Jesuits in University Pastoral Care - JUPC

The presence of Jesuits in universities has been one of our main apostolates since the very beginning of the Order. Ignatius and his first companions met on a campus and dreamt together for a better world.

Today, Jesuits are present in many universities either as academics or by creating spaces for groups, meetings, celebrations and volunteering activities where faith is present and offered openly to students and young adult professionals.

Every year, JUPC brings together the various teams involved in university pastoral care.

The aim is threefold: formation, collaboration and looking together to the future.

Thanks to the work of Jesuits, collaborators and friends, the dream of Ignatius and his first companions is still alive today in many campuses across Europe.

The 2022 meeting of the JUPC (Jesuit University Pastoral Care) network had been planned for Lisbon. However, the COVID wave across Europe called again for a change and thus we met online for the second consecutive year.   The experiences of university chaplaincy during the pandemic have invited us to reflect on how to widen the spaces where we can minister to young people to include the digital world. The session on 9th February was led by Nikolaas Sintobin SJ (ELC) on the possibilities of internet in our ministry and in evangelization. It was a privilege to have Nikolaas with us. His wide expertise has shown that this way of connecting is a grace, rather than just a threat to face to face encounters, and requires taking risks, constant adaptation, inculturation, and professional expertise. Nikolaas led the group in a contemplative exercise using visual storytelling, mainly with YouTube videos, as a path to interiority. Check his well curated collection of short videos at seeingmore.org.  World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon will be a highlight of the Church year and MAG+S 2023 an opportunity for those ministering with young adults. This was the focus of the second day of our conference, 10th February. Samuel Beirão SJ (POR), responsible for organizing MAG+IS 2023, and part of his team were with us. They explained various aspects of their preparations, including around 100 experiments planned in Portugal and Spain, and explored with us the profile of the young people we want to invite to this opportunity and how to reach out to them.  JUPC is a network of chaplains who gathers yearly to share initiatives and good practices, and to foster collaboration among Jesuits and friends who work in Jesuit chaplaincies on campuses in Europe and the Near East. Although meeting online has helped the continuity of these connections, we very much look forward to meeting face to face in 2023, in Lublin, Poland, most probably.  Alicia Perez, FCJ Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy
The 2021 meeting of JUPC Network (Jesuit University Pastoral Care) took place Tuesday 9th of February. For the first time in its already relatively long history, the event was 100% online. The meeting took one day with a morning and afternoon session. More than 30 people participated in the meeting which main topic was the Discerning the Future of JUPC. This meeting was a great opportunity to see familiar faces, to revisit to history of JUPC and reflect on the future of this network. The morning session consisted of a prayer, a presentation of the history and evolution of the network. The morning finished with participants split into groups. They used the time to reflect about what fruits JUPC brings to its participants and how far the network is still up to date. The general framework of the network was also discussed. In the afternoon, there was a wrap-up of the main ideas coming from the group discussions. It was clear that networking is very important to the participants and the meetings always inspire them in the pastoral activities. It was concluded as well that the chaplaincy is a very specific work group within the youth pastoral and the network would be more effective if it was loyal to its university roots. The European Jesuit University Pastoral Care is more alive than ever despite the troubled times and everyone is looking forward to hopefully meet in person in 2022.
Chaplains and Youth Pastoral workers from around 20 countries gathered in Paris in an atmosphere of friendship and communion. The main topic of the meeting was “Becoming MAGIS”. The participants shared the reality of their own countries, discussed the meaning of MAGIS and tried to find common grounds for the future.  Over the days very interesting inputs were presented. The MAG+S Spain team was responsible for the first day presentations. They depicted wonderfully the roots of MAGIS and its current fruits. Starting the second day, the Apostolic Preferences were approached by an inspiring panel of young professionals. The testimony about MAGIS from the perspective of Female Ignatian Congregations and laypeople was also an important contribution on that day. The last day started with the invitation for the participation on MAGIS 2020 in Hungary, MAGIS 2021 in Croatia and MAGIS 2022 in Portugal. The meeting finished with the mapping of almost 300 SJ Youth initiatives in Europe. It was followed by an important debate about the future of MAGIS from a European perspective. This debate will continue among young-adult ministries and European Jesuit authorities. The meeting was hosted by Maison Magis whose collaborators received the participants in the most warming way. This was a great opportunity for the participants to get to know more about the very active and complex youth Ignatian initiatives in Paris. One of the high points was the celebration of the Eucharist in Montmartre, in the chapel where the first Jesuit companions made their first vows.  We have all got a step closer to become MAGIS. You are also invited to become MAGIS with us.
