Italiano onWhite

16. A PEDAGOGY THAT IS ATTENTIVE TO THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
AND CREATIVE IN ITS RESPONSES

A set of voices coming from the Murialdo Turin Institution to witness how our charism today is being implemented with creativity and innovation, addressing the current situation in its whole reality while keeping always in mind that we are working to give young people an educative and formative space and time for today and for tomorrow. Social innovation, networking, pedagogy and autonomy of the activities are terms and resources to be deployed; theatre-ENGIM-welcome-workshops-shops-presence in prison-university students-parish… here are the borders of a qualified, responsible and shared Murialdine presence.

Danilo Magni
con l’apporto di:
Alessandro Mazza, Alessandro Richard, Alessio Barba, Antonio Didonna
Christina Scarmato, Ervin Anselmo, Federico Civera, Marco De Magistri
Laura Orestano, Marco Di Tonno, Marco Muzzarelli,
Monica Mantelli, Adelio Cola, Agostino Cornale
Samuele Cortinovis, Paolo Bornengo.

If you want to deepen

16. UNA PEDAGOGIA ATTENTA AI SEGNI DEI TEMPI E CREATIVA NELLE RISPOSTE

(Danilo Magni
con l’apporto di:
Alessandro Mazza, Alessandro Richard, Alessio Barba, Antonio Didonna
Christina Scarmato, Ervin Anselmo, Federico Civera, Marco De Magistri
Laura Orestano, Marco Di Tonno, Marco Muzzarelli,
Monica Mantelli, Adelio Cola, Agostino Cornale
Samuele Cortinovis, Paolo Bornengo.)


The title, on which I was asked to make a contribution, is one of those high-sounding ones! I wondered for a while what to write. At the end I came up with the idea of avoiding to write a paper with high contents, which may run the risk of tasting of theory and detachment. I have, in fact, the sensation that, as Josephan educators, sometimes we feel weak, because St L. Murialdo did not leave us any organic treatise on his pedagogy. This–unconsciously–can lead us to dangerous paths of systematization and synthesis. Better to continue to write or rewrite his story, or even better the many stories which he identified with, beginning with that of the Artigianelli Boarding School, on whose knowledge there is still a lot to bring to light.
Reflecting on the title entrusted to me made me a lot of good, because once again I realize how great our Founder was from this point of view. Saint Leonard did not choose to become an educator, but found himself educated by God and His immeasurable, excessive and crazy love. Murialdo’s pedagogy is not and will never be theorized, because it is nothing more than the result, constantly evolving, of his be conquered by God, in the discovery of being able to reciprocate Him, loving Him, despite his own fragilities. It is this love that drove him to grasp in his historical period the continual invocation for welcome, care and accompanying by the youth most in need. And how could it be otherwise, since we are talking of God’s love? Indeed, love! When relationships, gestures and words that show love become routine, repeat… it is bitterly noted that it is diminished or even finished. The reason St L. Murialdo did many different things and had a share in a thousand initiatives was not because he was a polymath or because he wanted to demonstrate the validity of personal pedagogical ideas. Simply love cannot be harnessed and is always in need of new things, of re-creation. That love he experienced on himself and with whom he tried to live until the end. Without fear of a life full of risks, difficulties and constant changes, but with a deep hope and confidence, rooted in his personal experience of the Lord. This is the inner beat that I always wish to hear in myself and the entire family of St L. Murialdo committed to education!
Well, for my file to reflect on pedagogy attentive to the signs of the times, and therefore creative in its responses, I chose to not be just me talking, but to give voice to some of my confreres and lay people with whom we share ‘pieces’ of days in the Turin Institution, in the places where we were born and raised. I asked a young man for a final contribution, since in this choir ‘their’ voice could not be missing. Let us listen to them together and get ideas and contributions, if you believe that there is something good for our topic.

