As a child I was fuelled with wonder about the world I could not comprehend the injustices presented through the daily news. Famine in Ethiopia, war in Somalia, orphanages in Bosnia or Romania was aired through RTE in my kitchen as a steady stream of unpalatable TV images and gritty radio documentaries. At a young age I began to ask God why? So, I have always had an inquiring mind and an interest in all things spiritual. This has lead me to retreat work, post primary teaching, working with Trócaire and now as Development Education Coordinator in IJMO.
Development education at its core, is a process of collaboration. It speaks to the growth that comes from connections. These collaborative connections develop into understanding, appreciation for and commitment to community, both local and global. Development education calls all of us, according to our capacities, in our lived realities, to wonder about the world, its structures, its beauties, it’s injustices and consider the part we can play in its development and to take responsibility in preserving God’s creation. This process of wonder, of inquiry and of action, gives expression to the faith that does justice.
Development Education in a Jesuit School
Education informed by Ignatian spirituality addresses the centrality of God in all things. In practical terms, this means, the world of creation around us is an expression of God. The environment and the people in it give insight into God alive in the world, and must then be respected in special way. Our way of being in the world, and our action for justice illuminates God’s presence in how we are men and women with and for others. Development Education in a Jesuit school can give practical expression to the reality of God in the universe and in how we examine, reflect, treat and act in a global reality.
Thus, Development Education gives students the opportunity to experience a different way of learning to building their ability to critically evaluate the world around them, reflect upon it, and act in an informed way, to build the community of Church; of a living God.
Lofty Theory or Collaboration
The practical implication of this goes into the core of the way we proceed in our SJ schools, both in Ireland and overseas. Over the Easter Tridium, representatives from each of our Irish Jesuit schools, travelled to Ocer Campion Jesuit College, in Northern Uganda, to learn, to wonder about the context of our colleagues in a different reality and to support real collaboration between peers from the shared inspiration of Christ that is a central component of each Jesuit school. This went beyond a vision for development education, but gave practical expression to mutual understanding towards a greater capacity for engagement in justice activities in our schools.
Drawing out social justice themes in schools and its engagement with ethos, reexamining schools mission, and supporting a tangible response to that critical engagement is collaboration in action. Therefore the three most important calls in the Society of Jesus in working in schools in the area of development education:
- To be people of authentic faith
Responding to God’s call in our modern world in authentic way, invites an honest engagement with faith from where we live.
- To be people of integrity
Bearing witness to that faith, in the modern world, calls to live from a place of personal truth and to give expression to shared responsibility.
- To be present of the fringes
Accompaniments, pastoral presence, support and service of those ignored by the main stream of our global society is the kernel call of our modern world.