On November 9th, 2023, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Pedro Arrupe’s famous speech in which he addressed Jesuit Alumni and shared his view on what kind of people they should ideally become; “men and women for others”. These words are included in the Mission statements, slogans, and the day-today language of so many of our schools across the world. Arrupe’s words have had a significant and profound effect on Jesuit education. Now, 50 years after these words were first shared, we took the opportunity to pause and reflect on what those words mean to us in today’s context.For this the Jesuit Global Network of Schools (JGNS) in collaboration with Educate Magis facilitated Global Discernment Circles.
Before we gathered for the Global Discernment Circles to reflect together, participants engaged in individual prayer and reflection using guidelines prepared by Francisco Machado of the Jesuit European Committee for Primary and Secondary Education (JECSE). These guidelines encouraged participants to read a text “Reflecting on the Spirit of Men and Women for Others”, to notice and pay attention to the words or phrases which moved them, to ponder in the heart what thoughts and feelings these words evoke in them and to rest with God, holding silence and sharing what is emerging, before writing one or two short paragraphs summarizing their key thoughts and feelings. This preparation allowed for a deeper and more considered group reflection when participants came together online on November 9th.
We hosted 5 Global Discernment Circles, two in English, two in Spanish, and one in French at different times of the day to give people from different time zones the opportunity to participate. Each Discernment Circle had a number of small reflection groups, each guided by a facilitator. The Discernment Circles were 90 minutes long and participants were invited to set aside their other work tasks for this time and fully engage in the group reflection and sharing. The Circles began with some words of welcome by the host and by Fr. José Mesa (International Secretary for Jesuit Education) and a beautiful prayer which had been prepared for JESEDU-Global 2021 Colloquium by students from Asia Pacific – Amare et Servire. Participants were then spilt into small groups where they had the opportunity to share their reflections and listen to their colleagues from other Schools / Provinces / Countries before coming back into the big group for a short conclusion. Attendees were invited to continue these conversations in their own school communities.
Across the 5 circles, there were participants from Albania, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chad, Chinese Province, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, France, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Madagascar, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, USA, and Venezuela.
Soon we will be sharing the fruits of this Global Discernment with you all. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue reflecting in your own communities (access to “Persons for Others” resources here) and please let us know in the comments below if you would like to participate in a similar event in the future.