GC 36 – Responding to new calls and urgent needs

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The Preparatory Commission (Coetus Praevius) for GC 36 met in Rome from Monday, August 31 to Saturday, September 12. The task of the group, which included Fr General Adolfo Nicolás SJ and the Conference Presidents, was to draw up an agenda for the upcoming General Congregation.

Postulates

The group examined the 146 postulates that had come in from all over the Society of Jesus. Topics included the renewal of our community and individual lives, our mission, and governance of the Society.

“It was a daunting task being faced with all those postulates,” said Fr Douglas Marcouiller SJ who moderated the meeting.  “We were helped enormously by the analysis done here ahead of time in the General Curia by a variety of people. My heartfelt thanks to all who helped so wonderfully with that background work.”

Call of the Eternal King

Fr General had asked each Province and Region to discern three calls that the Eternal King is giving to the Society.  The Commission looked at the 242 calls received in answer to this request, and drew up a meditative document that provides a context for the entire year ahead and for study of the different issues raised.

“It was inspiring to see all the energy in the Society and to hear all the different issues and proposals,” said Fr Nicolás.  “There really is a sense that the Spirit is moving.  Province and Regional Congregations somehow were able to stretch beyond their Province or Regional boundaries, to think about the worldwide situation and present new ideas.  That creativity is hugely impressive.”

Decisions

The Commission’s hope is that GC 36 will give an integrated vision of Jesuit life and mission, and propose governance structures to support and develop it.  As such it has decided to establish commissions to address:

  • The Call to a Renewal of Jesuit Life and Mission
  • The Call for Renewed Governance for a Renewed Mission

The members of the two commissions will be chosen at the upcoming Conference Electors meetings of each of the six Conferences.  The Conference Electors will also study the Relatio Praevia document drawn up by the Preparatory Commission.

“The main task of this General Congregation is to elect a new General.  At the same time there are matters that can be dealt with to update our Society governance so that we can respond more effectively to contemporary opportunities and challenges,” said Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific President Fr Mark Raper SJ.  “It is clear that we don’t need a plethora of documents. What may emerge, we hope, is the realisation that many of today’s challenges in ecology, migration, spirituality, pastoral work, intellectual ministry, education, social justice are interconnected.  Can the Congregation help us to see how these are all part of a unified mission, a mission that is in turn linked to our individual and community lives?”

This is the first time that a General Congregation has begun at Conference level.  This is to try to ensure that the material produced will be of high quality, and that when people arrive for the plenary session in Rome in October 2016, a lot of the homework will have already been done.  A shorter and more effective plenary session of the Congregation may result.

An important part of the meeting of the Preparatory Commission was the daily Eucharist and daily prayer together.  These were simple but profound – a chance to pray together for the Society and the Church, a chance to appreciate the enormous work done at Province and Regional level, a chance to pray for the needs of the world and the Church, a chance to build an atmosphere of discernment.  Towards the end of the meeting, the group celebrated a Mass in the rooms of St Ignatius, asking him to intercede for the Commission and for the entire process of the Congregation.

The work of the Preparatory Commission is over, and the GC Co-ordinating committee takes over on 1 December.  A letter from Fr General, with more information, will be issued in early October.

Coetus Praevius members

F. General Adolfo Nicolás, Douglas Marcouiller (Moderator), Paul Béré, Jorge Cela Carvajal, John Dardis, Stefan Dartmann, David Fernández Dávalos, Thomas P GreeneTimothy P Kesicki, Michael Lewis, Antonio F Moreno, George Pattery, Francis Xavier Periyanayagam, Mark Raper.

Rome, September 15, 2015

– ends –

Meetings of Conference Electors

Conference Website Dates
Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) www.jesam.info October 8 – 9, Nairobi
North America (JCCUS) www.jesuits.org October 15 – 18, St Louis
Europe and the Middle East (CEP) www.jesuits-europe.info October 19 – 21, Rome
Asia Pacific (JCAP) www.sjapc.net October 19 – 22, Manila
Latin America and the Caribbean (CPAL) www.cpalsj.org November 2 – 5, Santiago de Chile
South Asia (JCSA) www.jcsaweb.org November 3 – 10, Pune

Please continue to pray for the success of GC 36.  The special prayers we have developed can be found here