Throughout history, Jesuit education has helped many young men and women become competent, compassionate and committed persons. The education ministry is still very relevant for the Society of Jesus. Just in Europe, there are 159 Jesuit schools that continue to form more than 150,000 students through Ignatian pedagogy and spirituality.

JECSE works to promote collaboration between our schools in the Euro-Mediterranean provinces. It does so by organizing formation seminars, conferences and meetings for the members involved in the education apostolate.

JECSE seeks to:

- Promote the ideals and practices of Jesuit education in Europe,

- Encourage networking, co-operation and exchanges between Jesuit educational institutions…

- Support its members in their mission

- Reflect on Ignatian identity of our institutions


- JECSE website

- Educate Magis website

This year’s JECSE Formators Conference took place in the beautiful Old Abbey in Drongen, Flanders, and we welcomed participants (26) from Belgium North and South, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Spain and The Netherlands. The theme of our meeting was ‘being Ignatian in a secularised context’.  This was a continuation of the conversation begun in JESEDU in Rio last October; our purpose in Drongen was to explore how as Ignatian educators we can find new ways (and new words) to meet the ‘needs of the times’ in our European context. Helping us to ‘dive deeper’ into this theme was Renilde Vos who served as a most articulate and prayerful animator of the main part of the programme. She introduced the group to her work with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and to the innovative approaches that she had developed with largely secular participants in the past. Previously, Renilde worked both as a teacher of Religious Education and as Deputy Head of the parish connected to the Catholic University in Leuven, Flanders. During her study of theology her focus moved from an academic study of Ethics to a more mystical perspective, with Renilde paying ever more attention to the transcendental dimension of human experience. Working as a religious educator in an increasingly secularised and pluralistic context Renilde started to focus on the question of how to pass on Catholic faith in a more meaningful  and relevant way - that is to say in a way that is more connected to the existential experience of her students. Her aim was always how to help them ‘come home’ to their deeper selves. Renilde told us that she became  aqcuainted with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in the Old Abbey of Drongen itself. It was in this very place that, in her own words, the ‘monk in her was awakened’. This engagement therefore, with the formators from Jesuit schools present, had a special significance for her. She went on to tell us that she is passionate about the Exercises and convinced about the strength of their dynamics not only as a method for deep discernment, but also as a way to learn to be less self-centered and more connected to others and to God. In that sense she calls them ‘a method of the heart’, a ‘spirituality of love’, based on the pedagogical model of Jesus himself, helping us to grow into an ever more generous love. Renilde spoke  of her time as a spiritual guide with people coming from very different religious backgrounds, some of them struggling with the language of the Bible and the tradition. She started looking for an alternative, more open, way to work with the Exercises. That is to say, following their dynamics and opening up their language, to make the Exercises more accesible for people from diverse backgrounds so as to help them develop their interiority and to give words to their inner experiences. During the conference she explained her methodology and allowed us to experience part of her programme, using simple breathing and attention exercises and the imaginative meditation method published by Hieronymus Nadal. The focus was on the themes of passion and compassion. She also introduced us to a playful methodology for interreligious dialogue. A clear model for metareflection helped us afterwards to name specific spiritual competences achieved and to evaluate the pedagogical and professional relevance of the work done. Besides enjoying the strong and open atmosphere within the group participants began to appreciate how this methodology could be a very direct and powerful way to work with students and staff so as to help them move ‘into depth’. Some reported how the input offered a refreshing and deeper understanding of the process underlying the Spiritual Excercises, and the value of structuring and meta-communication as such. There was also an appreciation of the creative approach of working with art and poetry. With the kind permission of Renilde Vos we’re happy to share her resources.
Mrs. Ilse Dekker has been nominated as the new director of JECSE, The European Jesuit Schools Network. Since 2011 she has been the coordinator of Christian identity and Ignatian ethos in our Stanislas-network of six colleges for secondary education in The Netherlands. She will take office on the 4th of June.   Mrs.  Dekker was born in the Netherlands in 1963 and is living and working now in the surroundings of Delft. As a cultural anthropologist - specialized in religious anthropology (after a period of working as a free-lance journalist) she worked as a teacher in religious education at Stanislascollege for 16 years. During that time she was also trained as a school counsellor; the cura personalis is also very important to her. Since 2011 she is the coordinator of Christian identity and Ignatian ethos in our Stanislas-network of six colleges for secondary education. In 2012 she became the delegate for education, succeeding father Bert ten Berge sj. She came to know JECSE in 2005 during an eye-opening formators meeting in Paris, and thereafter she attended many conferences, as well as the first worldwide congresses. Also, at the request of Marie-Thérèse Michel, she joined the temporarily extended Steering Committee to help revise the vision of JECSE several years ago. “All of those meetings have been very important to me, both to me personally and in my role as coordinator and delegate. Likewise, the JECSE conferences became a major source of Ignatian inspiration for colleagues in our schools. I think the work JECSE does is really important, especially in today’s context of secularization, economisation and polarization. Our world - and Europe, with it’s complicated history, in particular - needs reconciliation, compassion and hope. The many young people in our schools, following the example of Jesus, can help to make it so, with our dedicated support”. As Mrs. Dekker said “I feel profoundly grateful to be allowed in my new role to contribute to this and will do that, together with all the education delegates, to my best abilities. Likewise, I feel deeply grateful to Marie-Thérèse Michel, who was a wonderful director, and with all her dedication, wisdom and creativity helped JECSE grow into such a meaningful network”. The Conference of European Provincials welcomes Mrs. Dekker heartfully  and encourages her for this new assignment that will help the Jesuit education networks.