Fr. Agostino Cornale: You are the parish priest of Our Lady of Salvation , where the multi-year pastoral plan is being remade. Are there some aspects of reflection you consider as ‘charismatic creativity’ or pedagogical renewal, according to the signs of the times?
We realized that the changing social and pastoral situations required us a passionate research (which lasted almost two years), shared and reworked several times by all members of the pastoral council to give shape to the dreams and visibility to the “future that we would want.”
More than its previous edition, the new pastoral plan looks like an open path, asking the parish community to focus more on the continuous processing of thought and projects. The “four key words” are the indicating reasons of a path: they tell us how we would like to walk, more than what we would do. Words that remind us of the indications of the last chapter season: charism and relationship (reciprocity), charism and formation, charism and listening-dialogue with different cultures, charism and communication, charism and shared responsibility.
Even the organization chart wants to bet “on novelty.” Starting from the existing and “adjusting it” on the new pastoral needs and challenges, we want to create specific thinking and decision-making groups, overcoming those related to pastoral areas and developing new coordination groups related to people: childhood, children, youth, adults and old people.

Br. Marco De Magistris: Your main task is to collect funds through MurialdoFor, with criteria and methodologies mediated by studies in the university and economy field. At first view it seems that there is not much neither charismatic nor creative, nor pedagogic in what you do. What have you to say about that?
Two clear images in my mind: 1. The Gospels talk about the fact that Jesus and the Apostles possessed a common “fund” to live and then carry out the mission to spread the Word. 2. L. Murialdo has faced throughout his life economic issues to keep up the Artigianelli Boarding School, even “begging” in person at the Consolata Shrine!
Creativity, diffusion of Charism and dissemination of pedagogical thinking need sustainability to get incarnated. Money, in its noble evangelical value, is not ‘dirty’. It becomes such if it is collected for accumulation, for greed, for selfish purposes. Collected and made available to develop activities and initiatives FOR and in FAVOUR of our poor Youth, needing help and Christian education, using also new methods of communication and marketing strategies, it is a nice evangelical mission! I live my assignment in the shadows… but for the benefit of All!

Fr. Samuele Cortinovis: From our oratory in Milan, it is about three months you are in the Murialdo Turin Institution taking care at the forefront of St. Martin Oratory. Do you see in this environment some ‘creative’ pedagogical aspects in the answers given by it?
In addition to fixing the various educational emergencies that youths are carrying with them or the shortage of forces and resources, I notice a special attention to thought and planning, and to do so as a community, making each component agent of change in a logic of proximity with all the other realities of Turin Institution.
In a more schematic way, I would express creativity in St. Martin oratory in the following way:
1. Thought. Ne perdantur, discounted for the youth today in the neighbourhood.
2. Unitary thought. Not for areas in watertight compartments.
3. Unitary community thought. Without you it is not the same.
4. Unitary community thought within the horizon of Murialdo Turin Institution. More than an organizational system it is our common home where we build family, even with hard work. You can tell it by living inside. Perhaps, from the outside it is more difficult to notice it.

Fr. Adelio Cola: You’re the eldest confrere of the Josephan community, who constantly lives at the Artigianelli Boarding School, especially taking care of the museum and the charismatic animation in the historical dimension. In the changes you see in place do you detect new or renewed concrete expressions of our charism?
Saint Leonard Murialdo was always ready to take on new pastoral initiatives for the benefit of young people everywhere he could see the signs of the times demanded new educational facilities. With its elegant, respectful and courageous style, humble and trusting in Providence he was undertaking on himself the spiritual animation of the institutions to be carried out in communion with the laity, whom he placed in the foreground, personally working in the “doing without the search for showing off.” I see at this time several people around me, who act with prudence and courageous humility in giving birth to new projects, imitating L. Murialdo in his spirit, and who, with their pure intention invoke God’s blessing on the taken initiatives.

Mr. Paolo Bornengo: “For a pedagogy that is attentive to the signs of the times and creative in its responses.” Is there any concrete action taking place in ENGIM Piedmont (of which you are the director) and that more responds to this statement?
The theme of attention to the signs of the times may materialize through the theme of “proximity,” i.e. the ability to reduce the distance between people and institutions (in particular between ENGIM and our young students), knowing that in every place the Lord throws a seed of hope, which we must help to sprout so that it might produce fruit.
For this we need to set up a pedagogical response to young people that it is not only guided by the themes “educational emergency”, fear and fright, but that carries a positive approach to life, building a proper balance between “leaving no one behind” and investment in the human capital of those who have “the best talents.”
Therefore a major project that was started in this training year and that will certainly be replicated and improved in the future is about the experience of School Camps: it is a teaching and educational activity of three days in the mountains (including overnight) done in the initial weeks of the training year (by mid October) for all students in the first years of qualification courses (aged 14-15 years). This initiative made by our formators allows establishing an important time of familiarity, deepening and involvement with our students at the beginning of their experience in ENGIM, which will certainly be useful for building proximity and educational attention.

