local_offer JPICS

JPIC in the Province of Spain

J eventTuesday, 05 July 2022


Biodiversity is a term coined at the end of the last century. It indicates the degree of richness of the flora or set of plant species in a territory (plant diversity), of the set of fungal species (fungal diversity), and of the fauna or set of animal species (animal diversity), within the three kingdoms of plants, fungi and animals respectively. It refers to the diversity of living beings in a given territory. Peninsular Spain is the biologically richest country in Europe. For example, of the 11,000 plant species in Europe, 6,100 are found in Spain, i.e., more than half. 

The Iberian ecosystems are the set of habitats and living beings that populate them. They include forests of many different species, scrubland, mountain meadows and grasslands, thymes and dwarf steppe thickets and thickets and some semi-desert areas, riverbanks, lakes and lagoons, coastal areas of marshes and salt marshes. All these ecosystems are populated by many different plant species, and are home to a multitude of birds, mammals, insects, fish, amphibians, fish and other animal groups. 

Their conservation and care are a must in order to maintain what nature and God have freely given us and to be able to pass it on to the next generations. It is also vital for humanity, because the day the last tree disappears, the last bee disappears, humans will not be able to survive. 


How does the Assumption of Spain relate to and care for these ecosystems and the people who live in them? It is one of its priorities and increasingly so at all levels! 

The reality of the Assumption in Spain is plural on the one hand in terms of types of presence, ranging from houses of elderly Sisters and the insertions to small, medium and large educational institutions, and on the other hand diverse in terms of mission. Regarding the culture of care for the Common Home and for people, solidarity, peace and justice (JPICS), lay and religious, we work with the conviction that it is a process that, like a drop of water boring through the rock, it needs time, formation and action, however small, but restlessly, until a clear and firm awareness and some results are achieved. 

Our elderly Sisters in Collado and in Olivos (Madrid), Riofrío (Segovia) and El Olivar (Málaga) contribute their wisdom, their prayer, their encouragement, their interest in each other and a GLOCAL commitment (thinking Globally and acting Locally) in the hiring of migrant staff to care for the Sisters and the house, an extreme care to live the three R's Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Austerity in the use of water and electricity and, in the case of El Olivar, collaborating with a group of ladies from the neighborhood, in the NGO "Nuevo Futuro", which sets up homes in favor of the most vulnerable children who face abandonment and social exclusion: "We work by sewing, knitting, crocheting and making objects for the raffle, which is organized every year for this purpose" as they themselves explain.  

In the rural areas of Dalías and Huércal Overa (Almería) Dalías, the children's movement "Asuntillos", carries out activities throughout the school year, with commitments that have repercussions not only for the good of the village in terms of ecology and care for the environment, but also for their own education. In the "Solidarity Festival", through traditional games, it has collaborated with the NGO "Construyendo Futuro" for an educational project in Togo. We highlight the continued collaboration with the NGO "Manos Unidas" together with the parish in the project chosen by the diocese to show solidarity with our migrant brothers and sisters so present in our Province and with Caritas in its support for the Ukrainians who live in a desperate situation. 

In Huércal-Overa we participate in the environmental projects promoted by the Town Hall: - On World Environment Day (5th June) we organize a planting of native trees from our region in the surrounding area. With this initiative, we hope that the newborn children of our municipality will grow up together with their tree and take care of them. In this way, the children will grow up with the values that the environment transmits and at the same time the Christian values that are inhaled in the area of the “Virgen del Río de Huércal-Overa”. – The Greenway.  Since 2013 our municipality has the famous Greenway. It is a green corridor/natural space where pedestrians, cyclists and all people walk around. Since it was inaugurated, more than four hundred trees have been planted, which contribute to the purification of the air. – The Adolfo Suárez" Park. The Park is located in the center of our municipality. A large green space that is a great lung. In this park there are a wide variety of animals, as well as different types of trees and bushes. It is a precious space for families to educate their children in the care of nature, without losing the benefits of being in the center of the village. – The Ecoplaza in the old town. An "Ecoplaza" has just been completed in the center which include a plant wall, benches and solar lanterns. This space serves both the senior citizens as well as young people allowing them to spend a pleasurable time in a square that has been built from recycled and environmentally sustainable materials. – The Clean Spot. Since 2015 we have had the famous “Punto Limpio”. It is a place where residents can take any type of material or rubbish to be recycled so that it can be managed correctly. 

