At the end of January more than 110 participants from 15 countries from all over Europe gathered in Manresa (Spain) – a significant place in the life and spiritual experience of Ignatius – to discuss Ignatian leadership and our vision for the formation of young people in Jesuit schools. The conference entitled, “Looking with confidence to a new day called Tomorrow’’ – Ignatian Leadership 4 Human Excellence“ was organized by the JESUIT European Committee for Primary and Secondary Education (JECSE) and ran for four days.
The primary focus of proceedings was the most recent statement on Jesuit education which sees our role as educators as being ‘’to form men and women of Competence, Conscience, and Compassionate Commitment” (“Jesuit Education aims for Human Excellence”). The four Cs have become a pithy and effective way to explain our vision of educating the whole person. The adjectives express the ‘human excellence’ that the Society of Jesus wants for the youth that society has entrusted to us.
The first keynote address which was given by Antonio Espana SJ, (Director of the secondary school EL RECUERDO in Madrid) and entitled “Ignatius experience and Ignatian Pedagogy linked to the 4 Cs”. His talk explored the spiritual framework of the 4 Cs and looked at their implications for teaching and learning. The second keynote was given by Ulrike Gentner, (Vice director of the training center (ZIP) for Ignatian pedagogy in Ludwigshafen, Germany) who presented on the topic of “Ignatian Leadership for the 4 Cs. Answering the needs of the Next Generation’’. She examined the kind of leadership now required of a Deputy in a Jesuit School and she proposed a useful toolkit for leaders to help them manage the various challenges inherent in their roles. She was particularly interesting on the spirituality of living with tensions.
As important as the keynote speeches were the periods of quiet reflection, group work, and plenary discussion that followed each session. The integration of the material was made possible by these complimentary processes.
There were also 9 different workshops (in English, Spanish and French), showing how to work with students using the framework of the 4Cs.
Each day participants gathered for joint prayer and the Eucharist; they also had time for personal prayer and reflection. The highlight of this spiritual time was the Meditative Walk of Manresa where the participants, in silence, prayed at various locations associated with the founder. This period of review and recollection was particularly rich.
On the last day participants had an opportunity to visit three Jesuit schools in Barcelona that demonstrated best practice in student-led learning. These schools brimmed with life and showed the tradition at its living best. It was the perfect end to an excellent conference.
For all of us, participating in that perfectly organized conference, it was great time of personal and professional development, during which we can really feel that we are part of a long and living tradition. It gave us chance to meet people working in different Jesuit schools and share our thoughts and experiences. We would like to thank everyone involved in making this conference possible.