Supporting the Mission
From May 21 to 24, the second meeting of the delegates of the Development Offices (DO) of the six Conferences of the Society of Jesus, representing the 56 Province DOs, was held at the General Curia. The theme of the meeting was “Friends in the Lord” in recognition of the fact that spiritual conversations to reveal our commonality in mission are the greatest tool for accomplishing that mission.
The purpose of the meeting was to provide Father General with answers to his questions about how, over the next ten years and within the framework of the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs), the DOs will continue to invite men and women from around the world to participate in the mission entrusted to us by the Holy Father.
On the first day, Father General, the General Treasurer and the Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning presented the group with the framework in which we must work: the UAPs, the accents on ministry as to how we proceed with goods and benefactors, and how to care for the deep spiritual bonds that unites us to our work. The consecration of friendship in the Lord for mission is an exercise of deep pastoral care.
The next morning, the delegates listened to experiences of “making men and women passionate about the mission” from Manos Unidas of Spain, Misereor of Germany and the Xavier Network. In the afternoon, the Counsellor for Formation and the Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education outlined the opportunities and challenges faced in the Society as it moves forward in the construction of an apostolic body at the service of the common mission. Practically, this means breaking down the barriers between works, apostolic sectors and Provinces, in favor of cooperating in the Spirit.
The third day consisted of discerning how the Lord was inviting the group to respond to the questions of Fr. General, enlightened by the presenters and personal experiences of the past ten years. It was a day of personal prayer, spiritual conversation in pairs and in groups. The day ended with a draft of the answers we wanted to offer Fr. General.
On the fourth day, the delegates were asked to confirm their responses, and to present them to Father General as a guide for his decisions concerning: 1) the apostolate of the DO – where they have been or could be established, 2) the role of the DO networks in each Conference, and 3) the role of the Office for Development of the General Curia in Rome. In all this, the delegates experienced how fundamental spiritual conversation and discernment are to responding to Jesus’ mission expressed in the UAPs. They accepted that their challenge is to integrate young people into our Development Offices mission as part of their response to the UAP to accompany young people as active participants in the service of the sustainability of Jesus’ mission.
Jesuit Missions Director, Paul Chitnis says, “Development Offices have a really useful role to play in bridging the relationship between donors and project implementers. The meeting was a great opportunity to learn more about the future role of the global offices and to understand the needs of donors especially the Jesuit partners in Europe, North America and Australia which comprise the Xavier Network. The better we understand each other, the stronger will be our collaboration and the more effective the programmes will be for people living on the margins.”
This article first appeared on the Jesuit General Curia in Rome website.