Spain hosts the XLVII International Fe y Alegría Federation Congress

Spain hosts the XLVII International Fe y Alegría Federation Congress

Between 28th September and 1st October, the XLVII International Fe y Alegría Federation Congress was held in Madrid. It was called “Fe y Alegría, A global movement. We educate on the frontiers”. The meeting, organized by Entreculturas, Fe y Alegría in Spain, addressed topics such as Fe y Alegría’s current and future frontiers, strategies such as the global movement, and the increasingly important approach being done on global citizenship.

Arturo Sosa, sj, Father General of the Society of Jesus, inaugurated the congress and highlighted the importance of this movement during these times of global transformation. Begun in the fertile environment of Abraham and Patricia Reyes’ humble home, and guided by the vision of Father José María Vélaz, this movement is today a magnificent international network that connects over a million and a half students in 22 countries around the world, and has no intention of slowing down.

The congress was evidence of this plurality thanks to the presence of the national directors from the 22 Fe y Alegría in Latin America, Europe and Africa, together with guests from 11 other countries.

The format of the congress was proof that this movement – far from coming to a standstill – continues to dream and experiment with new ideas for community involvement, and that it feels it is an expression of change that is based on diversity and the commitment to an educational project for people that are most vulnerable.

The first part of the congress began with a meeting of young people from Fe y Alegría that make up the Generation 21 initiative, part of which is the Entreculturas Youth Solidarity Network. Attendees at the congress were treated to a special moment of youthful expression with a street performance in the neighbourhood of La Ventilla in Madrid, and a meeting with the directors of Fe y Alegría that gave them the chance to dialogue.

The second part, and the core of the congress, took place on 29th and 30th September in El Escorial. The opening discussion was led by the Father General of the Society of Jesus, accompanied during the inauguration by Antonio España, sj, the Provincial of Spain; Carlos Fritzen, sj; Coordinator of the International Fe y Alegría Federation and Dani Villanueva, sj, Vice President of Entreculturas. Here are some of their statements:

“‘Fe y Alegría has become an educational network on the frontiers that gives a new face to the apostolate of education of the Society of Jesus.” Arturo Sosa, sj.

“We will have to develop a new style of leadership, be more inspirational when it comes to processes, and less concerned with executing tasks. We must be more dynamic in generating actions to influence public policies that ensure the right to quality education for everyone, everywhere.” Carlos Fritzen, sj.

“Our challenge today is how to adjust our actions to the size of the challenge we face: How to be a truly global network at the service of education for the most vulnerable populations and on the frontiers that are the direst, without losing an iota of depth and impact.” Dani Villanueva, sj.

“I would like to reiterate our commitment as the Society of Jesus in Spain that we continue supporting and fostering the work carried out by networks such as Fe y Alegría which have so greatly influenced – and continue to influence – our understanding of solidarity, commitment and citizenship.”  Antonio España, sj.

Over the weekend the key aspects of the congress were compiled and summarized in its closing document: this included the main conclusions of an active Fe y Alegría, open to innovation and permanent learning on the new frontiers of gender, interculturalism, etc.

Lastly, on Monday, 1 October, and to close the different meetings, an institutional event called ‘2030 Agenda: The Challenge of an Education that Can Change the World’ – that was open to the public – was held at the Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid. This act approached the importance of transformative education, the construction of a global citizenship, SDG 4, and the importance of education on the new 2030 agenda. The event was inaugurated by Isabel Celaá, Minister for Education, and involved key players for educational change and international cooperation such as: Juan Pablo de Laiglesia, Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Ibero-America and the Caribbean; Mariano Jabonero, General Secretary of the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI); Aína Calvo, Director of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID); Federico Buyolo, Managing Director of the Office of the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda; Tom Smolich, sj, JRS International Director and Gehiomara Cerdeño, International Federation Fe y Alegría Coordination Team member.

The XLVII congress ‘We Educate on the Frontiers’ was thus brought to a close. It was a special time of reflection and exchanges for the Fe y Alegría network, which, far from taking it easy, gathers the most strength by continuing to ask how and what its contribution should be with regard to education and to the mission of reconciliation and justice. The congress closed with a special call from the Father General in his speech, ‘Hopefully, in this context of the globalization of environmental, social and spiritual crises, you will know how to keep this visionary and spiritual idea alive and spread specific ways of educating and shaping a global citizenship that will change the world and remind us of the true transformative power that education has when it is put at the service of the most vulnerable.’

For all the information of what took place over these days, please visit the congress’s