Discernment as a way to face the future: a challenge for Jesuit universities
Speech of Father General Arturo Sosa at the
International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) Assembly
A major speech, emphases rooted in the context of today’s world, an Ignatian perspective that is meaningful for all members of university communities, an orientation aimed at the service of the Common Good: this is what one can feel when listening to or reading Father Arturo Sosa’s speech at Boston College on 4 August at the IAJU Assembly.
The meeting had a broad and ambitious objective: to discern the specific contribution that higher education institutions under the responsibility of the Society of Jesus can offer at this particular moment in human history. Father Sosa’s input was structured in six parts:
• Discerning the present: a requirement for preparing the future
• Encouraging the emergence of meaningful lives
• Seeding a thirsty land
• Building on intergenerational and intercultural experiences
• Bringing together the university, politics and universal citizenship with a view to reconciliation and peace
• Proposing a life “with and for others”
It is not possible to summarize such a speech in just a few lines. The address is worth reading in its entirety by all those who are interested in the presence of the Society of Jesus in the field of post-secondary education. Nevertheless, we may highlight the following few sentences which evoke the tone and force of the Superior General’s thinking.
The spirituality that flows from the charism of the Society of Jesus understands the full life to be one that always seeks “in everything to love and to serve.” That is how we conceive of “excellence.” Through discernment in common, we propose to animate institutions that are excellent because the people who work, do research, teach and study in them find the conditions to lead lives with meaning, lives that advance toward fullness.
Making the university a space of discernment helps to overcome the tendencies to fragmentation that exist in secular society.
As universities whose identity includes the commitment to the mission of reconciliation and justice, we have the enormous responsibility of helping to distinguish the truth from the falsehoods used to justify autocrats who present themselves as the only authentic defenders of the people.
Arturo Sosa is himself an alumnus of Jesuit universities, as well as a former founder and rector of a university of the Society. He knows what he is talking about when he is addressing the members of the AIJU.
Watch the video of Father General's speech (in Spanish)
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