In the schools of Leon, Ponferrada (Leon) and Sarria (Lugo) In Ponferrada we have a group called "Ecologists in Action". They are groups from the last years of Primary School who take turns to collect the waste from the classrooms, the teachers' room and the common rooms, separate them well and deposit them in the containers in front of the school. In the High School, we have the "JPIC Corner". It has a bulletin board where we post news, articles that we get from the “Manos Unidas” web page...: Teachers can consult these articles and then discuss them in class. 

In Sarria, the students of 3rd and 4th ESO (High School) made videos to participate in a competition of the NGO "Manos Unidas" about inequality where they approached this topic from different points of view (social, ethnic, economic, gender, based on our origin, disability, etc.) They made a very realistic evaluation of the different problems faced by the society around them. They concluded that ending these injustices is everyone's task and that we must be and make others aware of this reality. They recognized that the situation has improved, but it is necessary to aspire towards the disappearance of all forms of inequality. In order to achieve this, they emphasized education, equal opportunities for all and the equitable distribution of resources. 

In Tetuán (Madrid) If the pandemic arrived unexpectedly in our lives and society, its aftermath is still with us, in terms of health, but also in the organization and "disorganization" of those who were already disadvantaged by social circumstances: migrants, which is the group we work with. The closing of areas, the suppression of meetings, the management of matters by teleprocessing means, etc., has led to a collapse, which is very difficult to solve. The processes for foreigners are one of the most affected. It is not possible to get an appointment to present documents and to have the papers in order. This leads to a lack of protection at all levels and to the closing of possibilities to get a work permit. 

Apprehensive associations, migrants suffering from this administrative bottleneck, have united to make a legislative proposal to Congress, and to request an extraordinary regularization of migrants who were in our land when the pandemic forced us to close borders, by welcoming and opening possibilities for our brothers and sisters. 

Our Association "Puente de Esperanza" joined this initiative from the first moment and is involved in the collection of signatures from the Spanish population, which can endorse this petition. We made the urgency known to the Sisters and, from their homes and schools, they have also joined this collection of five hundred thousand accredited signatures, which we are going to present in September to the Spanish Congress. 

We had started this extraordinary task, when the war in Ukraine challenged us again. Many peace posters filled up our center, but we asked ourselves, what else could we do? We contacted Caritas, the Red Cross and the UNHCR, and at the same time we asked for a further effort from the volunteers. Four more groups have been formed, from the ones we already had, in which they learn our language and we have contacted Associations that can offer them work, so that, once they know the basics, they can open the doors to the world of work for them. The events are showing us urgencies to which we want to be open and offer our small contribution to humanize our world.



May 2021 


The Iberian Peninsula, due to its geographical situation and during the long centuries of its history, has always been a land of passage and settlement for different peoples. From prehistoric times to the present day, it has been the hinge between two continents, Europe and Africa, as well as the obligatory passage through the Strait of Gibraltar, between West-East and North-South for trade, exchanges, discoveries and the transfer of culture and all kinds of goods through the ancient Mare Nostrum of the Romans. Prehistoric man, coming from Africa, left the vestiges of his cultures scattered all over the Peninsula, later the Iberians, Celts, Hebrews, Romans, Germans, Visigoths, Berbers, Syrians, Arabs and people from the North, settled on this soil, giving different and varied names to this land: Iberia, Sefarad, Hispania, Al-Andalus, the Christian Kingdoms, Counties and Lordships and finally Spain. The Iberian Peninsula, due to these circumstances and its geographical location, has an unprecedented natural, biological, human, cultural, linguistic and spiritual wealth. The settlement of these peoples for centuries on this soil, marked the diverse cultures and civilization that flourished in art, languages, customs, family models and religions that have survived to the present day. The Iberian Peninsula is and has always been a land of contrasts in every sense. The migration and movement of peoples has been a constant since ancient times. Migratory movements to America and vice versa since the 15th century, Asia, Africa and Oceania in the following centuries and up to the 21st century for many different reasons: political, ideological, adventurous, economic, religious, research, study, etc. 

Almost all regions of Spain have experienced migratory movements within and outside the country. From the 19th century to the present day, Galicia, Asturias and the Basque Country experienced migration to America and the return of those who made their fortune ("making the Americas") and, although circumstances have changed over the years, in the 1950s migration was directed towards Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, etc. by those in search of work. Within the Peninsula, Andalusia and Extremadura experienced a strong migratory movement towards Catalonia, Madrid, the Basque Country, etc. 


The one hundred and fifty-six years of Assumption presence in Spain have been marked by multiculturalism and internationality. The first Sisters who arrived in Malaga in 1865 were foreigners. From the beginning, their work and their presence were linked to the universality of the Church in all the places where the Assumption has been and continues to be present. 

