Jesuit Frs. Brian G. Paulson (left) and Thomas A. Lawler are provincials of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Provinces.

From the Provincials

Dear Friends, 

“How do we measure the impact of Jesuit ministry?” is a question heard often in Jesuit communities around the Midwest (indeed, around the world!). By “Jesuit ministry,” we mean the work of Jesuits and of our lay and religious colleagues who serve or lead Jesuit-sponsored ministries. We know, too, that our colleagues, alumni, friends, and benefactors have similar conversations about the effectiveness of Jesuit ministry. 

As the question itself reveals, our mission is to make the greatest impact by serving the greatest need. 

The Society’s Constitutions and the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius outline rather simple criteria for determining what ministries the Jesuits should undertake to make the greatest impact. Foundationally, we are to invest in apostolic projects that give hope for yielding “greater fruit” for advancing the values of the Kingdom of God—God’s dream for our world, as Jesus gave witness to in his preaching and his ministry. 

Within that broad base, Ignatius highlights key characteristics of Jesuit ministry that we as provincials weigh carefully when assigning Jesuits and sponsoring Jesuit institutions and

On Sunday, February 8, 2015, US and Canadian Jesuit Provincials and members of the Jesuit Conference visited the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, AZ. Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ (top left), and Fr. Thomas Lawler, SJ (top right), were deeply moved to see firsthand how this Jesuit ministry serves those who have been deported from the United States.

projects: Our ministry is to be a “learned ministry”; we engage young people because they are the future of our church and society; we go to the frontiers and peripheries of our society where the needs are greatest; we provide ministries “of the Word” and ministries of interiority (retreats and spiritual direction); we educate future leaders; and we foster a multiplier-effect of whatever we do. 

This past February, we experienced firsthand a powerful example of how Jesuit ministry makes a significant impact where the needs are greatest—where others are not able or willing to go. Joined by our fellow provincials from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America, we visited the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) in Mexico, just across the border from Nogales, Arizona. The KBI ministers to men, women, teenagers, and children who have been recently deported from the United States. 

The KBI leadership team consists of five Jesuits from the United States, a Jesuit from Mexico, several religious sisters from Mexico, and several lay volunteers who live in Nogales, Arizona, and cross the border each day for work. The team runs the comedor, or “cafeteria,” which serves meals to a hundred or so people on a daily basis, for at most a week at a time, until these migrants figure out what their next move will be. At night, the sisters from Mexico provide shelter for the migrant women. 

Our group of provincials from both sides of the border attended a Eucharist and a meal at the makeshift comedor. After Mass, we talked with those who came for food and shelter. Their stories of separation from loved ones and shattered dreams moved us deeply. As we wrestled with ways to respond to the call of US bishops for comprehensive immigration reform, we took some consolation in the work of our Jesuit companions and their lay and religious colleagues who are ministering in the name of Jesus at the frontiers where the needs are greatest, in the spirit of Matthew 25 and the Beatitudes. 

In this issue of Partners, you will read stories of Midwest Jesuits and colleagues like you who also are on mission. It gives us great hope to know that we share this mission together with you, our readers, as baptized Christians and companions of Jesus. 

Sincerely yours in Christ, 

Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ - Signature

Fr Thomas Lawler, SJ - Signature

Fr. Brian G. Paulson, SJ  
Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province

Fr. Thomas A. Lawler, SJ  
Provincial, Wisconsin Province

Click here for Partners Spring 2015 Index

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