Sr. Immaculate Okoiti, SNDdeN
Who would question the deep and wide influence of collaborative efforts across nations? Africans in their wisdom tell us that “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with others”. Likewise, Hellen Keller says; “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”?
The spirit of collaboration is the base that underlies the International Office of Catholic Education (OIEC), and the fibre that holds its members together. Inspired by the unquestionable power of collaboration, a group of teachers and educators founded OIEC in 1952 in Switzerland. Four years later, the Holy See recognized OIEC as an international Catholic organization. Today, the organisation works in collaboration with the Congregation for Catholic Education at the Vatican and has consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC, UNESCO), and the Council of Europe.
OIEC dedicates itself to:
- Participate in the Church’s mission;
- Promote research of Catholic schools;
- Promote the creation of a network for educational and cultural progress;
- Create/develop links for mutual assistance/solidarity;
- Network among members for information and communication;
- Collaborate with the bodies of the universal Church;
- Represent Catholic Education in international bodies;
- Defend/promote the freedom of education.
The membership of OIEC consists of more than 110 national organizations responsible for Catholic schools. Such organisations include the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and other religious congregations committed to educational service. With the theme “Give Hope”, tens of teachers and educators gathered at Marseille from across the world. Lucky was I to be one of the many that came this far.
We shared glimpses from our journey of fidelity and hope in the ministry of teaching and education. In the words of Pope Francis, we looked back with Gratitude, celebrated the present with Passion, and looked to the future with Hope.
OIEC celebrated 70th anniversary on 3rd dec 2022.
Then, on the 3rd of December 2022, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of OIEC. What a memorable day! Even the cold and chilly weather of France could not deter some of us from stepping out for a photo that would remind us of the 70-year-long journey of the OIEC. We are indebted to those who went before us, to those with whom we journey forward with hope.
As a sister of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), I recalled the founding of the SNDdeN in Amiens, France, in 1804. Here I was in France, where St Julie Billiart and Françoise dedicated the Congregation to education, celebrating the transformative influence of education. Ah! Qu’il est bon le bon Dieu!
The Congress called us to give hope to attentively listen and share our stories so that we may educate for life, and give hope to young people. Without a doubt, the collaborative efforts by the OIEC inspire an unstoppable wave of cultural change towards a future of hope. Aware of the urgent and important need to collaborate towards the formation of cultures of hope and respect for the dignity of all creation, and inspired by Jesus, the master teacher and educator, our endeavour to create formative schools remains steadfast.
The Congress infused me with renewed passion, vision and energy to collaborate with local and international stakeholders in the teaching fraternity. I am convinced that together, we will help young people to listen with their hearts and to move into a future of deeper conversations, collaboration and hope. Together, we will “build together the educational village.”
I remain grateful to the Congregation for giving me the opportunity to participate in the 21st Congress of OIEC Congress. And, I dream of a time when the SNDdeN teachers and educators will have similar gatherings for the renewal of our passion and vision to educate for a future of hope.