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Rome Reports

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“Fe y Alegría:” a Jesuit initiative promoting social integration for more than 60 years

Nathia Maldonado is from Ecuador and came to Italy at the age of 16. She struggled to integrate into the country until she discovered “Fe y Alegría.” This Jesuit institution is dedicated to teaching the most needy and immigrants. There Nathia found a family environment that helped her to obtain the qualifications required for the Italian school and to study nursing.

This is the key to “Fe y Alegría.” It provides an environment that helps the most vulnerable to gain confidence to integrate. In Italy, one of its strong points is promoting the integration of Latino immigrants.

Fe y Alegría

“Contrary to the culture of exclusion that we live in today, in 'Fe y Alegría' we are made to include everyone and our slogan is: Education for all everywhere.”

The institution was born in 1955. It was founded by the Jesuit José María Velaz in Venezuela. It is now in 22 countries and over the past decades it has helped train 1.5 million people. 

Its model is horizontal. This is because the same program is not taught in all countries. Instead it offers what is needed in each country from an educational point of view. It is the locals themselves who say what they want to learn.

On June 17, the pope met with those in charge of the organization to learn about its projects and priorities.

“The flower of all gardens, Berzosa.”

“Here I am again.”

He then sent them a video message.

“The protagonists of 'Fe y Alegría' is not its organizers. The protagonists of 'Fe y Alegría' is also not the person in charge of each place. Instead, the protagonists are everyone.”

Fe y Alegría

"He has insisted that Fe y Alegría should not be governed. We have to channel the strength, the initiative and the conscience to the youth themselves. I believe this is the spirit of our movement.”

“We bring a red chair which is the symbol we are using to defend the right to quality of education for everyone.”

As a Jesuit, Pope Francis knows well the expansion of this project which includes the collaboration of more than 140 religious congregations. It is an ambitious project centered on the idea that integration depends to a great extent on education.