On 21st October 2021, the Jesuits and their collaborators working at Lycee du Saint Esprit and Saint Aloysius of Gonzaga, Nyabiyorwa in Bujumbura met for a workshop on the Ignatian pedagogy and the new Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus.

Since it was a public holiday, the participants who are normally public servants, given that our two schools are semi-public institutions, had the opportunity to break with their normal classroom activities and learn something different within another context. The aim of the workshop was to introduce to the Jesuits and their collaborators, the content of the booklet “Jesuit Education: A Living Tradition for the 21st Century” published by the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education (ICAJE).

A prayer imploring the coming of the Holy Spirit opened the workshop and this prayerful session was followed by some introductory remarks given by Fr Felix Barutwanayo, S.J., the Rector of Lycee du saint Esprit, mapping the day and explaining the reasons why the workshop is an imperative necessity for all educators and their partners in Jesuit institutions. Jesuit Education constantly seeks to discern and to find how best the mission of educating young people to become complete and competent men and women for others can be achieved. The day comprised of three exposés and one session of group discussions. The first exposé was presented by Fr Charles Niyigena, S.J. who is the Prefect of Studies at Lycee du Saint Esprit in Bujumbura. He dealt with the theme on The Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach. Within the context of a fast-changing education system and the declining quality of education in Burundi, the presenter illustrated how Jesuit schools should always be inspired by the Ignatian Pedagogical model to remain excellent and to adapt positively to the new changes in the education system.

The second speaker was Fr Augustin KALUBI, S.J., the Education Delegate for the Central Africa Province of the Society of Jesus. He presented the content of the booklet “Jesuit Education: A Living Tradition for the 21st Century.” He gave a brief description of the fundamental documents that inspired the writing of the new booklet and how these documents can be explored and deepened for a better understanding. The new situation in the world requires from us constant adaptation to the various changing realities in the socio-political arena, the Church, and the Society of Jesus. It is important to understand the context within which we are called to accomplish our education ministry and how this context influences, the learners, the teachers, and educators as well as the surrounding environment in all its diversities.

He also explained the Global Identifiers of Jesuit Schools and why it is important to check how far our institutions truly respond to these global identifiers. As Jesuits and Educators, we form a global community pursuing the same values and it is important to hold on what makes us one as a family, share what we are or have, and learn from one another. We had the opportunity to experience this global belonging and learn from others as we benefited from Fr Augustin KALUBI’s long and wide experience in the education Ministry even though this presentation was done online via zoom. Despite the limiting conditions imposed by the restrictions of Covid-19 pandemic, there is hope that we can continue to do greater things, if not face to face, at least through the modern means of communications.

The last presentation was done by Fr Felix Barutwanayo, S.J., the Rector of Lycee du Saint Esprit in Bujumbura and it was about the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus for 2019-2029 and how they can be applied within our school environments. For almost all non-Jesuit collaborators in our institutions, the Universal Apostolic Preferences were new to them. It was, therefore, a good opportunity to learn and to know the leading vision and emphasis of the mission of the Society of Jesus worldwide for these coming years. The Four Apostolic preferences especially the third one on accompanying young people for the creation of hope-filled future retained our attention.

After these three presentations, the participants had the opportunity to exchange on these various themes in small groups. The group sharing aimed at helping the participants to express what had mostly touched them, what they felt as a challenge or that needed to be explained more, and how they could respond to the Universal Apostolic Preferences within their school environment.

As the various groups expressed what had transpired during the sharing, one could feel a deep longing for the practice of the Spiritual Exercises and other Ignatian prayers such as the Examination of Consciousness. All the groups also mentioned that the most important and urgent action to be taken should include the accompaniment of young people since it is their primary mission. They also expressed how it is an imperative, now more than ever before, to engage in the protection of our common home which is the environment in which we live. The participants ended the sessions with a thanksgiving celebration of the Eucharist followed by the sharing of a meal.