True Education





A desperate dad asks me: “Help me to find my son. It is already a week that I haven’t seen him; hopefully your street social operators or the street children themselves may recognize him. This is his photo.” I look at the photo of a 17 year-old boy, dressed fashionably, while I allow the father to calm down and tell his story. He, the father, came from a poor childhood and adolescence. He first attended the mission in his rural area and now, in the city parish here at Nairobi. He grew up with the solid values of the African tradition that he, eventually, corrected and improved with the values he learned at the mission. When he was 20, he started a small vegetables and fruits trading business. Because of his hard work and self-sacrifices, he is now managing two shops in well-to-do areas. 

He got married and has moved to a small house with a garden, almost a villa. But he never had time for his son who, in a week’s time, had robbed him of all the money he could find in the house, and then took off leaving a note saying not to look for him because he has decided to go his own way. “Now,” the father tells me, “I realize that I do not know my son. I don’t know his friends, I don’t know whom he spends his free time with. Because of this, I have no idea where to look for him. I had put him in a good boarding school; when he asked for money, I used to give him what I thought was reasonable. But when I did some accounting, I realized that, in the last month alone, I had given him more than the salary of one of my shop assistants… Maybe I was buying his affection with money; even then, he ran away from home…”


The need of role models

The father in question looks like a dad of a rich country in the Western society, giving vent to his frustration. These things, however, are now happening also in Nairobi. The education and formation, according to the traditional culture in order to face life’s responsibilities, are no longer put into practice. The adults, especially the well-to-do’s, are losing contact with their children. They now leave their children’s education and formation to schools, thinking that, in this way, they will be problem-free – not realizing that a sound parents-children relationship of respect and affection is irreplaceable.

The dad in question has done a very clear, lucid analysis of why his son has gone away. Other parents, however, in moments of crisis, choose to put all the blame on the children or on society when they become unteachable; on the mass media, on television and its pervasive presence every moment of our life. Few are those who reflect about their own educational responsibilities. Boys need role models and if they do not find them in the family, they will look for them somewhere else with no guarantee that they will find the right ones. The new role models, in terms of the African middle class, are the “heroes” of the “Big Brother,” the successful pop singers whose lives are in a mess, the footballers who boast of having had more than six hundred women in the last six months.


An anguishing personal option

What can we do, as Church, to face this situation? To give hope and help the desperate parents when such catastrophe happens is an act of charity but, certainly, it doesn’t solve the problem. The Church, represented by active Christian communities, does evangelization, catechesis, preaching, and all ways of Christian formation. The Church points at Jesus, His example, His word as guides to grow as balanced human beings and towards holiness. The Church teaches that true progress is manifest in a person’s total growth. While science and economy are important factors of growth, as far as individual persons are concerned, without an adequate moral and spiritual growth, people can spin out of control and thus the said growth factors can become negative. 

The formation of a person is most essential for the growth of society. Benedict XVI said, speaking to a group of educators in Rome: “The difficulties in the education of the youth are the other side of the coin of that great and precious gift which is our freedom, with the responsibility that rightly goes with it. As opposed to what happens in the technical or financial fields, where today’s advances can be added to those of the past, no similar accumulation is possible in the area of people’s formation and moral growth, because the person’s freedom is ever new. As a result, each person and each generation must make his own decision anew, alone. Not even the greatest values of the past can be simply inherited; they must be claimed by us and renewed through an often anguishing personal option.”


Formation of the heart and spirit

We teach the youth the know-hows: how to build and use new machines and more advanced computers, how to make use of preservatives, how to manage a business enterprise, but without the moral values to guide them in applying these know-hows, we shouldn’t be surprised if these result to wars, AIDS epidemics and the collapse of the world market. Where egoism, personal interests dominate the Supreme, a person will not flourish in spite of his/her potentials.

In other words, while we need the formation of the mind, we also need the formation of the heart and spirit. We must give the youth those moral values that, in a unique way, show how to use technical progress correctly.

