Our Educational Spirituality and Mission: Justice - Its Heart and Foundation

Five RSCJ and 15 IBVMs came to New York to attend the annual DPI/NGO Conference at the United Nations (September 7-9, 2005), with orientation by Evanne Hunter and Cecile Meijer beforehand, and debriefing and reflection immediately following. These full and busy days were followed by a four day workshop for the JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) Coordinators of all IBVM provinces, to which the RSCJ were invited. The workshop was facilitated by two members of an Irish NGO, “80:20”.

Through participation in the DPI/NGO Conference and the IBVM Workshop, we received input which energized us and which impels us to action to defend and care for all of life in the world. It was an opportunity to be involved in the work of Cecile and Evanne at the United Nations and to make concrete the call of General Chapter 2000 to educate to transform society for the realization of the kingdom. The two weeks’ experience also highlighted for us the imperative of the 1976 General Chapter “to seek justice with the heart of an educator” and the urgent need to integrate the wider justice agenda into our education ministries, whether formal or informal. We want our internationality to be good news for the poor (General Chapter 1994). Once again we felt the urgency to articulate this integration in our educational philosophy, with new and contemporary applications.

Madeleine Sophie Barat demonstrated, for us, the importance of systemic change. Her option for justice was to educate the poor and those whose lives would influence future politicians and decision makers. With such a vision at its origin, justice is not an addition but is at the very heart of our RSCJ vocation. Reclaiming justice as the foundation of our educational spirituality in view of contemporary justice and development concerns, will in turn give new dynamism to our mission and ministries.

It is against this backdrop that we want to invite all in the international Society to recover for our times Sophie’s preferential option for transformation through education for a more just world. A new synergy will thus be released. The NGO office with its links to the United Nations has the potential to facilitate linkages between the global and the local, and vice versa.

We invite each RSCJ to consider the following specific actions:

  1. daily: to remind ourselves that all we receive is gift;
  2. weekly: to commit ourselves to one positive time span in which to reflect on how we have been just, peaceful and responsible for the earth;
  3. monthly: to dedicate energy to positive action on an aspect of the Millennium Development Goals (e.g., participation in an activity such as the White Band days, micro credit, end poverty campaign, etc.)

It is our belief that in this interactive process we will develop and advance our educational thrust for social transformation and relevant dynamism in a globalized world.

Carmel Flynn (IRS), Gwen Hoeffel (JPN), Teresa Mailly (ESS),
Margarita Recavarren (PER), Livi Rodrigues (IND), Cecile Meijer (NGO Office)
September 2005