The Consiglio allargato: Jesuit leaders united by the same mission
Once again, at the beginning of the year 2020, and as President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, I have been invited to participate in Father General’s Extended Council. In my journey as a Jesuit, I consider it an opportunity and a privilege to collaborate in the work done by Father General and all those who assist him in his mission of government.
These meetings provide an opportunity to address the most crucial issues affecting the life of the Society in its universal dimension. Without a doubt, the most outstanding session that I have lived these last three years was the one dedicated to the discernment of the Universal Apostolic Preferences. I was struck by the quality of the process that was followed, rooted in prayer and in an authentic “spiritual conversation” among the members of the Council, seeking to feel and recognize, with finesse and great interior freedom, the action of the Spirit. The practice of discernment in common is now promoted throughout the Society of Jesus. What a consolation to see it rigorously implemented by those who bear such responsibility!
This “way of proceeding”, so typically Ignatian and Jesuit, has its place in each of our meetings. We experienced it again this time when Father General asked us to help him define the mission of the new secretary for the Service of Faith. This is a crucial theme in a world that is becoming more and more multicultural and “multiconvictional”. Likewise when it was a question of opening perspectives in order to improve networking. The Society of Jesus is more and more aware that the great questions that are stirring our societies must be approached from a global perspective. This requires setting up international structures that are challenging in terms of organisation and governance. Of course, there has been an update on the integration and the implementation of the Universal Apostolic Preferences. They question our mission, invite us to conversion and are reference points to help us discern where the Society will best serve. The evocation of regions where Jesuits are present in situations of poverty, war, and religious minority was a moment that touched me greatly. Isn’t it in these places of vulnerability that we reach more fully the essence of our vocation?
We also talked about what is being prepared in the different regions of the Society for the Ignatian Year 2021-2022. An important moment with the evocative theme “to see all things new in Christ”.
These Consiglio Allargato are blessed times and they give a taste of the great fraternity that can exist between companions of Jesus harnessed to the same mission.