ISN’s Chris Kerr Joins Global Jesuit Social Justice and Ecology Leaders in Rome

BY ISN STAFF | June 3rd, 2024

Editor’s note: In May 2024, ISN executive director Chris Kerr spent a week in Rome as part of his responsibilities on the Advisory Committee for the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) of the Society of Jesus. The following Q&A provides a glimpse into what unfolded on that trip:


ISN: Welcome back from Rome! You’ve been on an Advisory Committee for the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) of the Society of Jesus for 3.5 years, taking you to Rome several times a year. How did this most recent gathering go?

Kerr: These meetings are a tremendous opportunity to get a global perspective on the Jesuits’ social justice and ecology ministry around the world. I am always so humbled to hear stories from each of the regional representatives about the ways that Jesuits and lay colleagues are witnesses to the Gospel through their direct social ministry, social analysis, and advocacy. 

One aspect of this global view that always amazes me is the very different realities the Jesuits and lay colleagues encounter compared to our reality here in the United States. Jesuit social ministries beyond the U.S. often engage in accompaniment, research, and advocacy amid war, violence, and political oppression—realities that are generally foreign to us. In addition, many navigate multi-religious environments where Christianity is not the majority religion. The capacity of Jesuits and lay colleagues to meet the needs of local communities is an illustration of the myriad of ways the work of a faith that does justice can happen in different settings. 

Advisors of the SJES gathering at the Jesuit Curia in Rome in May 2024.

Advisors of the SJES gathering at the Jesuit Curia in Rome in May 2024. Photo courtesy of the Jesuit Curia.

ISN: How does all of that relate to your previous meetings during your time on the advisory committee?

Kerr: This gathering was unique because most of the regional representatives (known as “conference secretaries”) and leaders of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks (GIAN) have been in their role for at least a year. Thus, there was a great sense of continuity among the group. On the flip side, Fr. Roberto Jaramillo, S.J., just began his tenure as Director of the Secretariat for Justice and Ecology at the Jesuit Curia in Rome. Fr. Jaramillo brings a wealth of experience as the secretary for social ministry and president of the Jesuit Conference of Provincials of Latin America and the Caribbean. It was exciting to see Fr. Jaramillo envisioning the development of the Secretariat under his leadership and the conference secretaries and GIAN leaders finding points of collaboration and partnership. As an advisory committee member, to a certain extent, I’ve had the unique opportunity to observe these sorts of synergies develop and offer input to the Secretariat Director, both Fr. Jaramillo and his predecessor Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj, S.J., on how to maximize their potential. 


ISN: What are you excited to continue to see unfold until the next time the committee meets?

Kerr: It’s a good question. I know that the six Jesuit conference secretaries for social justice and ecology are excited to collaborate more—including sharing best practices. I am sure that will be beneficial for their work in each of their Jesuit conferences. I am also excited to see what happens over the next year with the Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks. Collaborative networking requires constant cultivation, something I know well from my time at the Ignatian Solidarity Network. It will be exciting to see the ways in which the Global Justice and Ecology Secretariat continues to cultivate the Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks under Fr. Jaramillo’s leadership. The current structure is four networks—ecology, migration, justice in mining, and access to education—each seeking to engage Jesuits and lay collaborators in the six Jesuit conferences worldwide. The signs of the times may lead to innovative ways of proceeding but the commitment to action for justice rooted in faith will remain the same.

1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    World building by accompanying the exploited, the marginalized, and the oppressed is a meaningful ministry.

    Reply

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