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Consiglio Allargato: Renewing Our Commitment to Jesuit Vocation and the meaning of Religious Life

News from the Meeting of Father General’s Expanded Council

The virtual Consiglio Allargato (Expanded Council) of Father General held from 7 to 11 September 2020.

The meeting went well. If I recall correctly, it was the first time that an entire Consiglio Allargato  focused on one single theme, namely “The Jesuit Vocation today: Its meaning, its living and its promotion.” We spent the five days in prayer, conversation and deliberation on the various aspects of the Jesuit vocation.

Of particular salience was the vocation of Jesuit brothers. We had the help of two brothers to reflect on and discuss the importance and challenges facing vocation to the brotherhood. One of the participants was Br. James Edema SJ (AOR). A report was presented of a global survey of patterns, trends, challenges and best practices in vocation promotion. Some of the highlights of the meeting include:

· The single and unified nature of Jesuit vocation; it is first and foremost a vocation to religious life, that is, a call to be companions of Jesus.

· The insight that vocation promotion is a mission of itself – a mission to accompany young people in search of a hope-filled future; vocation promotion is not narrowly about attracting people to the Society; and in this context, vocation promotion and youth apostolate should be intrinsically connected.

· Jesuits who are missioned to vocation promotion need training and formation themselves. They function more effectively if they work in diverse teams that include lay people.

· Vocation promotion should use more creatively ICT platforms that are becoming more and more accessible to young people, including the full range of social media.

· If vocation promotion is to succeed, Jesuit communities and works should take more responsibility for this mission and they should be open and hospitable spaces for young people to encounter and experience authentic examples of Jesuit life-mission.

The reflections, discussions and deliberations were rich – made even more so by the participation of some lay and religious collaborators.

 

Going forward,

· Father General and his Assistant for Formation, Fr. Mark Ravizza SJ, will meet with JCAM Major Superiors at their next plenary meeting in October 2020 to explore some of the issues concerning vocation promotion in the Conference. They will join via video link.

· The world meeting of Jesuit brothers will take place in Rome from 28 June to 2 July 2021.

· JCAM vocation promoters will meet for the first time at the end of 2020 with novice directors in Cyangugu, Rwanda.

The next Consiglio Allargato is scheduled for January 2021.