ARGENTINA, Mar del Plata, Fr. Santiago Arriola •
My name is Santiago Arriola, I am 38 years old, a priest of the Diocese of Mar del Plata and I belong to the Schoenstatt Priests’ Federation. I am the pastor at Padre Pio de Pietrelcina Parish, located in the south of the city. In February 2021, we had the opportunity to accompany the program “Beach and Sea School” from the Pastoral of Surf along with Scholas Occurrentes. —
It was an unforgettable experience for young and old, for students and teachers. We were all surprised as we dove deeper into this special experience of being and doing school.
A few meters from the beach
The school took place from Monday to Friday mornings in a chapel in the Acantilados neighborhood in the south of the city of Mar del Plata, just a few meters from the beach. The main activity was surfing, but we also created community murals and flew homemade kites. In each of these activities we opened our hearts, shared impressions, expressed emotions and discovered together what was created among us, through us and beyond us.
We worked with groups of ten young people per week, between 13 and 17 years old, from different neighborhoods on the outskirts of our city. The exchange between them and the sense of community that developed among them all was one of the great riches of this experience.
The pedagogical richness of Scholas
It has been a great pleasure to spend this month with each one of the young people and with the team we have put together to run the school. Scholas has an enormous pedagogical richness for our time. In this sense, I also discovered many connections with the pedagogical experience and wisdom of Father Kentenich and the richness of Schoenstatt. For example, the pedagogy of trust and freedom, the pedagogical fruitfulness of attachments, symbols and art, the certainty of the goodness of man and the determined commitment to the immense richness of possibilities that is in the heart of each person, especially in the youth, and much more.
The sea, the waves, the board
For the surf pastoral it was a great gift to accompany this school, because for us surfing is like a parable for life and faith. Surfing is a pastoral space where we encounter Jesus and in this encounter we learn to grow as persons, as believers and in communities.
The sea speaks to us of the immensity of God, of his unfathomable love in which we are invited to immerse ourselves more and more, and also of his mystery and transcendence with which he always escapes us and surpasses us on all sides. The waves express the life of grace on which we learn to climb up to be carried away. The board, the balance in life, the organic way of living everyday life. Nature, the ecological dimension of our human spirituality.
I hope and pray that the “School of Sea and Beach” was the beautiful and providential beginning of a continued work with Scholas Occurrentes and for the joy of many youth and adults and for the joy of the Lord who is alive and wants us to be alive and to share and proclaim the Gospel. This occurs in a thousand different ways and in the infinite creativity of the Spirit for this time and this world in which we live today and which we are called to shape.
Original: Spanish. Translation: Lindsay Burger, Ohio, USA