Antonio Didonna: A few days ago it was opened a workshop for the production of chocolate at the juvenile detention centre, where already Saint Leonard was exercising his ministry. Then the place was known as “La Generala.” Today is the “Ferrante Aporti”… For many years the Congregation works with various initiatives in the Ferrante. Why this project is unprecedented?
The project Spes@Labor is much more than a simple workshop to teach how to make chocolate. Spes@Labor is a challenge on the pedagogical, educational and enterprise fields. The educators, master chocolatier, experts in marketing and trade, involved the young convicts starting from the creation of the brand. They then passed to define the line of products and which packages; at the same time they tried production. Today, the workshop has all the authorization to produce. So bars, dragees, chocolates, etc., can enter the real market. The youths are aware that their time and effort will not be for the simulation of a job, but for a real business project. Some of the guys will be able, at the end of the sentence or on the order of the magistrate, to start working as interns/trainees out of jail at the chocolate factory of social co-operative Spes Group and who knows… maybe someone will decide to go back to school for a qualification or continue working in the confectionery industry.
The novelty of the project? The opportunity for the boy to a true commitment to a business plan that starts from jail but may continue and grow out of it. The educational relationship becomes an opportunity for meeting, giving witness, making proposals and showing possible alternatives.

Marco Muzzarelli: You are the director of Engim Artigianelli. The signs of the times you see, in which practical directions are pushing you and vocational training to try some creative aspect?
Since the opening of the Artigianelli Boarding School, the boys included in vocational courses were involved not only to learn a trade, but also to produce, after a few years of practice, artefacts on external commission. Many alumni of the Boarding School began business activity thanks to the craft learned over the years of training. Among them there were painters and sculptors, printers and mechanics, tailors and carpenters, gardeners and flower growers. The workshops of vocational training are equipped physical and social places, which act as mediators and conditioners of activities. Many of our teens are institutionally averse to lessons, bookish study, and detachment from things and problems, normal relationships between teachers and students, and extrinsic disciplinary rules.
It is in the wake of these thoughts, and in a context where the labour market is no longer able to fully accommodate all the young people who are trained, that at the Artigianelli we are trying to create the conditions and the best opportunities to ensure that, in the space of the workshop will materialize at the same time the focus on educational objectives and on the production of services or items available for sale outside. Attention to the signs of the times leads us to re-evaluate the initial experience of the Artigianelli, so that the productive action of the workshop is also opportunity to support the vocational training.

Cristina Scarmato: You have been working several years in the socio-educational sector (day care centres, family homes, territorial educational service, etc…) planning. How the crisis of the welfare state in our country forced you to rethink your work? What is new in what you see and do?
The cuts in the public money supporting services for the poor forced a re-thinking not so much in terms of actions, but of perspectives: we are all fragile and/or all can become so. The concept: “I’ll take care of you,” is no longer valid, and now we have to say: “What can we do together?” The solution arises from building together, the common effort to create environments that welcome, integrate and support the poor.
The size of the network therefore becomes essential. Alliances are drew up among different actors: the world of profit can and should speak to the non-profit, culture rethinks itself in a social perspective, public and private sphere are co-responsible for social welfare programs, the educator and the boy build together feasible paths. Nobody loses their identity, but all are pooling their excellence, their own history, their own skills through paths in which the new idea or solution to a problem stems from contamination and pooling.

