As the Jesuits begin their 36th General Congregation, Kelly Swan, ISN’s Communications Manager, and Kim Miller, ISN’s Program Director, discuss the ways in which previous GC documents and priorities have shaped ISN’s commitment to faith and justice as witnessed in program themes.
Kelly: Within the broad context of the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s programming, how do themes and documents resulting from General Congregations guide ISN’s program formation and goals?
Kim: As lay collaborators with the Society of Jesus, the General Congregation documents have allowed ISN to stay connected to the goals and “ways of proceeding” of the Jesuits, solidifying ISN’s grounding in the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and keeping the organization’s programming rooted in current Jesuit priorities.Kelly: Can you tell us more about how GC documents have influenced the themes at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice over the years? What about this year?
Kim: Each year, the Ignatian Family Teach-In theme committee starts its brainstorming process by discussing key Jesuit documents and particular excerpts that can provide inspiration for faith and justice related themes.
Last year’s committee, for example, pulled its inspiration from GC 35, Decree 3: “The complexity of the problems we face and the richness of the opportunities offered demand that we build bridges between rich and poor, establishing advocacy links of mutual support between those who hold political power and those who find it difficult to voice their interests.” The committee knew it wanted to address the increased polarization of society, and “Bridges” emerged as a theme.
This year’s committee continued to engage in rich discussion around GC documents to provide theme inspiration, but ultimately, they drew their inspiration from Pope Francis’s year of mercy with the theme “Mercy in Action.”
Kelly: Can you provide an example of how a General Congregation’s resulting document has influenced the process of developing a theme and direction for specific ISN programming?
Kim: During the Arrupe Leaders Summit for high school students, we examine Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.’s leadership skills and ability to unite the Jesuits behind a bold and challenging GC 32. Not only does that document provide numerous pieces of inspiration for ISN’s work for justice, but it also models how strong leadership and a collaborative spirit can advance the cause of justice, even when it strongly challenges the status quo.