January 18, 2019 — The 25 members of the enlarged Council have completed their work this week in Rome. It is the result of a move initiated by Father General Arturo Sosa, SJ after his election at the 36th General Congregation in 2016. Sometime this spring, will be revealed the universal Apostolic Preferences for the Society of Jesus for the coming years.
This is the first time since its founding that the Society has established apostolic preferences rather than the usual priorities. Previously, priorities were associated with goals to be achieved, now we are talking about directions to follow.
"In Canada, we have actively participated in this great project. Everyone was involved, even the directors of Apostolates," says Father Gilles Mongeau, SJ, Socius of the Province of Canada.
Until now, only Provincials and some Jesuit delegates were invited to reflect on the priorities with the Father General. But the Apostolic Preferences are the result of a worldwide consultation with all the Jesuit communities and the directors of works. These broad orientations will serve as guidelines for the members of the Society in their apostolic mission.
"This is a historic moment, adds Fr. Mongeau. For the first time, we start from the bottom up and it’s a return to the roots, to the constitutions bequeathed by Saint-Ignace. From this return to the Jesuits basic teachings must arise the renewal of the apostolic mission of the Society."
These major orientations are part of an aggiornamento that is in sync with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. It's all about adapting to a world in constant evolution and to local cultural realities.
Sign of the times, a woman hosted the meeting, Christina Kheng of Singapore. "I was first involved in the process for discerning the Universal Apostolic Preferences with the Conference of Asia Pacific, she says. As a planning consultant in JCAP, I was part of a team to help organize and facilitate the experience." Next step: The Council must prepare the document that will be presented to Pope Francis.
Fr. Mongeau is "very confident about the results of this long process and about the future of the Society."
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