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s2smodern

«The social apostolate can´t be a mere matter of study, of advocacy of the deprivileged ones: it must be rooted in an effective sharing of the realities of poverty. To feel oneself what it is like to be without voice, the exclusion, the frailty». This was the challenge raised by José Frazão Correia, Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Portugal, to the Ignatian Social Assembly that gathered for two days in the Almada seminary. Quoting Pope Francis priorities, as well the strategic guidelines of the Apostolic Plan for the Portuguese Province, he once again reaffirmed that to be present in the areas where exclusion is more serious is “a desire” that the Society of Jesus has for Portugal. «To not protect yourself, not to defend oneself, but to take chances, to think from the outside, with others, with different habits of living and reading the reality», he said, in a video-message recorded to set the tone to two days of hard labor.

More than 80 participants, cooperators, leaders, voluntaries and Jesuits from 26 institutions or movements belonging to the social apostolate of the Society of Jesus, gathered for reflection, formation and sharing  experience. In an environment of informality and closeness, it was possible to go deeper in our sense of «body», to grow in companionship between the participants and their mission and institutions, from the «Leigos para o Desenvolvimento» (Lay people for development) to «Serviço Jesuíta aos Refugiados» (JRS), and to the work realized in parishes and in our schools.

The mission of every christian

Besides the interventions of cooperators of our various institutions of Ignatian inspiration, the Assembly could also listen to Manuela Silva, former president of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a person deeply involved with and knowing the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. She reminded us that it is «the mission of every Christian and the communities that he has to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel. From this reaching out to the peripheries comes the joy of knowing that the Revelation is reaching the poor and the little ones».

Well acquainted with the dramatic reality of the poorest, she told the assembly that «peripheries are born of our strong or weak aversion to inequality», and quoted recent statistics indicating that in Portugal inequality did not generated a social uproar. «We must be more aware of the demands that sprung from solidarity and fair income distribution. While we can’t denounce the gap between the pay of the modest worker and the CEO, we will not get far in inequality solving matters».

During this encounter, there was time for personal prayer and reflection, for getting to meet each other and for a intercultural dinner, where we were introduced to several typical foods from other countries.

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s2smodern