Departemento Ecuménico de Investigaciones

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Official name Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones
Country / Continent Costa Rica / South America
Director of the institute PO Box: 390-2070 Sabanilla, San José, Costa Ricastreet address:

De la Iglesia 200 metros Oeste, 50 Norte[from the Church 200 meters to the west, 50 north]Sabanilla de Montes Oca, San Jose, Costa Rica

Legal holder of the institute Mr. Eric Chaves, president of the DEI management
Sponsor of the institute DEI is a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Year of foundation 1977
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) Five people work in administration, five researchers/professors, two scholarship holders and a volunteer.
Staff members of your institute A diocesan priest (incarnated in the Archdiocese of San José, Costa Rica), a nun and seven lay people.
Contact Apdo. 390-2070 Sabanilla, San José, Costa Rica

Dirección física: De la Iglesia 200 metros Oeste, 50 Norte

Sabanilla de Montes Oca, San José, Costa Rica


Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones

Director of the institute

PO Box: 390-2070 Sabanilla, San José, Costa Ricastreet address:

De la Iglesia 200 metros Oeste, 50 Norte[from the Church 200 meters to the west, 50 north]Sabanilla de Montes Oca, San Jose, Costa Rica

Legal holder of the institute

Mr. Eric Chaves, president of the DEI management

DEI is a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Vision / mission statement

Ecumenical Institute in the service of a liberating education and in the spirit of a liberating theology, which accompanies the ecclesiastical basis communities and citizens' movements with a dimension of gender, cultural and generational issues. We are looking for the hope of building and strengthening an alternative society, which is built on solidarity and justice to serve to the majority of the poor and excluded.

Main areas of work

Education, research, publications.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

The recipients generally work in parishes and citizens' movements, in ecumenical and academic institutions. The addressees in the church are: priests, pastors, religious, and mostly lay people. Our approach is ecumenical, as Catholic Church we are in direct contact with about 25 dioceses in Latin America.

Year of foundation


Organisational structure of the institute

A director, a team of researchers (at present we are eight, but two work only temporarily), work teams and committees.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

Five people work in administration, five researchers/professors, two scholarship holders and a volunteer.

Staff members of your institute[2]

A diocesan priest (incarnated in the Archdiocese of San José, Costa Rica), a nun and seven lay people.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

A university professor, four doctors of theology (bible), two doctors of economy in the DEI, responsible for formation and research. Three temporary students.

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

Our basic option is the "preferred option for the poor." This basic-option implies other special pastoral options: in basic communities in church; with committed Christians in citizens' movements (youths, women, indigenous people, afro-descending, migrants, etc ...); with pastoral care workers who work in areas of poor and marginalized.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

Evangelization, ecumenism, leadership training and critical awareness-raising, research.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

Contribute to the training of persons who can accomplish what has been described in the last point.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

Our Pastoral Care classes are:

National Seminar on Ecumenical Lectura Popular of the Bible (one week, especially for Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama, with about 40 pastoral workers).Social, theological and pastoral workshops (two months, interdisciplinary training of pastoral workers and Christian leaders of civil movements with an average of 35 people from across Latin America and the Caribbean).

Intensive Seminar on the Lectura Popular of the Bible (one month, specialized training of trainers in the biblical pastoral ministry in each country (with an average of 35 people from across Latin America and the Caribbean, the level is medium-high).Local seminars in other countries (one week, for pastoral workers, with an average of 30 persons). We perform about 20 seminars annually, which are led by various members of our team.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

If we look at the past ten years, we can say that we have mainly initiated and accompanied the Bible movements of the basis. Besides, we have opted for pastoral movements in three areas: youth, women and migrants. We are just starting with a pastoral movement in the field of ecology.

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

We offer a basic education that each participant might expand, depending on the area from which he/she is from and where he/she goes back. The most represented area is the deaconry (Social Service for the communities), the formation and catechesis.

What notion of God inspires your work?

The God of Jesus, the God of the kingdom of God, the God of life.We discover God in the face of Jesus and we find Jesus in the face of the poor.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

In our center, we summarize our spirituality in the phrase of St. Irineus: "The glory of God is man fully alive; and the glory of man is the vision of God."

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

Normally we use the method SEE - JUDGE - ACT.

The starting point is always the analysis of reality.

The specific feature of our institute is the dialogue between social sciences and theology. Our analysis of reality is considering following prospects: Gender, culture, generation, ecology and others.

In particular, we use the liberation pedagogy of Paulo Freire and the liberation theology. Our process is a way "that gives the way while you walk”. The participants of our education and research processes usually come from pastoral processes, and they themselves develop these new processes with the instruments that they have developed in DEI. In our process, we have no "professors", but "companions".

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

"Another world is possible".

"A society in which everybody has its place, in harmony with nature".

