The responsibility for Catholic religious education in the European Schools in Brussels was entrusted to the Society of Jesus and it is under the care of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, in collaboration with the Archdiocese and COMECE. Jesuits are engaged in providing continuous spiritual and pedagogical Ignatian formation to the teachers and collaborate in pastoral activities with students.

The vocation of the European Schools is to provide a multilingual and multicultural education to children in the nursery, primary and secondary cycles. This noble vocation has returned with a vengeance this September in the 6 establishments of the Brussels European Schools: Brussels I in Uccle and Berkendael, Brussels II in Woluwe and Evere, Brussels III in Ixelles, Brussels IV in Laeken. We, the Catholic religion teachers, have also relaunched our activities, now with Father Dalibor Renić, the new president of the Conference of European Jesuit Provincials.   We are a community Every year, the new school year for Catholic religion teachers in the European Schools of Brussels begins with a plenary assembly to which the teachers are invited to exchange ideas and plan joint activities.  The assembly took place in the Chapelle de l'Europe, the emblematic place where teachers' meetings and gatherings are usually held. We pray together The traditional back-to-school Mass on the first Saturday in October marked the start of the school year for the pupils of the Brussels European Schools, as well as for their parents, the first and foremost educators of their children's faith, whom we accompany in their responsibility to pass on the faith. This significant event took place at the Church of Notre Dame des Grâces du Chant d'Oiseau in Woluwé-Saint-Pierre, attracting more than 550 pupils of all ages and their parents. It was a celebration marked by dynamism and communion.  Forming together At the first meeting at the Foyer Catholique Européen on Tuesday 24 October, the teachers had the honour of meeting Father Dalibor Renić. This opportunity led to fruitful exchanges and enriching presentations, laying the foundations for a promising collaboration. Spirituality took on its full meaning at the first teachers' retreat of the year, held at the Benedictine nuns in Rixensart. From Saturday 18 to Sunday 19, sixteen teachers had the privilege of benefiting from Father Dalibor's teachings on the experience of God and prayer. The programme, balanced between teaching, personal meditation and group discussions, encouraged in-depth reflection. Eucharists together and vespers sung with the sisters helped to strengthen the spiritual bond. The convivial evening over a Belgian Trappist beer was an opportunity to draw up projects for the team and for the teaching of religion in the ES, sealing moments of sharing and conviviality between the teachers. Our work is a forest that grows without making a sound - according to Pope Francis, who uses this ecological comparison to highlight the sincere efforts of the people who, every day, devote themselves with honesty and dedication to the service of young people. This spiritual reopening promises a year rich in learning and exchange, in which faith and community will play a central role in the educational life of the European Schools in Brussels.
Piotr Marmuszewski is a Polish Jesuit who was sent to Brussels for his 2 year regency. He gives a personal testimonial of his life experience in the heart of Europe.  Living in Brussels and working in the European schools and in the Chapel for Europe offers the opportunity to broaden the view of the world and of Christianity. For a Jesuit regent with no previous extensive contacts with people of different faiths and cultures, this perspective becomes truly broad. The initial fears of lack of contacts and loneliness soon became nothing, and new international acquaintances and engagements filled much of the time. Mission at the chapel involves working with different Christian denominations and running groups for people seeking God and those wishing to have an intimate relationship with Him. Christians of different denominations praying together, learning from one another and sensitising their hearts to different approaches to the Creator is an indispensable part and great value of this experience. Initially it was a challenge to confront expectations about the number of people attending the prayer meetings. However, it quickly became apparent that although the numbers were not overwhelming, the quality and desire for God in those present have brought beautiful fruits of deepening faith, cooperation and new friendships. Working at the school is a return to what is familiar and yet also new, because in a completely different context from the rural school in southern Poland. European schools are places where pupils from all EU countries, at least one of whose parents works in the European institutions, learn. In order to respect the cultural diversity of the pupils and at the same time enable them to relate to one another, there is a strong emphasis on language learning and mutual