From 25 to 28 April 2013, delegates from inside and outside Africa gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 87thBoard Meeting of the Office International de l’Enseignement Catholique (OIEC) at Johannesburg’s Willow Park Convention Center.
In spite of the incoming winter cold joining the still pleasant April sunshine, thirty-five representative educators from different OIEC regions were hosted by the Catholic Institute of Education in Johannesburg. The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), of which USC is an active member, sent Fr. President Dionisio Miranda, SVD, as the lone Philippine delegate.
The meeting which opened on 25 April, Feast of the apostle Mark, reminded the Catholic delegates of the missionary mandate -- the very reason for the Catholic education that they represent: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:16).
During the sessions, delegates underlined the initiatives of the General Secretariat in Brussels to show OIEC’s presence to and concern for the membership despite its own administrative and financial challenges. They noted the continuing efforts of the Permanent Representatives to elevate to the world organizations they sit in, the concerns of Catholic education worldwide. They also considered strengthening the relationship among themselves – the Permanent Representatives regularly alerting the membership of the issues being discussed where they are, and the membership feeding the Representatives with the information that they need for them to have meaningful presentations in their meetings.
As the delegates called to mind the task of New Evangelization especially in this Year of Faith, they discussed how to strengthen the organization financially and administratively so that they can continue to realize the objectives that were set up for themselves when they were founded. They asked themselves to consider reaching out to persons and organizations to help them fulfil their missionary mandate and realize their common educational dreams.
They also acknowledged the initiative of the Secretary General to set up the Social Network of Catholic Education, Admovi.ME, which will be an excellent way to help connect with and learn from one another even as they hope that it brings into the organization needed financial resource.
In a final declaration released to the public after the meeting, the delegates also resolved to continue their organizational introspection. As they celebrate with the whole Catholic Church, the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and prepare for the Golden Jubilee in 2015 of the promulgation of Gravissimum Educationis, the Council’s Declaration on Christian Education, Catholic education needs to consider not just what once was but what it must do today and what it must be ready to do tomorrow.
At the Origins Museum at the University of Witwatersrand, delegates were welcomed by the words of the poet Don Mattera, “When the first sun rose, it found us awake and waiting. Long before others came to these hills our footsteps shaped the landscape, tamed the buffalo and the gemsbok. We rode the wind, we silenced the hurricane. Look at us. We have been here before.”
Indeed the organization has been here before, in South Africa. And it has been to many different places in the world since it was founded as an organization. Now, in the 21st century, in this Year of Faith, the organization goes to where it must go, do what it is challenged to do, but by God’s grace ever continuing to seek new ways of being and doing relative to Catholic education’s missionary mandate.
22 May 2013