Today’s frontiers and global movements. Summary of Fe y Alegría International Congress. Saturday 29th September

Today’s frontiers and global movements. Summary of Fe y Alegría International Congress. Saturday 29th September

The core of the 47th Congress of the Fe y Alegría International Federation kicked off this morning with an opening ceremony that included speeches by Antonio España, S.J., Provincial Father of Spain, Carlos Fritzen, S.J., Fe y Alegría International Federation Coordinator, Dani Villanueva, S.J., Executive Vice President of Entreculturas/Fe y Alegría Spain, and Superior General Arturo Sosa, S.J.

The opening ceremony was followed by a space to address the concept of “Frontier”, with Patxi Álvarez, S.J., Spanish Delegate for Planning and Discernment, inviting participants to question the position from which we usually view reality and look at it from the perspective of “frontiers” as a space from which to position ourselves and as a hermeneutical place to interpret and look at the world.

Luisa Pernalete, Education for Peace Coordinator at Fe y Alegría Venezuela, then presented frontiers as places from which life springs; rich and teeming with possibility, God is already present in these places where we are called to act.

The morning ended with a round table moderated by Luis Arancíbia, member of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría Coordinating Team and delegate from the Social Sector – Spain. The round table focus on the frontiers in which we are called to act, represented by the following participants:

  • Geographical frontiers – Alfred Kiteso, S.J. Fe y Alegría RD Congo
  • Gender frontiers – Sofía Gutiérrez. Fe y Alegría Guatemala
  • Digital frontiers – Ana Millán. Director of the Fundación Accenture
  • Intergenerational frontiers – Milagros Analia. Argentina and Reiris Fernández. Venezuela. Generación 21 Youth Network
  • Environmental frontiers – Pedro Walpole, SJ– Reconciliation Coordinator in Asian-Pacific Jesuit Conferenceand  Jose Ignacio García Jiménez SJ –   Ecojesuit founder and JRS Europe Director


The debate addressed several of the frontiers from which Fe y Alegría today provides a response or wants to provide a response. Frontiers that challenge us, places “where today the asphalt ends”.

The participants in the debate, drawing on their knowledge of Fe y Alegría and the perspective of a frontier, responded to questions including: Why is this a frontier for Fe y Alegría today? What possibilities does this frontier open for us? What difficulties? Who does it affect? What kind of impacts does it have on people? What does FyA already have and still need in order to respond to that frontier? And based on this frontier and the participants’ knowledge, what is the dream for Fe y Alegría? What would you like to see the organisation achieve in the next two years?

Lunch was followed by 11 workshops that explained in greater depth how Fe y Alegría is responding in these frontiers, providing global answers from local experiences and showcasing the diversity in Fe y Alegría’s response today:

  • Education for returned migrants, with Mikel Cortés from Guatemala.
  • In-class and distance education for inmates, with Simón Martínez from Paraguay and Daniel Navarro from Argentina.
  • Prevention of youth violence through restorative practices, with Saúl León and Margine Pineda from El Salvador.
  • Education for girls and women, with Badjai Massama and Haydée Rivera from Chad.
  • Educational innovation for social transformation: building educational bridges between Spain and Fe y Alegría, with Jennifer López.
  • Learning from indigenous populations: education in an intercultural context (Bolivia).
  • Education in contexts of extreme poverty and precariousness, with Mukiay Crispin from DR Congo.
  • Education and community relations through interreligious dialogue, with Etienne Mborong from Africa and Kike Figaredo from Cambodia.
  • Pathways for Educational Inclusion, with Christian Ubilla from Ecuador.
  • Community commitment to social and labour-market inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, with Claudia Álvarez from Chile.
  • Rural education: a mission (Peru)

Taking this range of frontiers as a departure point, the workshops presented the people that “inhabits” that frontier, their characteristics, what they need, what they have, what concerns them, what elements of frontier those reality have, their related frontiers, the institutional challenges that exist, and what is required to meet those challenges.

The second part of each workshop was set aside as a time for participants to let their imaginations fly, sharing the dreams they have as they hear the speakers’ reality, dreams that make it possible for Fe y Alegría to continue working towards creating a more inclusive and humane world.

The Congress continued with a round table moderated by Lucía Rodríguez from Entreculturas, also a member of the Fe y Alegría International Federation team. After a morning and early afternoon that focused on the challenges that Fe y Alegría faces today and those to which it is already responding (and those to which it is not), the Congress shifted gears to address what it means to be a global movement as method for responding to the challenges presented by global frontiers, taking another step closer to the range of responses that our global network is provided through different networks and organisations.

John Dardis, S.J., Assistant Superior General of the Society of  Jesus; Tom Smolich, S.J., International Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service; Pilar Orenes, Deputy Director of Oxfam Intermón; and Sebastián Mora, Professor at the Comillas Pontifical University, participated in the discussion.

The Congress Radio on air for nine hours on Saturday, broadcasting the opening ceremony and airing more than 30 interviews with speakers and other Congress participants. We would like to thank Radio ECCA for their collaboration in allowing us to broadcast this Congress through its station.

The evening concluded with an emotional Eucharist that also aimed to showcase the diversity of Fe y Alegría through readings and words in English and French, music from America, Africa, Europe, borders and interculturality filled a Eucharist in which was celebrated life and  things that happened and in which recognition was given to those who, from the beginning, made possible a global Fe y Alegría dreaming of borders.

Dinner was followed by a social event that included the launch of the “Súbele el volumen a tu Fe con alegría” campaign.