“We’ve learned to go beyond, to be bold. Our role is not be attached to the old ways of solving things but to take the risk of proposing fresh answers to the problems of the changing world as well as to those of the changing Society of Jesus” says Fr. John Wilfred Lobo SJ, the Provincial of Darjeeling Province. He was one of 12 new Jesuit Major Superiors taking part in a special Colloquium at the General Curia. It ran from November 5th to the 17th.
The colloquium was organised by Fr. José Magadia and the meeting gave an opportunity for the attendees to share their experiences of management and leadership, as well as to learn new ideas and skills. There were sessions about financial administration, community life, building a culture of safeguarding, inter provincial collaboration, social apostolate, the work of JRS as well as a variety of meetings with curial officials.
“Our Provinces and Regions are far away from each other, placed in many different cultural contexts, but we often struggle with the same problems,” says Fr. Lobo. “The lesson I’m bringing home is that leadership is not about solving these issues from a top down approach, but to listen – to both companions and experts – and to reflect on the problems from a distance and with creativity.”
One of the key themes during the course was how the Jesuit tradition links to new ways of governing and leading. Fr. Lobo said this tradition is often incorrectly perceived as a fixed way of leading missions or addressing issues:
“Ignatian leadership, which comes directly from the example of St. Ignatius, is paradoxically against this kind of traditional way. It requires us to be deeply rooted in our spirituality, to always ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ instead of ‘what’. We should not be fixed on solutions and on particular ministries themselves but firstly to focus on goals and on vision and only afterwards to look at the means. The hard thing about this is that it asks me to leave my comfort zone, to shake up my own awareness and consciousness and then gradually and carefully shake up the awareness and consciousness of others. Only in this way can we be creative and implement a truly valuable change. After all, leadership shouldn’t be focused on maintenance or administration but on taking the next step forward.”
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