To the ends of the Earth

Excerpted from the Claretian Mission

Claretians are known in many places more for their service of the Word, than for their schools. And yet, they have developed an intensive educational ministry. By 1909, the Claretians had already initiated various educational programs in the Chocó region of Colombia. In May 2006, the Ministry of Education in Colombia granted official approval to the Claretian University Foundation (FUCLA). This is a distance learning center that offers degrees in theology, the Bible, anthropology with emphasis on ethnic rights, and social work with emphasis on social insertion to form agents committed to the social change of their communities and region. This was six years ago and now the university is spreading to other cities in Colombia: Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Neiva…

The Claretian action in education responds to the needs of each place. If in Colombia they try to reach the most remote locations, in Argentina they are situated in the city of Córdoba and serve as a university center. It is called El Tambo and is a house of open doors where university students find a welcoming hospitality and support as they begin a new phase in their lives. El Tambo’s mission is to enhance the encounter of the young people with Christ, to give them opportunities of knowing themselves better, and to open new horizons of a prophetic commitment as missionaries in the heart of the church. The young people form small communities where they share their faith, life, and some concrete pastoral service. In this way, the youth evangelize other youth and the poor evangelize the youth.

In Nigeria, the education project was born from the motivation of St. Anthony Claret’s own words: to do what is most urgent, opportune, and effective. The years from 1983 to 1991 left Nigeria’s education in a serious state of deterioration. They began by building an elementary school, which now has a new school, Claret Secondary School. The dream is to continue all the way to the university level.

Good things often happen from difficult times, because they tend to bring out the missionaries’ creativity. And this was the case in Poland, where the religious oppression of Claretian Father E. Ozechowski, created the campus ministry The Laurels. From here university professors, scientists, politicians, and artists have emerged. The Laurels is a place to gather socially and with God, but it is also a shared mission. The youth share their faith and then go on to mission and to church ministry.

Things start out slowly and then grow at God’s pace. The Claretians’ educational ministry began about 25 years ago in Bangalore, India with two schools and a pre-university college that led to the foundation of St. Claret College in 2005. The college began with 50 students and now has six degree programs and 600 students. It seeks to help young people in their pursuit of truth, justice, and service to humanity. The mission is to mould professionally skilled, spiritually responsible, academically excellent, and socially just global citizens through holistic education to advance the common good.

These are enormous challenges to the creativity, dialogue, and to the formation of missionary disciples. Claret wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Your Turn
Do you think that education is just the school? What do you think when you hear about the enormous diversity of these education initiatives? Do you feel called to such an effort?


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