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Echoes from the Provincial Assembly at the Jesuit Spiritual Centre in Le Châtelard 

From 27 to 30 December 2018, the Jesuits of the EOF Province gathered at the Centre Spirituel du Châtelard for their annual meeting.

"What missionary impulse for the Jesuit Province of French-speaking Western Europe?" was the theme of the Provincial Assembly which brought together more than a hundred Jesuits. For the event, several speakers provided an external perspective on the current challenges for the world and for the Jesuits' mission: Thomas Gèze from the Chemin Neuf Community and Fr. Gonzague Lalanne-Berdouticq sj shared the experience of their work with young people in France and Belgium respectively.

Christoph Theobald sj highlighted the link between Church and mission. "When we are on the way, the Holy Spirit has already preceded us in the hearts of its recipients", explained the theologian who invited the assembly to continue "hoping against all hope.” Françoise Blaise-Kopp testified about the struggle of the Sappel Community, a private association of the faithful recognized by the Catholic Church, whose goal is the evangelization of families in the Fourth World.

The agricultural engineer Gauthier Chapelle assured that, beyond the predictions of a "collapse" of our planet, another end of the world was possible, based on mutual aid, simplicity and interdependence. "Only by working together will we be able to limit the effects of the ecological crisis we are experiencing.  Marie-Hélène Lafarge, for her part, testified to the work of Alternatives Catholiques in favour of ecological conversion.

Here are a couple of testimonies by fellow Jesuits who attended this intense and fraternal weekend:

W.K. Pradeep of the Kohima Province (India), studying theology in Paris: Identity, community and mission are a kind of triptych that spreads a light that helps us to better understand our companionship (CG 35 decree 2 n°19). This is what came to mind as I attended my second EOF Provincial Assembly. Certainly it was a time to reflect on our mission in a large community; but it was also a time for me to reaffirm my Jesuit identity. During a mass we celebrated together, I remember telling myself with joy, as I listened to the voices and looked at the faces of the companions around me: Wow! We are Jesuits!"

Xavier Dijon (Brussels): "On the last day, before the mass celebration with the Sunday congregation of Le Châtelard, Father Provincial concluded our ‘fraternal days’ by mentioning our missionary enthusiasm for today and tomorrow: mission is part of our DNA; it is our breath, even if realism forces us to recognize that we cannot do everything."

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