The Secretariat for Education and ICAJE (International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education), have adopted a 9-year cycle of international gatherings to encourage the necessary discernment, strengthen global networking and promote the renewal of Jesuit Education for an apostolically effective response to our mission and contemporary challenges. These cycles are conceived as a strategy to respond to GC 35’s call: “Serving Christ’s mission today means paying special attention to its global context. This context requires us to act as a universal body with a universal mission, realizing at the same time the radical diversity of our situations. It is a worldwide community-and, simultaneously, as a network of local communities-that we seek to serve others across the world.” (D.2, No. 20)
The cycles are intended to build on the strength and enthusiasm inspired by the ICJSE (International Colloquium on Jesuit Secondary Education) held in Boston in 2012; the SIPEI (International Seminar on Ignatian Pedagogy and Spirituality) held in Manresa in 2014, the JESEDU-Rio2017 (Congress of Jesuit Education Delegates) held in Rio de Janeiro in 2017 and the recent JESEDU-Global2021 (II Colloquium JESEDU Global 2021) held online in June/July 2021. All these international gatherings have created an important global momentum for local, regional, and global collaboration at an unprecedented scale with clear signs that many schools and school networks are eager to engage in a new way of proceeding that can develop the extraordinary apostolic potential of global collaboration as the GC35 pointed out:
In this global context it is important to highlight the extraordinary potential we possess as an international and multicultural body. Acting consistently with this character cannot only enhance the apostolic effectiveness of our work, but in a fragmented and divided world it can witness to the reconciliation in solidarity of all children of God.” (D.3, No.43)
Additionally, the GC36 (2016) highlighted that discernment, collaboration, and networking form our “contemporary way of proceeding… suited to our times” (D.2 #3).
The cycles of global gatherings aim to identify, raise awareness, and develop the global apostolic potential of the schools. It is important to acknowledge that the cycles have been the result of learning by doing as we continue to discern how to best respond to the challenges and calls from the Society, the Church, and the societies we serve.
We are very aware that while meetings alone are not sufficient in our quest to serve our universal mission, they provide valuable opportunities to develop our global apostolic potential, build a sense of direction and allow for the necessary human interaction that is fundamental in our network building. Similarly, as the first Jesuits discovered that Jesuit Education cannot flourish without personal connection and trust between teacher and pupil; we believe that the kind of network we desire cannot happen unless people in our schools can meet and develop the connection and trust required for an apostolic network to be effective. The cycles call for global meetings every three years, each with a specific purpose, focus and target audience. The cycles are designed to break the idea of isolated, disconnected gatherings, create an on-going conversation, and maintain a level of participation and collaboration that makes our global network and discernment possible.
The first cycle (2012-2021) was named Discovering Our Apostolic Global Potential and was aimed at raising awareness of our global outreach and incredible apostolic potential due to our presence in all corners of the world and beginning the necessary discernment to be able to work together. In 2021, with the II Colloquium JESEDU-Global, we began the second cycle: Walking as a Global Network at the Service of the Mission. The aim of this cycle is to consolidate the Jesuit Global Network of Schools as an apostolic body at the service of the mission of justice and reconciliation with God, within Humanity and with Creation as the 36th Congregation has asked us to do.
The first cycle Discovering Our Apostolic Global Potential was composed of three international gatherings:
- ICJSE (International Colloquium on Jesuit Secondary Education) held in Boston, USA in 2012. Let’s come together. This gathering (Colloquium) allowed the leadership teams of our schools to come together, for the first time in history, and recognized our extraordinary potential as a world network. It was a very powerful experience of our global presence and common roots. You can find the vision statement and resources from this gathering here.
- SIPEI (International Seminar on Ignatian Pedagogy and Spirituality) held in Manresa, Spain in 2014. Let’s discern together. This gathering (Seminar) served as a forum to discuss and deepen our understanding of the relationship between Ignatian Pedagogy and Spirituality. 100 experts were present in the venue but more than 4,000 joined via streaming with their comments, questions, and contributions, thanks to the use of new technologies. This gathering ratified Ignatian Spirituality as the ultimate source of our pedagogy and boosted the importance of renewal and innovation in our schools, acknowledging that a “deep change is required in our schools.” You can find the vision statement and resources here. Additionally, this gathering inspired the document Human Excellence (the 4Cs) which captures our contemporary understanding of the well-rounded person we propose to our students and we, as educators strive to become.
- JESEDU-Rio2017 (Congress of Jesuit Education Delegates) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2017. Let’s walk together. This gathering (Congress) was the first ever meeting of the Jesuit Education Delegates at the local, regional, and international levels. Fr. General accompanied the discernment and provided an inspiring programmatic discourse for Jesuit Education. For this Congress the goal was clear and ambitious: to be able to build a common global agenda that can allow our schools to walk together as “a universal body with a universal mission.” (GC35, D.2 #20) The Action Statement approved by the Delegates captures the way we want to move as a global network on specific topics that are central to our mission today and that have clear local/global implications. The statement clearly captures the spirit of the Congress and defines specific ways in which the Delegates commit to making the global network a reality and thus developing the full apostolic potential of it. The Action Statement is the way to walk the talk of global networking through 13 concrete actions; actions that will help our schools learn to walk together globally. The Action Statement represents not only the consensus of the Delegates, but it was also confirmed by Fr. General as the way the Society wants our schools to work in our current world (Letter of Fr. General to Major Superiors, December 2017). You find the action statement (global agenda) and resources from this historic gathering here.
The cycles are also seen as an opportunity to make use of new technologies that allow us to work globally in a way that was not possible before. “Globalization and new communications technologies have opened up our world and offer us new opportunities to announce with enthusiasm the Good News of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom he proclaimed.” (GC. 35, D.3, No. 19).
SIPEI and JESEDU-Rio2017 made creative use of technology implementing a virtual Seminar and Congress before the in-person events, using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and streaming parts of the events allowing for real time participation. Jesuit Education now has a very important ally in Educate Magis as the online community platform to build the network and develop our apostolic potential.
The Congress of Delegates occurs at the end of the cycle so the Delegates can reflect on the knowledge and experience gained during the previous gatherings and discern how we can all respond as a global network to the challenges, opportunities, and difficulties that were identified. “Only if we think and act in a joint, coordinated way, welcoming and incorporating the wealth of our local diversity, will we be able to use the network to take on global challenges that affect our local conditions.” (Fr. Sosa, Jesuit Education: Forming Human Beings… Rio de Janeiro, October 20, 2017)
In 2021 we began the second cycle: Walking as a Global Network at the Service of the Mission with the II Colloquium JESEDU-Global, which was held entirely online, took place in June and July with the goal of discerning for a Hope-filled future in reference to the third Universal Apostolic Preference and around four key topics: educating for faith, educating for reconciliation, educating for depth, and educating for global citizenship. Once again, we recognized our common roots and engaged in discernment circles to ponder the implications of the pandemic, the Universal Apostolic Preferences, and the Ignatian Year on our education. The vision statement clearly links the discernment to the 4Cs enriching and broadening their understanding. You can find the inspiring vision statement and resources from the colloquium here.
The second cycle will continue at the upcoming II Seminar JESEDU-Jogja 2023. The world does not stop; thus, we cannot remain idle or complacent, we must engage in a continuous exercise of discernment as A Living Tradition (2019) invites us to do.