Guatemala City (Guatemala). From 20 to 24 February 2023, in Guatemala City, the XXV Meeting of the CIMAC/NAC-MESOAMERICA Region was held, organized by the CERCA network (Comisión Escuela Región Centro América).
The meeting was attended by 19 provincial Heads of education from Central America, Mexico, the Antilles, representing 16 of the provinces of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Salesians of Don Bosco, and the Daughters of the Divine Savior, present in thirteen countries where the Salesian charism animates hundreds of educational centers where children, adolescents, and adults are formed. Representatives from Haiti, the United States, and the Dominican Republic (SDB) were unable to be present.
With the theme: “The future of Salesian education: humanization, digitalization, integral ecology”, the aim was to reflect on the future of education, which allows for the generation of actions and new contributions based on the Salesian pedagogical experience.
On 20 February, in the Auditorium of the Salesian Don Bosco College, the meeting opened with words of welcome from the Director of the College, Fr. Manuel Guerra, SDB, and the Regional Coordinator of the CIMAC Interprovincial Conference, Sr. Eva Doris Rosales Mesa, of the Province of Most Holy Savior (CAM). The representatives of the Salesian School America (ESA), Sr. Ivone Goulart Lopes, collaborator of the Youth Ministry Sector, and Fr. Claudio Cartes, of the SDB Youth Ministry Department, thanked the organizers and greeted the participants.
The National Delegate for Youth Ministry, Fr. Juan Gabriel Romero, brought greetings from the Provincial of Divine Savior Province (CAM), Fr. Julio Navarro Mora; while Sr. María Magdalena Méndez Echeverría gave the welcome on behalf of the Daughters of the Divine Savior (HDS). The FMA Provincials, Sr. Roxana Artigo (CAM), and Sr. Sandra Yela, of the Province of Our Lady of the Angels (CAR) sent a video message, as did the Superior General of the HDS, Sr. Amarilis Nohemy Orosco.
Afterwards, a cultural moment took place with a concert of marimba and folk dance, performed by the students of Don Bosco School, coordinated by Prof. Luis Pirir. To conclude the day, Sr. Eva Doris Meza gave the Salesian Goodnight.
The following day, after the Eucharistic Celebration, the referent of the MESOAMERICA Region, Fr. Carlos Alberto Montoya, welcomed the participants. The video messages of the General Councilors for SDB and FMA Youth Ministry followed:
Fr. Miguel Ángel García Morcuende recalled that the digitization in education following the pandemic has entered the school environment in a decisive way, increasing its impact in a few months compared to previous years. However, it is necessary to make it a structural element of the institutions, bearing in mind that the goal is to form in digitization.
He also stressed that education, both face-to-face and online, is the only way for a country to move forward and that it is an opportunity for the development of students’ digital and professional skills. He also highlighted that, as educators, we need to be prepared in the digital field, for example in cybersecurity.
Sr. Runita Borja addressed these words to the participants: “As educators we must be people of hope. To have an impact on the territory, in the present and in the future, it is necessary to create collaborations both inside and outside our Institutions. This Regional Commission, and the entire ESA network, are also an expression of the educational alliance promoted by Pope Francis. I hope you will be able to learn more about how to implement the Global Education Pact in our educational Institutions, taking into account the seven commitments that have been proposed to us.
Education is always integral: it offers a horizon of coexistence with everyone and with the whole of creation. […] Your presence and active participation in this meeting is already part of the ongoing worldwide process for the implementation of the Global Educational Pact in the Church and in society, as well as part of the history we are writing together! You are an important link, which guarantees an ever-greater involvement of people, the only way to form a critical human group, which makes the transformation of society possible. This is the meaning of being an educator who generates life.”
During the Days, the participants had various formative moments: Fr. Claudio Cartes spoke of “Salesian education in the ecclesiology of communion”; Sr. Ivone Goulart held a reflection on the theme: “The strength of Salesian identity to respond to the challenges of the current context.” Fr. Juan Gabriel Romero, SDB, presented the Rector Major’s Strenna, deepening “The lay dimension of Don Bosco’s Family” and “The Educative Pastoral Community”.
Sr. Patricia Parraguez, FMA of St. Gabriel Archangel Province (CIL), representative of the ESA Central Commission, led the workshop on the “Evaluation of the ESA 2021-2023 strategic plan”. In conclusion, Sr. Ivone Goulart, Fr. Claudio Cartés, and Fr. Carlos Montoya presented the proposals and conclusions of the OIEC (International Office of Catholic Education) for the Central Commission of the Salesian School in America (ESA).
Fr. Pascual Chavez, Rector Major Emeritus, also spoke via video, and presented the theme: “The future of the Salesian school”. Fr. Felix Serrano, SSD, deepened the theme: “The future of Salesian education: humanization”; Dr. Yuri Melini spoke on “The future of Salesian education: integral ecology”; and Adrián Catalán on digitalization.
To face the challenges related to the future of the Salesian School and to propose concrete actions, meetings by Networks were held, in order to face the reality of each Congregation and of the existing networks in the region and to continue the reflection on the basis of the evaluation of the Strategic Plan.
The participants were also able to experience a cultural afternoon together in Antigua Guatemala and in Cayalá, in a serene and joyful Salesian family atmosphere.