The Xavier Network: responding to the signs of the times

When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in 2013, the Xavier Network (XN) liaised with the Philippines Jesuit Province to determine if and how they would respond. That started a five-year effort which saw the Xavier Network work in partnership with the Jesuits in the Philippines on a multi-year, multi-million dollar project to help those affected by Haiyan.

The Xavier Network brings together 13 Jesuit mission offices and international development organizations of provinces in Europe, Canada, and Australia. Our raison d’être is to foster international solidarity based on justice. While many of the member organizations have existed for decades, the XN was established in 2004 in the belief that we can be more effective by working together. Our collaboration is the fruit of a patient, sometimes difficult effort to work together but one that has enormous potential.

We are distinct agencies, with different histories and structures, but we bring experience of working alongside Jesuit partner organizations which accompany the poorest and most marginalized people in the world. In this sense, the XN is an embodiment of the second of the Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs): walking with the poor and excluded. Our mission is guided by the church’s understanding of integral human development and inspired by the Society’s commitment to reconciliation and justice.

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Our tradition, experience, and presence within our own countries and overseas makes the Xavier Network highly individual. We choose to collaborate not only for pragmatic reasons but also because so many of the issues that impoverish or marginalise people are global.

The development of a joint approach to emergencies is one of four areas of collaboration in the Xavier Network. The others are international programs, advocacy, and volunteering.

The network supports hundreds of projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We also support common strategic projects of the Society of Jesus in the Global South that foster networking, institutional strengthening, innovation, and social transformation. The network actively collaborates with international Jesuit organisations such as JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service), Fe y Alegría, AJAN (African Jesuit AIDS Network), and the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network, among others.

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We are working on a common approach with our partners around funding, project implementation, and accountability. A current priority is the development of a common policy on child safeguarding in our organizations and in the projects we support.

A third focus is advocacy and awareness-raising. Pope Francis writes: “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed.” The UAPs state that the promotion of social justice is “a necessary dimension of the reconciliation of individuals (and) peoples.” We advocate both at the national and the international level. We have lobbied our governments to protect human rights defenders in Honduras; XN members have collaborated on the need for tax justice in Africa. Others have campaigned to secure justice in the mining sector.

A fourth focus is volunteering. Pope Francis reminds us that “Jesus wants us to touch human misery (…) to enter the reality of other people’s lives.” Many Xavier Network members run volunteering programmes in the Global South to help people be transformed toward a commitment to justice. In 2018, the Xavier Network had over 60 volunteers overseas.

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There are challenges. The differences between the members’ capacity, history, and type of work slow down our progress. A second challenge is how to balance the diverse local expressions of work and the need to respect the Jesuit structure deeply rooted in the Ignatian mission while making the best use of the technical skills, procedures, and experience which exist in mainstream organisations.

Three strategic issues, among others, will dominate our thinking in the near future: first, how to build stronger partnerships with Jesuit provinces in the Global South so that there is a greater level of equality, reciprocity, and accountability between us; second, how to increase the participation of southern partners in the network to improve understanding and increase collaboration; third, how to achieve the greatest impact with our limited human and financial resources.

It has been said that St. Ignatius possessed “great energy in undertaking extraordinarily difficult tasks, great constancy in pursuing them, and great prudence in seeing them to completion.” The Xavier Network aspires to nothing less in exercising its collaborative and Ignatian leadership.

[Article from "Jesuits - The Society of Jesus in the world - 2020", by Jenny Cafiso and Paul Chitnis]

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles public relations.

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