We must form human beings capable of great ideals, capable of forgiveness and reconciliation. Dear dad, let us start together to recognize our mistakes; let us admit our blunders. Be ready to accept and forgive your son when you find him. It’s never too late to start walking along with him this time. 


Share Your Thoughts

All comments are moderated

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage


Presents, discusses and draws readers to reflect on issues of outmost relevance to the world today.


Very often, mission is carried out in frontier situations around the world. Those who embrace these situations have much to share.


Writer Ilsa Reyes will be exploring the richness of Pope Francis’s latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti with a view of helping our readers to get a grasp of the this beautiful papal document.


Puts to the front committed and inspiring people around the world who embrace humanitarian and religious causes with altruism and passion.


Focus on a given theme of interest touching upon social, economic and religious issues.


As the Philippines prepares to celebrate 500 years of the arrival of Christianity. Fr. James Kroeger leads us in this series into a discovery journey of the landmark events in the history of faith in the Philippine archipelago.


Aims to nurture and inspire our hearts and minds while pondering upon timely themes.


The large archipelago of the Philippines, in its richness of peoples and cultures, offers varied and challenging situations for mission.


Reflections and vocation stories that shape up the lives of young people.


As humor and goodness of heart are qualities of Christian and missionary life, the new column “Mission is fun” will be publishing some anecdotes and stories that have happened in a missionary context to lighten up the spirits and trigger a smile in our faces.


To help readers of World Mission live this year dedicated to Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, Tita Puangco, writer and lecturer, shares in this section insights on the spirituality of communion.


A historic view of the Catholic movements that emerged from the grassroots as an inspiration by the Holy Spirit.


On the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, radio host and communicator Ilsa Reyes, in her monthly column, encourages Christians and people of good will to be one with their fellow people of other sects, religions and tribes.


Questions to a personality of the Church or secular world on matters of interest that touch upon the lives of people.


News from the Church, the missionary world and environment that inform and form the consciences.


A feature on environmental issues that are affecting the whole world with the view of raising awareness and prompting action.


The editor gives his personal take on a given topic related to the life of the Church, the society or the world.


A monthly column on themes touching the lives of young people in the Year of the Youth in the Philippines by radio host and communicator I lsa Reyes.


A missionary living in the Chinese world shares his life-experiences made up of challenges and joyous encounters with common people.


Life stories of people who deserve to be known for who they were, what they did and what they stood for in their journey on earth.


Stories of people whom a missionary met in his life and who were touched by Jesus in mysterious ways.


Critical reflection from a Christian perspective on current issues.


Comboni missionary Fr. Lorenzo Carraro makes a journey through history pinpointing landmark events that changed the course of humanity.


A biographical sketch of a public person, known for his/her influence in the society and in the Church, showing an exemplary commitment to the service of others.


Gives fresh, truthful, and comprehensive information on issues that are of concern to all.


A column aimed at helping the readers live their Christian mission by focusing on what is essential in life and what it entails.


Peoples, events, religion, culture and the society of Asia in focus.


The human heart always searches for greatness in God’s eyes, treading the path to the fullness of life - no matter what it takes.


The subcontinent of India with its richness and variety of cultures and religions is given center stage.


The African continent in focus where Christianity is growing the fastest in the world.


Well-known writer and public speaker, Fr. Jerry Orbos, accompanies our journey of life and faith with moments of wit and inspiration based on the biblical and human wisdom.


On the year dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyala, Fr. Lorenzo Carraro walks us through the main themes of the Ignatian spirituality.


Fr. John Taneburgo helps us to meditate every month on each of the Seven Last Words that Jesus uttered from the cross.


In this section, Fr. Lorenzo delves into the secrets and depths of the Sacred Scriptures opening for us the treasures of the Sacred Book so that the reader may delight in the knowledge of the Word of God.


Reflections about the synodal journey on a conversational and informal style to trigger reflection and sharing about the synodal path the Church has embarked upon.

Shopping Cart