October 16, 2017
 
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DR#: 24 Solidarity: The Response of the School Community

Introduction

After speaking clearly of the close relationship in our schools among brothers and our lay collaborators, the Rule of Life states that those involved in education “attempt to challenge [students] to become involved in social ministry, to promote justice and peace, and to appreciate the value of sharing.  [Brothers and lay collaborators] support those students involved in movements and extra-curricular groups which promote human and Christian growth, as well as those who feel called to a special vocation within the Church or society.” (cf. Rule of Life, #159)

The General Chapter of 2000 was unequivocal in stating that the schools remain a privileged place to answer concretely the cry of youth who are poor and without hope.  The Chapter also recognized that educational institutions could achieve greater effectiveness on behalf of young persons through on-going efforts at collaboration.  The following decisions of the Chapter underscore this principle:

1.6  Developing networks of collaborators  As religious educators, the brothers promote the growth of networks of collaborators inside and outside the Institute, sharing whatever concerns the life, mission, and works that benefit the young who are poor and without hope.

1.7  Solidarity within the Institute To deepen or initiate commitments to solidarity within the Institute in favor of young people who are poor and without hope, during the next three years the Chapter or assembly of each entity establishes:
a)  programs to form its educative communities to solidarity;
b)  programs of partnership to increase solidarity between works of the Institute meeting the needs of youth who are poor and without hope. (Lord, When did we see You? p.29)

Through this experience, the participants will:

  • Situate their educational ministry more clearly within the Institute’s call to solidarity;
  • Deepen their understanding of that call as it impacts their life and ministry; and
  • Commit themselves to specific decisions and actions on behalf of solidarity.
Readings
  • Lord, When Did We See You? 2000, pp. 28-31
  • A Prayer for Solidarity, pp. 20-21
  • Solicitudo Rei Socialis  …in everyday language; On Social Concern; Pope John Paul II, 1987; no. 32
  • “Sharing Catholic Social Teaching:  Challenges and Directions;” U.S. Bishops' statement on Catholic social teaching and Catholic education, 1998
  • Dialogue between cultures for a civilization of love and peace;” Message of his Holiness Pope John Paul II for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2001; no. 20
Options for Additional Readings
  • A Prayer for Solidarity, 2001, Ten Guidelines for formation to solidarity in educative communities; pp. 33-36
  • Sharing Catholic Social Teaching:  Challenges and Directions
  • U.S. bishops' statement on Catholic social teaching and Catholic education, 1998
Suggestions for Journal Reflection
  1. What do you find most challenging and most life-giving in the call of the Institute to greater solidarity in the educative communities?
     
  2. How do you integrate and balance the call to solidarity with your many other responsibilities and involvements?
     
  3. As an educational leader, what are your hopes and fears as you reflect on the breadth and depth of the call to solidarity placed before your educational community by the Institute?
Prayer

Loving God,

You call me to be an educational leader
within the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.
You call me to commit myself as an individual
and as a leader
to greater solidarity within the Institute,
particularly on behalf of young people
who are poor and without hope.

The call is clear and unmistakable;
and it is also challenging and disturbing.
I believe in the mission of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart;
and I want to contribute to furthering the vision and the goals
of the General Chapter of 2000.
However,
I’m not sure if I am capable of meeting the challenge.

Therefore, I ask you, Lord
to fill my heart with your Holy Spirit,
your Spirit of faith, wisdom, courage, trust, generosity, and fidelity.
Free me from all fear and hesitation.
Take from me all excuses or rationalization
that might deter me.

I pray also, Lord, for my colleagues,
those women and men with whom I work
that we may tackle the task placed before us.
May we strengthen the bonds of unity and collaboration among us
so that we might accomplish together
what none of us could do individually
on behalf of your beloved young people,
especially for those who are poor and without hope.

Amen.

Readings

Readings from Lord, When Did We See You?

The Chapter asked us to intensify our innovative educational efforts on behalf of the most needy. (1.4) In using the verb intensify, it recognized that much good work is already being done for the poor in many of our schools and centers. Nevertheless, it stressed that we shouldn’t be satisfied with what is now being done. The Chapter wants us to be innovative in our commitment to young people who are poor and without hope. It is up to the respective councils of each entity to implement this decision. But since we can learn from one another, it would be good for us to share with other entities information on our implementation efforts.

In stressing the importance of developing collaborative networks, the Chapter expands our vision, spurring us on to interdependence with other Church groups and humanitarian organizations. (1.6)

Lay collaborators, men and women, want an increased role in our schools and centers. They are baptized; they are bearers of the Holy Spirit as much as we are. They believe in their mission of evangelization. Why shouldn't we share with them the richness of the special charism given to the Church through the mediation of Father Coindre? In a spirit of trust, why shouldn't we allow them to play a greater role in our works? The results might surprise us!

