The session, held in Madrid on May 9th, started with the words of Loreto Ballester, representative of the Teresian Association in the Chair, who introduced the speaker, professor at the Catholic University of San Vicente Mártir in Valencia, highlighting her professional career and her concern for the decisive role of teachers in education.
After expressing her gratitude for this opportunity, Maria Dolores Valencia began her presentation by mentioning the crisis of humanity we are witnessing that seems to have left the human being without references. A humanity that, according to her, “was revealed to Father Poveda” who knew how to unravel it through the Christian anthropology.
For the speaker, this premise can only be understood from the personal experience of Poveda, “that existence in which it was revealed to him what the human being is” based on his deep faith, the contacts he had with the poverty of his time, his constant interest in the dialogue between religion and science, and his struggles and trials, in which reason, passion and commitment were intertwined.
For Poveda, humanity is built within the human being with a dynamism that is transforming it. It is about “true humanism,” “the human dimension is being discovered as a person in the light of God, it is a horizon where we feel embedded”.
The formation of character is of great importance in the formation of the human being in the real and concrete situations of life. According to the speaker, this is “the plus of reality of Poveda, a plus that happens in the life of those who, in the ordinary, are able to see more”.
Maria Dolores Valencia summarized the anthropological dimensions that, in her opinion, are present in the pedagogical reflection of Poveda:
- The person is defined by what he/she is called to be: having a vocation is the essence of life. In the words of Poveda: “nothing will work without a vocation” –an idea based on the conviction that the person can always become more.
- The human being experiences a need for communication and relations: a need that, according to Professor Valencia, is forging the identity since the person has the ability to be permeable to the life of others and, at the same time, to participate in their journey. Thus, the “encounter between people” should be fostered as another sign of humanism.
- Goodness and wellbeing are conditions of freedom and moral conscience. According to the speaker, “it's about being aware of the human dimension as being actor and part of it, being critical in goodness.”
- The projective attitude in life (always looking forward) and the importance of interiority, learning to enter into one's inner life: “Capacity for work, initiative and collaboration.” As Poveda would say: “In doing is how we move forward”; to plan is not an obstacle for doing.
To conclude her talk and as a synthesis, Maria Dolores Valencia mentioned the idea of character as the destiny of the human person. Quoting Heraclitus, she said: “the character is for the human being his/her destiny.” According to the unique way of being, each person will live his/her existence in a given way or a different one. “Despite the genetic inheritance, the human being is able to choose his/her own character, which is an unmistakable sign of freedom.”
The teacher's final mission is the education of the students' character, the core of their personality which will make them different and unique.
Chair of Pedro Poveda
It started nineteen years ago thanks to the collaboration agreement reached by the Pontifical University of Salamanca and the Teresian Association. Through the organization of different activities, including courses, conferences and publications, the Chair intends to make known the figure of St. Pedro Poveda, as well as the two main pillars that sustained his life and his thought: the priestly ministry of the Church and the dialogue between faith and culture.
Text: Ana de Luis Gutiérrez, Madrid.
Translation: C. Zabalegui and R. Cameron.