In this century and a half of presence, its communities, insertions and schools have diversified and cater to multiple realities, while remaining faithful to its multicultural international vocation, with a special attention to migrants given the current situation of society. A few shared experiences bear witness to this. 

GIJÓN, a coastal city in northern Spain, located in Asturias, a mountainous region and cradle of Spain, as the hymn of Our Lady of Covadonga, patron saint of Asturias, sings: 

Blessed is the Queen of our mountain 

Who has for her throne the cradle of Spain... 

In it is the soul of the Spanish people. 

This city has had the presence of the Assumption, in a school, since 1907, a school which, following St. Marie Eugenie in its desire for social commitment, has taken care of its presence in the suburbs. 

Currently, in the neighborhood of Contrueces, we have a socio-educational project "Enredando", a school support project for primary school children at risk of exclusion and their families. 

About 30% of the population of Gijón is foreign. In "Enredando" 68% of the children are migrants or children of migrants, although the Center was not originally created as a Center for migrants. It is run almost entirely by volunteers of very different ages and life situations. The work done is well appreciated by families and schools. 

We work in collaboration with the Principality of Asturias, the City Council of Gijón, former students and social agents and counsellors from the schools in the neighborhood. 

TEGUESTE, municipality in the north of the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands). The Assumption has been in the Canary Islands since 1903 in the school that existed in Santa Cruz de Tenerife until 1978. 

The house in Tegueste was built in 1943 and since then, all kinds of activities have been carried out there: retreats, catechesis, ECCA radio, religion in the school, support and reception of university students from the nearby University of La Laguna. 

Today, the residence for groups that was built on the estate in 1982 has been handed over to the "Asociación Solidaria Mundo Nuevo", which runs the Centre called "CAI-MENA Marea". The Center takes in children who have ventured into early emancipation in search of a better future. The journey that these children have to go through to reach the Canary Islands and the Center takes place in extreme circumstances, which is why they could be considered courageous. They are unaccompanied migrant minors, who leave their countries in Africa and risk their lives in search of a better future, in often inhuman conditions. 

One of the ideas of the Association is to accept others with their differences, their customs, religious beliefs, color, gender and to be able to live harmoniously. Another of the functions is the integral formation of the children, both academic and residential, making them focus on a future employment, thus turning the young person into a person prepared in all aspects of life so that they can eventually help their own kin. 

The Center's daily routine divides the children into different work committees, in which the young people are responsible for the upkeep of the home, allowing them to socialize with each other and learn skills that will serve them well in the future. 

Strengthening human, ethical and moral values is key to improving the quality of life of both the minors who come to us wounded by wars, poverty, marginalization, the conditions in which they arrived in the Canary Islands, and the families they left behind. Above all, to inculcate in them not to forget the project for which, from the beginning, they decided to emigrate, risking everything. 

It is about them learning to treat those who are different from them with the respect and affection they deserve as human beings. 

The Church entities linked to the field of migration in the Nivariense Diocese (Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro) are concerned about the situation of violation of rights that so many migrants, arriving on the coast of the islands, have been experiencing in recent months. 

The Canary Islands cannot become a wall of systematic blockade and detention of arrivals, preventing them from being transferred to other parts of Spain or Europe. 

The creation of large camps as temporary care centers for foreigners is questioned, because it is not possible to guarantee dignified care due to the large number of people. They are enclosures that do not facilitate integration in the immediate environment where they are located. 

It also points out the very serious problem of minors with limited resources and the immediate future they face: unprotected, with no expectations, with nothing to do and nowhere to be. 

It is impossible to forget the tragedy of the death of so many people on this Canarian migratory route, fleeing hunger, pain, war, pursuing their dreams of a better life, as well as the suffering of their families who often do not know the fate of their loved ones. 

SANTA ISABEL, in 1876, at the express wish of King Alfonso XII, the Assumption arrived at the Royal College of Santa Isabel in Madrid. The evolution of the school, in these one hundred and forty-five years of existence, has been enormous and today it is immersed in a neighborhood in which the presence of immigrants is the majority.  

Faced with the growing reality of immigration, the Autonomous Community of Madrid created in 2003 the “Aulas de Enlace” as an experimental initiative within the "Schools of Welcome" Program. Its aim was to incorporate immigrant pupils into the Spanish educational system under the best possible conditions. 

The Real Colegio de Santa Isabel was one of the first Catholic schools in Madrid, which offered space and signed agreements with the administration to open these classrooms. 

Within the hallmarks of the Assumption's identity, the values that encourage us as a school are based on those that Marie Eugenie passed on to us. The school has been characterized by its openness to the neighborhood, to the demands of the environment and by its attention to the diverse needs of its pupils and families. We currently have one hundred and seventy-nine foreign students of thirty-three different nationalities, mainly from China and Bangladesh. 