"To live the good”. Formation of subjects that are usually forgotten: Indians, Afro-Americans, youth, immigrants, marginalized, and many others.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

We have three work areas: education, research, publications. DEI is an ecumenical space, every year about 100 people from across Latin America and the Caribbean participate on one or two month events. We highlight pluralism, ecumenism, and commitment to the poor. We place high demands (conditions) for participation in the DEI. We insist on a program of follow-up activities and implementation/practice (seguimineto y incidencia) for the participants of our workshops and seminars. Our team members pursuant to their specialization, take part in international congresses, conferences and lectures. We strive towards a good presence in the Latin American region.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

Pasos (magazine with four issues per year).

"Entre Utopías" (for the subsequent monitoring programs).

RIBLAH (Revista de Interpretación Latino-americana Bíblica = Latin American Bible magazine), co-edition with Recu (Quito, press Verbo Divino = SVD).

The complete collection of these magazines can be found on our website: This page provides information on all our Activities, especially the seminars and workshops. Our press "Editorial DEI” publishes an average of six books per year. We publish Materials for direct use for those responsible for community-based organizations (leaflets, manuals, methods).

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

The main course is the area of Scripture, the dialogue between theology and social sciences, the training of pastoral workers and leaders of civil movements.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

We evaluate that its quality is good, committed to the Latin American reality in the service of churches and communities. Our successes come mainly from our ability to work as an interdisciplinary team in training and research work. We are not a faculty but a school for the training of social leaders and pastoral workers who know they are committed to their organizations.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

The field of education/formation, supported by the research and the publication of our journals and books.

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

The financial difficulties that force us to work a lot with less people. However, these difficulties have never prevented the implementation of the planned workshops and seminars.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

To develop a program of self-financing that does not fake the character of our institution, which serves the poorest. The participants of our training activities are those with limited financial means.

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

To strengthen the basic work in society and churches. We believe that the changes come "from below".

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

This is the main engagement. We believe that church’s future is in the formation of lay people as well as the training basic leaders in the citizen movements.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

The work of our institute happens mainly in Central America, Panama and Mexico. Nearly a third of the participants of our courses and seminars are sent by their bishops and diocesan organizations. The local workshops, especially those with a biblical or theological character are organized in dioceses with the support of the local bishop. Each participant commits to a program of practice/distribution in his/her churches. No one takes part in the DEI as a private person but as a member of his diocese and his Pastoral Institute.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

Not directly, but through the various pastoral, especially the social pastoral, youth pastoral and the pastoral care of migrants.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

This kind of pastoral networking is precarious in Costa Rica. Women, youth, migrants and others: There are pastoral initiatives at national level that are coordinated rather in the social sector: Women, youths, migrants and others. The well coordinated networks on national institutional level are in the field of catechesis, religious education in schools and in families. There is the Red Ecuménica de Lectura Popular de la Biblia (Ecumenical Network of Lectura Popular in the Bible), where the majority of participants are Catholic.

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

At the international level the pastoral networks exist mainly in the social sector (networks on human rights, justice and peace, migration, refugees, fight against HIV/AIDS, ecology). The "Christian" movements, especially the more "spiritual" or "charismatic" have their own comprehensive coordination but no bigger pastoral influence within the church.

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

The most important inter-religious cooperation exists with the indigenous and Afro-American religions in Latin America. At the international level the cooperation is not so much theological or religious but mainly in the struggle for peace, human rights, in the field of migrants, etc. ...

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

The cooperation exists rather with non-Christian religious movements, but it is misleading to say "non-Christian Churches". Cooperation in this area is more at the level of spirituality, alternative medicine und more.

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

Amerindia: network of theologians, social scientists and bishops.

Works since 1979 as a group that accompanies the big Episcopal assemblies.

Was present in Puebla (1979), in Santo Domingo (1992) and in Aparecida(2007). Also in America Synod.

Association of Third World Theologians: ASETT (EATWOT).

World Council of Churches (based in Geneva) and Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI, Latin American Council of Churches, based in Quito, Ecuador).Various Bible networks: particularly Rebilac (Red ecuménica bíblica latinoamérica y caribeña = Ecumenical Bible network Latin America and Caribbean) and RIBLA (Revista de Interpretación Bíblica Latino-americana = Latin American Bible magazine). Is a magazine but also a platform of Bible professionals who meet sporadically.Universidad Bíblica Latino Americana (UBL, Latin American Bible University, San José, Costa Rica)

CETELA - Red de Institución de Formación Teológica (Network of theological training institutions)

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

Create a website for the exchange of information and publication of texts, documents, articles, information on activities of members of the network.

Create an archive with the names and emails of the institutes or centers ofmembers of the pastoral network.

Some financial support exclusively for the publications of members of the network.A conference or meeting (every three or four years?) with representatives ofPastoral network, to key topics in the social reality and biblical theological analysis.Note: The DEI is willing to open the offered courses for members of the network. To be more specific we would like to send the course dates to the members of the network, particularly to the ones in Latin America.

  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.