Consiglio Allargato – The testimony of a veteran

During the week of 29 May to 2 June, Father General convened his Extended Council. This Council, we might remember, adds to the usual Counselors the Secretaries of the apostolic sectors of the Society and the Presidents of the six Regional Conferences. Unsurprisingly, the work focused on follow-up of the recent Congregation of Procurators, held at Loyola in May, including a review of the experience, the themes covered and the contributions made by the speakers. The discussion also addressed questions about how to pass on to the entire Society and its partners in the mission the findings on the current state of the Society and the directions that are taking shape for the coming years.

Our article on the Consiglio Allargato, this time, does not seek to present the content of the meeting but offers one of its members, Fr. Franck Janin, the outgoing President of the Conference of Jesuit Provincials of Europe, the opportunity to tell us about his experience of serving on this body for the past six years. Here’s what he has to say.

Franck Janin, what will you remember about your participation in the Consiglio Allargato at the end of your term? How have you found the way the Society’s leadership operates? What kind of solidarity or synodality can you see in this Council? How has your own life - on a human and spiritual level - been shaped by this experience?

I remember the most powerful experience I had in the last six years as a member of the Consiglio Allargato: the discernment of the Universal Apostolic Preferences. I remember being struck by Father General’s audacity in inviting the whole Society to enter into a process of common discernment in order to define the direction of our mission for the next ten years. A unique event in our history. However, it was rooted in a practice that seemed familiar to the first Jesuits, since we have evidence of it when they were in Venice waiting to leave for Jerusalem, and, above all, when they took the decision to found the Society of Jesus through what became known as “the deliberation of the first fathers.”


It was impressive to gather all the contributions from the six Regional Conferences and to spend ten days with the Extended Council - a true retreat - to listen to what the Spirit wanted to say to the Society in order to accomplish its mission in our times. Since then, we have noticed that these Apostolic Preferences are taking root in the lives of our companions and giving them, and all those with whom we collaborate, dynamism and genuine joy.

This attitude of discernment in common, nourished by the conscious practice of spiritual conversation, is now our usual way of proceeding in Father General’s Extended Council. We have reduced the number of topics we discuss and we take time for personal prayer to nourish our conversations. This in no way takes away from Father General’s final responsibility for decisions, but it does offer an unparalleled quality of listening, speaking and sharing. This gives me confidence in the governance of the Society, and I look forward to this approach becoming more common at all levels of governance. The members of the Council bear witness to this: the practice of discernment so dear to Ignatius, in both its personal and common dimensions, is taking root throughout the Society.

It is striking to note that this renewal of discernment in common within the Society is developing at a time when Pope Francis is committing the people of God to the path of synodality. This can be seen as a confirmation that we are working well in synergy with the Church. We are also encouraged to put the resources of our spirituality at its service.

For me, the Extended Council has been a wonderful experience of fraternity. I will no longer be able to consider the central government of the Society as a distant entity disconnected from the life of the body. I know that Father General, together with all the Counselors, Assistants, Secretaries and all the other members who are at work in Rome, are putting all their human and spiritual strength at the service of the universal Society.I will always be grateful to them.

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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 media relations.

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