Laura Orestano: You specialize in social innovation. We know that on this theme there is a lot of interest, but also confusion and sometimes just many words. Through examples, briefly explain how the pedagogy of L. Murialdo is embodied in what you do.
The pedagogy of L. Murialdo has two basic elements of attraction and innovation: to do and to support.
Social innovation develops ideas, products and services for the common good and has two basic elements: experiment and create sustainability. The positioning of SPES chocolate, development of Dinamo Coop multi-services business, articulation of inside-outside communication, reception and incubation of ideas of self-employment and social enterprise, accompaniment towards technological and social hybridizations, and development of new business areas are concrete examples of what we are doing, to translate into a background of welfare state and labour crisis some aspects of the Murialdine charism.
The work that I’m trying to do with some young people, tries new products, services and actions for the common good and designs sustainability and autonomy of solutions and actions: young people are agents of change as they experience an ecosystem of thought, analysis of social challenges, possible solutions and vision of social and economic value in the medium and long term. The Murialdine Charism then acts as an engine for constant social innovation.

Monica Mantelli: We asked you to help us revive the Iuvarra theatre and the former Procope Café, because we are aware that in this difficult time it is needed to restore vigour and depth to places of thinking and promotion of the culture of Christian origin. What is pedagogical in what you are doing?
Today the relationship between spiritual formation and democratic development of society it is more and more significant, as between education in ethics and good practices of social doing and work. Whether it is a profession or journeymanship, the priority pedagogical objective is–in my opinion–to educate active and involved people in order to form together in community a society more sustainable and caring for the needs of people, nature and environment.
To insert in the youth linguistic and perceptive universe these values, it is necessary not only to work with your brain but also with your hands. And even with your soul, I might add.
The soul often expresses herself through the beauty of Arts: painting, sculpture , music, singing, acting, dancing, to which today join crafts, design, fashion, photography, graphics, video and cinema, and of course food and agriculture in the broadest sense of the term. Transforming these two historical and prestigious locations (Iuvarra and Procope) into places of elaboration and meeting of all these practical disciplines is the spirit in which I see the evolution of the process started by L. Murialdo mid-nineteenth century.

Alessandro Richard: We are experimenting with the Archdiocese of Turin a project of widespread university ministry and you are its coordinator along with Father Luca, head of the diocesan office. Why this project? Got to do something with the pedagogy of L. Murialdo?
Crossing some data, we realized that one inhabitant out of 10 in the city is a young student at the university. A huge asset, often not valued. That is why last year we started with the opening of an office at all Faculties that are present in the city, in order to have a space where we can meet the students and start a relationship in their everyday ‘place’. This year we have added new activities such as the project “To serve cum Laude”, which aims to place students in volunteer service in some of the many realities working on the ground. I carry a role of tutor for students at the Faculties and follow them throughout their journey as volunteers, meeting them several times during the academic year and also at the places where they carry out their work as volunteers.
During this period, we are also thinking of opening a Scout group that can accommodate the first university clan in the city of Turin. Obviously, particular care is reserved for that group of students who reside at the Artigianelli Boarding School.

Federico Civera: It is not that long ago that you are with us. You deal with finance and economics. Why a creative pedagogy today needs new thoughts about the economy of educational and social activities such as the ‘Murialdine’ ones?
My thinking goes this way: our country, our society is struggling with a severe economic crisis that forces us to think carefully about our future actions and our role in everyday life. Moreover, the commitment of the public sector vis-à-vis the socio-educational area is less and less. This involves having to rethink and restructure our activities in light of the new reality that surrounds us. In doing so, we can draw both from our creativity, our experience and our past (personal and as a community).
The crisis, in this sense, can be the engine of change and stimulation. And, looking at the history of the Artigianelli, it is natural to rethink in modern terms the “profit” economic activities in support of educational and social activities distinctive of these places.
Ervin Anselmo: Your function is to coordinate the projects of territorial educational service. This means that many charismatic planning concretizations towards the youths no longer take place in the traditional Institution, but in the territories. What, from your point of view, are the experiences you feel closer to the title: “for a pedagogy attentive to the signs of the times and creative in its responses?”
Territorial educational service unfolds on two levels: one containing the group dimension and another that takes more account of the individual. The peculiarity is to carry it out just outside the structures of the Institution, in the territory, understood as at ‘other’ facilities (juvenile prison, Cascina Roccafranca, Schools, Parks…).
The group dimension is especially experienced addressing those guys who live as their “home” those public places (parks, swimming pools, roads) and spend much time there. Then the objectives are written down according to the contemporary educational needs, responding to the strong demand to respect the other one who stands in front of you, and what we call “common good,” because in a society that rewards more individualism and materialism, often the youth need to understand that what the community provides is not just a right, but there is also a duty to keep it.
The individual dimension, on the other hand, responds to the need to support the educational paths of individual boys, but also to the request for support by the families themselves, which more and more today ask for help in assisting their children in their own life path.

