Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ignatian Educators as Pilgrims on the Way

Fr. Connell led delegates in a reflection on Jesuit educators as pilgrims on the way together: power, potential, and perils.  He began with an imagination exercise, ultimately inviting delegates to recall how we better know our own homeland, the function of familiarity and memory.  Cartographers who once needed to know the land they map but no longer in this age in the Google maps are less for this.  Is this the level of our appreciation of the Jesuit network?  If we simply read the map or follow the GPS navigation system without knowing the Jesuit road or network first hand, how will that send us amiss?  Fr. Connell's point:  if we are going to truly embrace the Jesuit global network, we need a first hand knowledge of its depths, not simply the superficiality of map or digital description.   After all, we have only recaptured the Spiritual Exercises as our principal inspiration in the past 25 years.  

Our challenge then, Fr. Connell offered, is for our school leaders share actively in this global Jesuit network.  And for this network to offer a common vision we can individually and collectively engage in, be inspired by, and be led by.  We, like the first companions, are having spiritual conversations here that will help us to better know our future, discern God's will, and strengthen our resolve to follow this will.

One way this will happen, Fr. Connell charged, is for the developing world Jesuit schools to be viewed as full partners with their developed peers: to have a place at the table, not simply a piece of the pie.  His school 15 km outside Dodoma,  Tanzania, for example, will require $50,000 US simply for Internet connectivity.  Growth in our Jesuit identity can't happen simply in individual persons or schools or provides by actively together.  This is not our heritage inspired in the Spiritual Exercises.

Fr. Connell closed with an example of this active participation in the global Jesuit network.  Last summer,  Jesuit educators from the Chicago-Detroit province high schools gathered with Jesuit educators from St. Peter Claver in Dodoma.  The fruit of common prayer, meals, worship, and friendship was the articulation of seven principals of Jesuit education.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Network Initiatives

Ignacianos Por Haiti:  A Jesuit organization of education professionals working in Haiti.  This includes support of a Jesuit Fe y Alegria school as well as a solidarity campaign throughout the Jesuit secondary education world.

International Baccalaureate:    Paul Campbell, head of regional development for the IB, offered examples and inspiration to share how IB can partner with Jesuit secondary schools.

Global International Advocacy Network:  Ms. Lucia explained GIAN to the audience, including their advocacy for the right of quality education for all.

World Union of Jesuit Alumni.  The vice president of WUJA explained the work of his organization and how we might better link our alumni with WUJA.  WUJA has its roots in Europe, although its aim is to better reach out across the globe, leaning into the priorities of the Society of Jesus.

The Jesuit Network and Technology

Fr. Dani Villanueva presentation offered a response to the question how technology can help build the Jesuit international network.  To answer this question, Fr. Dani offered six examples.

Fr. Dani first offered the interesting example of Recaptha as effective and massive on line collaboration that is helping to digitize one million books. Another example Dani offered was his friend Kasum, a mother in the JRS camp in northwest Kenya who earns money through international online work.

Using Kony 2012 viral You Tube video, Dani then highlighted how innovation, not simply technology, is bringing positive change, democracy, and social justice.   Thirty percent of the world is connected, and the Society of Jesus has a unique opportunity to share the Good News in transformative and massive ways.

Dani then posed the question why didn't Pedro Arrupe begin JRS through traditional province structures, as always.  Dani offered that perhaps Arrupe understood the refugee situation as a global crisis that required a global response, not hampered by traditional boarders.  Fe y Alegria is another example of how technology and innovation aid global connectedness to respond to global challenges.  Using programs such as Illuminate, technology strengthens this connection.  another example Dani offered was the example of G.C. 35, which used a microsite to connect the world to the proceedings in real time for the first time, promoting the union of hearts and minds.  This was asked by Jesuits spread through the world, not the Curia.  But it was the delegates themselves that used the website the most, blogging and creating several Facebook pages.  Another example is that the Magis program connected with World Youth Day optimized the how youth interact through technology at that event.  Dani assembled an international team of communication professionals to connect youth across the world to connect to the event in real time.

