Looking back on 2021 as a Global Community – Seeing All Things New in Christ

A warm and happy welcome to this new year! On behalf of everyone in our global community we would like to thank each and every one of you who participated, co-created, shared, and engaged in global educational experiences throughout the year 2021.  As the online community of Jesuit and Ignatian educators, connecting and collaborating globally from our six Jesuit regions around the world, we have come a long way, together.

The year 2021 saw our global community membership reaching 13.000+ members. It was the year were our Ignatian family from across the world celebrated the beginning of the Ignatian Year. A year were Jesuit and Ignatian educators deepened their understanding of Ignatian Spirituality and learned about Ignatian Global Citizenship, together, with peers from around the world. An a year in which teachers guided a global reflective experience for their students, and several online global student exchanges through Connected Classrooms. It was also the year in which leadership teams from our Jesuit schools gathered in a purely virtual global event to reflect and discern together on the fourth Universal Apostolic Preference, focusing on: “How do we accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future in our education apostolic ministry?”. And when the official launch of the Jesuit Global Network of Schools took place.

The beginning of the Ignatian Year.

On May 20th, 2021, we invited members of our global community to dive deeper into the life, work, and spiritual experiences of Ignatius by journeying through a new course created by members of our global community and for our global community titled “Four Key Practices in Ignatian Spirituality”. This date was important, as it coincided with the 500th anniversary of Ignatius being injured by a cannonball in Pamplona and his subsequent conversion experience. This anniversary and other events of Ignatius’ life will be celebrated during the Ignatian Year 2021-2022which has as its theme: to see all things new in Christ. This self-paced course is available for everyone who would like to dive deeper into the life, work, and spiritual experiences of Ignatius, the course invites the learner to a personal journey, a journey that is shared by many Jesuit and Ignatian educators around the world who are invited to join this practical and interactive course. Participants, who complete the course and the quiz successfully receive a certificate of completion. 

As a global network of Jesuit schools, we also invited students to be part of the beginning of this Ignatian Year by participating in the global reflective and creative activity: “The World that Christ Desires”, a global project inspired by Ignatius, co-creating with Christ. This was a journey of creative reflection to imagine and illustrate “The World that Christ Desires”… ¡today and in the next 500 years! Teachers from Jesuit schools around the world accompanied students to dream up and contribute “to building a better world, where the dignity of people is respected and where young people live in a joy-filled harmony with nature” (Third UAP). These are some of the hopes Fr. General Arturo Sosa had also shared for young people. The project ran from July to November, and on November 5th, 2021, on the feast of All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus, we announced the official opening of the Virtual Global Art Exhibition “The World that Christ Desires”, which showcased the creative artwork shared by students from Jesuits schools in Australia, Ecuador, Hong Kong, IndiaLithuania, Madagascar, PhilippinesPoland, USA, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. The artworks were the result of a reflective and contemplative process (Context, Experience, Reflection and Sharing, and Creative Action) outlined for the project. 

Piloting a New Global Learning Experience.

As part of an ongoing piloting program, in September 2021, we announced the opening of two Facilitator-Led Global Courses! These are new synchronous global learning experiences for Ignatian educators. A new course modality that gives members of our global community the opportunity to learn together as a global group of learners coming from other schools and countries around the world. It is led by facilitators, who are teachers and formators from our Jesuit schools, who summarize the content, facilitate group exercises, reflections and discussions amongst participants. There were two pilots for Facilitator-Led Global Courses available to sign up for, “Ignatian Global Citizenship” A Synchronous Global Learning Experience, and “4 Key Practices in Ignatian Spirituality” A Synchronous Global Learning Experience. The pilots were a success, which led us to a second phase of reviewing the outcomes and preparing the next polished versions to be offered during the second half of 2022.

Offering a Certificate of Completion for Global Citizenship Learners. 

Our “Ignatian Global Citizenship” course has become an integral part of Ignatian Global Citizenship Education in many Jesuit schools and has been adapted to create a version of the same course for students, including topics such as Human Rights, Sustainable Development Goals, Poverty, Migration, Care of our Common Home and more. Over the past few years, a desire was expressed by some schools and Provinces to add a certificate of completion. Therefore, during the first quarter of 2021, we announced the addition of a certificate of completion for our “Ignatian Global Citizenship course” for educators. Since then, members enrolled in this course have been able to download and print a personalised certificate after completing the course and taking a quiz.

Furthermore, 2021 was also a great year for the development of global citizenship experiences for students. We are grateful t0 all the teachers in our global community who enthusiastically organized global citizenship connections and learning experiences for students in different Jesuit schools around the world. It is thanks to them that students had the opportunity to learn from each other and practice global citizenship. Here are some of the many experiences shared by different teachers from our global community: Global Citizenship, Social Justice, Students getting to know each other, exchanges of letters, games, prayers, reflections, and virtual sharing.

