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Vol. XX, No. 06 March 21, 2016
FROM THE CURIA
The Curia Community celebrates the Jubilee of Mercy
The General Curia community recently marked the Jubilee Year of Mercy with three important events. The highlight of the events was Friday, March 18 when the community made a pilgrimage through the Holy Door of Mercy at St. Peter's Basilica, before celebrating mass at the tomb of Saint Peter in the Vatican Grottoes. The previous Sunday, March 13, members of the Curia Community celebrated mass at Regina Coeli prison, led by the community superior, Father Joaquín Barrero, who regularly visits the prison on Saturdays and Sundays. Finally, on March 20, about 30 homeless people housed in the Dono di Misericordia dormitory joined the community at the table of lunch. The Dono di Misericordia dormitory located at the General Curia was Father General's gift to the Holy Father as a place of temporary shelter for the homeless.
Conversations with Father General
Mission and Cooperation
The 34th General Congregation called and reminded Jesuits that they are "Servants of Christ's Mission". Could you explain that in terms of the universality of the Jesuit vocation?
R. In this, there has been an evolution in the thinking of the Church, which affects our mission. For a long time different Religious Congregations thought, and we with them, that they have a particular mission in the Church. We, Jesuits, in General Congregation 34, formulated our mission as part of Christ's mission of which we consider ourselves servants. In the very recent past, the Church came to feel that, if the source of everything good is God the Father, he is also the source of Mission. Pope Benedict often used the expression: "Missio Dei", to express this new awareness. Moreover, it resonates with the way Saint Ignatius speaks in the meditation of the Incarnation. It is God the Father who says: "Let us do redemption of the Human condition".
The dimensions of our mission do not depend on our numbers. Even if we had ten times more Jesuits than we have now, our mission would be bigger than what we can dream. The ultimate question is what God wants to do with Humanity and for its sake. The Society has never considered history and reality as separate from our mission. If in the present we have so many lay people willing to work for others and so much interest in Ignatian Spirituality, we should take these as signs that the new era, and God through it, are inviting us to work differently.
In other words, we cannot continue thinking that our work is "ours", or that we are carrying "our" limited mission, but that we are only one minimal part of God's mission in the Church.
Sometimes "Our" ministries (schools, etc.) are not even really "Ours" any longer, in the sense that we are no longer in the top leadership positions. What do you say to Jesuits who might be frightened about these changes?
R. In fact, these ministries were never "ours", but part of a bigger enterprise. If history and reality are God's ways of telling us that we have to change and be flexible to respond to new challenges, maybe He is directing us into new ways of being his ministers. Maybe He is forcing us to reconsider our role in the Institutions. Maybe He is inviting us to re-found the Society and make our Ignatian treasures a patrimony to be offered to Priests and laity, to all those who want to share in the vision and mission of Ignatius.
While we have started to pass along our charism to lay leaders, what about the next generation? That is, what about the next generation of lay leaders who may not know any Jesuits? Does that require a different plan?
R. This has been a concern of many Jesuits involved seriously in collaboration with the laity. Experience teaches us that it is not difficult to encounter an excellent, professional and highly motivated layperson to run an Institution. The question is rather about the future. Who will take over from him or her? What guarantees can we ever have that the Catholic Identity and the Ignatian Spirit of the Institution will continue, at least for two or three generations? In the old Loyola Province, the Jesuits thought that part of the solution was to create Apostolic Communities, who could carry forth the Identity and Spirit of the Institution. This, naturally, implied good training opportunities and intensive formation in Ignatian Values and Pedagogy. Such courses were free, as was to be expected, but some 80% took part in them.
What are the new frontiers in "Mission and Cooperation"?
R. If in the case of ministry the frontiers are defined by the categories of "where?", "for whom?" and "what for?" the frontiers will be decided by the bigger apostolic needs and all the Ignatian criteria we have for the Apostolate. We also have a few challenges inside the dynamics of cooperation and it will be a great test to our evangelical spirit and commitment.