Among the guests invited by Father General to make a presentation to the members of the Enlarged Council, there is a Jesuit actuary, Fr. Edgar Magallanes, from Venezuela. He kindly shared the context of his contribution.
Edgar Magallanes, what is the reason for your presence in the General Curia of the Society of Jesus these days?
Father General asked me for an actuarial work that would forecast the number of Jesuits in the Universal Society and in each Conference for the next 30 years as one of the inputs for the discernment of the apostolic preferences of the Society for the next 10 years. I have dedicated myself exclusively to this work for three months, being advised by the actuarial consultant METRICS RISK, C.A. in Venezuela, and counting on the invaluable support of the General Curia.
Without revealing details of the work of the Consiglio allargato, what are the key ideas that you bring to the attention of Father General and his council members?
This actuarial work is based on the study of three basic variables: Entrances, Departures and Deaths. Through the evidenced statistics of the years 2001 to 2017 for the universal Society and for each Conference, the trend of the variables in question is studied and projected. This forecast becomes a tool for discernment and subsequent decision making, especially with respect to the variables Entrances and Departures. Departures are a source of concern, especially for the Conference of Latin America.
As an actuary, what, in your opinion, are the most relevant data on the demographic situation of the Society of Jesus that could guide our apostolic commitments during the coming years?
A first piece of information concerns a certain geographical transition, in the future, since the greatest number of Jesuits are coming from the Conferences of South Asia and Africa; this defines a new face of the Universal Society that more regularly draws on the richness of these regions. A second data concerns a demographic transition in terms of age, in a Society that, although the number of its members is decreasing, has a slightly increasing structure in terms of their age. In other words, the age pyramid of the universal Society has a slightly broader base; it has more young people than older Jesuits.
You are Venezuelan, like our Father General; have you had opportunities to work with Fr. Sosa before his election as Superior General? What is the connection between you?
Father Arturo was my superior when I taught at the Catholic University of Táchira (UCAT). At that time, under the provincialate of Fr. Arturo Peraza, Father General Adolfo Nicolás requested from us to discern the sustainability of the Province of Venezuela and I was asked to do an actuarial study as input for that purpose. Father Sosa helped me with the reading of this first study and how to structure the final report. In addition, we participated in the Inter-Border Apostolic Network – RAIF – and jointly in the Social Observatory of Táchira, at the same University.