The three biggest challenges I find when working in networks include: first, overcoming the idea that the mission “is mine”, because in the meantime, we are not accepting (or being formed in the perspective) that we are all co-workers in the mission of Christ. Personalism (individualism) and a lack of articulation prevent us from moving forward.
The second challenge is a premise of the above and has to do with spiritual life; we are stewards of gifts received, God gives generously but does not control. If there is a lack of a deep spiritual life – which seems to be the case more and more: for both Jesuits and other collaborators – we can lose sight of the mission.Networking requires explicitly devoting not only financial resources but also human resources and time.
The third major challenge has to do with the governance of Jesuit institutions, starting with the government of the Society of Jesus. It should be understood more and more that the most typical is not obedience but discernment, and that the role of the superior in this is fundamental. But we must also understand that networks are not organizations or levels of government but apostolic consultations and agreements, which become essential inputs for the discernment and the mission of those who govern.
The ever-growing integration of other non-Jesuits (lay people, religious, priests and others) in our apostolic works at professional levels of responsibility, if they meet the first two challenges I mentioned above, that is: knowing how to work as part of a mission that is not one’s own but of the larger body and do so through spirituality, this is one of the largest prophetic voices (because this approach is often uncomfortable for many) that we are experiencing. If we look at the main CPAL apostolic networks, and specifically the social sector, over 90% of the actors in these networks are not Jesuits. From them we are learning many things that have to be increasingly lived among us.
Finally, networking requires explicitly devoting not only financial resources but also human resources and time. A network must be built, a network must be taught how to use, and a network must be cared for. I think here, the Society of Jesus has a very big challenge because sometimes we expect these things to just happen through spontaneous generation or without costing “a little more” investment (time, people, money). This is a new way of working that enriches those involved, but also means a major improvement to the way we have always worked.