TO THE EDUCATORS OF THE PIOUS SCHOOLS
TO THOSE WHO MAKE THE PIARIST MISSION POSSIBLE
“If children, from their earliest years, are instructed diligently in piety and letters, it must undoubtedly be expected that their whole life will be a happy one. (St. Joseph Calasanz) 1 .
“The credit of schools is in having good teachers” (Saint Joseph Calasanz). 2
From the General House of the Pious Schools, in which Saint Joseph Calasanz gradually shaped his dream of a comprehensive education for all children and young people, I address all of you, the educators, men and women, of the whole of the Pious Schools, of all our Educational Institutions and of all the platforms from which the Order exercises, with you, its mission to evangelize by educating.
I write this letter specially to THANK YOU. For weeks now, we have lived in the midst of a difficult pandemic that has tested, and in a very demanding way, our commitment to education and the Piarist mission. I can say, with deep conviction, not without pride, that the Piarist answer we are all giving is worthy of the founder of the Pious Schools. Thank you all!
You have all given a beautiful example of what it means to believe in the project you work for and to which you dedicate your life. And I am referring to teachers, administration and service staff, catechists, managers of various educational and pastoral areas, all. Everyone has done their best, and they continue to do it.
This is identity, and is expressed in a particularly significant way when circumstances demand novel and committed responses. Many hours spent in online work, a lot of listening time and accompaniment of students and families through various means, meetings and plans to respond to the challenges of the moment, a lot of work to prepare schools for the return of the activity. Many of you have had to combine your professional work as educators with the care of your own children and their school work. It would be an endless list of reasons to thank for everything you have done and continue to do.
I would like to accompany these thanks with a simple sharing, with all of you, of some convictions that have been emerging clearly, among us, in the midst of this pandemic. I will name them briefly, thinking of you.
VOCATION. Our educational mission is vocational. It is based on deep convictions and communion with a project in which we believe. I think these weeks have helped us strengthen these convictions, because we have had the opportunity to do everything we can to move forward with what we feel called. Let us renew our vocational conviction.
ANSWER. The Piarist mission is born in response to a challenge: the right to integral and quality education of all children and young people. These days this “challenging” component of our mission has been clearly revealed to us. And I think we’ve known, we’re knowing, how to answer. Let us always remain aware that children and young people challenge us.
CORRESPONSIBILITY. We all know that our schools are everyone’s responsibility, and that each of us has a mission to accomplish. However, when circumstances are like the one we have experienced, that component of “co-responsibility” appears more sharply in the mood of each of us. This is also identity: feeling and knowing that the school I work at is also up to me. Let us grow, day by day, the conviction that the school is also up to us.
LINKING. The inability to see each other and to meet has led us to establish new linking modes. For sample, a button: we have seen how the link between school and family has changed paradigm, because parents have assumed greater closeness to the day-to-day education of their children, because the classroom has moved into their homes. Let us grow in the conviction of the Shared Mission with families.
INCLUSION. From Rome, we have followed the functioning of all our schools. We have seen the great efforts that all have made, but we have also seen the formidable difficulties we experience in those places where there is no internet, or there is no computer or tablet in families. We have seen schools that have worked by WhatsApp, by phone or by radio. And we’ve seen schools that have had to close and children running out of school. This pandemic has cruelly put us before the challenge that moved Calasanz. The right to integral, quality and for all education remains outstanding. And in some places we’ve gone backwards. Let us renew our commitment to this ongoing struggle.
TESTIMONIAL. Our educational proposal is sustained and made credible through the testimony and authenticity of educators. This pandemic has to help us all renew our commitment to becoming the educators children need. We have learned that we have to continue learning, that we are never becoming rather prepared, that students ask for and need more from us. Let us bet on continuing to grow as people and as educators.
LEADERSHIP. I want to dedicate a few words to the people who have assumed the leadership of our institutions. The leadership we need is more clearly verified when the moment is adverse, when the wind blows against it. I want to publicly thank the people and teams who take responsibility for making everything work. We all owe them a lot. I invite you to express that appreciation and valuation.
FAITH. Our mission, which we carry out in our schools and on so many different platforms, comes directly from the Gospel of Jesus. That is why it is a charism. A charism is a nuclear aspect of the Gospel, which becomes a project, commitment and community. That is why I want to invite you to renew your faith, to continue to trust in the love of God, which is preferential for children and for the poor. Faith reminds us that even though we are small, there is a God who is Father. Remembering it and living it does us a lot of good. And educating children and young people in that experience gives them what they need most for their lives, it’s an extraordinary mission. I invite you to renew your desire to grow in your faith.
WE MOVE ON. I conclude this letter with this proposal: we must move forward with our work and with our mission. Nevertheless, let us do this by being aware of the new challenges that emerge among us.
- There are things that will never change in Pious Schools. There is no virus that can defeat them. I am talking about the passion for the mission, the closeness to the students, the proclamation of the Gospel, the commitment to quality in everything we do, the Calasanz Movement, the Shared Mission, the growth in identity. We believe in an education sustained by an educational relationship that is not content to be virtual, but To move forward, it is time to renew our conviction and our commitment to what defines our educational proposal.
- But there are others thangs that will do change, or that appear as novelty I quote some: the global educational pact proposed by Pope Francis and which is a commitment to the alliance between all people and institutions that believe in education to change this society; the call to education in the care of the common home; education in the values of a humanely sustainable lifestyle; the backbones of peace, solidarity, ecology and the right to education; the value and opportunities of network and on the net education and pastoral care; the verification of the value of quality in its capacity to respond to poverty and the situation of exclusion, etc.
- And there are challenges that we will have to try to overcome. Among them, the economic crisis that we are already experiencing, and which will hinder in different ways our life and our mission; learning to live differently, with other types of relationships and health care; the challenge of accompanying people, because the wear and tear suffered has not been small; the challenge of helping our children and young people express what they have experienced and what they have learned, etc.
- And there is a central reference: He spawned a new, student-centered, integral, popular, gospel-inspired school, based on identified educators, with a clear project, with a vocation for personal and social transformation, and a seeker to offer students the treasure that was its center and its axis: there is a new life, a new man and a woman, which we can and must build, because it is God’s desire and will for us. This was Calasanz.
I do not want to fail to cite the valuable witness of the Piarist religious communities, which have been well present in this whole process, as well as the Fraternity. Faith and the Eucharist have been celebrated online; prayers and celebrations have been held; there have been so many hours of listening and accompaniment; the Calasanz Movement has continued to meet weekly; there have been numerous experiences of catechesis over the internet; we have followed and suffered the situation of each of our educators and families, etc.
In a special way, we have prayed and pray for those who have left us: Piarists, educators, relatives of our educators, known and loved ones. We feel close to those who are sick or in difficulty.
THANK YOU for everything you do and live. I wish you and your families all good, and I renew the commitment of the Pious Schools to move forward with all our schools, with all our mission platforms, with all our convictions, in the assurance that you share and sustain them.
Get a fraternal hug. I wish you the blessings of God, our Father.
Fr. Francesc Mulet Sch. P.
Fr. Pedro Aguado Sch. P.
Rome, May 22, 2020
1.Constitutions of the Order of the Pious Schools, 5.
2. Saint Joseph Calasanz. Opera Omnia. Vol. 1, page 93. Year 1620.