Thursday, May 29, 2014

Inauguration of the School of Saint Damien of Molokai
The New and Old SS.CC. School in Valparaíso

 English / Español

By Sergio Pérez de Arce, religious consultant of the school / asesor religioso del colegio

The past May 7, the formal inauguration of the School of St. Damien of Molokai in Valparaíso took place, a significant event in the SS.CC. Brothers Province of Chile, because to our three private schools which serve highly-paid sectors is added our presence in a poor section.

But, in truth, the School of St. Damien is not new.  It has existed since July of 1837, as a free school accompanying the SS.CC. School in Valparaíso, opened only 2 months previously.  This free school remained under the wing of the Congregation until 1975.  I believe that there was not much interest in this mission of the Province and in that year the school was given to an Educational Corporation not dependent on the Province, which had been created by Fr. Gregorio Sánchez

Now, as of 2013, the Province has re-acquired the school, making good use of the property and the work that was ours, and concretizing a longing that had for many years been expressed among the Brothers:  to have a more permanent educational presence in the vulnerable sectors, which allows us to carry on the educational tradition of the Province, not only in affluent areas.

To resume as a school, we also took a small secondary high school that had been created by the Corporation of Fr. Gregorio; both establishments were merged into a single new school.  Investments were made to improve the infrastructure, which was quite shabby.  All of this creating a canonical person, Educational Foundation of the School of St. Damien of Molokai, led by the Management Team of the Sacred Hearts School, and relying mostly on continuity of the staff of the fused schools.

The school has almost 500 students, with 14 classes from pre-kindergarten to 4th year of high school.  About 35 teachers and support staff comprise the personnel.  It receives a subsidy from the state, so that only very small percentage (15%) of the families makes some financial contribution.  The rate of vulnerability measured by a government body is above 80% which shows that the school is working with mostly poor families.  The families are mostly from the hills of Valparaíso; 34 of them (43 students) suffered the loss of their homes during the recent fires that affected the city.  Among these students, there are about 25 that live in the Hogares del Patronato de los SS.CC., an entity dependent on the Congregation which supports and accompanies 6 children's homes.

This simple but significant new presence of the Province in the educational field expects to consolidate itself little by little.  St. Damien of Molokai inspires and accompanies us, continues to invite us to go to the little ones, and to stand at his side, with the joy given us by the Sacred Hearts.

Inaugurado Colegio San Damián de Molokai

El pasado 7 de mayo, se inauguró formalmente el Colegio San Damián de Molokai de Valparaíso, un acontecimiento significativo en la Provincia Chilena SSCC de los hermanos, porque a sus tres colegios particulares pagados que atienden a sectores medios altos, suma esta presencia educacional en sectores pobres.

Pero el Colegio San Damián de Molokai en verdad no es nuevo. Existe nada menos desde julio de 1837, como aquella escuela gratuita que acompañó la apertura del Colegio SSCC de Valparaíso, inaugurado solo dos meses antes. Esa escuela gratuita permaneció al alero de la Congregación hasta 1975, creo que no con mucha relevancia en la misión de la Provincia, entregándose a ese año a una Corporación Educacional no dependiente de la Provincia y que había creado el P. Gregorio Sánchez

Ahora, a contar del 2013, la Provincia ha recuperado el sostenimiento del Colegio, aprovechando que la propiedad en que funcionaba era nuestra y concretizando un anhelo que se venía expresando hace años entre los hermanos: tener una presencia educacional más permanente en sectores vulnerables, que permitiera entregar la tradición educativa de la Provincia no solo en sectores acomodados.

Al reasumirse la escuela, se asumió también un pequeño liceo secundario que tenía la Corporación creada por el P. Gregorio, se fusionaron ambos establecimientos en un único y nuevo colegio, y se hicieron inversiones para mejorar la infraestructura, que estaba bastante deteriorada. Todo esto, creando la figura canónica Fundación Educacional Colegio San Damián de Molokai, conducida por el Equipo de Gestión de los Colegios SS.CC., y contando mayoritariamente con la continuidad del personal que tenían los colegios fusionados.

 El Colegio tiene casi 500 alumnos, con catorce cursos desde Pre-Kinder a IVº Medio. Unos 35 profesores y personal auxiliar componen el personal. Recibe subvención del Estado, de manera que solo un porcentaje muy menor (15%) de las familias paga alguna contribución económica. La tasa de vulnerabilidad medida por una instancia gubernamental está por sobre el 80 %, lo que muestra que se trabaja con familias mayoritariamente pobres. Son familias principalmente de los cerros de Valparaíso, 34 de las cuales (43 alumnos) sufrieron la pérdida de sus viviendas en el reciente incendio que afectó a la ciudad. Entre sus alumnos, hay también unos 25 que viven en los Hogares del Patronato de los SS.CC., entidad dependiente de la Congregación que sostiene y acompaña 6 hogares de menores.

Esta sencilla pero significativa nueva presencia de la Provincia en el ámbito educacional, espera ir consolidándose poco a poco. Nos inspira y acompaña San Damián de Molokai, quien nos sigue invitando a ir hacia los más pequeños y permanecer a su lado, con la alegría que nos dan los Sagrados Corazones.


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