School as a body of hope to change the world

From December 1-3, 2022, the OIEC (International Office for Catholic Education) congress was held in Marseille. Sister Mirna Farah actively participated, coordinating two panel discussions on the theme “Education for Universal Fraternity in a Multireligious Context.”

Here we take a look at this ecclesial, global and educational event par excellence.

In the historic, cosmopolitan and Mediterranean city of Marseille, precisely at the Palais du Pharo, the XXI OIEC World Congress was held with representatives of Catholic schools from all over the world.

The goal of the event was to affirm our educational hope, to reflect together on different educational issues, to present different testimonies in the field of educational innovation, emphasizing the need to continue the declination and integration of the World Educational Covenant.

During the opening ceremony, the message that Pope Francis addressed to the delegates was communicated. He reminded us that education is not simply a human endeavor: “Therefore, when we approach education, we cannot do so thinking about something purely human, focusing on programs, training, resources, welcoming spaces,” because as Christians, the educational vocation asks us to give voice to “a Word that is not ours, that exceeds us, that transcends us.” Thus education is and remains an “act of hope” in a liquid, ideologically and socially fragmented society.

Throughout the three days of the Congress, reflection continued on various themes: ‘Giving Hope to the World,’ ‘OIEC is Committed to the Global Educational Compact,’ ‘The Meaning of a Catholic School in a Muslim Country,’ ‘Repairing Together the Torn Fabric of the World,’ and ‘Education for Universal Fraternity in a Multireligious Context.

The last evening ended with a dinner celebrating OIEC’s 70th anniversary, hosted by a young Lebanese former student from the Sisters of Charity Sainte Anne school in Beirut. He sang in four languages and aroused the admiration of personalities in attendance such as Monsignor Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education (Culture Section), and filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky, who in 2020 made a documentary film about Pope Francis.

You can stream the proceedings of the Congress by clicking here.

What impressed me personally was the call to ‘break down walls,’ to ‘give meaning to life,’ so that Catholic schools remain a ‘laboratory of life and universal fraternity.

Sr. Mirna Farah