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

PROMOTED LINKS

- JECSE website

- Educate Magis website

JECSE Formators Conference 2019, Manresa, Dublin. This Wonderful Experience of bringing together Formators of the Jesuit Schools has enriched us once again and reminded me of the value of JECSE as a platform for widening our perspectives while building on our common purpose. The stakeholders of the Jesuit Colleges of Europe will all benefit from the enrichment of its Formation Personnel, after these special days when we spent time considering our commitment to the Magis. We came from 10 different Provinces with so much to share; rich experiences, common vision and curiosity, in a spirit of comradeship, companionship and fun. Having our European colleagues in Dublin was so special for the Irish Province and we were grateful to return the hospitality we have enjoyed in Drongen, Milan and Manresa for other JECSE gatherings. On the first evening the tone was set in a relaxed and cheerful manner as different Formators gave us their context, by telling a story of a picture they had chosen. These stories varied from the richness of our work with our students, to ‘sleep out’ stories to ‘reality TV’. The following morning, The Keynote Speaker, Nikolaas Sintobin S.J gave us Three Characteristics of Excellence. Magis is strictly Personal Magis = Personal Desire Magis is an Invitation to ‘Decentration’ – lose yourself. Nicholas’ intriguing style of illustrating the points using Youtube clips brought humour and clarity to his words. We were especially proud during our Conference, to showcase beautiful Glendalough, Co.Wicklow, one of the most important Monastic sites in Ireland, a deep immersion in Celtic Spirituality. Fr. Michael and Fr. Pat in their different styles guided us through the pathways, towards the round towers and amidst the lakes in this overwhelmingly beautiful place. With the Irish sunshine, this monastic site convinced us to sit in deep wonder and awe, ‘because the only time is Now and the only place is Here.’ This day came to a highpoint with Outdoor Mass in the Women’s Church. Bernard Peters S.J ensuring at every chance that we raised our voices in song. The third morning brought us to ‘ Educate Magis’. With his Galway based team, Gellert Merza brought us on a virtual tour of this exciting (more than a) Website with opportunities for classrooms from around the world to meet each other and discuss common themes. Thus giving us a tool for connecting and talking. Krizan Vekic, Justice Co-ordinator for the Irish province challenged us to Define ‘Global Citizen’s and quickly reminded us that you make Global Citizenship Ignatian when you are in relationship with God. Of course, this is what makes us better, more committed, Global Citizens.  The typical style of JECSE is to share the leadership of the Conference and this was no different. Members led us in prayer and reflection to set the tone of the day while keynote speakers inspired us on the topic of Magis. And yet informal conversations had a richness and sharing we could not have expected. As I discovered more about the programmes which colleagues are directing in their schools the words of Nikolaas resonated with me, ‘There is no point having all these experiences, if there is no Reflection. (On Reflection, I agree!) Gráinne Delaney. Co-Ordinator of Ignatian Ethos, Crescent College Comprehensive.S.J. Limerick, Ireland
From January 22nd to 25th almost a hundred chaplains and pastoral coordinators involved in Jesuit (secondary) education - from 17 countries from all over Europe and as far as Albania, Egypt and Russia - gathered in Manresa for a JECSE Pastoral Conference. ‘(How) can we talk about Jesus in the multi-convictional context of Jesuit education in Europe today?’ was the main question for this conference, repeating and deepening the important theme of JECSE’s last Conference for Head Masters in Secondary education. Reconciliation In this meaningful place of Manresa, where Ignatius discovered God’s presence in this world, we focused together on our common mission, as the soul of our engagement every day. Remembering Father General Arturo Sosa’s words during the last worldwide Conference for Jesuit Education in Rio de Janeiro, we started with the notion of reconciliation as being at the heart of our JECSE collaboration: …striving for a kind of education that helps us to understand human beings and the world in all their complexity, so that that human beings can configure the world in a way that is more compassionate, and therefore more divine. As the RIO action statement makes clear, spirituality and faith, infused with the experience of God, are essential in such transformative education. Our present context calls us to find new ways to transmit our faith and to be always sensitive and responsive to the signs of the times. Whilst our starting point is our beautiful Ignatian spirituality which has the teachings of Jesus as its cornerstone, we also wish to respond to the new quest for meaning and the need for true dialogue that can be found in our European, secularized and multi-convictional context today. Ways to respond to the challenges of today Our two key note speakers helped us to explore the depths of this theme and suggested ways in which we might respond to the challenges of today. Father Adrian Porter talked about why the Jesuits named their Society not after its founder but after Jesus Himself; about the spirit behind this, the connection to the Spiritual Exercises and about ways to creatively build on this tradition in our own context. Following St Ignatius’ essential encounters with Jesus, we grew to better understand the stages of development of his faith. Participants were invited to reflect afterwards on two questions: ‘who do I say Jesus is?’ and ‘who do we think he is for our students?’ Father José Maria Rodriguez Olaizola talked about the transmission of faith in education today, taking into account the genuine need to announce the gospel and to give our students the best we have to offer. He also emphasized the need to find new, authentic ways to do this because there cannot be only one way of uniting Gospel and life, as all our lives are very different. His analysis of the spurious and reductive nature of the cultural messages on what constitutes love, happiness and friendship was very powerful. He contrasted this with the deeper and radically different perspective our faith can offer, delivering us from the burden we have made for ourselves in our ‘feel-good’ culture out of the myth of unlimited success. Practices from all over Europa There was also plenty of opportunity to learn from each other’s experience and best practices from all over Europe, not only through sharing in dynamic groups but also through a range of workshops.  