Rome (Italy). From 5 to 8 December 2023, at the General House of the Christian Schools in Rome, the 100th Council of the OIEC (Office International de l’Enseignement catholique) present were delegates of the Catholic Schools from the five continents, including Sister Martha Séïde, FMA, Professor of the Pontifical Faculty of Science of Education “Auxilium” – representing the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians as an OIEC associate member, and Sister Ana Julia Suriel, FMA, representative of the Inter-American Confederation of Catholic Education (CIEC).
Three events in particular marked this meeting. First of all, participation in the general audience with Pope Francis on 6 December, with the joy of greeting him directly and of welcoming his exhortation to be and to work, under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, in creativity and simplicity.
Subsequently, Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, with all his staff welcomed the group to the headquarters of the Dicastery for a meeting of mutual knowledge and sharing of hopes and challenges regarding Catholic education in the world today. The Cardinal Prefect reiterated three guidelines often proposed by Pope Francis: to be a choir, to be expert teachers of humanity, and to cultivate hope, because education is an act of hope.
The other appointment is the visit, December 7, to the School “The Young Talents’ Workshop” (BGT), in Via Appia Nuova, House of the Roman Province of St. John Bosco (IRO) given on loan for free use to the Association of Social Promotion.
After the reception, the Pedagogical Coordinator Sister Caterina Cangià, FMA, presented the essential characteristics of the School: the presence of multilingualism, of multiculturalism, and of multireligiosity as a path to form children and young people for the present and future world. The space reserved for art in its various components – pictorial-plastic, musical, and motor – also allows for the exercise of creativity and work in a cooperative manner.
The School practices Active Teaching and methodologies through which it promotes global learning in pupils, starting from their real educational needs. Above all the techniques and methodologies, the Preventive System emerges just as Saint John Bosco gave it, with the practice of reason, religion, and loving- kindness. It is an educational system that for many years has lived and flourished in every Salesian house and that today is perfectly aligned with the recent data of the cognitive neurosciences that recognize in kindness, in reason, and in spirituality the indispensable path in education.
At the end of the presentation in “multilingualism”, the children and young people of the Piccolo Coro della BGT – inclusive to the maximum – entertained the guests by singing in several voices in Italian, French, Spanish, Latin, and Sign language. Among the songs, “Bienvenido don Bosco” could not be missing. The director of the choir, Maria Grazia Bellia, involved with the last song, “Impertinent Nursery Rhyme”, even the members of the OIEC Council who, having fun, gave the children a round of applause that surely still resonates in the ears of the young choristers.
The Secretary General of the OIEC, Dr. Hervé Lecomte, presented to the School, in recognition for the excellence of the work and professionalism of the Educational Community, the medal of the OIEC and the “Charter of the Global Educational Pact” that asks every educator to engage on seven points: Putting the person at the center; Listening to the younger generations; Promoting women; Making the family responsible; Opening up to welcome; Renewing the economy and politics; Safeguarding the common home.
After a brief pause, the Councilors listened to a presentation of the Catholic School in Italy by Prof. Ernesto Diaco, director of the National Office of the CEI for Education, School, and University. They then went to visit the Environments of the BGT, from the Spring Section to the Grade One Secondary School. Teachers, children, and young people showed with words and example how being at the Bottega dei Giovani Talenti is synonymous with living school happily.
This 100th OIEC Council was an opportunity to renew the commitment to the networking of the Global Educational Pact of which the OIEC is the world leader.