Living Unity in Education
“Do not fear! I am with you! I made you to clear the land, to plant and to build, in a mission of communion with God and with the Sisters.”
Since I have known the Congregation, what most strikes me about our charism is the preferential option for the poor. In my personal process, deepening spirituality and professional qualification, this theme has always been privileged in rooting and providing guidance in my missionary activity. One thing is certain, no person is poor by choice. Behind poverty, are the oppressions of society, especially the political and economic, that support the social organization and, often, the religious structures as well. The prophecy of consecrated religious life is connected to this vision, which I believe to be the authentic face of mission. These approaches are nourished, in a special way, by our Constitutions. To address, in mission, the poorest and the impoverished, as wounds caused by the current system, working for justice and peace has its price, and I can testify to this reality.
Over the course of my 25 years of consecrated religious life, this reality has been part of my mission, as a Sister of Saint Joseph, that is, the faces of the poor, children, adolescents, the marginalized, unemployed families, as well as the organization of communities, Pastoral and Social Movements, Popular and Liberating education, human rights, liberation theology, insertion among the people, and the fight for public policies and the training of leaders. It is in these situations that I seek to create a more just and fraternal world, where each person is recognized in their dignity as a son or daughter of God.
In looking at the activities of school religious education, where I try to work so that students reflect the spiritual dimension of their lives, share in the family, work, reality of the circle of friends and, especially, recognize the presence of God in life. The content that helps most is reference to the love of God, the creation of the universe and the human and spiritual values.
The work also extends to parents, with home visits and emphasis on school attendance in order to identify and help students with the greatest learning disability. I understand clearly the experience of our charism of unity in service to parents when they say, "It was so nice talking to you, I'm leaving more relieved, more relaxed and confident ...". Or else, when parents recognize the child as part of themselves and that, if they treat them with love, the child will have a different experience and will change.
Another important activity related to education is the project "The Environment is ours," whose goal is the formation of forward-thinking leaders. In 10, 15 or 20 years, these children and adolescents will be fathers and mothers of families, and will be the social, political and religious leaders. Thegroup makes practical activities: cares for the school, the street where they live, and grow plants or flowers in the school or in the home garden. In 2012, the emphasis was on medicinal gardens, identification and cultivation of plants that promote alternative cures to the use of traditional medicine. Ninety-two children and adolescents are participants in this project. They demonstrate more harmony, tranquility and responsibility with the environment in which they live and in the way they relate.
As a consecrated religious, for me, the most important thing is a vigilant attitude regarding the prophetic requirement of consecrated religious life, joint action with the Church, and the dynamic and creative fidelity to our charism of communion in response to the call of God in today's reality, surrounding us on the local, national and worldwide levels.
Sister Iraci de Fátima Cirino dos Santos
Lagoa Vermelha, Brazil