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STATEMENT OF THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL MEETING OF DEHONIAN EDUCATORS TO THE CONGREGATION AND TO THE DEHONIAN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
The priests and lay people that work in the field of education in the Provinces, Regions and Districts of Argentina-Uruguay, Central Brazil, Southern Brazil, Northern Brazil, Canada, Chile, Congo, Germany, Spain, Southern Italy, India, Indonesia, Portugal, Madagascar, Mozambique, Poland, United States and Venezuela, gathered in Salamanca (Spain) from 14 to 23 July 2008 on the occasion of the Second International Meeting of Dehonian Educators, wish to present to the whole Congregation the following final statement:
1. At this meeting we have discussed what each of the Provinces and Regions is doing in the Education field, and have heard about both successes and difficulties as well as changes that have taken place since the First International Meeting of Dehonian Educators held in Salamanca (Spain) in 2001. The atmosphere of fraternity has been much enjoyed. We would like to thank the General Administration for adopting this initiative, which shows its interest in the world of education and acknowledges the work being done all over the world by the Congregation of Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus through its priests and all lay people sharing with us the same mission.
2. In line with the guidelines of the Church and the spirit of Father Léon Dehon, our founder, and with the mission he assigned to our Institute, that is, to establish the Kingdom of God amongst people and in society, we see educational activity as a privileged environment for evangelization.
3. The result of the First International Meeting of Dehonian Educators in 2001 was the Proposal for Dehonian Education, which provides inspiration for all the schools of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This Second International Meeting of Dehonian Educators has based its work on the third part of this document: " Adveniat Regnum Tuum ". It is our task to make the Kingdom of God present among people. This is urgent in today's society, because it allows us to put into practice the Love of God. Christ's love compels us , as we are urged by Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians (2 Cor 5,14).
4. On this basis, the slogan of the Meeting has been " An open heart to educate ". The reality of the open Heart of Christ, center of our spirituality, invites us to shape our heart on that of Jesus and to open it up to others. And we believe that it is through education that we can best sow the seed of the Kingdom, caring for it and making it bear fruit, creating citizens who constitute the new civilization of love . For us education means to "repair" and to repair it is to save.
5. All the participants in this Meeting have meditated on five categories to achieve a Christian, Catholic, Dehonian education: the anthropological, cultural, social, ecclesiastical and Dehonian categories. We have received the help of experts in our studies. We have been able to explain our experiences, difficulties and, above all, our hopes in our daily work. Our objective has been to draw up a series of specific plans of action for each educational center and context.
6. We have noticed with satisfaction the great number of activities carried out in schools, many of which are the result of the work carried out in 2001 during the First International Meeting of Dehonian Educators, indicating that there is now greater unity in our activities. The experiences of some schools have been put into practice by others, thus promoting the specific characteristics of the Dehonian schools. There have also been some new contributions that meet the expectations of society in line with modern educational methodologies.
7. We have also analyzed the difficulties entailed in implementing the guidelines laid down in the Proposal for Dehonian Education for the Educational Community, for society and for institutions, and we have proposed specific actions that should help optimize our efforts and achieve positive results, enabling us to continue working with enthusiasm and hope.
8. We consider that all our work should be enlightened by the Dehonian charisma and for this reason the figure of Father Dehon and his relevance have been presented, a figure that should be present in all the work of the educational community and should permeate everything we do, thus revealing the specific nature of our schools, which differentiates them from other Catholic schools. Dedication to others through love, as revealed by Jesus Christ's suffering on the cross, is the guiding spirit behind the work of Fr. Dehon. Hence he is centering his activity on the poor, and that is something that figures in our ideology and reminds us of the teaching of the Church: our option for the needy. The spirit which Fr. Dehon wished to see in all his works is completely modern and revolutionary, and promotes holistic Catholicism. The question we must ask ourselves is: are we really showing that spirit? Dehonian pedagogy is based on love of society so that we can build a new society that critically makes the Kingdom of God grow within it. We are happy to conclude that we believe in the Kingdom of God and, therefore, we should continue discovering how to be faithful to his teaching having as base the dehonian quality that consists on joining spirituality and social reality. Him. Our wish is that "Adveniat Regnum Tuum" should become a reality.