Other examples Dani offered are not events but sustainable international programs that leverage technology.  Jesuit Commons offers higher education at the margins through Jesuit university partners for refugee camps in Africa.  Global Ignatian Advocacy Network is another global example connected through technology.

In conclusion, Dani challenged the audience to listen to how people are using technology to connect, and how these tools could be used to help us: to move from superficial communication to transformational communion.  Mature organizations will creatively respond to this opportunity Dani suggested, by previous examples of Fe y Alegria and JRS.  This will require trust and openness.

Three challenges Dani offered our sector:

1) study of penetration of technology
2) knowledge management consultation
3) mapping of the network

When I first went to school...

V. Rev. Orobator, SJ

Fr. Orobator begun his presentation with a beautifully sung prayer and led into part of his story, how he came to know the shepherd...

When he first went to school there was no school.  He went to "Garri" school, a makeshift collection of children gathered from homes and safely paraded to the teacher's house, not a classroom to be found.   This teacher, a true shepherd, led the way, and Fr. Orobator developed a deep devotion to this shepherd.  She modeled for him how we are all called to model the Good Shepherd as educators of the young. 

The gospel story of the Good Shepherd was then proclaimed in Spanish to draw us deeper into the truth of this call: Jesus calls all His followers to Him, the Good Shepherd we are invited to then model for others.

Garri is the starchy grain Fr. Orobator mom equipped him with for the day's nourishment, placed lovingly into his pocket.  Hence, the understanding of this as the "Garri" school.  Fr. Orobator further described the simple conditions of his school, no chairs, no desks, no pens, paper, just a simple wood tablet and some chalk in which he learned to write English.

Then proclaiming, in French, G.C. 34, Decree 26's call to a "holy boldness", Fr. Orobator exhorted the audience to provide the gift of education no matter the obstacles, as his Garri school did for him.

Fr. Orobator then shared his experience of primary school, a journey to the this school with his neighbor children an example of solidarity as no child walked to school alone.  This notion, echoed in Pope John Paul's proclamation on solidarity, was read in English.  

Fr. Orobator linked his experience to our call as leaders in Jesuit education.  Describing his East Africa province's schools from Loyola in Wau, South Sudan to Ocer-Campion Jesuit College in Gulu, Northern Uganda, to the world over, Jesuit education is about making a difference in the lives of the children we serve, as his own life story testifies to. 

Describing the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Fr. Orobator asks if Jesuit education offers an opposite invitation to enslavement, an opportunity for liberation, like the door to the slave ship another door of no return.  Proclaiming Luke 4:16-21 in Spanish, the Lord proclaims this liberty to the captives, glad tidings to the poor.  This is the Good News, fulfilled through the liberation of youth through education.

Fr. Orobator concluded with intercessory prayer for the young, their liberation through education, and our Jesuit ministries that help towards this end.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Leadership: Born from the Jesuit Mission

Humility can be misplaced, if it comes from a broken idea of leadership, if we think of leaders as being charge, maintaining the power and celebrity. The idea that leadership is for only people in charge, is not the solution to any problem.

We must think of ourselves as leaders first. Living our values, not status, is our claim to leadership. 

Magis means we are able to attack and establish ways to address the joys and hopes dreams and desires of the poor and afflicted of the present age. This is a leadership mentality to achieve a vision much larger then themselves. First instill the Magis, then get results.  

Company is etymologically a group of people with whom you break bread, a group with whom you are revived and gain energy, a group with whom you share in the sacrifice of Christ at the altar.  In what way are we a true company?

Mr. Lowney  left you with three challenges: Be Christ, Be accountable, and Be innovators.  How will we meet these challenges?

Visual representation

Here is a wordle of the lectures we have heard so far. For those who are unfamiliar with wordles, it is a visual representation of speech. The larger the word appears, the more often it was used. You can make your own at

Wordle: ICJSE - Tues


With a great array of Workshops being offered, we hope you use this space to post your observations!

