In January 2012, the Jesuit European Office (OCIPE in Brussels) became the Jesuit European Social Centres (JESC). OCIPE had centres in Brussels, Budapest, Strasbourg and Warsaw. Whereas OCIPE in Strasbourg will remain, the offices in Budapest and Warsaw are now social centres of their respective provinces.

JESC is a separate apostolic and legal entity within the Conference of European Provincials. Through JESC, the Society of Jesus remains committed to a Europe where human rights, freedom and solidarity are the foundation of integration. Europe, especially the European Union, is currently undergoing the most acute political and economic crisis of its existence. While refusing alarmism, JESC continues, in line with the entire history of OCIPE, to seek a critical but constructive engagement with the EU.

Operationally, JESC will be organized in three areas of work:

- European Affairs: We retain an institutional presence in Brussels to the EU Institutions, and with ecclesial and civil society organizations that relate to them.

Social Coordination: We assume the task of social coordination previously carried out directly by the CEP, to encourage and promote the Jesuit European social sector.

Advocacy/Projects: Advocate on issues around corporate exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RPAN); on ecology, coordinating an international network which publishes the electronic newsletter Ecojesuit; and through the ‘Migration Desk’, a service to Jesuits involved in the care of migrants. JESC wishes to embody a Jesuit European engagement which authentically expresses Christian faith, remains close to the poor and marginalised, analyses the social reality with competence, and advocates for justice in European political structures.

The Weekend Seminar Call to Public Life was held from the 11th to the 13th of October in Brussels, hosted majorly by the facilities of the new Jesuit Collège Matteo Ricci. The intention of this three-day Seminar was to Call people to engage actively in their Community and Public Life. A set of questions were raised during the sessions, hence, creating a space for dialogue and aiming to build upon a constructive approach on the European Union Project and besides, understand our rights and responsibilities from different levels of advocacy and citizenship. Social matters were alternated with spiritual sessions for an in and out conscience experience. ¨To be engaged, aware of huge problems in our society: How do we achieve our goals in political life? ​¨Can we rediscover our passion by sharing our hopes for a better world?¨ ¨How to develop its social leadership: Ensure that people are respectful, listening to each other, sharing common values?¨ The Jesuit European Social Centre, jointly with the Jesuit Alumni of Europe (Part of the World Union Jesuit Alumni), were the organisers of the Seminar. The activities were potential insights into the functioning of the European Union, to Living in Community following Spiritual guidance and to provide with further understanding of the concept of Leadership. This was especially interesting from the point of view of the European Leadership Programme Fellows, who also participated in every session of the Seminar. The idea of organizing a Seminar to shed a light on Public life matters emerged from the assumption that it is a Social pillar which enables people to understand current realities and find solutions to make visionary changes for a better future. Given we share a Common Home, Public life cannot survive without a shared consciousness that gets a say on direct representation organisms and is projected by decision making bodies in this case of the European Union. Even at the best of times, civility should not be a trivial concern. Beneath this surface lie all kinds of passions and irrationality that needs to be listened to and be expressed as common objectives. Leadership today is about finding ways to become a citizen that is conscience about himself and has consciousness on his surroundings and people. The opening session, held at the Jesuit Collège Matteo Ricci, started with an introductory speech by JESC Secretary for Justice and Ecology Edmond Grace SJ on Faith and Politics. Alain Deneef, president of World Union of Jesuit Alumni (WUJA) and the President of the Pouvoir Organisateur at the l’asbl ‘Collège Matteo Ricci’, greeted all the participants and gave the word to JESC Secretary for Leadership Botond Feledy, who introduced the audience to the session’s speakers; Marton Hajdu, Joint Research Center, working at the European Commission, and Victoria Martin de la Torre, spokesperson for the President of the Socialist and Democrats Group in the European Parliament. Ms Martin de la Torre based her speech on her book “Europe, a Leap into the Unknown: A Journey Back in Time to Meet the Founders of the European Union”, an investigation into the ambitions and purposes of the Founding Fathers of the EU. She also gave an account on her experience working for the European Parliament. She was confident in her European values and set a comfortable environment for the commencement day of the CtPL Seminar.   