Interview – Experiences and learnings from schools in the European region after living the opportunity that was the Ignatian Year

The Ignatian Year is coming to its conclusion on July 31st, 2022. From May 2021, all school communities from our diverse and rich Jesuit Global Network of Schools (JGNS) have taken on the invitation from Fr. General Arturo Sosa SJ “to see all things new in Christ” by reflecting, discerning, and sharing through the lens of the Universal Apostolic Preferences.

“We hope, during the Ignatian year, to share more deeply with you the foundational experience by which the apostolic body of the Society participates in the mission of reconciling all things in Christ. Many of you feel a deep commitment to this inspiration, to the charism that gives life to the Society of Jesus. I thank the Lord for that grace and I thank each of you for your enthusiasm and closeness. “Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

To celebrate the end of this reflective journey we invited Agnieszka Baran, Director of the Jesuit European Committee for Primary and Secondary Education (JECSE), to share some experiences and learnings from schools in the European region after living the opportunity that was the Ignatian Year.


Question 1. Agnieszka, now that we are closing the Ignatian Year, what would you say was the highlight of living the Ignatian Year for the European region?

Throughout the passing year, a unique process of returning to the sources has been going on for us. Through a variety of events, day after day we have accompanied our school communities in discovering the richness of the Ignatian tradition and how to draw from it for the greater glory of the Lord. What I would call a highlight of living the Ignatian Year for the European and the Near East region was the unique unification of our schools around a shared mission and the renewal of our commitment to being more in order to serve better.

Question 2.  How did the schools in your region mark the Ignatian Year? Please provide 3 examples with links, pictures, or videos.

In our network, schools undertook a wide variety of activities to celebrate the Ignatian year. Through joint meetings, retreats, prayer by school communities at the icon of Saint Ignatius and pilgrimages to places connected with his life, we have reflected on the life of the founder of the Society of Jesus and how the things he taught affects us today. Various events, activities and projects were organised in the schools through which, following the example of Saint Ignatius, we tried to be closer to God in everything we do. There were different art competitions, exhibitions of pupils’ work, sports tournaments, videos and publications preparation, discussion meetings and lessons linked to the theme of the Ignatian Year. Students were also encouraged to undertake various activities to help those in need and vulnerable or to protect our common home.

It is difficult to choose just a few examples of activities undertaken. Most of the schools celebrated the Jubilee Year celebrations through a variety of activities throughout the whole year or during specially dedicated Ignatian weeks and days.

Certainly a musical prepared by students from a school in Hungary is worth mentioning:

in Malta, students worked together to help the poorest:

or in Spain organize the I Loyola Foundation Tournament “Ignatius 500”:

These are just three selected examples of the many exceptional activities that have taken place across our continent.

Question 3.  Did educators and pupils from the schools in your region get to know Christ better, deeper, thanks to these Ignatian Year activities?

Definitely yes. We tried to follow the call to make this not only a time of commemorating important historical events but above all a year of trying to make a spiritual transformation in the individual lives of each of us. In learning about the life of Saint Ignatius, we learned from him how to notice God in what we experience every day and how to be ever closer to our Lord through concrete actions. Together we looked for new ways to follow Christ. Each community discerned to what we are called at that time. And each action taken was not done for the sake of doing, but to open us up to the others.

Question 4.  What was it like living the Ignatian Year as a global community from a JECSE perspective?

From the JECSE perspective, this year has been a time of deep reflection on our shared mission, of discovering and building together our global Jesuit schools’ community. Every action shared by our schools has been an inspiration and encouragement to each other not to be afraid to desire and to continue on the path set out. It was great to see so many good things happening in our schools and how in many different ways school communities are finding ways “to love and to serve in all things”.

As a global network, we have been discerning how we can act together in times of multiple crises affecting our regions, countries, schools and families. In the difficult experience of a pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the ever-deepening economic and ecological crisis, we have helped each other not to lose hope, to act together for those in need. We reflect on the meaning of justice and reconciliation in the face of today’s challenges. It was, and still is, a special time for us to strengthen JECSE as a global community learning from and accompanying each other.

Question 5.  What message would you give to fellow educators from around the world in light of the closing of the Ignatian Year?

Let us continue to keep this fire of faith lit in the hearts of our students and teachers! Working together in our global Ignatian family we can change the World for the Greater Glory of God.

St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us as we continuously see all the things new in Christ!


To read about other Ignatian Year experiences and learnings from Jesuit schools in the different regions of the world click here.