On 24 and 25 June, the 2023 Annual Assembly of the members of the Jesuit Social Network (JSN), the network of social activities promoted by the Jesuit Euro-Mediterranean Province, was held in Rome.
During the reflection and the discussion carried out within the assembly, some important focal points emerged that will be the priorities of the new social year of the JSN:
– political formation in view also of the 50th edition of the 2024 Social Weeks ‘At the heart of democracy’ and the participation in the Civil Ethics Forum in Palermo (18-19 November 2023);
– an openness to young people, who are asking us to build hope and a future together,
– responsibility and trust in the laity in sharing charisma and activities (the number of Jesuits is decreasing) towards a less clerical and more synodal Church,
– dialogue with the EUM Province and its different social realities and the creation of a specific coordination between Jesuit works.
Anna Staropoli, a sociologist at the Arrupe Institute, and Stefania Dagnino, a volunteer with the Universal Civil Service, who participated in the meeting, describe this experience as follows:
“At La Storta in a working-class neighbourhood of Rome, in a humble place where pilgrimages are carried out, as we walked along Via Francigena, we entered a small chapel situated at the crossroads of several roads where St. Ignatius had the confirmation in a dream of a new spirituality that combined contemplative life with action, as a sign of the times of a Church capable of understanding the urgent and universal demand that is being made today as has already been done in the past for social justice and trust in a greater love.
We drank at the fountains, at the springs of water, at the charism from which everything initiated, a journey that was embodied in the history of each one of us and of our communities, in the contexts where we live and work, in the lives of the people we encountered, often the least in history, the human discards of an unjust socio-economic system. We dwelt on this concept with humility, analysed and reviewed the stumbling blocks encountered in our activities, the changes generated, the consolations of meaningful relationships and the processes and structures established to pause and enjoy the goals achieved. It was not a question of retracing the origins of our works to build static and empty identities, but of recognising hybrid and continuous fluid identities that are on the move, which have made diversity their strength and generate change by grasping the signs of the times.
In the days leading up to the assembly, a delegation of young people had walked along part of Via Francigena from Marzano Romano to La Storta. The objective of the journey was to discover and go deep into the physical and spiritual sources that the group encountered along the way. The kilometres travelled and the fatigue experienced were compensated by moments of confrontation and self-examination that not only unified the group but also allowed each member to deepen something within themselves and reconnect with a more spiritual part of their own selves. Through this experience, a relationship of sharing and dialogue was created and the principles underlying the entire Jesuit Social Network (JSN) were rediscovered”.