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“For the greater glory of God (Magis)”

The day has finally come! Today, we opened the inaugural day of JESEDU-Rio2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With 117 participants from across the globe, this is the first International Congress for the Jesuit Education Delegates.

In the last five years the work of the Global Network of Jesuit Pre-Secondary and Secondary Education has gained a lot of momentum. In 2012, for the first time in the history of the Society of Jesus, over 500 leaders of our secondary schools from across the globe gathered for the International Colloquium for Jesuit Secondary Education (ICJSE) in Boston, Massachusetts (USA), where they affirmed the need and desire to create a global network among Jesuit secondary schools. Then in 2014, 80 participants from the six Jesuit regions of the world gathered in Manresa, Spain, for the International Seminar on Ignatian Pedagogy and Spirituality (SIPEI) where they emphasized the desire to launch a pedagogical renovation of Jesuit Education, which nourished by the richness of our spirituality, would inspire networking among our schools throughout the world. The document, “Human Excellence: Men and Women of Conscience, Competence, Compassion and Commitment”, prepared by the Secretariat of Education of the Society of Jesus, has enabled schools around the world to appropriate the spirit of what was discussed at SIPEI and apply it in the day-to-day.

Building off these two gatherings emerged the initiative to celebrate JESEDU-Rio2017, the third element of a three-part cycle: colloquium, seminar and congress. The desire is that this cycle will allow us to work together to promote constant renewal and innovation in our educational project. The JESEDU-Rio 2017 process began in March and April of this year with a Virtual Congress, which represents an innovative component. During this time, lay collaborators and Jesuits from our networks and schools around the world were able to have an initial approach to the themes that we will address this week, and could also share their contributions with the keynote speakers. This dynamic has allowed us to be able to rely on inputs to enrich the reflections that will take place this week, making the in-person Congress the concluding milestone of a process of communal discernment that has taken place throughout the year with a broad participant base.

This process continues with the Congress that begins today. During the next five days, the participants will be working with the goal of establishing a common agenda as a global network of Jesuit education delegates, in which they will specify the challenges, priorities and responsibilities in order to guide Jesuit networking in secondary and pre-secondary education. While the two previous gatherings in 2012 and 2014 identified the common need and desire to create and consolidate this global network, the purpose of this gathering is to “walk the talk”. We are gathered here to take the next steps in forming this global network.

It is about a challenge which will be answered this week through the joint work and discernment of an ample group of representatives from our global network, including the education delegates of the Jesuit Provinces, representatives of the regional education networks, the Jesuit Secretariat of Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education, and other members of the global network of Jesuit Education (Cristo Rey Network, Fe y Alegría and Jesuit Refugee Service), and the presidents of three of the Jesuit Conferences and some staff from the General Curia in Rome. The Congress is officially in English and Spanish, but conversations are taking place among the delegates and invitees in variety of languages: French and Portuguese, just to name a few.

There are many expectations. This Congress has been in preparation for nearly three years, which has demanded significant efforts from many people so that the participants have the right conditions to delve into and build new relationships throughout the week. In moving towards the creation of a common agenda, there is a profound desire to use the structure of the Society in the best possible way to have a greater impact, both locally and globally. The hope is that the results of this week’s work will directly impact the integral experience of our students and teacher.

We welcome all of you participating in the Congress here in Rio de Janeiro and those of you following us from all corners of the globe. We encourage you to follow us throughout the week. Each day you can find the daily article in our newsletter, which will include the a summary of day’s activities and the main points and trends of the day, along with photos and videos of selected participants from the given day.

As we embark on this week of JESEDU-Rio2017, the Jesuit education delegates and the participants from the Jesuit networks will seek to be innovative, reflective, and collaborative in our educational mission to form women and men for the greater glory of God.