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REREADING, WITH A DISCERNING GAZE, OUR EDUCATIONAL MISSION DURING THIS TIME OF LOCKDOWN

R eventFriday, 05 March 2021

Original: Spanish

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It is customary for the Administrative Teams of the Assumption in Spain to end the year with a 2-3 days meeting in Olivos, to go through a formation program together, to plan the priorities of education in the Province, to spend time together and to celebrate.

It was to be expected that this year would be different. After the lockdown of the whole country since mid-March and, with it, the suspension of face-to-face classes, we all had to continue our teaching work until the end of the school year from our homes. We, the Administrative Teams, continued fulfilling our roles and functions with the rest of the teaching staff, students and the families, but also the meetings, agreements, decisions... at the forefront of the schools.

So it came as no surprise that on July 2 and 3 the head of the Team called us together for an online meeting. More than 80 of us were connected: the Provincial Council, the Administrative Team, the Provincial Treasurer and the members of the Management Teams of the nine schools of the Province. The usual formation, planning, sharing and celebration of other years were experienced in a different way, but they were still present.

Cecilia Manrique's general opening reminded us of the importance of our educational project at the service of all for personal growth, for the transformation of our society according to the values of the Gospel.

One of the objectives of the first day was to reread and reflect on what the lockdown and home schooling have meant for our educational tasks. We recalled that, in the documents of the General Chapter, welcoming the calls of the Texts drafted in Manila, we are invited to live in discernment. We are called to allow love, compassion, joy and service to flow out into the world, and to allow the reality of the world and of humanity to enter into our hearts and transform us.

In short, non-attendance education has been a great learning experience (vulnerability of people, journey into the inner self, possibility of rediscovering the value of the family, commitment to new technologies, ability to adapt, Teamwork, reflection on the value we give to nature, to the elderly, to the accompaniment of our pupils, companions, families..., faith-filled reading) that we also want others to reread and discover in their lives. We need to give a new value to ethics, to learning how to learn, to honesty in study and in exams, to have a positive outlook on the world and on life, to value commitments, to care for serenity and calm...). The educational project of the Assumption, transformative education, invites us to make the world more amiable, but also to transform our lives to make them happier and in solidarity. 

The process of de-escalation has revealed attitudes and values essential to our mission in the Management Team. A fundamental element has been to remember that we all have a mission on this earth. Therefore, it is important to discover, to recognize the special role of each of the positions within the Management Team! We need to look for where God can use us for the spread and realization of His Gospel. The Directors have been the leaders in the situation in spite of the uncertainty surrounding it; the Administrators have helped create communion, peace and tranquility; the Pastoral Coordinators have invited us to put our lives in God's hands, to trust in Him in spite of the personal difficulties we have experienced... The synthesis of our sharing revealed that we have discovered five essential elements in our mission as a Management Team: an attitude of courage, bravery and humility, a capacity to take decisions without losing our calm, shared leadership but with autonomy, availability and accompaniment, a faith reading of what is happening.

The Shared Mission (SM), another of the strong points of our projects in recent years, is a priority and the Management Teams have to be leaders in order to transmit and infect the rest of the staff in each institute. We love only what we know, and the SM space is a privileged place to get to know the charism and mission of the Religious of the Assumption.

The key of our reflective discernment has also led us to see things that need improvement on the affective, social, intellectual and spiritual levels. The improvement of communication and new technologies, as well as a listening attitude and accompaniment, are fundamental points to continue working with students, families and staff of the school.

The second day helped to deepen the pastoral project of the Province. We want the coming year to be a year dedicated to the Spirit (how good this is for us in this vital attitude of discernment!) and to deepen the models of holiness. The chosen motto "you make it possible" leads us to a positive outlook on the fulfilment of things, to facilitate, but also to trust in the One who can do what is possible (and the impossible). Each school received, virtually, the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. The Management Team is the transmitter of this breath that reaches each Institute.

With that, also a special call to continue to take care of labor laws. In the last year there have been social changes that also affect employment (laws on teleworking, vulnerability for health reasons, unemployment situations, payment for overnight trips...). The Assumption schools continue to give priority to the rights of people, to the dignity of salaried work, to equity and justice in recruitment, and with this, to the selection of personnel at the service of the project and the need for on-going formation. 

The end of the Management Team meetings is always a sending off. Each team and each person is filled with joint reflection, sharing with others. There is a mutual enrichment because the gifts put at the service of others always multiply, so the next step is to pass on to each Institute all that has been learned. At the Assumption we are fortunate and if there is one thing we all recognize after these unusual months, it is our gratitude for being able to help each other by sharing our weaknesses, but also our strengths, our doubts and what blocks us, but also our good practices. 

We said goodbye with the certainty that throughout these months we have been able to experience that "never a more loving, nor a wiser hand, can guide our path" (Saint Marie Eugenie of Jesus).