Healthy Environment for Learning and Growing

It is such an important topic: the reality of the abuse of children and teenagers in the church and schools. Though this panel was in Spanish, it is crucial that we address this topic in all languages and institutions. Our solidarity in the transparent approach to protecting our vulnerable- children, teenagers, the unempowered- needs to be named.

The first speaker brought us to consider how important it is that we talk about the crimes that have been committed in our community. We need to name  them and talk about them.  In solidarity, we need to face this truth. First, we must be sure to be aware of the grave harm to children, to be aware of the crimes in our community while maintaining the dignity of the victims and their suffering at the forefront of our minds and hearts and action.  We must continue to face this situation with reflection and investigation.

Challenge of the gaze: making sure our looking is not contaminated.  Looking, expanding our point of view, needs to be done in this Kairos moment and used  to strengthen our institutional psychology.  We cannot bring acid rain to our institutions, we are tasked with creating environments that are nurturing.  Toxic environments are the dangerous frontiers that we need to address through our leadership. 

Protocol for building a healthy community: we need to make sure we have and respect protocols to protect our children and teenagers. These aren't isolated incidents and should not be treated as such. We need to make sure our protocols aren't too cumbersome or legalistic to be usable. Youth is a treasure, it has to be an integral part of our Jesuit identity to protect youth as we educate them.

This issue is central to the Society. We cannot leave it aside.

Reflections on Jesuit Identity

Fr. Huang poses ten points of reflection from the procurates. It will be useful to discuss these in our schools, provinces and region, as well as right here- on campus or on the blog. What are your insights?

Ten points to ponder from our Procurates:
1. Apostolic instruments
Do we understand ourselves and function as apostolic missions?How?

2. Serving faith

How can we be more successful in bringing our students to the joy of friendship with Christ in His community, the Church? How can we assess our success? In non -Christian contexts, how do we serve faith?

3. Bridges to and in the Church
How are we bridging the gap between youth and church?
Are we reflecting on faith in the schools?

4. Collaboration as Mission
How do you see the role of collaboration in your mission?

5. Animated by an Apostolic Community
Who comprises the Ignatian Apostolic Community in your school?
How is maintained? How does it work?

6. Jesuit Community: Accompaniment and Witness
Community as Mission
How do Jesuit communities understand their mission within the larger Ignatian apostolic community?
What needs to be done to change mindsets and attitudes?

7. Close to the Poor, Concerned about Structural Change and the Environment.
Have we grown farther from the poor? How is closeness to the poor promoted?
How have we created a passion for structural change and for care for the environment?

8. The Dimension of Universality
To what extent is there a sense of universal mission in our schools?
How much sharing of perspectives, capacities and resources beyond our provinces and conferences exists?
How do our schools network with other ministries?

9. The Creativity of the Kingdom
To what extent are our schools inspired by competition? To what extent are we limited by our need to compete with other schools?
To what extent are we motivated  by creativity of the Kingdom of God and how is this creativity promoted in our institutions?

10. Discerning the Future of Institutions
What is the quality of our discernment in our schools? How do we begin to freely discern whether we should think of ourselves more as Ignatian, rather than Jesuit works?

What kinds of structures and programs do we need to retain life-giving connection to our Ignatian heritage and presence?

Balanced, Serene and Constant

Fr. Lombardi began by giving us an awe-inspiring image of the Pope's conversation with the astronauts. What a great analogy for us to consider: a collection of diverse individuals, working together to explore and discover new awes in the universe.

He gave us an incredible number of ideas to consider, frontiers to explore, and tensions to balance. Here are a couple of quotes he gave us regarding the Pope's description of the educational emergency that we face. What do you think of these passages? What in his talk spoke to your school's context?

