From November 29th to December 2nd 2022, Education Delegates from almost all Provinces and regions of the JECSE network (Jesuit European Committee for Primary and Secondary Education) gathered in Dublin for their annual meeting.
The 23 members of JECSE Education Commission* representing Jesuit schools from Albania, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Lebanon, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Russia, United Kingdom joined together for 3 days of intense sharing, reflection, prayer, and discussion. They were accompanied by Fr. Franck Janin SJ, JECSE President, Ms. Agnieszka Baran, JECSE director, and JECSE executive team, as well as by Fr. José Mesa SJ, Secretary for Education of the Society of Jesus, and Mr. Eamonn McGuinness and Fr. Sunny Jacob SJ representing Educate Magis who gave input as part of the plenary sessions.
The meeting offered a combination of plenary sessions with input leading to time for reflection and discussion as a whole group or in small groups, as well as moments for silent prayer in which each Delegate reflected on their own experience of being accompanied by Jesus, by one another and by JECSE in their mission of service to Jesuit education in their own regions as well as globally. In each of the sessions there was a sense of freedom to share one’s ideas, as well as one’s struggles, disagreements, hopes, and suggestions. In addition to all the work of reflection, to the reports on the past efforts of JECSE in trying to respond to the needs of schools from the various regions, as well as time to explore how JECSE can best continue to do its mission in the future, there was also plenty of time for personal sharing and relaxed conversations.
JECSE has and continues to undergo a lot of changes, particularly in regard to personnel. At the delegates’ meeting we were saying ‘goodbye’ to many excellent and long-serving delegates and welcoming new delegates into the Commission and onto the Steering committee. It is really a case of the old order changing and making way for the new. This influx of new blood with fresh ideas and energy promises another exciting chapter for JECSE in the years ahead.
Apart from the work sessions held at the Dominican Retreat Center of Tallaght, delegates had the opportunity to visit Belvedere College, a Jesuit school at the heart of Dublin City where they were received and guided on a tour led by the students themselves. We also visited Trinity College and had the opportunity to see and learn about the beautiful Book of Kells, a 9th century collection of the Gospels enriched with beautiful hand-painted illustrations. The Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, through its Delegate Jonathan Tiernan, hosted a lovely dinner for the group and made everyone feel welcomed. During the work sessions, Jonathan also shared with the group the recent experience of how Irish schools are incorporating the 10 Jesuit Identifiers in their work of reflection, self examination and updating as they strive to address these challenging signs of the times.
Overall, we ended our days together with a sense of gratitude and hope for the future, even as we became more aware of the many challenges and difficulties ahead. Being able to meet in person, after prolonged time without being able to do so was a blessing. The director or JECSE and her team also took this opportunity to gather precious feedback from the Delegates which will aid them in their ongoing discernment process and efforts to find the best possible ways to continue supporting the important mission of Jesuit education in Europe.
* JECSE Education Commission – the Delegate body comprising all the Delegates and regional coordinators across Europe and the Near East