On Saturday morning, Edmond Grace SJ led a meditation and prayer session that sought self-reflection. It was followed by the “Fishbanks” Role Play simulation exercise. “Fishbanks” is a simulation game about natural resource management in a competitive environment. Participants played the role of managers of a fishing company and their goal was to ensure the long-term success of their business. Several companies are fishing on the same sea at the same time – this leads to a business challenges and sometimes hard, strategic dilemmas as well. After some mental stimulation, it was time for some body awakening in the format of a Tour around the European Quarters led by Alain Deneef. The second day of the Seminar concluded with an evening with Mr Diego Canga Fano, Former Head of the Cabinet of the European Parliament’s Former President Antonio Tajani. He gave his testimony on the European Union and the future of the institutions as an experienced EU staff member. The moderator this time was JESC Director Peter Rožič SJ, who opened the event with a reflection on the importance to exercise body and mind. The day ended with a nice dinner where there was space for some conviviality and conversation. Sunday was the closing day. Edmond Grace SJ concluded the Seminar with morning meditation and prayer, followed by a solidarity, conscience and reconciliation workshop. The Collège Matteo Ricci hosted a moment of discussion on paramount values and reflections from the impacts and thoughts on the weekend. To finalise, the ELP Fellows had one last simulation game monitored by Bela Kuslits, Sustainability Expert. The STRATAGEM  is a computer-assisted simulation game developed for the UN and the World Bank to train senior experts. The Fellows impersonated ministers of a government through 10 election cycles (game rounds). They had to develop a developing country and convert it into a sustainable nation. They had to face decisions, circumscribed to a given description and portfolio, in five ministries: Food & Environment, Goods & Services, Energy, Population, Finance. While the model is relatively simple, its results are surprisingly realistic and often these can be directly compared to real-world historical pathways. All in all, it was a weekend where the highlights were community building, creating bonds, sharing values and debating about our European shared reality. Alba Requejo
The Second Cohort of the European Leadership Programme started on the last weekend of September. The eight new, young leaders were recruited from different European countries such as Italy, Hungary, France and Belgium, following the same personal ambition: To develop in their leadership skills, to get to know Brussels from an insider’s perspective and to practice the Jesuit principle of “Magis”, the wish to do more for others, to be a (wo)man for others. The five months long Programme is based on five segments, which all contribute to the formation of the Fellows. he aim is to prepare them for the serving type of leadership. Brussels, the European capital is the new home for our ELP Fellows, which allows them to be immersed in the corridors of the institutions of the European Union and be surrounded by the daily flux of lobbyists, eurocrats, Jesuits, diplomats and NGO representatives. Through a set of interdisciplinary methods, such as spiritual coaching, community life for self-development, informal talks with our high-level guest speakers and a variety of social events, as well as by practicing the everyday reflection, they will experience all aspects of the life of a leader. The ELP team firmly believes that only such a holistic approach is arming the Fellows for the unavoidable challenges and pitfalls that they will be facing during their professional career. This is the second edition of ELP, running from the 1st October 2019 to the 28th February 2020. The pilot edition was led by Fr. Peter Rožič SJ, Director of the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC), who had to develop an institutional home for such a Programme inside JESC. The Inaugural Weekend was orchestrated by JESC European Leadership Programme Manager and Secretary for Leadership Botond Feledy,, ELP Assistant Zsófia Voda and JESC’s Director’s Executive Assistant Eleonora Vitale.  One of the highlights of the weekend was a city walk organised by the Cornerstone Network in downtown Brussels, where we recited the local history through the lense of social justice. The Fellows got acquainted with the place that will host their pathway of intellectual and personal growth for the following five months – to begin with. For the weekend closure, the ELP Fellows had the chance to listen to an introduction by Fr. Guy Martinot SJ at La Viale Europe. In line with the Community segment of ELP, they were offered some inspiration to do volunteering work by David Anderson, who spoke on behalf of Serve the City Brussels. Here, the Fellows will be involved in different projects once a week as part of their personal growth process. David highlighted the importance of helping people to make a city grow in the right direction, based on the premise that the essence of life is about people and creating bonds between us. Beginning this week, the Fellows will receive guidance from a personal coach and lectures from High Level speakers representing different organisations and institutions. If you want to receive more information on ELP events do not hesitate to follow our account on instagram @jesc-elp; our Facebook Page European Leadership Programme or subscribe to our Monthly ELP Newsletter.
