GC 35 asked the Society of Jesus to imagine new ways of organizing to develop and strengthen Jesuit life and mission in order to better serve our universal mission. Ten years later, the Jesuits are fully involved in a process of reconfiguration of government structures to which the Father General has just given a new push.
2019 has begun with an interesting letter in which Arturo Sosa continues the dialogue begun by Adolfo Nicolás in his letter in September 2011 on the renewal of provincial structures at the service of the Mission. The letter is a definitive endorsement of the ongoing restructuring, ending without any doubt: “For the good of the mission, the processes of reconfiguration of the Provinces and Regions must go forward.”
This is the result of months of work of one of the commissions that the current Father General created as a result of General Congregation 36, in this instance, to study the restructuring processes of provinces and regions. Without forgetting the difficulties encountered in the process, the general evaluation has been very positive because the new apostolic spaces can help to deepen identity and availability, expand horizons and apostolic synergies, improve the distribution of resources and favor larger, diverse and vibrant groups. Father General encourages us “to transcend the limits of provincial, national and ethnic identities, emphasizing the universality of the mission.” As has been suggested on many occasions, the reconfiguration of government units helps to promote a culture of trust, solidarity, collaboration, networking, common discernment, planning and put into practice our Universal Mission.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect has to do with the recommendations for the effectiveness of the reconfiguration, beyond the attention to the times and the needs of personnel, resources and balance in leadership, the writing clearly recommends that for a reconfiguration to be effective it must be: (a) based on the mission, (b) integrated with spiritual renewal processes and (c) accompanied with apostolic planning.
The underlying intuition is to recover the deep meaning of the Jesuit mission, which should be the fundamental criterion of any apostolic discernment, even over the traditional units of government that have persisted for years. As Fr. Sosa himself has previously expressed on several occasions, “it is not a matter of asking if our structures work well, but whether they are the best possible for the mission.”
In his letter, Father General reiterates the importance of emerging apostolic networks and new initiatives in international cooperation. The letter delights and encourages us to continue growing in this collaborative dimension, recognizing that we are living a moment of “great creativity in the development of structures for local collaboration and the creation of networks.”