International World Congress on Catholic Education
Thirty Marists from around the Marist world attended the International World Congress on Catholic Education held in Rome from 18 - 21 November, 2015. The Congress was held to celebrate fifty years since the publication of the Vatican Council’s document on Catholic education (Gravissimum Educationis) and twenty five years since the publication of the Congregation of Catholic Education’s Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities (Ex Corde Ecclesiae). The Congress attracted two thousand people including one hundred from Australia.
Some twelve months ago, the Congregation published a paper titled ”Educating Today and Tomorrow: A Renewing Passion’. This text was translated into various languages and distributed to all those who might be interested, inviting them to respond. Within a few months the Congregation received many responses, particularly to the questionnaire which had been included. The results were analysed and reported to this Congress.
The Congress was held in two parts, one for schools and the second for universities. Reported challenges for Catholic Schools included: a) the challenge of identity, b) the challenge for school communities, c) the challenge of dialogue, d) the challenge of a learning society, e) the challenge of integral education, f) the challenge of limited means and resources, g) pastoral challenges, h) the challenge of religious formation for young people, i) specific challenges for multireligious and multicultural societies, j) the challenge of teachers’ lifelong training, k) places and resources for teacher training and l) legal challenges.
Challenges for Catholic Higher Education included: a) internationalisation of university studies, b) the use of online resources in university studies, c) universities, businesses and the labour market, d) quality of academic institutions, e) governance and f) the challenge of change and universities’ Catholic identity.
On the final day of the Congress, Pope Francis gave us an inspiring response to a number of prepared questions. While affirming the great good offered by Catholic educators, he did not shy away from the challenges which need to be faced, in particular the need to educate the many who do not have the opportunity for Catholic education in today's world.
Overall the Congress proved to be a great source of ideas, analysis of these ideas and proposals for the future. I left feeling inspired and part of an enthusiastic global commitment to Catholic Education.