New CEP Social Delegate and JESC Director.

Peter Rožič from the Slovenian province has been appointed Director of the Jesuit European social centre in Brussels. He also becomes the Social Apostolate Delegate for the Conference of European Provincials. Here he explains his background and his hopes for the future.

1.  Looking to your life as a Jesuit which experiences have left a mark in you that can help you for your new assignment in Brussels?

What has marked me the most in my Jesuit life and mission has been the lived and ongoing experience of encountering our Lord. The Lord has come to me as at times a liberating, inspiring and joyful Friend as well as poor, needy, humiliated and humble.

I have been blessed with a solid educational and academic background and professional training through my years of formation, studies, research and university work in the area of social science, philosophy and spirituality. Much of this training has been provided by exemplary Jesuit educators, trainers and scientists. Also, the Society has also had me trained in areas outside of strictly academia and science, such as migration, mediation and conflict resolution, entrepreneurship and development, as well as contemporary dance and triathlon.

The experience of working for, and with, the refugees, asylum seekers, legal and illegal immigrants in Slovenia and beyond. This happened in particular through the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Ljubljana, which I co-founded.

2.  Looking to your work in the recent years in Slovenia, What have been your main works and apostolate?

At the same time, one of the greatest highlights of my short two-and-a-half-year mission in Slovenia was to be the first rector of our Residential College in Maribor, called Magis. I have truly and greatly enjoyed living and working with the youth, studying at University of Maribor and being members in our (very modest) College.

I also taught part time political philosophy and ethics at the University of Ljubljana, mostly through the Faculty/Department of Theology. Finally, I continued to work for the American-Slovenian Education Foundation promoting student excellence through international exchange and placement in all scientific fields to top world university.

A discovery that provided much personal and community joy consisted in offering spiritual training to CEOs and entrepreneurs. These trainings relied heavily on the spirit and the text of Spiritual exercises and our Constitutions.

I was the Superior of a St Joseph Jesuit community in Ljubljana with active and numerous apostolic works.

3.  Looking to the future in Brussels, what means for you becoming the new Director of the Jesuit European Social Centre and the Social Apostolate Delegate for the Conference of European Provincials?

I find being sent as a director of JESC as a humbling position of service. I much hope and pray to be able to: listen, learn, pray, discern, act, together.

Being sent to be of service, bringing together the great seeds of God’s inspired work for common good through the Society of Jesus for the “vineyard”

I much hope that we as a team at JESC as well as our partners in mission, we will be able to continue to develop a culture of just and sustainable leadership for a triple mission of (1) the service of liberation, (2) the quest of community, and (3) the spirit of democracy. In other words, we would like to provide tools for reimagining Europe through JESC.

    • Under the Service of Liberation, I believe the Jesuit can offer inspiration, knowledge and spirituality to fight corruption, environmental degradation, oppression and poverty.
    • Under the Quest of Community, I believe the Jesuits can offer an all-embracing experience of Catholic community, rooted in Christ and the Church. We want to address the concerns of a weakened European identity, populism and extreme nationalism, migration as well as weakened sense of community in a contemporary culture of self and selfies.
    • Under the Spirit of Democracy, I believe the Jesuits can offer added value and formation in the institutions and processes of democracy. Issues  such as freedom, inclusion, political representation and civic participation are part of our Christian-based values of (European) democracy. 

These three areas of mission could help us strengthen our commitment to form a generation of leaders with deep social concern for those on the margins. We will do this through discernment-based training rooted in the Spiritual Exercises becoming

    • A center of influence, linking policy makers, journalist, and others through a number of our formal and informal activities
    • A center for political formation – directed mainly towards politicians, youth (students and those interested in politics), newcomers to Brussels. We will work particularly with the project of Higher Education for Social Transformation and with several Jesuit and other academic and research centers.

I much look forward to working with the JESC team, our many partners and the Jesuits both in Brussels and on the European continent.