Last fall the Provincial superior of the Jesuits of Canada asked all of the apostolic sectors to undertake a discernment process that would lead to the development of concrete plans to implement the Universal Apostolic Preferences more effectively in the Province. Since then, the plans for the Ignatian Year were developed. Although the discernment process did not directly relate to the Ignatian Year, there certainly are thematic connections between them.
The Education of Youth Sector, which includes six schools, two summer camps, and two other organizations working with youth, has put together a plan to encourage apostolic discernment among the young people that we serve in our various ministries across the sector. What follows is an outline of that plan.
Engage Youth in the Conversation
With one of the major themes of the apostolic discernment process being a call for respectful listening, and in keeping with the advice of Pope Francis (“If you want to know what youth need, listen to them; they’ll tell you.”) we plan to establish a process to provide the youth we serve the opportunity to reflect with us on how best to incorporate the UAPs into the educational and formational work of our ministries.
As a first step in this process, each ministry will put in place a structure appropriate to their circumstances in which the youth can engage with the UAPs with a view to determining how their setting can best respond to the challenges they offer. Since our ministries
are quite diverse, there is no single structure that will work for all. Creative adaptation will be the norm. But the basic paradigm will be the process for communal apostolic discernment developed by the Province for use in our communities and ministries.
At this local level, the participants (youth and their leaders) will have the chance to reflect on, pray over, and discuss the UAPs and their practical implications for their own apostolic setting and its engagement in important issues locally, nationally, and internationally, to identify those issues that they wish to address, and to develop realistic plans for promoting the involvement of the youth in their setting.
Across the Sector
After this period of discernment within the individual ministries, representatives of the local groups will be invited to an on-line conversation with the Education of Youth Commission (scheduled for May 18 – 19)) so that their insights and ideas can be shared across the spectrum of ministries in the sector. The Commission will work with the young participants to support their ideas and to journey with them in the implementation.
The aim at this level will be to promote a sector-wide collaborative engagement of our youth in important issues, and to create an on-going forum for youth participation in the apostolic discernment process of the province.
A further hope for this national forum would be the possibility of sharing the outcomes with other ministries in the province (colleges, parishes, retreat centres, etc.) to help with their outreach to youth.
It is worth noting, as a conclusion, that this plan is firmly rooted in the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (the on-going cycle of reflection, judgment, action), the UAPs, and the present emphasis in Jesuit education on fostering a global perspective and forming global citizens.