“For the past ten years, Fr. Jorge Serrano has served the Society of Jesus in the development of offices and strategies to increase the philanthropic activity of Provinces and Regions. Because of his hard work, there is greater knowledge and competence for inviting our friends and collaborators in sharing and supporting our mission. In addition, there is now an extensive library and a number of resources to assist those seeking to develop and grow such efforts. Jorge will finish his service in this role at the end of June 2020 and will return to his Province, Colombia. The General Treasurer’s Office will continue to build upon what Jorge has developed by being the primary liaison and support for the Conference and Province / Region offices for local philanthropy and ministry to our collaborators in the service of the Church and the world.”
This is how Fr. Thomas McClain, General Treasurer, has made the announcement of Jorge Serrano’s departure from the General Curia’s Jesuit community in a couple of months. It is also a tribute to the efforts and enthusiasm that Fr. Serrano has dedicated to this difficult task of helping the Jesuits, all around the world, to enhance their relationships with those who believe in the mission of the Society and who have the means to support it. We have met with the Assistant Treasurer for Development Resources and asked him about his commitment to serve the Universal Society of Jesus over this past decade.
Jorge Serrano, how has your work changed in the Society's habits and ways of doing things over the last ten years?
I believe that the greatest achievement has been to recover the Ignatian vision in our relationship with the benefactors of the mission in two dimensions. The first is that they do not give to the Jesuits, but to the mission of Christ carried out by the Society of Jesus. The second dimension has been to be grateful again to all those who contribute resources to that mission, whether in time, money or material goods.
How have you taken into account the socio-economic situations that are so different from one Province to another to help each one strengthen its development and philanthropic activities?
I think that there are no rich or poor countries. There are countries with a very high concentration of wealth in a few hands. My message was the same. First, 90% of donors donate because someone asked them to. Secondly, that invitation must be accompanied by a project that impacts people's lives. Saint Ignatius knew how to beg in the streets, in the cardinal's palaces and with the Flemish merchants, for prostitutes or for the students of the Roman College, and his letter of introduction was the effects that he produced in people's lives.
What have been the main obstacles you have encountered?
I will reduce it to one. The Jesuits of the last 50 years, myself among them, have been formed as "children of the king", who do not know where the resources available to them come from. We feel rich no matter what Province we serve. To that extent we have no interest in seeking benefactors. Recovering our capacity to count on men and women committed to the mission of the Society as benefactors requires a revision of the formation plans that incorporate the dimension of poverty of the professed and that of being mendicants.
What do you hope the people you have assisted will remember from you, your advice, your experience?
Here again, just one thing. That when their superior gives them a mission other than that of being director of the development office, these Jesuits continue to invite their friends, their parishioners, the people who do retreats with them, their former students and their families, to continue to participate as benefactors in the mission we carry out. Not only for their own apostolate, but be willing to contribute to the mission in their province and in the rest of the Society.