America. On 5 and 6 May 2022, the first meeting of the formation year of the SEPSUR School Sector was held online, for the leaders of the Provinces of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Interprovincial Conference of the South Cone of Latin America – CICSAL and the Salesians of Don Bosco of the CONOSUR Region.
The aim of the meeting was to study the challenges presented by the Strategic Planning of the Salesian School in America (ESA) in order to achieve greater sustainability and relevance of the Salesian Schools in the Southern Cone Region.
The meeting began with a moment of prayer and the greeting of Juan Pablo Vásquez, Director of the Network of Salesian Schools in Chile, who gave the floor to Sr. Ivone Goulart, collaborator of the Youth Ministry Sector and Referent of the Salesian School for America of the FMA, who began by saying, “This is a moment of openness, a space for meeting and dialogue, a place to sit and listen to each other, to speak from the depths of the heart, to confront and decide on what is best, and to carry it forward together.”
Sr. Ivone, referring to the various ecclesial and charismatic events, such as the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute, the conferences scheduled for the year, and documents such as “The identity of the Catholic school for a culture of dialogue” of the Congregation for Catholic Education, invited the participants to continue the journey by focusing on the significant elements for the Salesian School and with openness to networking.
Fr. Claudio Cartes from the SDB Youth Ministry Department and Referent for the Salesian School of America (ESA), shared some points relating to the educational context of the continent, highlighting that, “Everything that happens in the school is a mirror of what happens at the social level. The School reflects what happens in our families, in our cultures, and on a social level.” More extracurricular offerings, which foster bonding and a culture of care, may help improve the situation.
Fr. Rafael Bejarano, SDB of the Youth Ministry Sector, spoke on the theme, “Significance in the Salesian School”, underlining that “we carry out the only mission of the Church, that of evangelizing.” He then observed, “We all have the capacity to open ourselves to God’s love and, from our social and cultural structures, we transmit a way of making God present in history. When we approach this understanding of spirituality, we do so through discernment. We evangelize culture to change history.” In conclusion, he specified that “our Salesian spirituality must be immersed in a notion of cultural education, which is not about producing art, but placing itself in this time and space made dynamic by culture, which moves history.”
The presentation by Fr. Rafael was followed by a reflection on education, pastoral care, the Salesian critical vision, and the educational method, which ended with the reports on the progress of the Strategic Planning coordinated by Sr. Patricia Parraguez, representative of the ESA Central Commission, in which the responses of seven provinces in terms of ongoing actions and action plans were examined.
On 6 May, the meeting continued with group work focused on the decision-making process relating to Planning 2022, in the light of the intervention of Fr. Bejarano, and on the results of the Survey on ESA’s formation needs, presented by Ana Paula Costa de Silva, Referent of the Conference of the Provinces of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Brazil (CISBRASIL).