Topics varied from ‘practicing interiority’ and ‘the examen’ to ‘educating the hero within’, ‘stages of faith development’ and ‘how to proclaim Jesus in a Muslim-dominated school-environment like in Kosovo’. These workshops allowed for a lively exchange of views and experiences.  In addition to the beautiful morning prayers and consoling masses we had the opportunity to discover the Ignatian sites of Manresa during a meditative walk. On the last morning we visited the monastery of Monserrat - the place where St. Ignatius left his sword and became the pilgrim - to have a guided tour and to celebrate mass there. The otherwise positive and upbeat mood of the conference was dampened by several sad tidings from the teams from Belgium-South, Malta, France and Ireland on the sad and premature loss of students in their schools, and one colleagues’ young son, through fatal diseases. Our sincere prayers and sympathy go to the families and school communities who suffered these immense losses.
Education Delegates from Jesuit Provinces across Europe (JECSE) gathered for their annual meeting in the Old Abbey of Drongen, Belgium (Nov 28th – Dec 1st). Franck Janin sj, as president of the JCEP, opened the meeting and expressed his sincere gratitude to the Steering Committee for all their work, especially during the interim period when the search for MT Michel’s successor was taking place. He also welcomed Ilse Dekker and thanked her for her generosity and willingness to serve as the new director of JECSE. Networking; a new way of proceeding The theme for our meeting was the importance of networking as a new way of proceeding. Ilse introduced the theme encouraging us as a Jesuit network to remain faithful to our holistic, humanistic narrative, while the prevailing paradigm in our world today sees education as ‘training for employability’ and is instilling the values of individualism and competitiveness. Our Jesuit vision, which educates for compassion and solidarity, calls on us to work together as companions. Daniel Villanueva sj, general director of Entreculturas and coordinator of the Jesuit Network Initiative, talked with us about the dynamic of networking, not as an aim in itself, but as a means to create a culture of collaboration and to strengthen our common initiatives. He explained how networking was formally adopted by recent General Congregations as the new way of proceeding for the Society. It was recognized that some problems just cannot be solved alone but require an interconnected approach. And as educators we should always remember that our school communities provide a wonderful opportunity to give students and parents a sense of belonging and a deeper awareness of our interconnectedness. We explored how we might, as a group of delegates from the different Provinces (through JECSE) and of the Education Sector linking with the other Jesuit sectors, expand the possibilities of our networking. To help us move into this dynamic Dani examined the style of leadership this requires, within our communities at all levels; coordinating creative human effort, building on relationships rather than authority, on trust and community interest rather than efficiency. Finally, we surfaced the strengths and needs in our different Provinces, and we were able to determine a number of areas that we might fruitfully collaborate on. Three specific task groups were formed on the topics of Formation, Global Citizenship, and Safeguarding. Safeguarding: a first priority The Safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in our schools is now one of our main priorities. At the meeting we dedicated special and focused attention to this theme. Antonio Allende sj, Spanish Education Delegate, gave an overview of the statements from the Society and the Church; he talked about the sins of the past, the history of abuse and the cover-up by Church authorities.  He spoke about how the abuse of power is often the root cause and only by addressing the deeper culture can we prevent the possibility of this recurring. Brian Flannery, Irish Education Delegate, gave a heartfelt account of the Irish experience with all its painful consequences for the victims and their families. He also spoke about the need to see Safeguarding in the larger context of children’s wellbeing and how traditional notions of abuse should be expanded to include concepts of emotional abuse and neglect. These are realities for every school and need to be addressed in a deliberate, regular and consistent manner.    Filipe Martin sj, who guided the process of writing the manual on child-protection for the Portuguese Province, spoke about the importance of their collaborative methodology and mentioned their positive approach: to reinforce good practices and prevent abuse, but not to avoid closeness and affection or by creating a suspicious climate. The Portuguese model was seen as an excellent example of best practice. To conclude Of course within JECSE we will continue to share best practices on ‘interiority in the school context’. In this regard there was a beautiful presentation by Franciso Cuartero sj, pastoral coordinator of the Spanish team, on their ‘Lineas de Fuerza program’, animating essential Ignatian themes over a cycle of 6 years. Jose Mesa sj, secretary for Jesuit Education, reminded us of the developments over the last 10 years and the work being done since the last worldwide conference in Rio (2017). He also highlighted the wonderful support being given by Fr General and of the need for the regions to rally in support of the worldwide on-line-community, Educate Magis. In conclusion, it is fair to say that the gathering was a great success. As delegates we left the meeting feeling that there is now a focused and committed leadership in place, a clear of priorities for the future and a number of task groups working on how to progress these and the general mission of the Society.
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.