“To love God in all things and all things in Him”
After a little rest, the participants returned to the normal schedule for the fourth workday where they engaged in a deep reflection on the formation in social justice and integral ecology in the framework of Jesuit Education. Fr. Benny Juliawan, SJ, Secretary of the Social Apostolate and Coordinator for the Migrants Network in the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, gave the Congress’ third keynote presentation, in which he emphasized the importance of forming students to promote social justice and integral ecology.
His keynote also allowed the participants to discuss the dominating global trends that represent greater challenges facing Jesuit Education. This is the case of the growing socio-environmental crisis that affects everyone and against which Fr. Benny proposed a plan for ecological conversion. This plan is a process that starts from gaining consciousness of the current crises and of the need to transform reality: a consciousness that generates new individual and groups behaviors that facilitate social change. Addressing social justice and ecology within the context of our educational centers is of utmost importance to achieve the transformation the we so desire and need. What can we concretely do from our Jesuit schools to respond to these crises?
The discussion that followed elicited several themes. The first point centered on a wide way of looking at education, in which students are conceived as co-educators that form part of this educational project. The students are integrated within this project serving as educators, along with their parents and teachers. As a second point, there was a consensus expressed among the group that we desire that our students be intellectually, ethically and spiritually mature, just as they should ask questions, question their culture and the reality around them. That they be hope-filled students committed to transforming the world.
The conversation uncovered a felt sense among the participants that ecological education and global citizenship should be pillars in the curriculum in order to contribute to the formation of conscious individuals. Along the same lines, participants highlighted the importance of incorporating ecology and caring for our common home in the curriculum, starting from daily practices in the schools. In regards to this, a few people referred to materials produced by different entities within the Society that promote ecological strategies that we should take advantage of.
Throughout the conversation a specific reference was made to the challenge we have to go beyond the notion of education as a business, which is an approach used by many educational networks. Jesuit Education represents a viable alternative to this conception, offering an integral proposal that privileges the formation in counter-cultural values, emphasizing social justice and integral ecology. How can we be innovators in education and formation?
During the course of today’s work, two presentations of experiences were noteworthy. The first experience was a virtual presentation by Fr. Michael Garanzini, SJ, Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, who shared with us the vision and plan of the higher education centers, encouraging a greater collaboration with the secondary education centers to be able to better serve together. The second presentation was offered by Dr. Michael Schuck, theology professor at Loyola University Chicago (USA), in which he shared with us the Healing Earth project. It is an online book of environmental sciences based in the tradition of Jesuit education that is being used by various school and universities around the world.
Part of the morning session was joined by Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, and his assistant for Latin America South, Fr. Claudio Paul, SJ. Tomorrow Fr. General will celebrate Mass with us and will deliver a speech to the Provincial Assistants for Education and the representatives of the Jesuit educational networks.