Emerita, and officially declared the Academic Year 2021/2022 open.