Message to the participants
of the Conference on Education
March 31, 2006
“The Community as Educator”
I am united to everyone – pedagogues, post-secondary education teachers, representatives from ministries of education, experts in the field, university students and educators – who are gathered at Castel Gandolfo to participate in the International Conference entitled “The Community as Educator.” Since I am not able to be present, as I would have liked, I am sending all of you my warmest greetings.
“Our Movement and the stages of its development – as I stated in 2000 while in Washington – can be viewed as one continuous, extraordinary educational event. All the necessary factors are present, including a well-defined educational theory and method which underlie our efforts in this field.”
This is a conviction that we can find right from the Movement’s inception, when we referred to our initial experience together as “School of Fire,” in order to underscore the power of that Teacher who, present among us because of our mutual love, was forming those who later brought this new current of life throughout the world.
Thinking of education, in the Gospel we find a phrase that can be of light for us: “You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8). For Jesus, then, there is only one teacher, himself. In stating this, he does not negate the existence of a teaching authority, but this needs to be understood not as dominion or power, but rather as service. In authority that is service, if it is love, it is not only the person who acts but really Christ himself in that person. In this way, Christ remains the only teacher.
Since we embarked on our adventure in this way of unity, we always sensed that we needed to learn from that sole Teacher. For this reason, in the many schools of formation that have risen up in our Movement, we always begin our lessons with a pact of mutual love through which the professors and students renew the proposal to love one another as Jesus has loved them. This is the necessary condition to merit his presence among them, besides in each of them. And when this is lived out, they can hope to have him present as the teacher and educator.
This is the novelty of an education that is born from our spirituality of communion: educators and students find themselves relating as equals, as Jesus wants, as brothers and sisters in a trinitarian rapport based on mutual love. The educators in this relationship are like the Father, while the students are like the Son. They therefore have to allow themselves “to be generated” – so to speak – by the educators, but also to love them. And they do this by trying to be “empty” of themselves so as to take in all that is transmitted to them; but also trying not to be timid and to share in turn what the Holy Spirit has helped them to understand. Also educators, on their end, have to try and be “empty” of themselves to welcome the students with their questions and contributions.
Experience has shown us that in such a climate of mutual love, the Teacher, Jesus in the midst, is light for everyone and guides us to an always fuller truth.
But such a relationship, based on this quality of love, must always be present also among educators. Only in this way will they rediscover their true mission and, by giving life to the Teacher among them – in their schools, in every educational environment – they will become builders of a new society.
It will be a society that will witness the emergence of a vibrant and strong brotherhood in each of its cities, which will make them authentically open communities, with ideal conditions so that each one can express his or her personality and fulfill their call in giving the best of themselves.
In asking Mary, who educated the Teacher, to share with us a bit of her maternal pedagogy, I wish that this conference may bring abundant fruits for all your work environments and your nations, for the whole world.
 Honorary Doctorate in Education – Washington, November 10,2000.