respect. Each school has language sections that allow pupils to communicate in their mother tongue, but over time more and more subjects are in other languages of the pupil's choice. The languages of administration are English and French so there is the greatest emphasis on them. European schools are known for their high standards of inclusivity and cultural and religious diversity, so pupils have the opportunity to choose courses that correspond to their chosen religious convictions. Teaching Catholic religion in secondary and primary schools, I can observe first-hand the increasing secularisation of pupils and their parents. Although the majority of pupils are baptised, only a few individuals are still practising. The task one necessarily faces is to convey to pupils Christian anthropology, the beauty of the Catholic faith and the immense mercy of a God who loves and seeks every person. A positive aspect of the teaching is the opportunity to observe the development of pupils who are able to be sincere, open and respectful towards every human being. It is also noteworthy that there are also pupils who get involved in the extracurricular activities of the MAGIS group, which has been opened to secondary school pupils who want to do something more for themselves and others. It is also very rewarding to be in contact with other teachers and to cooperate in organising trips and retreats for students and teachers. Looking back on my year and a half in Brussels, I have to say that working for the people in the schools and the chapel has brought great satisfaction and a lot of joy. A positive aspect of this time and a great blessing has also been the collaboration with other Jesuits from the St Benedict's community. They are the ones who are supportive in the more difficult moments and provide help whenever needed. On the horizon are the final months of the regency, which will be mostly filled with work with small groups of people who want to live in an intimate relationship with Christ. Work of a pastoral nature always requires some effort and stepping out of one's comfort zone, but in places like Brussels it is especially required and extremely rewarding. That is why I am already looking forward to more prayer meetings, retreats and all that the Lord has prepared for us for this final time here.
On 1 September 2021, Ms Annie Thumelaire (right on the picture) will take over from Ms Ulrike Neugebauer (left on the picture) as the person responsible for religion classes in the five European Schools in Brussels. She will do this as part of the responsibility for European pastoral care entrusted to the Jesuit Conference of Europe by the Archdiocese of Brussels. The president of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, Franck Janin S.J. expresses his gratitude: "For nine years, Mrs Neugebauer has carried out this task with passion, competence and unwavering determination to ensure that religion classes retain their rightful place in the European schools. I would like to thank her very much for this. I wish Mrs Thumelaire all the energy and grace she needs to accomplish her task."  Ms. Thumelaire in the first person  I was born in Ath in 1967, the mother of three grown boys. After studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels and, at the same time, Catechetical Sciences at the Lumen Vitae Institute of the Society of Jesus in Brussels (where I met my husband!), I began my career as a religion teacher 33 years ago.  Teaching religion has always been and remains a driving force in my life.  My favourite hobbies are music, which I have been practising since I was a child, reading, travelling and cooking. Speaking of music, Johann Sebastian Bach represents the musical genius in my eyes, although it is Dvořák's cello concerto that always provokes great emotion in me.  As a teenager, I discovered the figure of Saint Francis on a trip to Assisi. The artistic and natural side of his spirituality is certainly not foreign to the fascination he exerted on my spiritual journey. Nevertheless, today I would say that it is above all Teresa of Avila who guides and inspires me through her writings, her journey, and above all her character. I love it when she addresses her sisters and writes in The Book of the Foundations: "...understand that the Lord is in the middle of the pots...". Her formula makes me smile, but expresses so well the presence of Christ in our daily lives.  Among the many challenges I face as coordinator of the Catholic religion courses in the European Schools in Brussels, I would like to highlight two: on the one hand, the importance of making the religion course relevant by providing excellent teaching and, on the other hand, the need to pay particular attention to building a solid team of competent, supportive, invested and committed teachers. I dream of a religion class that is a space where teachers and students find meaning, where everyone feels concerned, included, listened to, trusted and can experience God's tenderness. In my opinion, Ignatian pedagogy, as I know it, is an exemplary reference for moving towards this goal.