Fr Nicolas speak with lay collaborators. (Right) Fr Nicolas with the conference organising committee.

Jesuits of the Asia-Pacific region gathered recently to discern and discuss the situation and challenges facing the congregation.

The congregation’s Superior General, Jesuit Fr Adolfo Nicolas spoke at the Jan 23-28 meeting of the Major Superiors of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific at Kingsmead Hall at the Church of St Ignatius.

The challenges facing the Jesuits include preserving the congregation’s “Jesuit, Christian and prophetic identity” of their works and institutions while staying “fit and relevant”, communicating clearly without an excessive use of Ignatian terms, and collaborating more closely with the Church expressed as “Sentire cum Ecclesia” that is part of the charism of the Jesuits.

“People appreciate us whenever we are able to forget ourselves for the greater good of the wider Church,” he said.

Fr Nicolas also urged Jesuits to “rediscover the humility embedded in the experience of being a ‘minima societas’ (the least Society)”. Rather than desiring to initiate something new and having others work for the congregation’s cause, but to “learn and be taught by others” and assist in the endeavours of others who are doing well in striving towards a goal and purpose better than the Jesuits.

Also as “men of depth”, the lives of Jesuits must be filled with a life in the Spirit. Fr Nicolas said that people “seek from the Church those with whom they can talk about the deep complexities of their personal and modern lives” from whom they expect a response to their questions and needs.

Jesuits of the Asia-Pacific region were asked to renew their mission in the following areas: work for the poor, the formation of the laity, ecology and migrants.

“We need men full of passion and dedication, not fanatics. We need men who are present with the poor, men who keep a regular contact with the poor, and be challenged by them. We must allow questions to emerge from within the depth of an encounter and not from an isolated mind,” he said.

Fr Nicolas also shared on his work to update and renew Jesuits worldwide in order to sustain the vibrancy and relevance of the various ministries and apostolic endeavours to nurture a more integrated vision.

While meeting the lay collaborators on his visit, he assured them of his support and encouragement in their activities, but warned, “We cannot do everything, we have to discern.”

Seven provinces (Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam) and six regions and missions (Cambodia, East Timor, Malaysia-Singapore, Micronesia, Myanmar, and Thailand) make up the 13 units of the Jesuit Conference of the Asia Pacific.

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