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My connection with Together for the Common Good (T4CG) goes back more than seven years. I met Jenny Sinclair (nee Sheppard) in 2010, having just completed my theological dissertation on the Sheppard-Worlock partnership and Liverpool Hope University, the only ecumenical university in Europe. I had taken time mid-career to pursue my interest in ecumenism, and her mother, Lady Grace Sheppard, had been very helpful to me during my research.
Jenny and I became friends and continued to correspond through the time she and others were founding T4CG two years later. I am a Primary School Teacher in Modena, Italy, and during this period I was elected to represent the Modenese branch of AIMC (Associazione Italiana Maestri Cattolici – Italian Association of Catholic Teachers).
I shared my enthusiasm about the Liverpool story of ecumenism and social justice with my Italian teacher colleagues. I told them about T4CG and their commitment to building the Common Good and we were really happy when Jenny agreed to visit us and lead a weekend conference we organised in the Republic of San Marino. Entitled “Educating for the Common Good in School in a European Perspective”, the conference was attended by teachers from different Italian regions and honoured by the visit of Bishop Andrea Turazzi.
This experience touched all our hearts and my colleagues came to share my enthusiasm for the approach promoted by Together for the Common Good. We were full of ideas about activities we could do together to raise awareness of the Common Good in our schools, prompted by T4CG’s draft Common Good Schools toolkit which we had translated. As we were keen to share our projects with British teachers, Jenny organised a small conference in Liverpool in early July 2017, where we met with Peter Bull, Head of RE at Alsop High School. With him and his colleagues, we exchanged ideas and heard about their work with T4CG. Peter gave us a special memento, a red candle in the form of people holding hands: we now call it ‘the Liverpool Candle”.
We heard from Peter and Jenny about the award-winning schools-community initiatives in Liverpool: Hope 2016 and its follow-up Faith 2017: working together for the common good (also award-winning) and the transformational effect these had on school culture and relations with the community. The experience was so rich and exciting that my colleagues decided to step up their efforts in Italy and start an Italian Blog on the Common Good to share news of our activities.
This year we will take forward a project entitled “Together 2018: Together in School; In the Family; In Society; In Faith”. We plan to keep in touch with our Liverpool counterparts, as well as extending our invitation to our Italian colleagues, Local Authorities, Associations, Schools and Cultural Organisations to build “The Common Good” TOGETHER. Institutions involved include: Italian Catholic Association, The Ecclesial Movement Of Cultural Commitment (MEIC), Focolare Movement, Cospes – GGD Terralba ONLUS; the Cultural Association Of The Arborea Municipal Library – ONLUS; Cultural Centre Service U.N.L.A. Oristano; National Union For The Fight Against Illiteracy; and the Italian Association Of Catholic Teachers (AIMC). We will share stories about this on our blog.
One of our activities will see the Liverpool Candle going on tour to schools across Italy, serving as a catalyst to illuminate the “Common Good” in the minds and hearts of people and encourage them to live “Together” with others. The candle will be accompanied by a notebook in which a record of each stop on the tour will be kept, including the most meaningful phrases that emerge. The results will be shared on social media.
We are inviting teachers across Italy to book a candle stop, or to join in by sending us stories of their “Common Good” projects which we will share on our blog – everyone is warmly invited to visit and comment.
So our shared work continues - All Together for the Common Good!
AIMC President of the Province of Modena, Emilia Romagna