It has been the practice for over 20 years or so for the Provincial Delegates for Education to come together for an annual gathering (Nov 29 – Dec 2nd) the purpose of which is to renew friendships, share good practice and to reflect on the latest developments in Jesuit education.  This year the event was graciously hosted by the Spanish Province and the setting for our meeting was the palatial building of Maldonado, Madrid. In all there were 21 delegates in attendance and we also had the pleasure of welcoming the International Delegate, Fr Jose Mesa, and the newly appointed president of the CEP Fr Franck Janin, who also happens to be president of JECSE. The focus of our meeting was really threefold: Firstly, we reflected on the theme of Ecology and Social justice, a priority identified in both GC 35 and GC 36 and picked up again at the international conference in Rio.  To assist us in our deliberations Patxi Alvarez gave a wonderful overview of Church teaching on this theme and took us through the main insights of Laudate Si. A second presentation from Kris Vecik focused on how schools can engage in practical ways with this new awareness.  The second part of our meeting examined the Action Statement coming out of Rio. This statement is a series of 13 commitments made by all the regions and provinces in the world and effectively identifies a global plan of action for Education Delegates worldwide.  The meeting reflected on these statements and the kind of supports that would be needed in Europe through JECSE and more broadly through ICAJE to help us achieve them.  The third and final part of the business concentrated on the process for appointing the new Director of JECSE. Fr General’s address in Rio and the Action Statement issuing from the congress gave a very clear context for the work of JECSE into the future. There was a clear sense of optimism about what lies ahead as well as a sober realism about the challenges that will have to be faced into.   Of course, a meeting such as this is always complemented by a visit to a number of schools and to places of cultural and historical interest, the highlight of which was our visit to the Prado Museum. The delegates from Spain were wonderful hosts and all in JECSE owe them a sincere debt of gratitude.
The European Committee for Primary and Secondary Jesuit Education (JECSE) has organized in Manresa a meeting of Deputy Directors (Secondary Education). 107 leaders of Jesuit European education attended the meeting. 31 were from the Spanish Delegation (Educsi). The congress has deepened into the Ignatian Pedagogy and how the Ignatian leadership can provide answers for the next generations. With different dynamics, special importance has been given to belonging to a great and lively tradition such as Jesuit Education. The two main working areas were the talks of Fr. Antonio España sj, director of Colegio del Recuerdo (Madrid), and Ulrike Gentner, from the Ignatian Pedagogical Center of Ludwigshafen am Rhein (Germany). On Friday they shared the conclusions centred on the sense of the educational mission of the Society of Jesus.
Innovation was the main issue at the 6th Assembly of Education Directors in Madrid, on February 9 and 10. More than 100 representatives of 72 Jesuit schools from Spain and Portugal attended the meeting. They debated about innovation based on Ignatian pedagogy.    The current situation of this area is at a turning point. This follows from the results of a survey carried out by Enric Caturla, from JesuÏtes Educació and Rafel Barceló, from Montesión school in Palma. This survey for directors shows that "education teams are determined to continue innovating within the framework of the Ignatian Pedagogy". "The driving forces of innovation are children and primary education, where teachers are fully involved with these practices; there is more resistance to change in Secondary education" Caturla said. Contextualizing the survey results, he concluded that in the Jesuit centers it does not work any innovation, but the one in line with the educational ideas of the Society of Jesus.
NETHERLANDS, 16 - 19 November 2016. From Wednesday 16th November until Saturday 19th the 23 European Delegates of the Society of Jesus for Primary and Secondary Education (JECSE)  have gathered for their annual meeting in Stal Op de Kaag in the Netherlands.  The objectives of the meeting were:  To introduce the new education delegates for some of the provinces; To share the main challenges facing JECSE and the most significant projects for the upcoming years;  To foster the union of minds to go towards the construction of a Europe based on solid human values from the Jesuit education. The group had the opportunity to share some thoughts with several guests. Amongst them was Fr. José Alberto Mesa SJ, Secretary of the Father General for Education in the Society of Jesus and Ciara Beuster from Educate Magis, they talked about JESEDU, the World Congress of Delegates of Education to be held next October in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and about the new features of Educate Magis.  Another guest was Fr. John Dardis SJ, President of the Conference of European Provincials (CEP) and newly appointed Discernment and Apostolic Planning assistant for Father General who worked together with the education delegates to plan for JECSE’s future. Finally, the group had the chance to meet Edy Korthals Altes, a former senior Dutch diplomat who gave a speech to the delegates about the topic ‘Religions for peace’. Especially interesting was the three young Muslims coming from The House of Peace shared their personal experience with the group. However, the key moment of the meeting, which was particularly emotional, was the farewell of Marie Thérèse Michel, Director of JECSE for the last six years, to whom the participants showed gratitude for her dedication to the cause of the Society and Europe. "I congratulate Marie-Thérèse on all she has accomplished during these years as Director of JECSE” said CEP president John Dardis. “She showed a great ability to inspire and lead. The commitment of the Education delegates around Europe to the work of JECSE are a tribute to her skills and dedication. She developed a great team spirit among them and did some vital planning for the future of JECSE" JECSE now looks to the future with hope and passion. The dream remains to make Jesuit education a reality in Europe by strengthening the sense of belonging to our continent through shared values ​​and to continue to build a network within this diverse reality with the goal of supporting those educational initiatives in the provinces and most specially in those places where primary and secondary education is most needed. >>> Read also: Interview with Marie-Thérèse Michel