9. It is important to understand people's situation in history: their evolution as beings created by God, the current situation which tries to omit the presence of God in human life, and the economic rationality that depersonalizes, so that in Education it is necessary to work towards "personalizing education". The welfare society means that human being exists but is not, that is to say, it forgets his transcendental dimension. The Bible explains human dignity: " God created man and woman in his own image ". The deep meaning of human beings is that they live together with others, with different people who complete their meaning as human beings. The dangers that exist are the hedonistic culture, the negation of reality, the primacy of action that makes people have a meaning because of what they serve for rather than for what they are. This means that students who are not up to standard are considered of no use. We therefore have to present values that give meaning to human existence, placing the person at the center. The catholic school should help integrate these values in people, so to help them mature. And the ultimate reference to be presented in schools to give meaning to all this is God. We are obliged to transmit God as the ultimate reference giving meaning, and to prepare people for transcendence.
10. We believe that to educate is to believe in young people - listening to them, welcoming them, loving them, dialoguing with them, knowing their culture, proposing Faith to them, so that they can positively transform society. We should therefore prepare ourselves and become real experts as teachers of children and young people. Education is placed in a global and intercultural world and it needs an orientation with a careful discernment.
11. We feel that God invites us to form part of His creation, being compassionate and identifying ourselves with the needy, struggling for a much more fair and peaceful world. To educate in justice and peace, within the house that is our common world, constitutes a platform for the transformation of the social realities and lifestyle. We educate students through the love so they can be critical and to look for a equilibrium between the earth and the man.
12. We found out that the Proposal for Dehonian Education invites the educational community to participate in the mission of the Church through availability, communion and solidarity in order to cooperate in the salvation of humankind. To educate a Christian is to form a person with a heart, applying the pedagogy of the heart, or cordiality based on the availability, communion and solidarity. Christian education is to repair and to evangelize in order to make the Kingdom of God present on earth.
13. We have made specific suggestions to be carried out in the different educational contexts existing within our Congregation. This Second International Meeting of Dehonian Educators has established, amongst others, the following proposals for action:
For the educational centers: to revitalize the figure of Father Dehon by holding Dehonian weeks, including the elaboration of a didactic unit about the life, work and message of Father Dehon; to run solidarity campaigns to facilitate a change in lifestyle bringing us closer to the underprivileged in our society.
To provide follow-up for the participants of this Meeting: to maintain systematic communication via the Internet in order to share ideas, materials and experiences, such as the creation of a Dehonian education virtual reality, to make known the Proposal for Dehonian Education in order to apply it in all the educational realities within the Congregation.
To continue with the organization of Meetings of Dehonian Educators.
14. Finally, considering the relevance of the educational work of our Dehonian schools worldwide, we reaffirm the need for the Congregation to clarify in greater depth the fundamental role of the education imparted by our Institute, so that it does not depend on personal initiatives but it may rather form an integral part of the general activities carried out by the Congregation in the Church's evangelizing mission. Consequently, those present at the Meeting have agreed to carry out scientific studies on the education that stems from the writings and thoughts of Father Dehon. On the basis of his love for society, he proposed that education be used as a tool for transforming it. Therefore, a means of carrying out this study to promote awareness of the importance of education for our Congregation would be the organization of a General Conference covering education as one of the fundamental missions of Dehonian charisma.
In this Spirit and together with all the SCJ brothers together, as well as the Dehonian family worldwide, we express our gratitude for the encouragement we have received at this Meeting and for having felt Father Dehon's charisma which more than ever breathes life into our educational situations in the different contexts in which we work. We are called to show optimism in education, and we close with the words of our Founder, who said: L'éducation religieuse n'est-elle pas la culture des facultés les plus élevées de l'homme, la civilisation de l'intelligence et du coeur? ( Christian education is to cultivate the deepest human characteristics, a civilization of the intelligence and the heart ) [P. Dehon, OS IV, 291] . We would like to pay attention, from the dehonian spirit, to the needs of the world surrounding us.
In Corde Iesu,
Participants to the Second International Meeting of Dehonian Educators
Salamanca , July 14-23 2008