Bela, Ciara Eddy, Jacques, Margarida and Xavier, have caught the Ecojesuit bug, which means they want to think and live big, but it’s not the kind of big which was big in the past. Old-big was about getting more for yourself - and no one else. When it comes to the selfish ways of old-big, small is truly beautiful, but new-big has a beauty all its own. It’s about big vision and about sharing our one big beautiful home.  It’s about being the European part of the global EcoJesuit network - https://www.ecojesuit.com/ On the Philippine island of Mindanao, Pedro Walpole, Mr. Ecojesuit himself, lives in a house with two floors, one roof and no walls see-for-yourself. It stretches to the horizon. He, along with his friends on different continents, remind us of a big world beyond Europe. The Society of Jesus, in some ways, is old-big with lots of big properties and big names. Old-big is all about boasting, but the Jesuit story, at its best, is about our one big home with no walls - new-big. The Ecojesuit bug is about care for our common come sought in solidarity with others who are part of the Jesuit story. Fr. General has told Pedro to spread the Ecojesuit-bug far and wide and Pedro is now pestering people in Europe which, as we all know, is the biggest and most important continent of all. It has left its mark everywhere and there are lots of links between Europe and the rest of the world. We Europeans may not see them all, but there are those in other parts who want to help us. Because of Pedro’s pestering, Bela, Ciara Eddy, Jacques, Margarida and Xavier are calling out for friends in Europe. Click on each name and meet them. You will see that each of them has the Ecojesuit bug, but they are not the only ones! Some we know about. Some we have yet to meet! If the above has not given you enough food for thought, you might try these questions: Are you part of the Jesuit story which has recently been spilling beyond the Society of Jesus? Do you want to think and live big in caring for our common home? Do you want to start a conversation with others like yourself around Europe? Do you believe the Holy Spirit might surprise you in this conversation? If your answer to all the above questions is yes, you may contact Edmond Grace SJ, Secretary for Ecology at the Jesuit European Social Centre – JESC to its friends. He would like to hear of how you caught the Ecojesuit bug (max. 2000 characters). Please email edmond.grace@jesc.eu with the subject heading ‘Think big in Europe.’ Unless you indicate otherwise, you will also be placed on the mailing list for ‘Eco Bites,’ the world’s greatest newsletter, published by JESC - www.jesc.eu.
JESC: round table hosted in the European Parliament. On 25 September the Jesuit European Social Centre, along with FIPRA consultants, hosted an event called Common home Dialogue (An Ode to Change) at the European Parliament in the framework of Article 17  the Dialogue with Religious and Non Confessional Organisations. This meeting was based on the Laudato Si ́, the encyclical letter written by Pope Francis on ecology and the human approach to the environment. In other words, a call for action regarding the necessity of changing individual and collective habits and performance in an attempt to take responsibility of our Common Home. Edmond Grace SJ, JESC Secretary for Ecology, opened the discussion with a spiritual approach serving as an introductory reflection: ̈When we go too fast we don't see the world around. Looking around gives space for grace ̈. His view shed light on the intersection between corporate environmental responsibility and the Laudato Si ́ which marked the pathway for the dialogue. The conference was a moment of sharing best-practices of sustainable transition mostly in the private sector. There were approximately 40 participants, including representatives from lobby groups, food, primary resources and pharmaceutical multinational enterprises. One of the common discussions about environmental practices was their endorsement of the cyclical economy, in opposition to the linear model, aiming to reduce the waste of production and reuse materials within the production-consumption chain. This was a point which they agreed upon and are separately incorporating to their working methods. It turned out that this process was more necessary than expected, as it gave space to bring together an effused interdisciplinary debate. Green practices were addressed, compared and contrasted in an aim to implement Laudato Si ́ premises within diverse influential entities from the social, economic and political spheres. Essentially, another step was taken towards working together for a Common Home. We invite you to read the article written by Edmond Grace SJ for the occasion.
