100th OIEC Council – The future is in education

“Be experts in humanity. Let us evangelise with creativity and simplicity”. From 6 to 7 December 2023, the 100th Council of the OIEC (International Office of Catholic Education) was held at the Generalate in La Salle. A special Council that showed the vitality, necessity and commitment of this worldwide association of Catholic schools that unites us and encourages us to work together for an education that transforms lives and contexts.

The OIEC is present in 110 countries, with over 210,000 schools, in more than 150,000 cities, serving more than 68 million students. La Salle is strongly committed to OIEC and hosts its central office in Rome. Brother Juan Antonio Ojeda works there as Head of Educational Projects and Brother Diego Muñoz participates in the Council representing the member religious congregations of the Association.

On the morning of 6 December, the Council attended the general audience of Pope Francis. In his speech that morning, he told us that “the proclamation of the Gospel must be done with creativity and simplicity […] enlightened by the Holy Spirit […] knowing how to return to the sources of the first proclamation and transmit the essential of our faith, with freshness and enthusiasm”.

Brother Juan Antonio Ojeda, who is Advisor of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, met, together with the OIEC Council, its Prefect, H.E. Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça and his team. The Cardinal appreciated, congratulated and blessed the OIEC for their great work, enthusiasm and commitment. He invited them to ‘work in chorus’, because the work of the OIEC is more necessary and relevant than ever. He thanked them in particular for their hard work and active engagement in the Global Compact on Education. He also urged them to “be experts in humanity and strengthen the role of educators as teachers of humanity in this changing world”. He added: “Be able to generate hope in young people and be their accomplices in the miracle of building their being as human persons”. He offered, and made himself available, to collaborate and work together. He concluded the meeting by emphasising that ‘the future is in education and that is why we are the guardians of the future’.

During the days of the Council, chaired by President Father Jawad Alamat, Tunisia, and Secretary General, Mr Hervé Lecomte, France, an account was given of the excellent work done by the various Animation Areas of the OIEC and its five continental Regions. The commitment to defend freedom and the right to quality education for all in international forums was renewed. Work was promoted to build the Compact on Education at the local level, leading it wherever there is a Catholic school. The establishment and functioning of the Youth Commission and the progress of the Planet Fraternity Project, which unites schools around the world to work together to improve the lives of people and society, were reported. There was also reflection on how to strengthen and improve the training of teachers and leaders, as well as to give children, adolescents and young people a leading role in education, in order to give life to Pope Francis’ instruction that “Educating to Serve, Educating is to Serve”, promoting an integral education: heart (emotion, compassion), head (mind, wisdom) and hands (commitment and transformative social action).