Every four years, the International Office of Catholic Education‘s (OIEC) World Congress brings together representatives from OIEC member groups around the world to share, connect, and celebrate Catholic education. As newly established members of the OIEC, CCSTA Past President Marino Gazzola and CCSTA Executive Director Julian Hanlon attended the 2019 congress as official delegates of Canada.
The 2019 OIEC World Congress took place from June 4 to 8 at Fordham University in New York City. Mr. Hanlon was able to attend the OIEC’s Annual General Meeting on the first day of the conference. It is only for leaders of member groups.
“It was very interesting and enlightening,” says Mr. Hanlon. “Personally, it gave me a better understanding of the organization and how OIEC works.”
On Wednesday evening, the congress officially began with an opening Mass at the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. There were over 50 priests, bishops, and a cardinal concelebrating. Mr. Hanlon says it was quite impressive.
The next two days began with general assemblies followed by delegates from around the world providing updates on what’s happening with Catholic education in their region.
“Hearing the different speakers, especially from Africa, about their mission, their commitment to Catholic education, the number of students that they have, and the difficulty of combining Catholicism and education in some regions around the world was very meaningful,” says Mr. Gazzola.
After the updates, delegates were able to choose from a number of professional development (PD) sessions. They were held in multiple languages and covered a wide variety of topics on Catholic education. Many of them highlighted different initiatives that are being developed around the world
Mr. Hanlon attended a lab that described a code of conduct for bullying and harassment that is being developed in South Africa for all Catholic educators in the country to use.
“If we had known this earlier, we would have been able to share the similar policies that Canada has developed over the years in order to help them with this process,” says Mr. Hanlon. “This is but one example of the benefits of belonging to OIEC.”
Mr. Hanlon also attended a very interesting PD session outlining how India has developed a program that looks at the educational needs of each student and tailors a unique approach for their learning. It also teaches students to be responsible for their own actions and to take control