22 February 2017 : A newsletter of the Australian Jesuits

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Questions for reflection


Helping society recover a sense of God and improving the formation of Jesuits are among a number of challenges Father General Adolfo Nicolás says the Society of Jesus will need to face in the coming years.


Each year, Fr General receives several thousand ‘ex officio' letters from key people in Provinces around the world to assist his governance of the Society.


Writing to Jesuits in response to the letters, Fr Nicolás responded to a number of issues raised in areas to do with the spiritual, community, and apostolic life of those in the Society.


He noted the continuing importance of the education ministries, and the interest in revitalising and strengthening the intellectual apostolate. He said the social apostolate faced a challenge in terms of diminished numbers of Jesuits, but was benefitting greatly from increased collaboration.


‘We witness the emergence of new forms of teamwork and networking through initiatives that connect continents and large areas of the world, that open up new spaces of dialogue, study and planning, and which influence international centers where decisions are made', said Fr Nicolás.


Fr Nicolás said there had been a warm reception to the decrees from the 35th General Congregation, although it was clear the Society is still in the process of receiving, deepening and implementing the spirit of them.


‘It is an encouraging sign of our continued commitment to mission that the image of ‘Frontiers' seems to have captured the imaginations of so many Jesuits and inspired reflection on the new frontiers we need to address', he said.


The Father-General indentified a number of questions in need of further reflection and discussion. These were:


  • How do we more deeply understand and adequately respond to the demographic change that is already taking place in the Church and certainly in the Society, in which we see our numbers increasing in Asia and Africa and diminishing in Europe and America?


  • How do we orient our spiritual and social ministries to respond more creatively to today's dominant culture? In other words, how can we help men and women of today's secularised societies to recover the sense of the transcendence of God, of the spiritual life and of Christian values that go beyond competition, comfort and profit? How do we contribute to justice in a world that shirks from and distances itself more and more from its responsibilities?


  • How do we deepen and make more effective our pastoral contact with and accompaniment of the poor, the youth, refugees, migrants, all those displaced in society or deprived of hope? How do we accompany local churches that are experiencing difficulties?


  • How do we help heal and strengthen the credibility of the Church and of religious life, especially in the light of the recent scandals that have adversely affected trust and confidence among many?


  • In the light of the challenges of mission, how do we continue to strengthen both the promotion of vocations and of formation, particularly in the following areas: formation for leadership; formation to live and serve at the ‘frontiers'; formation to love and serve freely, helped by a solid psychological and spiritual integration? How can we improve ongoing formation so as to respond to the exhaustion that threatens not a few Jesuits who take upon themselves more than they can handle?


  • In the light too of the challenges above, how can we improve our mode of governance toward greater coordination in the service of a more effective and life-giving mission?


‘I offer these as a matter for prayerful reflection, discernment, and discussion, in the hope of awakening creative responses in the Society', Father Nicolás said.


For the letters that each Jesuit Superior sends him this year, Father General has asked them to reflect on two areas - initiatives and challenges in vocations promotion, and achievements and difficulties experienced in collaboration between Jesuits and others in mission today.




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