(By UISG-USG Education Commission)
More than six hundred men and women from more than sixty countries with all the diversity of cultures and contexts imaginable, from diverse educational traditions in the Church, including both religious and other laity, have shared, from the perspective of Catholic schools, our vocation as educators. The echo of Pope Francis’ call to “rebuild the global educational covenant” has aroused in us a passion to improve our world.
The annual Seminar, organized by the Education Commission of the two Unions of Superiors General, was held this year online from November 12-14. The medium has been a challenge for participation, which is essential for what was intended. The work of the technological infrastructure, the design team, the translators (French, English, Italian, Spanish) and the facilitators in Appreciative Inquiry has been invaluable.
Angelo Vincenzo Zani, Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, was with us on the opening day. He read some words that the Pope himself addressed to the participants. He summarized in three lines of action the seven essential commitments of the Pact: “to focus, to welcome, and to involve”. Putting the person at the center, listening to the other, committing oneself to seeing this world with critical eyes capable of proposing solutions.
We wanted to learn and put into practice the methodology “Appreciative Inquiry”, a way of promoting change at a personal, social, or institutional level that starts with the persons involved, is self-determined, and motivated by what we have and is working well, individually and collectively. Miriam Subirana and Pep Buetas, specialists in this methodology, led us.
The Pact needs allies, “accomplices” that build upon each other, threads in a network woven together. We have had the experience that it is possible, that we were already a network, we just need to want it and get to work:
– To give value, above all, to the human person, his/her dignity, rights, specificity and beauty, which grows thanks to healthy and free relationships with others.
– Because we have experienced the listening, the participation of all, the valuation or “appreciation” of each one and, without knowing ourselves, we have listened well.
– Because we count on the strength that experience gives us. In fact, we have shared our best stories, this was our support and starting point.
– Because our dreams of the future, of a school for a world we do not want the same, converge. The “new normalities” cannot reproduce old injustices that leave someone by the wayside.
Children and young people called us to prayer and to take care of our common home, because “there is no planet B”. They, their families, our families, the Covenant, have been constantly present in the days.
Appreciative Inquiry is a way of relating based on values that also seeks the Covenant itself. In the Seminar we have tried to learn the method with practice and we have experienced that our dreams can come true!