As temperatures were sweltering during this past northern-hemisphere summer, Boston College hosted from August 3-6 the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) 2022 Assembly.

It was the first IAJU assembly after the 2018 inaugural gathering that was held in Deusto. This year’s theme was ‘Discerning the Future of Jesuit Higher Education.’

Over 350 delegates representing their different Jesuit institutions of higher learning and organizations across the world participated in this year’s meeting. The participants also included the members of IAJU Task Forces on Environmental and Economic Justice; Global Citizenship; Peace and Reconciliation; Role of Theology in Today’s Jesuit Universities; and Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees. The Task Force teams presented in panel discussions the work that has been done hitherto, the challenges, and the opportunities that presented themselves in the different areas of work. Jesuit universities and institutions of higher learning represented in the assembly were urged to face the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by the different situations and contexts in which they find themselves.

In his Keynote Address to the Assembly, the General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, alluded to some of these challenges and opportunities when referring to the different tensions experienced in the daily lives of our universities and the institutions of higher learning. Fr. Sosa underscored the importance of discernment, especially “a discernment that leads to shared decisions about what characterizes” institutions that are members of the IAJU.

Fr. General also touched on the need to discern the ethical and moral aspects of donations from potential benefactors. He reminded the assembly that our institutions relied on the generosity of benefactors. One understood clearly that despite the great need for the generosity of benefactors, our institutions should not be happy to receive donations while being blind to some of the human sufferings that may have been caused and endured during the hoarding of those resources by potential donors. It was a gentle but clear warning that our institutions could be susceptible to such donors in their endeavors to launder their money. Here too, discernment is indispensable.

In his conclusion and before giving his words of gratitude on behalf of the Society of Jesus to the universities for the hard work being done in complex contexts and situations, Fr. Sosa expressed what the desire of the Society was for the assembly. He pointed out to delegates that the Society of Jesus desired that the “assembly renew the creative energies of the members of the IAJU” for the integral formation of persons who could discern and be committed to” the search for social and ecological justice.”

On the morning of the last day of the assembly, Fr General met for 30 minutes with the Regional Members of the IAJU. It was an opportunity for the General to listen, share and interact with delegates’ thoughts and ideas on pertinent issues concerning universities and other institutions of higher learning that are particular to the different regions. Although short, these meetings were very helpful and encouraging as well. The Assembly concluded with dinner preceded by Mass celebrated by Fr General.