Praying together.

During 2021, two global Lent Retreats, and two sessions for a global Advent Recollection were organized for our global community. The global Lent retreats “A Shoot Will Spring Up, Return To Me with Your Whole Heart”, in English, and “Calma en la Tempestad. Desolaciónn o Conversión”, in Spanish, were invitations to pray together for the grace “to savor the moments in the Christian tradition that reveal life in the midst of difficulty”, and to walk together, as a global community, to recognize where God encourages us to ride out the storm despite our fears, and cross over to the other shore. On the other hand, the global Advent Recollection provided an opportunity for participants to reflect together on what it means to be Bearers of hope, to be ‘Waiting in Hope’ during the Advent season, and how we can be signal of hope to the hopeless, in your profession as educators.

Discerning together.

It is with great joy that we remember our first fully online global colloquium. From June to July 2021, leaders and educators from our Jesuit schools congregated online for their II Colloquium JESEDU-Global2021. The theme of the colloquium was “Discerning for a Hope-filled Future”. The discernment process was focused on seeing our educational mission today through four lenses–or four strands: Educating for FAITH, Educating for DEPTH, Educating for RECONCILIATION, and Educating for GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP.

“Nearly 500 school leaders around the world engaged in a fully online process to discern the question posed by Fr Arturo Sosa SJ in his opening address: “What type of education for the present and the future do we need, so that our students are educated as people for and with others involved in the construction of the new world – one that allows us to see all things new in Christ as Ignatius of Loyola learned?”. Our response to Father General is: We ought to educate for a hope-filled future by educating for depth and global citizenship in faith and in reconciliation in the context of our Educational Integrated (Holistic) Perspective. The Four-Fold Mission of Jesuit Education Today.” (II Colloquium JESEDU-Global 2021, June 28 – July 2, Vision Statement.)

A Milestone for Our Global Community.

The second half of 2021 saw an important milestone for our global community. On Friday, November 26th, at 17:00 GMT, Fr. General Arturo Sosa SJ officiated a Mass in the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome, to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of St. John Berchmans’ death with the official foundation of the Jesuit Global Network of Schools – JGNS. The Ceremony was a global event. Since that important day, each education network or school that forms part of the JGNS will be able to communicate to the public its membership to a global body that gathers together the identity, efforts, and gifts of 2.525 schools, 1.632.796 students, 100.846 educators, and 1.958 Jesuits from 78 countries worldwide.

An Update to Help us Find and Reach Out to One Another.

In November 2021 we announced the update of the “My Profile” area on our Educate Magis platform. Thanks to this new interface all members of our global community can now choose and display educational interests, which will help them make global connections based on similar educational interests. The new design also allows members to show achievements, specifically the badges which have been awarded for completing a self-paced or facilitated course on Educate Magis. In addition, now it is easier to connect and collaborate with colleagues from other parts of the world! Members can exchange direct messages with other community members, and manage invitations received for collaboration with other educators. The “My Profile” section on Educate Magis focuses on facilitating connections and collaboration within the global community and is a vital resource to further strengthen the global collaboration between Ignatian educators. This is why we invite all members to complete their profiles and keep it up to date!

Gratefulness, and looking forward to 2022.

Our 2021 ended on a high note with our annual Global Christmas Celebration, which had a special vibe! There was a sense of genuine excitement about being part of such a unique and beautiful global event, which was joined by gratefulness for the possibility of being virtually together. In light of the theme of this Ignatian year “To see All Things New in Christ”, participating teachers invited their students to prepare their answers to two reflection questions: How do we prepare in this world of turmoil today to welcome Christ amongst us?, and What would be one practical thing that you would do to prepare for the birth of Christ? And to share their songs, prayers, poems, and Christmas wishes for one another and for all Jesuit schools around the world. The result of this celebration left all of us with a deep sense of what the real meaning of Christmas is. Caring for our environment, and welcoming migrants were some of the many practical things offered to prepare for the birth of Christ.

The year 2021 was indeed a year in which our contemporary way of proceeding in Jesuit education – conversion, collaboration, intellectual depth, discernment, and networking came to the fore. Working together in a global collaborative Ignatian way left us with new innovative learning experiences and practical resources to help us reach out to one another, and to continue to grow as a global community of Jesuit and Ignatian educators, together.

We are grateful and honored by what has been built within our global community and looking forward to a 2022 with more collaboration, more intellectual depth, more discernment, and more networking!