By Laura Grisham
Principals Bridget Martin of Southaven Sacred Heart and Clara Isom of Holly Springs Holy Family schools attended the third International Meeting of Dehonian Educators (IMDE) July 21-25 in Valencia, Spain, on behalf
of International Meeting of Dehonian Educators (SHSM), which supports those schools. ESIC, a multi-campus business school operated by the Spanish Province of the Sacred Heart Brothers and Fathers (SCJ), hosted the weeklong gathering.
Education is a priority of the SCJs , translated from the hopes their founder, Father Leo John Dehon, to have an impact on people and society through education.
The title given to this year’s conference was “Educare: Sint Unum.” The Latin ‘educare’ was used because of their desire to educate the whole person, and ‘sint unum’ to remind the educators that they are all a part of one project.
The IMDE’s objective is to network and collaborate: to get to know one another, to work on the formation of the Dehonian identity as it applies to the schools and to share resources. All of the educators at local, national and international levels spent the week discussing ideas on how to promote the ideas and a Dehonian curriculum to the students, parents and teachers in our schools.
“You gotta know your history,” said Isom. “Education was his (Father Dehon’s) focus. He sent out his people to teach to break the cycle of poverty.”
However, collaborating across continents is not so easy, not to mention the variety of educational institutions from pre-school, middle and high school, to technical schools, seminaries and universities. Each institution, though striving to teach the same charism (any gift that flows through God’s love to humans), has unique ways to accomplish the mission in their respective cultural and institutional setting. Coming together to share strengths and innovations creatively solves many problems. And that was the focus of the gathering—to draw from one another’s strengths and shared identity.
The master plan drawn up to achieve the conference objectives gives a communications hierarchy to educators on a provincial, regional, district and school level. Using technology and the web in particular, all will interact and be able to share in the ideas, projects and events to come. All educators and students will have access to this site.
The principals plan to incorporate more activities at the schools surrounding the Catholic Dehonian ideas and traditions. Each school hopes to effectively be drawn towards the larger common goal.
One way that the US Provincial group suggested coming together was to emphasize feast days for their respective schools — St. Martin, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Holy Family, the Sacred Heart and St. Joseph. Retreats, in-services, combined school events and a host of other things are in the planning stages.
(Reprinted with permission from “… from the Heart,” the newsletter for SHSM.)