Preparations continue for GC36

Meeting of hte preparatory commission
Meeting of hte preparatory commission

Across the Jesuit world preparations are continuing for the 36th General Congregation (GC36) – the ultimate authority in the Society of Jesus.

The Preparatory Commission (Coetus Praevius) for GC36 met in Rome for a fortnight in September. Its fourteen members included John Dardis SJ of the Irish Province who is the President of the Conference of European Provincials.  British Province Jesuit Mike Lewis attended in his role as President of the Conference of Africa and Madagascar.

The task of the group was to draw up an agenda for the upcoming General Congregation. The group examined 146 postulates which came in from all over the Society.

Father General Adolfo Nicolás asked that each Province and Region discern the three Calls that the Eternal King is giving to the Society. The Commission looked at the 242 calls received in answer to this request. It drew up a meditative document which provides a context for the entire year ahead and for study of the different issues arising. “It was very inspiring to see all the energy in the Society and to hear all the different issues and proposal”, 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

In preparation for GC 36, the group decided to establish two commissions which will address:

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

Their hope is that GC 36 can give an integrated vision of Jesuit life and mission and can propose governance structures to support and develop it. Membership of these commissions  will be chosen at the upcoming meetings of each of the six Conferences.
“We feel that the Society does not want many documents or new decrees from the next Congregation,” said John Dardis. “We hope that what will emerge is a better sense of the linkage of the many areas in which we work: ecology, migration, spirituality, pastoral work, intellectual ministry, education, social justice. Can the Congregation help to develop a sense of how these are all part of a unified mission? And how can it promote a sense that this mission, in turn, is linked to our individual and community lives?”

This is the first time that a General Congregation begins at Conference level. The aim is to try to ensure that any material produced will be of high quality and that when Electors from all the provinces  arrive in Rome in 2016 for the plenary session, already a lot of the homework will have been done. A shorter and more effective plenary session of the Congregation may result.

The Electors from Conference Europe and the Middle East (CEP) will be meeting in Rome on 19-21 October.  Attending will be Fr Provincial Dermot Preston SJ, and Damian Howard SJ, who was elected to represent the Jesuits in Britain at their Province Congregation earlier this year.  Br Stephen Power SJ, Treasurer of the Jesuits in Britain, will also be attending in his role as elected representative of all Jesuit brothers in Europe.