The facilitator of the “Colloquium” at the Curia, Fr. José Magadia, answers a few questions
Twelve new Major Superiors (Provincials or Regional Superiors) spent two weeks at the General Curia. They participated in a “multi-dimensional” workshop with the curia officers and with Fr. Arturo Sosa. Our site echoes some of their reactions and reflections at the end of this precious experience. But we wanted the point of view of the organizer, José Magadia, Father General’s Counsellor for Formation. Here is what he is sharing with us.
Beyond the information that the Curia offers to the new Provincials, during their “colloquium”, what fruits are you expecting from this type of session?
Key to the experience of this colloquium is for the participants to be able to exchange experiences, to listen to each other. It has been truly consoling for each one to realize that he is not alone.
An important part of coming to the Curia is the strengthening of personal bonds with Father General. After all, each one of these Major Superiors was appointed by him and is accountable to him for his office. The hope is that this experience would encourage the Major Superior to keep in close touch with Father General, opening his conscience to him, maintaining frequent communication with him, informing him about the progress of the Province and its more important matters, its plans and projects.
The participants to the “colloquium” are coming from very different religious and social contexts. How is their sharing useful for their own governance?
The main differences come from the socio-cultural and political contexts in which the different Major Superiors find themselves. The variety of situations is quite impressive -- religious intolerance in South Asia, political killings in the Philippines, populist policy transitions in Britain, shifts in government-Vatican relations in China, the continuing recovery from the great earthquake of 2015 in Nepal, the ongoing struggles in Zambia and Malawi. In some places, the Church and the Society are growing, while in others, the diminishment is drastic.
On the other hand, the similarities are also there. Think of the issues regarding migration and the movement of peoples, the ongoing discernment regarding our Jesuit priorities and institutions, the challenge for Jesuits of being truly with the poor, the need to work better with our many different partners in mission, the importance of creating and promoting a consistent culture of protection and safety for minors. All these are challenges faced by all Major Superiors.
Despite the variety of social and religious contexts from which the Major Superiors have come, just listening to the others helps a lot.
First of all, they realize that their concerns and challenges are really quite similar, rooted in the same objective of helping our brothers in the Society of Jesus to live Jesuit religious life and mission with “creative fidelity”. Second, given the basic similarity across contexts, it is important to have that experience of being with others in leadership posts, Jesuits with whom they can share, consult, bounce off ideas. Third, listening to the different situations and cultures is critical because it strengthens the sense of the universal Society of Jesus, and the reality that each of them is responsible not just for his own unit, but for the universal Society as a whole.
Are you dealing with the topic of vocations promotion during this “colloquium”?
Yes, vocations promotions came up in our discussions. The major point emphasized was the need to be more creative about attracting young men to consider the Jesuit vocation. In this, it became clear that the witness of Jesuit community life is particularly important and crucial – one that could exude the joy spoken of by no less than Pope Francis in his challenge to religious congregations.
On the other hand, we looked at the Guidelines for Provincials. These recall that: “In the matter of admissions, the Provincial should blend the desire and responsibility to increase the number … with rigor in the selection of candidates.”