The “Enlace” classrooms are an ideal means of promoting values of solidarity, respect and effort, in the constant search to transform our society through Gospel values. 

Along with language learning, we consider it essential to encourage the development of the pupils' personal, cultural and social identity and knowledge of and respect for other identities, cultures and religions. 

Through this educational measure at the Real Colegio de Santa Isabel, we have been paying special attention, over the years, to the integration into the school and social environment of foreign students who have recently arrived in Madrid from their countries of origin and who do not know the Spanish language, with special care in their reception. We here cite the testimony of Syrian students: 

 "We thought that, as Spain is a Catholic country, we were going to have the same discrimination that we had in the refugee camp, from our own religious brothers, but we felt welcomed and loved". They drew a cross with a heart and the word thank you. 

The previous schooling of these pupils, depending on their countries of origin, may have been irregular, as immigration generally occurs for economic reasons or due to war, adding to the lack of knowledge of the language of instruction, a curricular gap. 

In these classrooms, pupils range from 9 to 18 years of age. In the current academic year 2020¬2021 we have a mixed link classroom for Primary and Secondary Education with nine students: one from Portugal, three from Iraq, three from Bangladesh and two from the United States. 

SAN SEBASTIÁN (Donostia), a stately city in a privileged natural setting, is located very close to the border with France, in the north of Spain. The Assumption arrived here in 1882 and Marie Eugenie herself chose the Alto de Miracruz to build a monastery in the Gothic style, very similar to the one built in Bordeaux. 

La Asunción de Mira-Cruz was a girls' school with pupils from families with a high socio-economic level until a few decades ago (1980s). At a certain point it was decided to open the school to all, especially to the families of the surrounding neighborhoods. 

Nowadays there is a very interesting mix of pupils in the classrooms, with children from these high socio-cultural backgrounds and children of migrants from later generations. It's a very enriching mix! 

90% of the pupils were born in San Sebastian, although only 10% of the families are native to the city. Therefore, the data can be somewhat misleading and the reality is that the pupils have very different origins. This creates an interesting reality with completely different cultures and customs, which must be given a voice, acknowledged, accompanied, merged with the autochthonous, respected and made to feel proud of their places of origin and the place where they now live and where they learn to respect what is different, to look for the best of each reality and teach them to live with all this without forgetting the roots and ways of life of each of the cultures. 

We have families of more than thirty different nationalities, so multiculturalism and interculturalism in the school is a palpable reality. There is a real challenge regarding the integration processes of migrants that we resolve, instilling respect for the city's own culture and the rest of the cultures with which we coexist on a daily basis. We work for integration on a daily basis, with activities included in the Educational Project based on respect, where the intercultural identity of the school takes on importance. 

Most of our classes are taught in Basque (the co-official language of the Basque Country). 90% of the school's families do not know the language, so the task of integrating families and pupils into Basque society is a great challenge for us. 

Currently, the school of Miracruz is located in a low socio-cultural environment taking into account the fact that San Sebastian is one of the most expensive cities in Spain, where the general saying is that there you live very well, there are many precious and economic natural resources in the environment and we are located in the province of Gipuzkoa, within the Basque Autonomous Community (BAC). 

During the 2020-2021 academic year, Mertxe Aranguren Aguirre and Onintza Mokoroa González were asked to participate in an international initiative project on migrant JPICS. The aim was to gather what the educational community and the religious community are experiencing on the subject of the integration of migrants. 

There are no suburbs in San Sebastian, although there are areas where migrants or migrant families in need are concentrated. Some of these areas are located close to our school. 

Many migrants in San Sebastian come with work contracts from their country of origin, others have the option of improving their situation quickly as it is a city that offers a lot of employment in different sectors, especially in the hotel and tourism industry. 

At the school we run more than twenty-three programs for pupils, a large part of which are specifically aimed at migrants: welcome, support and monitoring of newly arrived students and school support, all programs related to immersion in Basque culture (language, customs, etc.), cultural week, recycling and circular economy, agenda 21 and a star project is the work on emotions, which is so important in this field of migration. 

The Basque Country has a very latent migrant cultural heritage, since many of our ancestors, as we have already said, were emigrants (America, Europe) and many other ancestors were immigrants (areas of south-west Spain where the culture shock was very great). That is why we have a special sensitivity towards migrants. We live it in a very natural way so that in the development of our work as teachers, we have it completely integrated. 




Cristina MASSÓ de ARIZA RA