“Fraternal love is the nearest testimony that we can give that Jesus is alive among us.”
We’re delighted to share with you an initiative launched by the International Office of Catholic Education aimed at connecting Catholic schools across the world to work together to address crucial issues in need of our attention.
As Pope Francis has repeatedly urged Catholics to be attentive to the needs of our world and conscious about building a more human and fraternal society, these educational initiatives provide an opportunity for students and schools to respond to the Holy Father’s calling by collaborating for positive change.
CCSTA proudly supports this initiative and during our June 2022 board meetings, decided to encourage all Catholic schools across Canada to consider participating in this wonderful opportunity to connect, learn, create and grow with schools across the world.
Among the many admirable goals of this program is connection between Catholic schools in as many countries as possible so that Planet Fraternity would be a meeting point for schools all over the world to engage in a collective education of pressing world issues.
We’d love to see Canada represented in this global program! We’ve highlighted below some of the details for you to make the process as easy as possible.
Be sure to share this with a principal or teacher who may be interested in this initiative!
What is the International Office of Catholic Education (OIEC)?
OIEC was founded in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1952 by a group of bishops, priests and laity who had a desire to create a common office for Catholic schools around the world. Canada was among the first countries recognized in the organization’s signatories, alongside Lebanon, Brazil, Mexico, Tanganyika and Uruguay.
In 1956, the Holy See approved the statutes of the organization and two years later, Pope Pius XII gave a hearing to the OIEC and encouraged them in their work to connect and collaborate with Catholic schools globally.
To this day, OIEC remains a strong organization continuously growing to meet the needs of the Church and assist schools in carrying out their educational mission. They’ve given valued support to CCSTA by often sending a representative to our annual AGMs, newsletters to keep us connected to the global Catholic school community and sharing initiatives with us to pass on to Catholic schools in Canada.
One of the more recent projects undertaken by OIEC is Planet Fraternity; an initiative created out of a desire to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation to the whole Church in 2019 to a “Global Compact on Education.”
In his 2019 address, Pope Francis shared,
“In my Encyclical Laudato Si’, I invited everyone to cooperate in caring for our common home and to confront together the challenges that we face. Now, a few years later, I renew my invitation to dialogue on how we are shaping the future of our planet and the need to employ the talents of all, since all change requires an educational process aimed at developing a new universal solidarity and a more welcoming society.”
In response to the Holy Father’s invitation, Planet Fraternity was born.
The project began with a clear aim to educate Catholic school students on the importance of the Holy Father’s words and our common responsibility to collaborate globally to create a better future.
To use a common starting point for engaging in meaningful dialogue about urgent problems, Planet Fraternity adopted the 17 Challenges of the UN 2030 Agenda as a focal point for the program.
Students across the world, through Catholic Schools, would be invited to connect with other countries to collaborate and work together to find concrete solutions to the 17 sustainable development challenges noted by the United Nations.
Through this initiative, students would be educated on the urgency of these issues, learn the importance of responding to the call of Pope Francis and encouraged to use their creativity, ingenuity and compassion to find meaningful ways to help create a better world.
What does Planet Fraternity look like now?
There are now more than 114 classrooms participating in Planet Fraternity and over 2600 students connecting through digital platforms to collaborate on solution-focused projects together.
When a school signs up for Planet Fraternity, they are given tools and resources to use in their classrooms and an explanation of methodology used throughout the entire program. They are then paired with a Catholic school in another part of the world, using English as the common language, to address a specific issue given to them using the methodology and tools provided by Planet Fraternity.
Here’s a concrete example given by the Planet Fraternity website:
“Let’s take the example of the ‘0 Hunger’ theme: a school in France and a school in Spain work together. During these two months, students from France and Spain will meet in small groups to work through Planet Fraternity to find a solution to the issue, in this case ‘Zero Hunger’. Through different meetings, the students will work with the methodology ‘Design For Change’ in four phases, in order to become aware of the proposed topic and thus seek real solutions:
- They feel the needs or problems.
- They imagine the new solutions.
- They act and build the change.
- They share their story of change to involve and inspire others.
In this way, they build a global chain of children and youth who transform lives and end up changing the world.”
Planet Fraternity keeps members up-to-date with regular newsletters, engaging tools and materials for teachers and world-wide contests to encourage student enthusiasm and participation.
Planet Fraternity, through the use of digital platforms, has an incredible potential to significantly impact the future by teaching today’s students the importance of caring for our common home and our brothers and sisters around the world.
The unique opportunity provided by Planet Fraternity is for Catholic students to meet and connect with other Catholic students around the world who, in their own languages and cultures, are following the common values and traditions of our faith.
Signing your school or class up for Planet Fraternity is as simple as filling out their online form and receiving all the information you need for classroom participation.
See below for some helpful resources and be sure to check out Planet Fraternity’s website and social media to learn more.
Let us know if your school decides to participate – we’d love to share and highlight Canada’s participation in this wonderful initiative!
“Let us seek solutions together, boldly undertake processes of change and look to the future with hope. I invite everyone to work for this alliance and to be committed, individually and within our communities, to nurturing the dream of a humanism rooted in solidarity and responsive both to humanity’s aspirations and to God’s plan.”