If there is one theme which often recurs in the discourses of Father General during these last few months, it is that of collaboration: it is clear that collaboration must now characterize the commitments of Jesuits. The time is past when Jesuits directed everything, when “Father” knew all and told his “collaborators” what was to be done! The “mission of the Lord” now requires that the gifts of all be pooled; only together, in a spirit of collaboration, will it be possible to advance the Kingdom of God.
On Friday, 22 March, Fr Arturo Sosa met a sizeable group of men and women, associated in various ways with the works of the Society in Croatia. He had the opportunity to stress and explain what Pope Francis has explicitly contended with a number of times: clericalism. Father General recalled that clericalism has been the source of many scandals in the Church, because it encouraged various abuses of power. He also recalled that not only clerics may suffer from this disease. The laity, too, risk adopting a clerical mentality among themselves: this may hinder them from taking up those responsibilities which are peculiarly theirs.
During the gathering, Father General stressed the three-fold reconciliation: reconciliation with God, with humanity and with creation. This is the cornerstone of the Jesuit way of doing things today.
In practical terms, the Jesuit parish, based on the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in the center of Zagreb, lives the spirit of collaboration between Jesuits and their lay partners intensely. One of the most remarkable aspects of the parish’s pastoral apostolate is its outreach to young adults. A very comprehensive program has been set up, based on the interactions of friends, which leads to the encounter with Christ. Marija Selak has many volunteers to coordinate these activities, focused around the SKAC Club, the Catholic student center. The early evening Mass each Friday brings more than five hundred young people together: they continue to meet informally during the later hours of the evening. A variety of retreats, always inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, are offered. The opportunity also exits to serve people in need.
And so, in the shadow of Basilica, right in the center of the city, young people, boys and girls, discover ways to live life more fully. They encourage each other because life is not always easy for them, especially in the light of the uncertainty which unemployment may bring. They also find, in the shadow of this Basilica, or within its calm interior, the spiritual strength to live the magis, the call to look outwards and to serve others.
Listen to Marija’s testimony.
Read Father General’s address to Jesuit collaborators of the Croatian Province.