I invite you to live this Jubilee Year as a new “Pentecost of the Piarists”. May the common house of the Pious Schools be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that the communion necessary to carry forward the mission of the Piarists in the world, surpassing the fears and barriers of all kinds, will be created. That your people, communities and works can radiate in all languages, places and cultures the liberating and saving force of the Gospel. May the Lord help you to always have a missionary spirit and readiness to get on the road.

The motto you have chosen for this Jubilee Year – To educate, Announce, To transform – guides and gives you directions. Remain open and attentive to the promptings of the Spirit. Above all, follow the traces that children and young people carry written in their eyes. Look at their faces and let them contaminate you by their brightness to be bearers of future and hope. May God grant you to be prophetically present in the corners where children suffer unjustly. Education opens the possibility of understanding and welcoming the presence of God in the heart of every human being, from the earliest childhood, making use of human (“letters”) and divine (“piety”) knowledge. Only the coherence of a life based on this love will make you fruitful and fill you with children.  (Message of his Holiness Pope Francis to the Order of the Pious Schools on the occasion of the Calasanctian Jubilee Year).

We are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the canonical erection of the Order of the Pious Schools, the first religious Order approved by the Church for the specific purpose of Christian education of children and young people, preferably the poorest. In the same year (2017) we commemorate the 250th anniversary of the canonization of St. Joseph Calasanz, founder of the Pious Schools and Heavenly Patron before God of all Christian popular schools in the world (Pius XII, 1948).

On this occasion, Pope Francis has granted the Order of the Pious Schools a Calasanctian Jubilee Year, which will be held in all Piarist presences in the world through 2017. For our Order, this Jubilee Year is an extraordinary opportunity for renewing our vocation and our delivery to the education of the children and young, and so we want to live it.

What can I say to your Eminences and to the whole Congregation for Catholic Education on the occasion of this Jubilee Year?

I have a thought to share with you some reflections, adjusting to the time allowed by Monsignor Zani.

THANK YOU. Thank you for the possibility of talking before these Plenary, to expose the CALASANCTIAN VOCATIONAL YEAR. I do so on behalf of a religious order who has been for 400 years working in this exciting mission; on behalf of hundreds of lay members of the Piarist Fraternities; on behalf of thousands of educators that give their life each day – each day- and that I have the honor of knowing and accompanying; on behalf of hundreds of young people in our houses of formation whose faces, names and stories I know, and I assure you that each one of them me encourages me to keep on working each day because that is what they expect from me. With all humility, it do it on behalf of the Unions of General Superiors, Men and Women, whose Commission of Education I have the honor of presiding over; and with much more humility even, on behalf of the first holy educator of the history of the Church, Saint Joseph Calasanz. THANK YOU for this possibility of sharing with you our work and our hopes. And thank you for blessing them and accompany them.

COMMITMENT. It is the next word that arises in me. We want that this year renew in all the Piarists, and in all people that connect with us, the vocational commitment of giving our life for the education of the children and young. I can assure you that this commitment is total, unconditional, quotidian and joyful. It is expressed in community meetings, in encounters of educators, in the decisions on mission, in the quotidian work – that is the crucible of authenticity -, in the prayer. For me it is a privilege to accompany, as Elder Brother, so many given lives. I ask your prayer and blessing.

PASSION. There is no other way of being a religious educator, or of being a Piarist educator: living the mission with passion. Maybe some of you think that I am exaggerating, but I must share, in this Jubilee Year, the advice I give to all the youth of the Order. I tell them that the day in which a young man will approach you and will ask you for an advice or to listen to him and you – the religious – will tell him that you have no time or are tired, o to come back tomorrow, that day you have stopped being Piarist, you have lost your vocation. Because you can lose your vocation…

CHARISM. A charism is a highlight of some aspect of the Gospel, delivered by the Spirit to an extraordinary man or a woman who assumes and develops it, and is subsequently consolidated by the Church and offered to the community as something new to build up the Kingdom of God, as a vocation that others can follow. To me I like to say that the day when God will reveal all the charisms we will be closer to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. Calasanz’ charism of is very simple. It says thus: If a boy or a girl meets an educator that is able of help him or her to grow integrally, from the keys of the Gospel of Jesus, that boy or girl will grow as a good man or a woman, capable of changing the world. This charism is revealed by God in Calasanz, and that is why I believe that the Church must be deeply grateful to this Saint, as extraordinary as humble.

INTEGRAL. Calasanz provides not only the fight for education for all, popular education, but a way of understanding education. He seeks and proposes an integral education in all the dimensions of the person, for all times, in all skills. An evangelizing and transformative education; an education focused on the child and at the service of the Gospel. And from that key he got that the Church, despite the prohibition of the IV Lateran Council, approved a new religious Order of solemn vows for the good of humanity.

CHRIST. The Catholic School, if it is so, proposes Jesus Christ. With clarity and pastoral and educational ability, in whatever context. I would like to explain it in  a simple way, because I see many equivocal or simplifications in this issue so important.

Our Catholic School has a great challenge: educating from the values of the Gospel and presenting the faith in Jesus, so that:

  1. who wants to live his faith can find in the school a space to grow in it, to celebrate it and to share it, and through it, to find his road for insertion in the Christian community.
  2. a person who seeks or is open to faith, can perceive it as something valuable, free, deep, transforming, capable of improving his life. He can see it as something good.
  3. who is completely far away or resentful, can feel welcomed or questioned, and educated in the respect.
  4. who has another religion, can live his faith and learn to build with Catholics good things, from what unites us, not from what separates us.

If we do this, we will make truly an extraordinary contribution to the world in which we live. We cannot hide Christ in our classrooms. That would be denying who we are. Or still worse: denying Him.

TESTIMONY. The education that we propose is based on the authenticity of the educator. Young people distinguish perfectly the witness from the “talker”. They see quickly the difference between the first, who speaks of what he lives, and the second, who speaks of what he knows he has to say, but does not live it. And this second does profound damage: he teaches young people to not believe in the truth of the Gospel. For this reason, my daily prayer in this Jubilee Year is that the Lord would grant us the gift of vocational authenticity. This is the prayer that I ask you, for all educators.

AN INTENSE YEAR. We want this be an intense year. We have started this year in Mozambique and in Peru, and we are preparing our mission in China. These days the Calasanz Institute for the Right to Education has started its operation. We are working on a project called “Pious Schools going forth”, trying to respond to the proposal of the Holy Father Francis for the whole Church. We ask your blessing and prayer. We feel accompanied and blessed.

Thanks a lot.

Fr. Pedro Aguado Sch. P., Father General of the Order of the Pious Schools.

Urbaniana Pontifical University, Rome, February 8, 2017


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