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The Secretariat for Education of the Society of Jesus was established in 1965/1966 by the General Congregation 31st “To help Father General in fostering the whole work of education, a secretariat of education should be established. Its task will be to collect and distribute information about the apostolate of education carried on by Jesuits and also to promote alumni associations and periodic conventions.” (D. 28, #31) To start it off the ground Fr. General Pedro Arrupe appointed Fr. John Blewett SJ, from the Japanese province, in June 1967, as the first Secretary for Education.

Fr. Blewett dedicated most of his time to three important tasks in fulfilling his mission:

  1. Participating in local and regional meetings of Jesuit educators and provincials all over the world. He thought that such participation was essential to understand what was happening at the grassroot level and have enough face-to-face contact to enable him to form a good understanding of the existing problems, challenges, and opportunities for Jesuit Education throughout the world; and thus “in good conscience offer advice to Father General on matters on which he consults.”
  2. Organizing and participating in multiple workshops, seminars, and conferences related to Jesuit and Catholic education, while offering his expertise, knowledge, and experience in this area
  3. Offering his advice and knowledge to those looking for it.

Successive secretaries have continued with this important work and began to realize the need for common/universal guidelines that could maintain the unity of the Jesuit Educational Ministry as it enculturated into the diverse local contexts with their own regulations and expectations. As a result of an important international meeting, convoked by Fr. General Arrupe in Rome, the Secretariat, and a commission, later called ICAJE (International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education) started to work on some contemporary guidelines for Jesuit Education. This effort resulted in the well-known contemporary official documents: (1) The Characteristics of Jesuit Education (1986), (2) The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (1993), and more recently in (3) Jesuit Schools: A Living Tradition in the 21st Century – An Ongoing Exercise of Discernment (2019). All these documents conform our Contemporary understanding of Jesuit Education.

In 2006 Fr. General Kolvenbach decided to split the Secretariat for Education into two. He appointed Fr. Paul Locatelli SJ as the first Secretary for Higher Education and maintained the Secretariat for Education, at that point in the hands of Fr. Thomas Roach SJ, with its focus being on Secondary and Pre-secondary Education.

Recently, Frs. Generals Adolfo Nicolás and Arturo Sosa have ratified the mission of the Secretariat being that of providing advice in the apostolic area of education and they have also assigned new important dimensions: promoting networking, renewal, and innovation in our schools; coordinating the Jesuit Global Network of Schools; and in collaboration with ICAJE, leading the cycles of international gatherings on Jesuit Education in the context of the Universal Apostolic Preferences. More recently Fr. General Arturo Sosa SJ has delegated the cura apostolica of Educate Magis, as a work of the Society, to the Secretary for Education, currently Fr. José A. Mesa SJ.

As a response to this mission the Secretariat team works, among other tasks, in:

1.    Preparing annual statistics of the Jesuit Global Network of Schools.

2.    Preparing an annual Report on the implementation of a Culture of Safeguarding in our schools.

 

3.    Maintaining a website of the Secretariat.

4.    Coordinating the Jesuit Global Network of Schools (JGNS).

5.    Participating in the meetings of the Conference and International Educational Networks of the Society of Jesus: FLACSI, JNS, JASBEAM, JEASA, JECSE, FE y ALEGRÍA, JRS-Education and JCAP-Education.

6.    Preparing articles, books, and materials on Jesuit Education.

7.    Implementing a Holistic Perspective on Jesuit Education – Infographic.

8.    Coordinating Seminars on Jesuit Education for Young Jesuits.

9.    Establishing taskforces in strategic areas: Global Citizenship, Care of Our Common Home, and Faith formation.

10.  Collaborating and coordinating with Educate Magis.

11.  Coordinating apostolic initiatives with other Secretariats: Higher Education, Social Justice and Ecology, and Service of Faith.

12.  Coordinating and supporting the International Gatherings of the Global Cycles: Colloquium, Seminar, and Congress.

13.  Representing the Society of Jesus before Catholic Educational Associations and Networks such as OIEC (International Office of Catholic Education).

The task remains clear: to assist Fr. General in the animation of the educational apostolic area (secondary and pre-secondary) so that the schools can continue the living tradition of presenting the lifegiving message of the Gospel to the new generations.