How can young people find spaces for God if God is everywhere? Where in university should we speak about God and where do we speak to God? Chapels, meeting rooms, parks, classrooms... are we shaping spaces for God? These are the questions in the JUPC meeting in Dresden, Germany, at the end of February. Jesuits in University Pastoral Care (JUPC) is a network of chaplains who gathered yearly to share initiatives and good practices, and to foster collaboration among Jesuit and friends chaplains who works on campuses in Europe and Near East. JUPC meeting in Dresden finished yesterday (28th February). We will soon upload a complete article on this event.
How can we reach out to young people today, help them to shape their lives in the light of the Gospel? This was the main topic of the annual European meeting of Jesuits (and collaborators) in University Pastoral Care (JUPC, November 6th-9th , 2018) . Besides the traditional exchange of news and the networking during meals and activities, we had a very interesting conversation on the preparatory document for the synod on ‘Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment’ and on the survey that accompanies it. We did our own survey among the members of the group, and we were granted the chance to make our own little contribution on the topic. For this we had the chance to be accompanied by Giacomo Costa SJ, who, as part of the writing committee, gave us very interesting insights into the document. How important, for example, the theme of ‘care’ is to Pope Francis: care for our ‘common home’ (Laudato Si), care for the family (Amoris Laetitia), and now care for young people. The word is frequently mentioned in the document. Our discussion followed the structure of the letter according to the triad of Cardinal Cardijn: ‘See, judge, act’. First to ‘see’ the context in which young people nowadays are living and thinking: a rapidly changing world, where the weaker are more vulnerable, and in which the much craved for freedom is not available for many. A world that is deeply shaped by technology, everybody hiding in his or her own ‘filter bubble’. A world where there is a growing multiculturalism. It is one of the riches of this document that it doesn’t start off with a priori assumptions, but tries to interpret a concrete situation. The next step was to ‘judge’: How, then, can we help this hyperconnected generation to enter into a more reflective process to (re)orient its life, to enter into – yes, let us say it – discernment? The word was not used in order not to fall into Ignatian ‘slang’, but those who rare familiar with it, it is abundantly clear how Ignatian this document is. A triad, again, explains what discernment is consists of: ‘recognize, interpret, choose’. How young people are able to recognize what is happening and to be aware of the flavor which remains? How can they interpret it, that is to understand to what the Spirit is calling them, and then to choose a pathway of that calling? Finally to ‘act’. We need to walk with young people, like a good shepherd. Here we meet our final triad: ‘Going out, seeing, calling’. We chaplains – and indeed every Christian - are asked to reach out more to young people and meet them where they are. It was a great joy to be able to give our personal contribution to the discussion. But there was also news to be heard. We heard three (again!) success stories  – one of MAGIS Central Europe of the summer of 2017, by Lenka Caskova. Another project with the name MAGIS we heard about was in Spain, where the word became a banner for dozens of youth projects (Juanjo Aguado SJ). Finally we heard the report of youth activities in the EOF (France and South Belgium, by Jacques Enjalbert SJ) – especially in and around Paris, where new chaplaincies are built in a future French ‘Silicon Valley’. On Thursday – one day later due to a general strike in unruly Catalunya – we were following the footsteps of Ignatius in Manresa and in Barcelona. For me it took the shape of a minipilgrimage to the statue of Ignatius in of the ‘Santa Maria del Mar’ church in Barcelona. Worth the visit!
Innsbruck – Student chaplains from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Lithuania and the Czech Republic have met in Innsbruck for an exchange of ideas. Between Vilnius in the north and Luzern in the south, between Luzern in the west and Vilnius in the east the cities Leipzig, Dresden, Bern, München, Zürich, Innsbruck and Graz are located. Confreres working in student ministry coming from these cities met in Innsbruck from 2.2.- 4.2. We, the people involved in the University parish in Innsbruck, Benjamin Furthner SJ, Hernán Rojas SJ and I, we showed our premises, prayed Vespers together with students and settled in for an cosy evening in our Jesuit community. The aim of the meeting was an exchange of ideas, working on a specific chosen topic and questions concerning the future of our work. Whereas in München, Graz, Luzern and Zürich numbers of paid staff are shaping the catholic university parishes, at the other places the students are bearer of church activities and church life. We talked about our strong and weak points, just as joyful surprises and new initiatives and ideas. We read an article concerning the “unusable god” to focus on the question of believers and ministers telling others that god is necessary, but these people apparently not sharing this need of god in their lives. Not even for a so called fulfilling life. What are the opportunities and possibilities of a student ministry considering this fact? We talked about our Jesuit contribution to the upcoming synod of bishops 2018 “youth, faith and vocational discernment”. We Jesuits form a big catholic network which has the possibility to exchange best practice, which led us to pondering how to strengthen this network of Jesuit student chaplains in Europe. In addition to face-to-face encounter in a good mood we also celebrated mass together. Picture: 1st row: P. Christian Braunigger SJ, P. Michael Beschorner SJ; 2nd row: F. Hernán Rojas SJ, P. Ladislav Nosek SJ, P. Albert Holzknecht SJ, P. Martin Rauch SJ, P. Holger Adler SJ, P. Gernot Wisser SJ, P. Franz-Xaver Hiestand SJ, P. Andreas Schalbetter SJ.