Answering the call of the 36th General Congregation
In late 2016 the 36th General Congregation requested a renewal of the services rendered by the General Curia to the Society of Jesus. In response, the ARSI (Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu) and the Peter-Hans-Kolvenbach Library of the General Curia formed a committee in 2017-2018 to reflect on the service provided by ARSI and the Library. This was the first phase of the renewal process.
The second phase of the renewal process was completed in 2018 with the presentation to the Committee of a proposal for the restructuring of these two ministries, as well as the start of collaboration between the archive centers of the Society that are in Rome (ARSI, Archives of the Gregorian University, those of the Euro-Mediterranean Province and the archives of the Germanic College).
Based on the lessons learned from the first two phases, the third phase will initiate a collaborative network at the international level, starting with archives of the Society that will have the responsibility of “initiating and promoting network collaboration” among the various archives within the Jesuit Conferences. In order to initiate this network collaboration at the international level, those responsible for several of the archives of the Society, as designated by the Presidents of the Conferences, are meeting at the General Curia from February 12th to the 15th. The goal of the meeting is to create a template for a fruitful gathering that can be easily replicated within each of the various Conferences in order to integrate all other archives of the Society.
We asked two of the participants - numbering twenty in all - to tell us what they see as the benefit of collaboration between Jesuit archives and what specific collaboration they believe they can contribute.
Rene Javellana, SJ, Philippines
The meeting of archivists of Jesuit archives demonstrated clearly that the Jesuit archives are a source of data and information not only about the Society of Jesus but also about the world in which the Jesuit mission is accomplished.
From the presentations of the activities of our colleagues in different countries, we could see that the value of Jesuit archives is brought to fullness not when each center is a “stand alone” operation, but rather when common links are found or created. Indeed, the Society is an international body. The proposal to build a closer network among archives is the logical conclusion of this reality. In this context, the Philippines brings to the network the East Asian and Pacific perspective.
René Cortínez, SJ, Chili
The main interest of our meeting is to remind each other that our activity is a mission: to collaborate actively with Christ, at the service of His project. We meet to share good practices regarding the proper harmonization between civil law and the law of the Church and of the Society in complex matters, but more importantly to encourage networking.
In this context it is possible to think of undertaking, jointly, because of content or geographical areas, research, conservation and/or digitization projects of interest to several Provinces. Moreover, our networks should also nourish our discernment in order to succeed, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, in the greatest service to the men and women of our time, who seek in history ways of identity and meaning.