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Scholarship and Piety Work Together in a Good Education, Says Pope

Francis Praises 1st Religious Order Dedicated to Educating the Poor

A good education makes use of human and divine knowledge to bring students to an understanding of the presence of God in every human being, says Pope Francis.

The Pope said this in a message of Nov. 27, to mark the Calasanctian Jubilee Year (from St. Joseph of Calasanz). The Jubilee marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Pious Schools, which provide free education to the poor, and the Religious Order that runs them, commonly known as the Piarists, founded by St. Joseph Calasanctius.

Pope Pius V established the order, “the first Congregation in the Church dedicated exclusively to the education of children and young people, especially the poorest,” Francis noted.

In his Message, the Holy Father also spoke of the Piarist Fathers as incarnating their mission beyond the classroom. “And, at the same time, they have been able to respond to the requests of the Church, assuming pastoral services wherever necessary.”

“Today more than ever we need an evangelizing pedagogy capable of changing the heart and reality in harmony with the Kingdom of God, making people protagonists and participants in the process,” he said. “Christian education, especially among the poorest and where the Good News has little place or touches life marginally, is a privileged means to achieve this goal.”

The Pontiff reflected: “I want to remember the strong words with which your founder described the ministry to which he dedicated his life: ‘Very dignified, very noble, very praiseworthy, very beneficial, very useful, very necessary, deeply rooted in our nature, very appreciated, very pleasant and very glorious’ (Memorial to Cardinal Tonti). These words are still valid! In fact, today there are millions of children without access to education, excluded in big cities, limited in their aspirations and plans for the future due to human selfishness and greed; thousands of children away from their homes and their schools due to wars, and requiring special educational attention. And all school children are continually in need of true teachers, to help them grow from deep roots, to show them Christ and to accompany them on the journey of life.”

The Pope also had words of encouragement for the spiritual life of the Piarists in the footsteps of Christ.

“Being part of a religious family for Saint Joseph Calasanz meant choosing a path of continuous and marked abasement,” he said. “Being Piarist is being, by definition, a person in a low state, a small one that can be identified with the small, a poor with the poor. The history of our salvation is the story of a supreme abasement: the divine becomes human, the celestial becomes terrestrial, the eternal becomes temporary, the absolute becomes fragile, the wisdom of God becomes madness and his strength becomes weakness; because Life, the true Life, is humbled to death, and death on the cross. To follow Jesus is to follow his abasement, to come, as He, to the bottom of humanity, of our weakness, and there to become a servant, as the One who did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for all.”

The Calasanctian Jubilee Year opened on November 27 of 2016 in the church of San Pantaleo in Rome, with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The Jubilee Year will end on November 25 of 2017, with a Eucharistic celebration in San Pantaleo, presided by the Father General of the Congregation of Piarists, Fr. Pedro Aguado, Sch.P.

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-message-to-piarist-fathers-for-anniversary-of-foundation/

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