Irish hospitality at JCEP Assembly
The Jesuit Conference of European Provincials (JCEP) Assembly took place at Ballyvaloo Retreat Centre, Wexford from 24 to 29 April 2023. The Irish Jesuit Province had a key role in organising the event including support from Fr Terry Howard SJ, Socius to the Irish Provincial, and Raffaella Braga Sorensen of the Provincial office. Further below, Fr Terry reflects on his experience of accompanying the Major Superiors.
A number of topics were addressed during the week. The main theme was: the beginning of a process of looking at the Jesuit lifestyle in view of Laudato Si’s call to ecological conversion. One of the objectives discussed was “to exercise our leadership as Major Superiors together to encourage the Jesuits of Europe to rethink the way we live in the light of the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs)”.
A second major theme was Jesuit Formation in the Conference. The Delegate for Formation, János Lukács, HUN, was present and gave a survey of the Formation Centres, pointed to some issues that may be requiring attention and offered his own reflections on the ever evolving challenges of forming young Jesuits.
Time was also given to the usual Address of the Conference President, reporting on what has taken place at the level of the Conference in the last six months, especially the meetings of the different networks and the developments in the common works.
Safeguarding, with the presence of Julie Ashby-Ellis, the JCEP Delegate, received some quality attention as well. The accounts for 2022 were presented and approved. Eammon McGuinness from Educate Magis came from Galway to Ballyvaloo to inform the Major Superiors about this worldwide program of support to Jesuit Schools and Ignatian Pedagogy.
Online, the Jesuit leaders had the opportunity to meet Oleksii Bredeliev, Regional Superior of Ukraine, who, from Lviv shared with the leaders his experiences and views on the war now already one year long.
Irish hospitality by Fr Terry Howard SJ
Fr Terry Howard SJ, Socius to the Irish Provincial, accompanied the Major Superiors of the JCEP Assembly by providing generously for the socials.
He says: “I was the community ‘Minister’ for the week – ensuring that the evening ‘haustus’ was adequately provided with all the necessities to enable long hours of social interaction to take place.”
He gives thanks to Raffaella (Raffi) Braga Sorensen of the Irish Provincial office who organised the transport and accommodation for the Assembly and ensured that everything worked seamlessly.
Fr Terry continues:
“I was in charge of local logistics or all the little stuff including various trips to reputable cheesemongers to replenish stocks.
I recall the note of approval by the French Provincial for the quality of the wine (inexpensive), and the quality of Irish cheeses surprised everyone.
I had to leave the EU to find the wine (I got it in Belfast). As for the Irish cheese makers, take a bow!”
Referring to Ballyvaloo Retreat Centre, Fr Terry says: “I was struck by the quality of the place, the stunning location looking out to the sea, and the care from staff. I’ll be back!”
The week, from a business and social point of view, worked very well with the support of Raffi and Herminio (Socius to the Conference President), and the ministerial role of the Irish Socius added to the occasion.
Finally, the Assembly was the last one for four provincials (Damian Howard, BRI; François Boëdec, EOF; Antonio España, ESP; and Dalibor Renić, CRO) and for the Conference President, Franck Janin. There was time to look back and reflect on the experience, and to show gratitude for their contributions in the last six years, with a joyous, and at times quite funny, and equally moving, celebration of friends in the Lord.