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Posted: March 26

Preparing for the General Congregation

(Rome) For the past week I have been helping the members of the Coetus Praevius- that is, the planning committee for next year's General Congregation 35. The group is made up of 12 Jesuits from all over the world who are spending three weeks at the Curia to go through all of the "postulata" that have been submitted. A postulatum is a proposal that comes from a province or a group, or even from an individual, suggesting that the Society of Jesus should do this or that. Many of them have to do with Jesuit life, with the formation of young Jesuits, with changes in our administrative structures, but they also touch on environmental issues and globalization. A significant part of the congregation's work will focus on these postulatum, as the delegates decide which ones to address and what they think should or should not happen. That is where the Coetus Praevius comes in. They are filtering the postulata and trying to make sense of them so that the work of the congregation itself can go more smoothly. Of course, the main task of this congregation will be the election of a new Superior General to replace Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach who will be stepping down as he reaches the age of 80.

My part in all this comes in how the members of the Coetus Praevius communicate among themselves and then with all of the other delegates to the congregation. That is where our newly-redesigned web site comes in, specifically the part reserved to Jesuits. We are using it as a tool to hold documents that committee members can access when they want to. All of this is a huge step forward from the last congregation. I helped with that from afar when Fr. Tom Lucas and I published preliminary documents with what was then the newest technology: desktop publishing. Now with a sophisticated web site we can do even more, and much quicker. The tool itself is still new to us and we are exploring how best to use it. This congregation will be the culminating point in a five-year long development cycle of creating a full-featured information and communication technology department here at the Curia. So we are almost at "show time" and I am looking forward to it.

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