Argentina: 25 Years of Social Involvement

“Love brought to a social level will make us credible.” Challenged by these words of Chiara Lubich in 1984, the Igino Giordani School of Social Learning (EDES) was begun in Argentina. Since then, twelve courses have been offered every two years allowing the charism of unity to enter into dialogue with various issues in the social field in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church (SDC). Vittorio Sabbione and Lia Brunet who were pioneers of the Focolare Movement in South America, were the principle supporters of this project, guided in the beginning by Bishop Jorge Novak.

This year, EDES has begun a new phase in Mariapolis Lia (O’Higgins-Argentina) where the school is located. Between the 9th and 11th of July it examined a topic entitled: “The Social Dimension of Humankind’s Yes to God”.

Methodology. The coordination team which was composed of experts, used a communitarian work approach. Topics and issues were chosen together by everyone. Texts were screened and chosen by the whole group as well. Then a final version was drawn up that was presented to the School. It was constantly a matter of thinking together enlightened by the words of the Gospel: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (cf. Mt 18:20). This same dynamic was applied by the students who participated in the seminar.

Some of the topics that were discussed included: “Social life in the perspective of fraternity”, “Principles of  the Social Doctrine of the Church”, “Humankind’s yes to God in its Trinitarian structure: Jesus Forsaken, the social question and the united world”, “Tools for implementing the SDC”. The presentations given by Bishop Agustín Radrizzani (Bishop of Mercedes-Lujan and current Rector  of EDES), were much appreciated, because of how they were both deeply rooted in the teachings of the Church and steeped in the charism of unity.

Experiences were important: the construction of housing in the Barrio Nueva Esperanza (Tucuman); efforts to integrate the work between the neighborhood parish of San Nicolás (Córdoba) and a community of gypsies; the preferential option for the poor of a teacher from Asunción (Paraguay), and the extensive work of “family listening groups” (San Martín, Buenos Aires); “Child Alert”, a citizen’s initiative born from the town’s painful loss of its dying children in Santa Fe, after which the provincial government enacted a law that was then adopted by other Argentine provinces; and the wonderful story of the Aurora School of Santa María of Catamarca, that with its craftsman training program has become a pioneer in the redemption of the culture of the native Calchaquí people

“The training course was very important for evaluating our situation with new eyes,” says one Argentine youth. He adds: “It helped me to understand that change is within our reach and that we can accomplish it together.” The presence of the young brought a note of vivacity and hope to the EDES.

The enthusiasm that was expressed at the conclusion of the seminar foretold a future that would be rich in developments and proposals. “The climate of simplicity, seriousness, research and inviting to live a new kind of society, permitted me to profit from the topics that were discussed, and instilled in me a desire to lose nothing of what I experienced here,” said a young professional career woman with a lot of experience behind her. She concluded: “It seemed beautiful to me and well done. The topics discussed were well inculturated in the Latin American reality and in tune with the DSC, especially the “Aparecida Document”. I learned so much!”

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