The Universal Apostolic Preferences are the result of very comprehensive discernment process and will serve as a guide for the whole Society of Jesus over the next 10 years (2019 – 2029). Father General Arturo Sosa has emphasized that they are “the fruit of an election“ which has the objective of “seeking to do what is for the greater divine service and the more universal good”. The Universal Apostolic Preferences that emerged from this process were as follows:
- To show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment;
- To walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice;
- To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future;
- To collaborate in the care of our Common Home.
On the other hand, Father General also stressed the importance of reflection and discernment when responding to these Preferences,
the Preferences can be considered in schools as a horizon that invites discernment. In fact, for Jesuit education, it is a question of detecting, identifying and discerning indeed, the best ways to serve the common mission of reconciliation and justice that the Society carries out”.
The International Commission for the Apostolate of Jesuit Education (ICAJE) and the International Secretary for Jesuit Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education have already reflected and shared their first reactions to the Universal Apostolic Preferences. With this in mind, and aware that as a global community we are still working hard to assimilate and implement the actions of JESEDU-Rio2017, Educate Magis was asked to develop a tool to support the community in discerning its response to the Universal Apostolic Preferences.
It has not been an easy process, mainly because we wanted it to be simple and concise, but at the same time exhaustive in both method and content. To accomplish this complex combination, we were inspired by the discernment process carried out for the election of the Universal Apostolic Preferences, described in the book “Shaping Our Future” by Brian Grogan SJ. In addition, we benefited from the advice and guidance of experts in Jesuit education and discernment, including Father Johnny Go SJ, whose contribution significantly impacted the ultimate outcome of this tool.
Below we will briefly explain the stages of the process presented on the Universal Apostolic Preferences – Discern and Approach page and the goal we had in mind for each stage.
The discernment process is divided into three stages, with the possibility of extending it for those who decide to go one step further and define specific strategies for their schools with Apostolic Planning.
- REFLECT on the Apostolic Preferences: This step aims to deepen and interiorize, through study and prayer, the understanding and appreciation of the Universal Apostolic Preferences. The page carefully presents the most relevant resources to facilitate this task, and suggests to reflect on these with the following question:
How are we called to respond to the Universal Apostolic Preferences in the way we live, work, and relate to the people we serve?
- SHARE through Spiritual Conversations: In this step you are invited to share what you have reflected on in the previous step, using the method of Spiritual Conversations and with emphasis on the same question. Here is presented a simple guide and a selection of resources that are intended to support this task.
- DISCERN with your Community: In this step you seek an agreement, a decision regarding the question posed. There are two rounds of exchange and discernment in common, beginning with sharing what you have heard and felt, and then discussing and finding consensus points. On this basis, the final decision arises and the process closes with a prayer of thanksgiving. Like in previous phases, a simple guide and a careful selection of the most relevant resources are provided to facilitate the process.
Once the three steps are completed, the invitation is to continue this process for your school with apostolic planning to discern specific strategies rooted in the Universal Apostolic Preferences.
You are invited to discern your responses to the Universal Apostolic Preferences using this Universal Apostolic Preferences – Discern an Approach and to share the experience with our global community.
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