There are yet other resources available to us: associate members, former students, young volunteers, parents, and our students themselves. It is worth remembering that at the multiplication of the loaves, as recorded in the Gospel of John, the Lord worked a miracle using bread offered by a young boy. (Jn. 6:1-15)

Yes, we are able to create something new. We can find solutions to present-day problems of young people, but we cannot do it alone. We need to seek help. There are already many charitable groups and non-governmental organizations (NGO's), parishes, dioceses and many others who are working with deprived young people. They often ask for partners. We could become one. Each local community, when it prepares its community plan, might identify such an agency, join up, and support it. The same goes for our educational communities.

We need to broaden our contacts within the Institute for the sake of greater mutual awareness and better collaboration. By strengthening our sense of belonging to an international network and by providing education for social justice, we will experience increased solidarity among the different parts of the Institute. Programs of formation to solidarity could be established in our school communities. Partnerships or twinning between schools could provide brothers, co-workers and students with a taste of universal brotherhood and a context for putting solidarity into practice. Some schools and centers are already involved in such programs. But we’re called to do more.

Reading from A Prayer for Solidarity

In asking the Lord to forge the Institute into a universal brotherhood, I pray for inter-cultural respect not only in our apostolic outreach, but also within our houses and entities. Welding forges unity at the molecular level. Unlike cements, which only adhere, and unlike bolts or rivets which merely fasten, the heat which produces a weld rearranges molecular bonds. The result is no longer two pieces attached to each other, but one solid unit.

Inspired by the Chapter (1.7 and 3.4) I pray for a tighter fusion of cultures in the evolution of our structures and within our local and educative communities. If our solidarity is to become a clear sign of universal brotherhood in the apostolate, we need to portray a cross-cultural image of Christ in the molecular units of the Institute.

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Reading from Solicitudo Rei Socialis …in everyday language
On Social Concern

Pope John Paul II, 1987

32. To commit oneself to the development of the whole person and every human being is an obligation not only for the individual, but also for societies and nations, and especially for the Catholic community and the other Christian churches. The Catholic Church is eager to collaborate with those other churches and other religions. Collaboration in this development is a duty for all and toward all, East, West, North, South. If people try to achieve it in only one part of the world, they can do it only at the expense of others, and their own development will be jeopardized. This need for development may not be used to impose on others one's own way of life or own religious belief.

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Reading from Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions
U.S. bishops' statement on Catholic social teaching and Catholic education, 1998

The Educational Challenge
Catholic schools, religious education, adult education, and faith formation programs are vitally important for sharing the substance and values of Catholic social teaching. Just as the social teaching of the Church is integral to Catholic faith, the social justice dimensions of teaching are integral to Catholic education and catechesis. They are an essential part of Catholic identity and formation.

In offering these reflections, we want to encourage a fuller integration of the Church's social tradition into the mainstream of Catholic education and catechesis. We seek to encourage a more integral sharing of the substance of Catholic social teaching in Catholic education and catechesis at every level. The commitment to human life and dignity, to human rights and solidarity, is a calling all Catholic educators must share with their students. It is not a vocation for a few religion teachers, but a challenge for every Catholic educator and catechist.

The Church has the God-given mission and the unique capacity to call people to live with integrity, compassion, responsibility, and concern for others. Our seminaries, colleges, schools, and catechetical programs are called to share not just abstract principles but a moral framework for everyday action. The Church's social teaching offers a guide for choices as parents, workers, consumers, and citizens.

Therefore, we emphasize that the values of the Church's social teaching must not be treated as tangential or optional. They must be a core part of teaching and formation. Without our social teaching, schools, catechetical programs, and other formation programs would be offering an incomplete presentation of our Catholic tradition. This would fall short of our mission and would be a serious loss for those in our educational and catechetical programs.

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Reading from “Dialogue Between Cultures for a Civilization of Love and Peace
the Message of his Holiness Pope John Paul II for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2001;


The Value of Education

20. In order to build the civilization of love, dialogue between cultures must work to overcome all ethnocentric selfishness and make it possible to combine regard for one's own identity with understanding of others and respect for diversity. Fundamental in this respect is the responsibility of education. Education must make students aware of their own roots and provide points of reference which allow them to define their own personal place in the world. At the same time, it must be committed to teaching respect for other cultures. There is a need to look beyond one's immediate personal experience and accept differences, discovering the richness to be found in other people's history and in their values.

Knowledge of other cultures, acquired with an appropriate critical sense and within a solid ethical framework, leads to a deeper awareness of the values and limitations within one's own culture, and at the same time it reveals the existence of a patrimony that is common to the whole of humanity. Thanks precisely to this broadening of horizons, education has a particular role to play in building a more united and peaceful world. It can help to affirm that integral humanism, open to life's ethical and religious dimension, which appreciates the importance of understanding and showing esteem for other cultures and the spiritual values present in them.

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