(IUS, Vatican) – In a key moment for higher education, Catholic universities are seeking to strengthen their pastoral care programs with new methods and a restored focus on the cultural challenges of today. This led to a significant meeting in Rome on the noon of November 22, 2023, organized by the Dicastery for Culture and Education of the Holy See, that brought together Catholic University network coordinators and authorities responsible for university pastoral to strengthen cooperation as well as create opportunities for dialogue concerning Catholic education.
Participating networks included the International Federation of Catholic Universities (FIUC), ACCU (USA), ACCUC (Canada), ACUHIAM (Africa and Madagscar), ACUP (Philippines), ASEACCU (South-East Asia), FUCE (Europe), ODUCAL (South America), XBHEI (India), IAJU (Jesuit network), Studium.OP (Domenican network), Regnum Christi network.
Fr. Oscar Lozano General Coordinator of the Salesian Institutions of Higher Education (IUS) network who took part in the event also highlighted key points addressing how Salesians are managing the field of Catholic higher education
“Time for Listening” focused on sharing experiences from network coordinators on certain issues that are considered crucial for Catholic universities today. Among the key issues discussed were challenges faced by universities demographically, culturally, economically, and technologically. The relationship of universities with the local Church was also considered important in which the Salesian Network expressed that institutions seek to meet the needs of the churches and offer charismatic contributions.
The IUS network also expressed its expectations regarding the beginning of the new Dicastery for Culture and Education, which resulted from the decision taken by His Holiness Pope Francis with the Praedicate evangelium Apostolic Constitution of 2019 to combine culture and education. The IUS expressed the new dicastery as being a space for sharing, listening and planning of the educational work of the Church concerning culture and society, especially that referring to universities and higher Education.
Regarding Pastoral Care, the IUS shared its document “Orientations for Campus Ministry In Salesian Institutions Of Higher Educations” approved at the VIII World Assembly (2022) as a step toward proposing a Salesian model of university pastoral care.
This international gathering served as a platform for reflection on the challenges facing Catholic universities and highlighted the importance of collaboration, dialogue, and shared initiatives to address the evolving needs of higher education in today’s complex global context.