JCAP Major Superiors Assembly in Chiang Mai: looking at the present and guiding the future
Reconfiguration of Provinces, programmes for the protection of vulnerable people, the search for candidates to take up responsibilities within the Conference, the formation of younger Jesuits, relationships with the General Curia and other Conferences: these are just some of the items on the agenda of the Conference Assembly of the Society of Jesus in Asia Pacific.
The Region of Thailand - a dependent Region of the Indonesian Province - is hosting this week’s early 2023 Major Superiors Assembly. Some figures: there are 38 Jesuits in the Region, including 16 scholastics. There are 14 Jesuits living in other Provinces, mainly because of their studies. It is a small Region, in terms of the number of Jesuits, in a country where only 0.5% of the population is Catholic. But, as the Provincials of Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific will see, it is a lively Region that knows how to identify the needs of the people and has a true capacity to adapt.
do the Major Superiors of each of the Society’s Conferences meet at least twice
a year? The President of the Conference organises these intensive meetings,
lasting about a week, each time in a different country or geographical area. It
is an opportunity to get to know a part of the Conference territory, to meet
Jesuits from another cultures, and to learn about the specific challenges
facing the host Province. It is also an opportunity - and this is significant -
to pray together.
But it is first and foremost a session that allows all the Major Superiors to unite, to show solidarity, to help each other, and to coordinate their interventions. All of this is done in order to serve together the people in the best possible way in the mission that the Lord has entrusted to the Society. In concrete terms, since 2019, it has been an opportunity to see how the Provinces and Regions respond to Father General’s invitations to implement the Universal Apostolic Preferences or the initiatives of inspiration and spiritual deepening such as the Ignatian Year and the reflection on the vow of poverty.
The JCAP meeting takes place in Chiang Mai, the most important city in northern Thailand. The Society runs a spiritual centre there, the Seven Fountains Jesuit Retreat Center, which allows for many Jesuit meetings but also serves other groups, especially ecumenical and interreligious meetings.
the assembly, the Major Superiors will evaluate two projects of rapprochement
between Provinces or Regions, according to a policy undertaken for some years
now throughout the world, aiming for greater apostolic impact. They will also
consider how to respond to certain requests made by local Churches or
ministries; Jesuits are often sought to lead initiatives or set up important
projects. It is not only a question of responding to requests, but also of
making requests. The Conference can look to other parts of the world for help,
both in personnel and financial resources, especially for the formation of its
young members. JCAP has a relatively high percentage of scholastics among its
members, and several of the countries of the Conference are among the low
The meeting in Chiang Mai will also be attended by the Presidents of three other Jesuit Conferences: Fr. Orobator Agbonkhianmeghe SJ of JCAM (Africa and Madagascar), Fr. Brian Paulson SJ of JCCU (Canada and USA) and Fr. Franck Janin SJ of JCEP (Europe). Each will have the opportunity to present their own Conference and identify what links could unite their parts of the world to this rapidly developing Asia-Pacific area.
Finally, the JCAP assembly will allow participants to share information and get updates on many programmes that are being carried out on the Conference level. These include: meetings on inter-religious dialogue and peace-building, dialogue with Buddhists, formation of leaders of educational institutions, ongoing formation for the protection of the vulnerable, and meetings of young Jesuits on the regional level.
*Stay tuned for various articles on the Jesuit
involvement in the northern part of Thailand are presented on our website
during this month.
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The Society of Jesus has been developing a specific programme for Thai seminarians and members of religious congregations in Thailand for the past five years. This is the Xavier Immersion Program. We interviewed its academic director, the Jesuit Tom Michel.
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Many years ago, in the northern Thai kingdom its rulers established their “summer residence” in Chiang Mai. They called it “Seven Fountains”. This name took account of the springs and waterfalls which abound north of the city. And the number seven symbolized perfection.
The Major Superiors’ Assembly of the Jesuit Conference of Asia-Pacific continued in Chiang Mai, Thailand, until 4 February. Three parts of the meeting’s programme deserve attention.
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