May 30, 2019 — From May 13 to 17, the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES), headed by Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj, SJ, brought together the Delegates for the Social Apostolate of the six Jesuit Conferences and the members of the GIAN (Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks – for Migration, Ecology, Right to Education and Justice in Mining.) All the participants met at the Jesuit General Curia in Rome. Among them was a Canadian Jesuit: Fr. Ted Penton, SJ.
According to Fr. Penton, these meetings are very helpful in coordinating work globally, as well as finding bilateral connections with other conferences. The Canada-US conference, for instance, has long worked very closely with the Latin American conference, but this meeting offers an opportunity to build closer ties to the other conferences as well.
After praying and sharing about their respective experiences, the participants focused on the preparation of the 50th anniversary of the SJES. Among other events, the anniversary will serve as an occasion to host the Social Apostolate Congress, to be held in Rome next November. The theme of this congress will be: “A Journey of Justice and Reconciliation: 50 Years and Beyond.”
Over 200 delegates will gather from around the world to network, to look back at the graces and challenges of the last 50 years, and most important to discern where God is calling us to go at this time. For Fr. Penton, the Universal Apostolic Preferences are and will continue to be at the centre of this discernment process:
As Fr. General has said, the preference for the Spiritual Exercises is central to all of our works. As such, in determining how to best continue walking with the excluded, caring for our common home, and journeying with youth, a commitment to prayerful discernment is essential. The process will neither begin nor end at the Congress in November. This summer and fall there will be both province and conference-level gatherings of Jesuits and lay people involved in the social apostolates, where we will begin our discernment. The Congress in Rome will draw from and continue this work, and we will of course continue after the Congress as well.