The closure of schools has caused great disturbance in the lives of our children, adolescents and young people and their families, with repercussions on their socio-emotional development, their well-being, as well as on their social life and their relationships in schools and professional formation centers, which will require special attention from everyone: students, teachers and lay collaborators, that is, the Educative Pastoral Community in general. Only hope, prudence and common care can give us strength. As Pope Francis says, only a "contagious hope" that wins in the face of a thousand (too many!) uncertainties is a driving force in the face of our need for trust and in the face of the challenges to which we are and will continue to be subjected.
The time of the "new normal" has come or will come, in staggered form, in the different points of the hemisphere. We must overcome the danger of the "generational catastrophe" of which the UN Secretary General has spoken. We must overcome the possibility of a "COVID generation". More than ever, we need education and pastoral care to recover from the possibility of an irreparable, silent, unprecedented disaster. It is marked by pain, imprisonment, mourning, fear, and senselessness. It is to achieve the development of the best of each of our students and to Touch the sensitive button to the good that transforms everything.
Our educational works, especially the schools and vocational training centers, welcome the indications of their governments and health authorities to respond to this "new normality" of physical distance, uncomfortable masks, diversified schedules, renewed environments, preventive procedures, interdependence and great need for a "preventive system". To make the most of the best that we have: people, both young people and lay co-responsibles. This is the priority: to focus on their needs. To focus on what is most fundamental: the physical, emotional, psychological and affective well-being of the educative communities and all its members. To make up for lost time (of relationships, content, skills, learning). To learn more and better and to transform this "crisis of humanity" (global and planetary) into an educational opportunity, a new era. Challenging and innovative. Capable and transforming. In a world of relationships rich in encounters, of affective and effective presence of communion and sharing, in the embrace possible; in an invigorated humanism, in the beauty of being together, again, to grow resilient, strong and daring, for the tomorrow that opens, without redundancies of the past that we do not want to see repeated, of suffering, of goodbyes, of nostalgia. All our initiatives must aim to rediscover the joy of being and doing things together; realizing that "we" are increasingly richer and preferable to "I". The cry of humanity demands much more "we" than "I"...
It is time to prepare all our students for a meaningful orientation towards life, facing the challenges, uncertainties and opportunities that each new time offers us. In the pedagogy of the possible, that is, in recognizing and accepting reality and, at the same time, in overcoming its limits when it is possible, in what is possible. With optimism, because... one more step is always possible! In the gradualness that all educational processes offer. In the beauty of equity, of self-offering, of the multiplying generosity of gifts, education is like a "matter of the heart". In a new humanity under construction, of full life. Future generations of students will benefit from what we learn and how we grow, providing an education that is more accessible and more ours. A Gospel made for all. These times ask us to be more determined to educate well, to all children, adolescents and young people, more aware of the power of human good and more attentive to working with families to educate for the future. With attentiveness to essential and vocational dimensions, to the poorest, the most needy. To those who need us most, deprived of resources, motivation, energy, attention.
Don Bosco would not be discouraged. He would be in the front line. He would do his best to save each of his "dear young people". We too will do our best! That is why we are Don Bosco today, here and now! For those who start the new school year now, or for those who start again after a period of imprisonment, the grace and peace of God our Father and the desire for a school year full of God's blessings and the protection of Mary Help of Christians.
Fr Tarcizio Morais,
World Coordinator of Schools and Vocational Training Centers