Maybe you were like us awaiting with great anticipation the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti. Maybe it was because you remembered the conversations, the innovations, the creativity that was sparked in you and among your colleagues and in your school when Laudato Si came out. Maybe you, too, had conversations in the hallway, at the lunch table, in a department meeting that started “How about this idea?” Maybe you remembered the classroom discussions, the curriculum innovations, the campus wide projects, the new lens for service and new impetus for justice that Laudato Si generated in your school.
So, you waited eagerly for Fratelli Tutti. You welcomed the intellectual, the ethical, the pedagogical and the mission driven push it would give you!
Your first perusal of Fratelli Tutti ignited your personal enthusiasm and, so, you naturally turned to your colleagues with a “let the ideas begin” mindset. Only, your closest colleague is a six-year-old who is better at Zoom than you are; or a 15-year-old dog that raises its head in a lazy halfhearted gesture; or a partner engaged in his or her own work; or an elderly parent with the sound way up on the television. And then, you looked around your classroom and it’s your kitchen with dirty dishes strategically stacked out of the sight of the 15 faces framed in boxes on your screen. You know the kid in the corner square is on his phone and the one in the middle square is apparently constitutionally incapable of showing more than the top of his head. You are exhausted from trying to detect the micro expressions while delivering yet another less than stellar lesson in the throes of a globalpandemic.
So, you clicked to close Fratelli Tutti and muttered, “I love ya, Francis but there is no way in God’s less than green earth that I can digest, discuss and disseminate your 92- page, 287 paragraph letter to me, to my school, to the church, to the world.” At least not in any satisfactory way from inside the silo of remote learning or amidst the pedagogical acrobatics of hybrid teaching. I can’t blame myself, right?
But then there remains the “dark cloud over a closed world’ that gnaws at you because you know people who are sick, who have died, who struggle to care of their families. You know of the racial and economic chasm exposed by the pandemic. You’ve seen the effects of lies and disinformation and unhealthy populism and continued ecological degradation. We are in the same storm but not the same boat. Shattered Dreams.
And, you check your notes and say, damn, this is what I signed up for as an Ignatian educator. It’s my job, my vocation, my mission to bring the gospel and its latest reiteration in this time and place from Pope Francis to my students, my school, my community because, yes, “everyone has a fundamental role to play in a single great creative project: to write a new page of history, a page full of hope, peace and reconciliation.” But still . . .. how?
That’s where we were when the Jesuit Conference asked Cappy and me to offer “the how.” After our (at least my) silent, “Do you NOT see what’s happening outside your window?” protest, we did what Ignatian educators do. We collaborated, challenged each other, corrected grammar (thanks, Cappy) and created “Teaching Fratelli Tutti” so you don’t have to!
We know how busy everyone is right now, so the guide was written with comprehensive detail to spare you the need to craft another set of discussion questions or think up another project. And because the guide is designed for a global audience, there are single-day, three-day, and five-day lessons to fit all bell schedules. That said, we trust your creativity and encourage you to adapt and adopt these ideas to meet the needs of your specific classroom and students. We’ve even created a Fratelli Tutti discussion group on EducateMagis where you can share your ideas and reflections with us and with one another.
“Teaching Fratelli Tutti” is our effort to offer a way to lead our students in an active engagement with the encyclical and toward the desire for authentic encounters with others -the authentic encounter that is at the heart of making manifest the irrevocable bond between God and the world established through the life death and resurrection of Jesus.
We hope “Teaching Fratelli Tutti” is helpful to you as an Ignatian educator. We welcome any feedback you care to offer!
Georgetown Preparatory School