Benedict XVI notes that, "in reality, it is not only the individual responsibilities of adults and young people that are involved, but also a more widespread mindset: a mentality and a form of culture that lead people to doubt the value of the human person, the meaning of truth and good and, in the final analysis, the goodness of life itself. In such a situation it becomes difficult to transmit any worthwhile and certain values from one generation to another: rules of behaviour and credible goals around which people can build their lives"....

Pope Benedict concluded one of his talks on this subject with a fine definition summarising exactly what education is: "Education means forming new generations so that they know how to relate to the world, strengthened by a significant memory, by a shared inner patrimony of real knowledge which, while recognising the transcendent goal of life, guides thoughts, emotions and judgements " (Address to the Italian Episcopal Conference, 27 May 2010).

Our Shared Feast Day

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the lobstahs at BC High to celebrate our community. This morning, we don't have a police escort to get us to the meetings but it looks to be another good day.

Please post your observations so that we have a richer perspective.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Classroom as Wide as the World

Vivien Stewart showed us some interesting exemplars of educators pushing the frontiers. Whether it was American schools realizing that multi-language learning better meets the needs of its' students, or technology being used to break down doorways, walls, and stagnation in classrooms and opening up students' experiences of the world. The examples certainly provoked thought, some ideas in tension, some curiosity and feedback. What did you think? Post your comments here to continue the dialogue.

GC 35 and the Mission

Without even a siesta, we continue to reflect on our global network. Beyond our numbers and contexts, what is our mission that we share? In some ways it is simple: At the service of faith for the purpose of justice in collaboration with all. Fr. Da Silva reminds us of the importance of an insistence of collaboration to animate our work.

Fr. Blaszczak asks us: How is it that you have found your way to this mission? To this way of proceeding? Are you ready for the work to reassess and reexamine what we do and how we do it?

Fr. Alvarez gave us some history of Fe y Alegria. It began from the calling to teach the poor. What are the calls today? How are we responding to the call of recent Congregations? To the least advantaged? To the needs of the environment?

Fr. Garanzini gave us a peek into the way that Jesuit Higher Education is grappling with similar issues as those of us in the work of Jesuit Secondary Education.

We have a tool for inviting faculty into the work of faith: The Exercises. Eager social justice collaborators are easier to come by. The deepest roots of faith and hope spring from these exercises.

Network: Not just a trendy word.

What an interesting way that numbers allow us to gain some insight into who we are and how we work. As each region shares some of the numbers of students, schools, Jesuits, languages, and tuition differentials in our respective regions, the picture of our global network is beginning to form more clearly. Once we clarified that women are worth thrice as much, and part-time Jesuits are sometimes only valued as .5 a person, the room's laughter showed that solidarity was shared in that calculus. As we hear each representative describe contexts, it's easy to see how we are here to work together. What do you see as significant commonalities?

A Continued Welcome and Challenge.

Bill Kemeza, President of BC High, continued last night's welcome to a week of blessed companionship.

Fr. Nicholas welcomed us from Rome. The tech-savvy video message described this week as an opportunity to reflect on the potential to work in a new way. He called us to be both creative and effective- a coupling of adjectives that Fr. Mesa also challenges us to practice.

Fr. Mesa took the stage, reminding us that as we feel welcome we should be cautious about feeling too comfortable. Quoting Fathers Arrupe and Kolvenbach, we were warned of the temptation of being so good. This might lead us to miss the opportunities to change. To consider ourselves outside of history or to allow ourselves to succumb to the stagnation of success are pathways to death. As Kolvenbach says, "The Lord is asking us for the courage to follow the path of renewal," not for the sake of change alone, of course. So that leads us to use our own imaginations as we determine our own frontiers through spiritual discernernment: what is the cultural change to which your school is called? And in this discernement and openess to renewel, we should be sure to work in solidarity. Networking is not just a trendy word. We are in a kairos moment that demands imaginiation, generosity and new ways. We are called to connect and act as a global and interdisciplinary body. What does that body look like? Who are we as a whole? Grab a snack and come back for round two!

Wordle: ICJSE - Mesa