A journey of justice and reconciliation

Fr Xavier Jeyaraj Sj and Fr Charles Chilufya SJ
Fr Xavier Jeyaraj SJ and Fr Charles Chilufya SJ

The Jesuit Secretariat for Socio-Economic Development was founded in 1969, at a time when such terms were still new, by Superior General Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ. Now called the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat, it will commemorate its fiftieth anniversary next year.
The Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) assists Fr General in delivering the mission of the Society by promoting justice and reconciliation with creation, both at the level of the six Jesuit Conferences (which tend to represent continents) and Provinces (national level) in the Society of Jesus. It establishes international collaborations between apostolic sectors and pays special attention to the social justice ministries worldwide, including Jesuit Missions and Jesuit Refugee Service.

Current Secretariat President Fr Xavier Jeyaraj SJ, observes “St Ignatius wrote to the Jesuits in Padua, “Our commitment to follow a poor Lord, quite naturally makes us friends of the poor.” These ‘poor’ are neither a sociological category nor a pious generalization, but the name for the real persons and groups among whom we live, whose conditions we study, with whom we work. Our endeavour is to work with people for change to bring the charity and the justice of the Gospel to society and culture. We have been given Good News and abundant reasons to hope that this is possible, and in this passionate enterprise which is religious and cultural and social, local and global, we want to share these hopes with others.”

Fr General commented, “This is a historic moment not merely for the social secretariat but also for the entire Society of Jesus”.

A series of Conference level events are proposed during March to October 2019 to include Jesuits, lay collaborators and partners from faith based and secular organisations with the objectives to celebrate and reflect on the fifty year journey mission represented by the work of the SJES, to create new and strengthen existing opportunities for collaboration and networking, and to discern ways to implement the new Universal Apostolic Preferences in social ministry.

The General Congregation 35 in 2008 adopted a new mission for the worldwide Society of Jesus – to promote reconciliation with God, with one another and with Creation.   In 2017 Fr General began a process of discernment among the whole Society to develop new objectives – known as the Universal Apostolic Preferences  - in order to support and deliver the Society’s mission from 2019-2029.  The results of the consultation and discernment will be published in early 2019, and will inform both the Conference level events and also a major Universal Social Apostolic Congress in Rome in November 2019.