Looking Back with Gratitude and Forward with Hope
Joined by USA Midwest Provincial Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ, and Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S. Secretary for Justice and Ecology Ted Penton, SJ, the USA Midwest Province Social Commission met in Chicago April 2-3, 2019, to reflect on past, present, and most importantly the future of the Jesuit social justice apostolate.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Father General’s Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES), who is charged with animating the faith-justice dimensions of the Jesuit work across provinces and sectors of ministry. The stated mission of the SJES “assists Fr. General in developing the apostolic mission of the Society, in its dimension for promoting justice and reconciliation with creation, both at the level of the Conferences and Provinces in the Society of Jesus, and establishing collaborations between apostolic sectors and paying special attention to the social apostolate.”
The meeting assessed the graces and challenges of our past work and more importantly discerned current signs of the times and opportunities to advance the new Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society.
The second part of the meeting provided consultation to Midwest Province leadership for apostolic planning. The group considered leadership qualities needed to enhance mission effectiveness and considered what gifts can be shared more fully between Jesuits and lay colleagues to more fully promote the faith-justice-reconciliation mission we share.
After the meeting, Fr. Dan Hartnett, SJ, who will attend the 50th anniversary conference of the SJES in Rome this November said, “As we reflect upon the many ways our ministries have grown over the past 50 years in terms of a faith that does justice, we are filled with gratitude for the blessings received and, above all, for the many ways we have learned to be a humble, healing presence in our world.”
In light of the newly announced Universal Apostolic Preferences, Midwest Social Commission member Ms. Kelly Orbik from the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice at Creighton University reflected afterward, “It was a great consolation to pray, share, and hope with collaborators in the social apostolate. The demands from our work and our world are many, but the tools from our Ignatian tradition and the strength of our relationships cultivated by the province will help us walk together as we invite others to help us meet the challenges of our time.”