Advocating social and ecological justice

Two Aussie Ignatian women, Julie Edwards, CEO of Jesuit Social Services, and Sue Martin, delegate for Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, attended the gathering of the Social Justice and Ecological Secretariat Advisory Committee in Rome recently to address social justice issues.


By Sue Martin, Assistant for Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP).

Over the week June 26th to June 30th the global social apostolate did lots of linking, learning and sharing together in the Jesuit Curia in Rome. This was a gathering of the Social Justice and Ecological Secretariat (SJES) Advisory Committee, on which I am the JCAP member, the Conference of Social Ministry delegates, for which Julie Edwards is the JCAP delegate, and the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN) leaders from Ecojesuit, Justice in Mining, Right to Education and Migration.

The secretary, Xavier Jeyaraj SJ, has ably led the Secretariat for the past six years and assisted for six years prior to this but has now tendered his resignation and so our 2023 gathering was a time to acknowledge the good work Xavier has initiated and the dreams for the future with a new secretary. Some key combined future opportunities arose including the Challenge of Intersectionality and Cross-Sector Collaboration such as ecology, mining, education and migration, and how they intersect in addressing social justice issues.

Julie Edwards, CEO of Jesuit Social Services (left) and Sue Martin (right).

The need to Strengthen Our Foundations including clarifying roles and functions of leaders within the social apostolate, including delegates, coordinators, network leaders and secretaries. Faith, Justice, and Ignatian Spirituality which is emphasising the commitment to faith and justice and integrating this into the identity of our institutions and networks across the Conferences and nurturing and sharing the rich spiritual heritage of the Social Apostolate within the Society of Jesus.

Enhancing Our Approach including improving coordination and collaboration with all the actors involved, in particular the strong coordination between the conferences and GIAN networks and Presidents of conferences, acknowledging the role of Provinces and works as active participants. To outline our way of proceeding as the ministry of social and ecological justice secretariat. Advocacy and Access for the GIAN to be a be an active voice assisting with our advocacy efforts.

Sue Martin and Julie Edwards (back row, 6th and 7th from left) with the Social Justice and Ecological Secretariat Advisory Committee.

Promoting platforms like Promotio Iustitiae and the Social Centre map. The UAPs weaved across the week with myself sharing the Tree of Life Spiritual Exercise, My Spiritual Forest, developed by Michael Hansen SJ. Sitting with Heaven’s Heart, the art works commissioned by Father General using the UAPs, started our week. Julie reflected on the JCAP social ministry work occurring and dreams for the future. Maria Joseph Israel SJ and Basile Ouedraogo SJ, AI experts in the Society, led a good discussion about digital justice as an issue for the future.

Safeguarding, women’s commission, links across the Secretariats with Joseph Christie SJ higher education secretariat, who also presented and we discussed. A very special opportunity was Mass at the Gesù in the room where Ignatius spent his final years and wrote to the emerging Society across the globe. The group also had the opportunity to visit the archives and see some of the letters Ignatius had written. This is an annual gathering and 2023 was influenced by our Australian Province and the social and ecological justice work occurring across our ministries.

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