JESC Weekend training at La Pairelle. The weekend-long spiritual and theological workshop at La Pairelle near Namur, has concluded. This year’s topic on “Europe and the long-term global challenges” draw over 40 people to learn about, discuss, and influence the future of the European continent and the E.U., and the challenges faced by continent and Union. Like last year, the weekend workshop was introduced by Marie de Saint-Cheron and Martin Maier SJ, representing the co-organisers of the event: The “Passion for Europe”-group and the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC).  The workshop then started off with a keynote speech by Pierre Defraigne, the Executive Director of the “Madariaga – College of Europe” Foundation, who discussed the immediate paradoxical nature of a diverse Europe needing unity to sustain the political and cultural variety found on the continent. Mr. Defraigne then gave an analysis of challenges as a result of the current European systems and conditions, and of the challenges that are likely to appear following his predicted structural changes in Europe. Ms. Eleonora Vitale (JESC) gave a reaction speech, listing a few examples of European challenges within defence, lack of proper market harmonisation and the European tech sector deficit in comparison to the US and China. A short discussion between them followed, and based on this began a session of open debate. This was the foundation of the working groups of attendees, who would each debate and discuss the topics of the sessions, and present their conclusions to the moderator team responsible for the Sunday concluding session. On Saturday, two panels were hosted on the topics of “Europe, trustee of a universal common good”, and “Europe, promoting a fair society; overcoming our differences”. Each panel consisted of motived high-level speakers from the EU institutions and the branches of advocacy surrounding them. The full list of speakers, moderators and topics can be found here. Following each panel was a group discernment process, where each section of the attendees would contribute to the debate during the group discussion sessions. Saturday evening concluded with a piano concert by pianist Maxence Pilchen in the crypt of La Pairelle, followed by an informal meeting at the La Pairelle library/bar. Wrapping up the session, Peter Rozic SJ of JESÒC and recent reinforcement to JESC Botond Feledy, presented the conclusions of the attendee groups, first focusing on the topics and conclusions that were shared among each of the five attendee groups, and then opening the floor for additional speific input to be carried on as output after the workshop. The results of these disusions, and minutes of each panel period, will be available at www.passionforeurope.com soon. Both the Jesuit European Social Centre and the “Passion for Europe”-group would like to extend a heartfelt token of gratitude to the many participants of this year’s workshop at La Pairelle, both as speakers, moderators and attendees, and hope that the workshop will bear fruit in the near and far future for the betterment of the European project. We pray that much productive discernment come from this session, and that we may continue to host workshops like these for many years to come.
As part of our ongoing celebration of the half-century anniversary of the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology at the Curia of the Society of Jesus in Rome, we have invited the former secretaries to record their thoughts on being part of 50 years of services by SJES. Each secretary shares the unique challenges that SJES faced under his leadership, and his thoughts on the apostolic needs for the social and ecological apostolate today. Watch the testimony of Fr. Fernando Franco. From Gujarat Province in India, Fr. Franco is currently a Research Coordinator at St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad, and Coordinator of his Province’s Development Office. Have also a look at: The statements of Michael Czerny and Patxi Álvarez