In November 1950, Msgr. Frans op de Coul, at the time head of the Dutch Catholic Office for Teaching and Education, brought together representatives of Catholic educational organizations from six countries (England, Belgium, France, Italy and Netherlands) with a view to creating a Secretariat for Action and Liaison, to strengthen the union between the organizations and persons responsible for Catholic Education in the world.
The Holy See therefore encourages the greatest possible internationality.
Strengthened by this encouragement, a constituent general assembly was convened in Lucerne and voted on the constitutive act of the International Office for Catholic Education (OIEC). The signatories of the Lucerne Resolution were soon joined by: Lebanon, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Tanganyika, and Uruguay.
The OIEC (International Office for Catholic Education) were thus founded in Lucerne, Switzerland, on September 20, 1952.
The founders at that time have several concerns:
- A real global representativeness, through the effective membership of the greatest number of countries where Catholic Education is organized.
- Recognition by other I.C.O. (International Catholic Organizations) and active participation in their meetings.
- Recognition by the United Nations and their specialized services: UNESCO, ECOSOC, B.E.I., FAO, etc.
- Reinforcement of the internal structure of the Office itself.
In 1954, the Office became a member of the “Conférence des O.I.C. », then in 1955, member of the Continuous Committee of this Conference.
In 1956, the Holy See approved the statutes of the OIEC. Steps are immediately taken to obtain international public recognition.
On April 25, 1958, the OIEC became a member of UNESCO and the UN with consultative status.
In September 1958, Pope Pius XII received the leaders of the OIEC for a hearing and encouraged them in the work undertaken of coordination and animation within Catholic education worldwide.
At the end of the 1950s, contacts were established with the CIEC (Inter-American Confederation of Catholic Education). This collaboration with the CIEC led to the conclusion of a reciprocal recognition agreement, signed on January 28, 1960, in San José de Costa Rica. Thus, a large number of Latin American countries become members of the OIEC.
At the same time, contacts were established with some African countries thanks to Chan. Jos. Moerman, director of the BEC (Office of Catholic Education in the Belgian Congo) and in 1960 the General Assembly of the OIEC, meeting in Munich, created the African section.
In the Council of Europe, in 1965 the OIEC gained special consultative status as an international non-governmental organization.
In 1965 the declaration of the Second Vatican Council on Christian education “Gravissimum Educationis” strongly emphasizes the need to promote coordination and cooperation at the international level and recalls the words of Pope Paul VI in his address to the OIEC on February 25, 1964.
In June 1974, at the extraordinary general assembly in Rome, the statutes were modified and approved in accordance with the norms applicable after the Second Vatican Council. These statutes remain valid until 1994
That year, a new assembly in Rome modified and updated these statutes.
In 1998, the UNESCO accepted the OIEC as a member with the status of “formal consultative relations” and the UN with special consultative status.
In November 2015, the OIEC organizes in Rome one of the three Congresses of World Catholic Education “Educating today and tomorrow. A passion that is renewed”, promoted by the Dicastery of Catholic Education on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Gravissimum Educationis (Vatican II). The members of the OIEC Congress were received by the Pope in a Special Audience on November 21, 2015.
The OIEC has published a book entitled: 241 TESTIMONIALS. Educating today and tomorrow, coordinated by Br. Juan Antonio Ojeda.
In 2017, the OIEC launched the “I Can” Project in collaboration with the UISG-USG, the Design for Change movement, and the Dicastery for Catholic Education. This project empowers children and youngsters to change the world and meet the challenges of Laudato Si and the Sustainable Development Goals.
From June 5 to 8, 2019, the OIEC organizes a congress in New York at Fordham University (Lincoln Center Campus).
The theme of this Congress is inspired by the teaching of Pope Francis (Laudato Si’) and the commitments of the United Nations (Sustainable Development Goals):
“Educating in solidarity humanism to build a “civilization of love”. The Catholic schools around the world are committed. »
The opportunity to allow the Catholic schools of the world to meet at an international level in order to make commitments together towards the world. More than a hundred speakers from all continents presented experiences of educational engagement.
During this congress, the OIEC presents the book: “Schools with heart. The Catholic schools of the world educate in solidarity and sustainable humanism”.
From November 27 to 30, 2019, the “I can. Children Global Summit” was held in Rome. With more than 3500 children/young people from more than 43 countries, they have:
- shared their projects of change in their context.
- showed that Global Compact on Education is possible because they worked together, children/young people from different countries, cultures, religions, ethnicities, economic situation… They were received by Pope Francis on November 30.
In September 2021, the OIEC launches the Planet Fraternity project as an experiment of the I can project. In order to respond to the call of the Holy Father to seal a commitment to build a Global Educational Pact, the OIEC created a project allowing students and educational teams of the OIEC to create bonds of brotherhood by working together on issues of concern.
- In June 2022, the extraordinary General Assembly meets to update the statutes.
- In December of that same year, the OIEC celebrates its 70th anniversary at the OIEC Congress in Marseille.
- A new era begins for worldwide Catholic Education with:
- The wish of the Holy Father, via Global Compact on Education, for a revolution to be initiated in our educational approach.
- A new Dicastery (for Culture AND Education, with an inclusive “AND”).
- A new prefect in the person of Cardinal José Tolentino Mendonça.
- A New President of the OIEC with Father Jawad Alamat.
- A new Secretary General of the OIEC in the person of Hervé Lecomte.
- And a new Council.