In May 2021 via Zoom five schools from the European Network of Sacred Heart Schools presented five projects linked to JPIC themes with a group of RSCJ and Sacred Heart educators. It was an exciting session both for the students and their audience, a first experience for many of a virtual international conference. A few weeks before the JPIC International Team had themselves made presentations to the leaders of our European schools about this priority for the Society and the four imperatives articulated in “Being Artisans of Hope in Our Blessed and Broken World.” Now it was the time for the young people to share what they had been doing.
The first presentation was from Sacred Heart Primary School in Roehampton, London. They explained they strive to create a school where Christian values are taught and experienced and the goals of a Sacred Heart education are met alongside being a Gold Award UNICEF Rights Respecting School. They gave examples of how they live that out: learning about Laudato Si’, raising money for RSCJ projects in the Philippines affected by typhoons, taking part in a Walking for Water project, and helping others in the community through the Goal of Social Awareness.
Next came Sacred Heart Primary Roscrea who really embrace the imperative, Caring for our Common Home. Their presentation was full of examples of how the students’ awareness of the need to care for creation is raised right across the curriculum and year groups. There were wonderful slides showcasing their work. They have been awarded “Green flags” for conservation in the areas of Energy, Water, Travel, the study of Biodiversity and Global Citizenship Litter and Waste. Their new school itself was designed to save energy and water!
Sacre Cœur Vienna then introduced us to “We Cœur” where a group of engaged students and teachers decided to take action at school to combat climate change, combining projects to raise awareness and information on how to make a difference. They set up We Cœur Cafes where people could meet and discuss ideas which included having seasonal challenges to do with recycling whether paper, plastic or clothes, as well as the connected issues of greenwashing and fast fashion. Finally they introduced us to the bees and the honey on their school roof!
Sagrado Corazon Pamplona’s students sent their teacher to tell us about their project. “Pamplona, Open City.” The students themselves were sitting their final examinations. Their project, which addresses another of the JPIC imperatives, was based around how to build a welcome for migrants. It involved research, making connections and action including working with their own students to inform them about the reality of being migrants and refugees and taking their concerns to political leaders. Their project won national and international recognition. You can read more about it here.
A challenge came from the video presentation of Istituto Sacro Cuore della Trinità in Rome! Their students presented the stark world that we will face if no action is taken today. They wanted other students to think about what their grandchildren will say to them in years to come. They asked them to take action like Greta Thunberg. Their challenge is for European Schools to take real action on the Sustainable Development Goals. They are going to work out their strategy to engage other schools next academic year.
After all the presentations we had breakout groups where all present could share their reactions and thoughts and at the end the JPIC International Team expressed their thanks both for what they students had presented but for being passionate about the issues and their desire to make a real change.
Sacred Heart Schools' and College Network Coordinator ENW