The International Theological Congress “The Relation between Parish and School in the Life and Mission of the Church in the contemporary context”

The works of the International Theological Congress „The Relation between Parish and School in the Life and Mission of the Church in the contemporary context” have begun today, 19 October 2015, in Bucharest.

The works of the Congress have been officially opened at the National Centre for Continuing Education Dumitru Stăniloae by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, who delivered a message entitled Cooperation between Parish and School in the Context of Church Mission and of the Responsibility towards Future Generations:

“In the present context there is a need that theological schools should develop a dynamic and convincing perspective for the life of the Church, through the complementarity and the cooperation between witness and mission, between research and experience, between school and parish. Since “theologian is the one who prays and the one who prays is a theologian” (Evagrius of Pontus), true theology cannot be separated from the ecclesial experience, and that is because the purpose of theology is the research, confirmation and cultivation of the true communion of humans with God, in order to acquire salvation or eternal life. In this respect, as a science of theanthropic communion, true theology asserts that the proper space of this communion is the ecclesial community gathered in prayer and common action in the love of the Most Holy Trinity. For this reason, the strengthening of the relation between parish and school in the life and mission of the Church has a special relevance as far as religious education is concerned”.

The Romanian Orthodox Church supports the necessity of establishing partnerships between parishes and schools, and recommends the parents, teachers and priests to collaborate, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel also said.

“The parents of the pupils, the teachers of Religion and the parish priests must cooperate and follow the same objective: education and formation of children for life and society, but also for the Kingdom of God, i.e. to live within the family and the society with dignity, but also in the light of the eternal love of God”.

In the opening session of the International Theological Congress also participated: the Minister of Education, the President of the Romanian Academy and the Rector of the University of Bucharest.

Minister of Education Mr. Sorin Mihai Câmpeanu spoke about the collaboration between school and parish and appreciated the Project Choose the School! implemented by the Romanian Patriarchate:

School and parishes collaborate in the most diverse ways and we use this occasion to affirm these ways and appreciate their value: different situations of supporting families with different social problems, the support of pupils who find themselves in risk (poverty, school dropout, pupils who live alone having their parents abroad), the development of out-of-school programs in an informal context, the undertaking of classes and projects in School and Church partnerships. We especially appreciate, and I am very glad that it has been presented, the Project ‘Choose the School!’ consistently carried out for several years by the Romanian Patriarchate with European funding, as an example of best practice that deserves to be supported and continued for the benefit of pupils”.

Academician Mr. Ionel Valentin Vlad, the President of the Romanian Academy, emphasized the importance of the relation between priests and teachers: “I can underline the important accent of the relation between priests, school and teachers, in this process of forming the souls of young people, of some people who have to enter our society with faith, love and hope. It happens that this year, in parallel with the declaration of the solemn year of the parish and monastery mission (by the Romanian Patriarchate), the UN and UNESCO declared this year an International Year of Light so that we won’t forget that light has two aspects: a spiritual and a material one. Properly speaking, it is manifested through the light of the mind, of the eyes, of the soul and through the light of faith. These are the things that we have to teach and instruct our youth beginning from early school grades”.

The festive session of the Congress was closed by the address of Prof. Dr. Mircea Dumitru, the Rector of the University of Bucharest, who drew the attention to the necessity of keeping a balance between positivist sciences and the other components of human culture and civilization, among which are Theology and Philosophy: “Cultivating science and excluding the other major components of the European culture, the narrowing unto total elimination of the space of legitimate academic existence for the knowledge and understanding of human values, of the subjectivity of feelings, emotions or of esthetical taste, will impoverish and widow us of every access to the profound spirituality and to the multi-millenary tradition through which we are what we are and through which we have reached this point in history”.

The event is organized by the Theological and Educational Department of the Romanian Patriarchate, in collaboration with Patriarch Justinian Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Bucharest, and is taking place at the National Centre for Continuing Education Dumitru Stăniloae, from 18 to 21 October 2015.