Alessandro Mazza: The transformations of the Institution during the last years often made you change roles, sometimes with pain too. Do you think it’s worth it? If so, why? It’s just a matter of organization or is there more?
In recent years the Murialdo Turin Institution is deeply transforming, animated by the desire to make the charism present and effective in meeting the poor youth, and the new situations of poverty, in a socio-economic and also cultural context of great change.
I think you should also place in this horizon the changes that are required from the personnel in their roles and tasks and in which I was involved. You ask me if it’s worth it. Sure that it’s worth it ! It’s worth it if we remain, in fact, in this view, and not only in the organizational one as an end in itself for the sterile maintenance of the existing situation and acquired positions. It’s worth it just because there is more: a Congregation that remains immobile in a world that is changing profoundly and globally is destined to die slowly, it becomes sterile and above all would betray the charism for which it was born: service to the poor youth.
Then regrouping and asking for changes in role, although they may cause some discomfort, is consistent with the concern to be faithful to the heart of charism… “ne perdantur” that is the most current and evangelical challenge that there might be today. If we share the charism, if we are motivated by the same concern towards the poor youth… any “suffering” can be addressed and easily overcome.

Marco Di Tonno: For several years you have been one of the educative coordinators of Murialdo Community and now you take care of coordinating Dinamo Coop social enterprise. This change might not be read as a betrayal of your pedagogic and Murialdine vocation alongside disadvantaged youths?
I really hope not! Dinamo Coop social enterprise, among its various purposes, also aims to generate jobs, not only for youth but also for adults in economic and social difficulties. If we think that very often the adults in question are the parents of the disadvantages boys, it is like being however on their side. To reach this goal I try to model my job keeping the Murialdine pedagogical vocation of the previous years, trying to build as much as possible with my co-workers at Dinamo working relationships based also on the sharing of Murialdine style and vocation.

Alessio Barba: You are a young man who comes from a not easy story. For some time you are living at the Artigianelli Boarding School and spend many hours of your day working within one of our social enterprises. Do you feel accomplished at this stage of your life? What does it mean for you and your life plans to live at the Artigianelli today?
I’m a guy who comes from a family home, which has welcomed me since I was a year and a half old until our streets then divided and through social services I came at the Artigianelli Boarding School of Turin. Currently there are two years I have lived in this residence in which I was able to make different work experiences, as well as life ones. The most significant were in the Spes chocolate workshop (6 months) and the other one in which I’m still working at the Dinamo Coop multi-service cooperative. At this time I feel protected living at the Artigianelli Boarding School, but I am aware that the reality outside will be different than what I am now living here. At the Artigianelli I feel a bit like living in a Big Family, from which, however, I know that one day or another I will have to tear myself away. I hope soon to find a stable job and wish me to be independent. For me to live at the Artigianelli was a great opportunity. Beyond hospitality, I am grateful to you because I realize that being with you has also improved me as a person and I feel much more mature. In the future I hope to be able to continue to attend the Josephan reality and to have the opportunity to attend some important project that could make a change in my life.

Maybe this was not the contribution that I was asked for. Of course, the contribution will be too long. But ‘attention’ to the changing world and ‘creativity’ in fidelity to the charism needs many voices, a choir, a community, a united family. And in this sense too the words that the pedagogue Saint Leonard left us as a legacy, although not part of any essay, are very clear and strong!


Danilo Magni
con l’apporto di:
Alessandro Mazza, Alessandro Richard, Alessio Barba, Antonio Didonna
Christina Scarmato, Ervin Anselmo, Federico Civera, Marco De Magistri
Laura Orestano, Marco Di Tonno, Marco Muzzarelli,
Monica Mantelli, Adelio Cola, Agostino Cornale
Samuele Cortinovis, Paolo Bornengo.

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