The meeting of Deans of Jesuit Faculties of Philosophy and Theology in Uppsala (10th – 13th July) was the second key meeting this year that worked on the Higher Education for Social Transformation (HEST) project that was started in 2015. It also, served as the continuation to the Universities Meeting that had happened less than a month before.
Unfortunately, the same European scenario we talked about in the Universities meeting keeps repeating itself: crisis of vision, of solidarity, wars, poverty and other… “Seeing this scenario, what actions are we going to take as members of the Ignatian family?” was asked by one of the participants of the meeting. Father General once said in a Conference he was giving in Mexico in April 2010:
“Can we not go beyond the loose family relationships we now have as institutions, and re-imagine and re-organize ourselves so that, in this globalized world, we can more effectively realize the universality which has always been part of Ignatius’ vision of the Society?”
The answer is YES, it is possible, and the higher education institutions of the Society of Jesus have confirmed their willingness to work together on a project that will fulfil this vision of universality. This HEST project aims to do that. It proposes to link higher education institutions with social centres and reviews to address certain issues of relevance for the Society, the Church and the European and Near East societies. Issues like: ecology and environmental challenges; economy, poverty and ethics, Christian Muslim relations…
Furthermore, during the meeting, participants had the opportunity to hear great inputs from Rev. Friedrich Bechina F.S.O, the undersecretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education; Father Franco Imoda SJ, President of AVEPRO; Father Michael Garanzini SJ, Secretary for Higher Education; and Julia María Gonzalez Ferreras, Tunning Project. All of them were very supportive of the HEST project and encouraged the deans to keep moving forward. In the meeting there was also a short note from Father José Ignacio García SJ and Father Martin Maier SJ from JESC who talked about how higher education could link with the social apostolate of the Society of Jesus and finally an intervention of Dr. Johannes Wallacher from the Hochschule für Philosophie in Munich who gave their experience in this link amongst sectors where it is already working.
Needless to say, all of this inputs supporting the project gave a strong feeling of hope. This, together with the fantastic MAGIS event and an amazing World Youth Day in Poland, give us reasons to believe in a better Europe, far from the scenario we mentioned at the beginning of the article. Now, we are looking forward to the General Congregation 36 to confirm this message of hope.
It was agreed that the next meeting will be held in Paris, France from the 9th to the 13th of July 2017, with a slight change from previous meetings, this time, rectors of universities and deans from the faculties of philosophy and theology will all share the same meeting and they will discuss the current and future possibilities of the HEST project.
Stay tunned for more interesting news about higher education and the intellectual apostolate!
See: Universities Meeting News article
Top Image: Participants of the Faculties of Philosophy Meeting in Uppsala 2016