Monsignor Del Monte once said:
“Why opening Istituto Santachiara? Just to connect the redeeming mission of the Church with reality, in a sector of modern life and at the heart of a real and alive issue. The Church has this right. We want to declare that the Church has this duty.
In 30 years’ time, when this issue will perhaps be overcome, they will say: ‘there was once a time when the young’s transition from the home to the workplace was worrisome. However, the Church intervened with courage and balance to help create forward-looking and common-sense solutions’.
That is why Santachiara was born.”
Istituto Santachiara’s begins in 1952 when Monsignor Aldo del Monte and a group of laypeople linked to the experience of Azione Cattolica, Catholic Action, meet the needs of the post-war youth.
After the war, young people start leaving their poor mountain villages to find jobs in the cities of the flatland. Often, they do not have any education or training. This situation is particularly problematic for women, who step in the city and into the job market for the very first time.
This issue is strongly felt in the Diocese of Tortona as its territory is characterized by a mix of hills and flatland and is located in a strategic position to reach the cities of Turin, Milan and Genoa.
Meanwhile, Don Aldo Del Monte comes back to the Diocese after his experience as a military chaplain in Russia. In Tortona, he takes care of the activities of Azione Cattolica Femminile, women’s group of Catholic Action. Through this experience, he comes in contact with the problems of local women and girls.
At the beginning of the ‘50s, Mons. Aldo del Monte finds out about Istituzione Norma Bracco in Voghera. The school offers seamstress courses and other training and education opportunities for women. Sadly, the school is in a financial crisis. With the contribution of Monsignor Del Monte, the Diocese decides to acquire the school and changes its name to Istituto Santachiara.
After the first branch in Voghera (1952), more schools are created in Stradella (1954) and Tortona (1957). An employment guidance centre is added to the Voghera branch in 1958. In the same year, Istituto Santachiara joins Opera Diocesana Preservazione della Fede, Diocesan Institution for the Preservation of Faith, the institution that takes care of the volunteering, cultural and educational initiatives of the Diocese.
Over the following years, the premises of the schools are expanded, the training and education offer evolves, O.D.P.F. Istituto Santachiara is officially recognized by the Ministry of Education, the school opens to both genders, the relations with local actors increase.
Today, O.D.P.F. Istituto Santachiara is a modern centre accredited by the Ministry of Education, Lombardy Region, Piedmont Region, and City of Tortona for its training, education and employment services. At the same time, the institute does not forget its original objectives: offering the young adequate and modern professional perspectives while contributing to their moral and spiritual growth.