Ongietorriak, welcome and welcome to Iruña, Euskaldunon Kingdom hiriburua, Pamplona, especially to this school of the Rotxapea. Some of you come to the city for the first time, and many for the first time come to this neighborhood and this school. Enjoy, because it is also the neighborhood to which the train arrives – and something had to do with the birth of this school, and also the neighborhood that best floods our Arga River, which crosses the logo of our 125 years. Fifteen years ago, we also arrived the Piarists to take responsibility for the school, but there were already many of us who had passed through here, to then reach Calasanz School, at the city center. It was nice, always, that many of the Rotxapea, of these neighborhoods, had room in that one, and it was even more beautiful that we “went down” – as we say here, “go up” and “go down” – to educate here. We were already together, but now more. As our dear brother of Antonio Lezaun, Jesus, a parish priest in the neighborhood, wrote: “The Piarists come to the school, the Compassionate Sisters leave them the bar very high; but it’s the best thing that could have happened to school now”
You are in the Rotxapea, a neighborhood of orchards, peasant people, and years later of workers, social initiatives, of many labor conflicts. Matesa – the “Matesa case” was still featured in “Tell Me” – built its factory with tower and clock – now preserved as an architectural model of industry – next to the tower of the parish el Salvador (which has until recently also maintained the schools of the Hail Mary, imported by the parish priest who gives the street its name, one of the longest in the city “Marcelo Celayeta “). The two towers look to the neighborhood and the wall, but soon this Compassion lorded over the neighborhood, over cottages and first housing cooperatives, especially as a neighborhood school, girls’ school many years, where the boys could spend the three first school years; we did the first communion, and we had to seek for another school to continue. Many of us were received in the Calasanz, passing at the age of seven the first great examination of our lives, notice that I was asked “the commandments of the holy Mother Church”… besides, of course, reading, multiplying and things like that.
Well, but as you know the history of Pamplona with the Piarists begins before… and this year we are 125 years old… nothing compared to some of you, but good for the city, quite. It was 1894.
The Piarists of Aragon arrived at Sarasate Avenue, an old farmhouse, called by the Bishop; thus the Piarists used to come, especially to smaller towns, so they were already in Vera de Bidasoa, Estella and Tafalla. We keep chronicles of those years, literary evenings, religious celebrations, teachings of commerce, shorthand, languages, to give good trades to children… There were already magazines from those days.
Forty years passed there and in 1933 they opened the new school, some students remembered that they took the desks themselves from one school to another. In this one also they lent the premises to start the first ikastola of Iruña, only three years, and it came what came… and Piarists accompanied celebrations etc. Always wishes, from the birth of the Province of Vasconia, to accompany and serve culture; and it’s not easy to fit Basque into school offers; well this land is special in some things.
New school, with an entire floor for inmates, church, function room. The Piarist School, the usual one, that gives life to the kids and the city, theaters, Sunday masses for all, cinema, processions. Also names of Piarists, many, as we like to say anonymous and simple, who gave everything they knew and could. Some remain in the memory as educated, literary or scientific people who gave rise to the desire to follow many students in these fields; there is the data collected in our school reports; always a memory of Father Joaquin, pedagogue of children, poet, good… holy for all.
Along with the schoolwork, the religious associations of the time, the spiritual directors, some of them forerunners of what the schools were then going to copy, adapted spiritual exercises, our live-ins, and free time through the Scouting that Heliodoro Latasa, now in Tafalla after La Rotxapea, the neighborhood that best floods our Arga River, which crosses the logo of our 125 years, after years of intense mission in Chile, founded, making competition to government organizations; we fondly keep two memoirs of the time. Departures, excursions, mountain, group, commitment… continued in the eighties in the groups of Mikel Gurea and the processes that have since completed the pastoral activity of the School. And in the meantime, the Piarists, religious, changing the school, its tone to the rhythm of the times, not always easy, entering new eras, where the younger priests were always introducing – and at all times the same has happened – the rhythm of new pedagogical ways, pastoral, educational relationship, and philosophy, in the end, of our Piarist life and mission.
Pamplona welcomes in the eighties the Piarists religious in formation (Pedro who is here, some of us later, Juan Carlos, Jesus… and many of our brethren who walk in missionary lands), all of this profoundly influences the tone of the school, the pastoral richness of groups, communities, first of young people, and what is, now, Lurberri and the Fraternity.
Some of us go to Down Town to live and work in the parishes – an environment of “indigenous” poverty, of social exclusion… inheritance of so many years, from the drug season in the neighborhoods, and in this especially (“Down Town, party place and subversion”, was the book of the time )… – we founded with the young people of Lurberri – here are many of them -, Aldezar, with a great commitment and help from social services – we were granted up to three freed, and one more was paid with the money we put among all, the beginnings of community tithing . Intense life, daily school support, free time on Saturdays, camps, good relationship with the gypsy world, the first migrants… how many dear names that gave us life and gave them ours too! – what a good thing also when some boys and girls have wanted to stay with us in our schools, as mothers and fathers, because they felt that way about us. Also the parishes, catechesis, Sunday Mass in Dominican Sisters, until midnight mass as it should be at 12h of the night.
Of all that, much continues in Ikaskide, our work in the Down Town through Itaka-Escolapios; and from other stories we have many names left, important and present in the Piarist life (I always like the names of Jon and Montse, what gifts!). And a community of Piarists in Down Town, where all the young Piarists today have passed through. An adventure that would give us for much more.
And also in those years, our offer to Caritas to found the Man Project, approved in the Chapter. Alberto, Iñaki… several Piarists, and all of us who lived with them sharing so much life that it took us on as well; welcoming in the community, weaving ties, accompanying stories… life, a lot of life.
And in 2002 a news in the press about the Compassion; Antonio calls Mertxe, assuming that it was all done… and tells us that “there is nothing done”; the two to spend Sunday afternoons in the “Meson de Egües” (sympathetic comments on the notes). In June 2003 we broke the news, with the excitement of many, in the cloisters.
This is our story, now two communities of religious, in the Calasanz (many elderly, sick, coming from corners of the world, recently two from Japan and the Philippines, all dedicated to the Piarist life and mission) and in the Down Town. The two schools, the nursery in Mendillorri, Itaka Escolapios, the Calasanz Movement, the groups from Tipi Tapa, in first grade, the School of Monitors, the work in the South, so much life that Has given us Brazil and Bolivia, more than twenty-five of ours with two and three years of presence there, the last returned, Idoia and Maria and now Julen in Anzaldo. The Fraternity with eight communities, the relationship with Tafalla, where several of you here are also giving themselves. The Mass of Eight, camps and Belagua, Irañeta, Txamantxoia. The live-ins, the communions, six days in October, sowing faith in the boys, and to see, in the families. The young people of the catechumeent of Lurberri, in those ages that also give so much being, at the same time, monitors of children and teenagers.
Juan Ruiz, coordinator of the presence of Pamplona-Iruña