SHOWING THE WAY TO GOD
One point of which Provincials are reminded is that the provinces for which we care are structures in the service of a universal mission. The Kingdom of God that we seek to help build here in Australia and New Zealand is a universal Kingdom, uncontained by borders. In my care of the mission here I am aware that our direction must be outward, in concert with the Kingdom being built everywhere.
We try to work this way in Australia and New Zealand when we endeavour to convey the Good News. As much through intellectual and spiritual engagement in an increasingly unbelieving culture as through the provision of services to those in social and material need. It continues to be true of our Province when we respond to needs in other parts of the world.
We engage in any context with openness but guided by the principles of Ignatian discernment, seeking to ensure that our efforts are placed at the service of God’s Kingdom. The Jesuit Superior-General, Fr Arturo Sosa SJ, has asked the Australian Jesuit Province and our neighbours in Timor-Leste Independent Jesuit Region to discern what God might be asking of us together.
Fr Sosa has asked that we discern whether the Jesuit presence in East Timor, to date in Jesuit-speak an Independent Region, might become a Dependent Region of the Australian Jesuit Province. Where the Jesuit presence in some part of the world is too small to be a Province it is usually a Region and most often ‘Dependent’ on an appropriate Province. It is ‘Dependent’ to the extent that the paired Provincial has responsibility for oversight of the region’s governance. With his consultors, and other key advisors, he offers counsel and support to the region.
Such an arrangement could give rise to all sorts of collaboration and mutual interdependence over time. Jesuits in both Australia and East Timor have begun to discuss, pray about, and collectively discern whether God is calling us to this new relationship. Our discernment is ‘consultative’, in that it will help Fr Superior-General to discern and make the final decision.
At present we are some way from any decision. Nevertheless, it is a special time, whatever the outcome, for us to be praying and discerning how we are called to build the Kingdom in our region. Appropriately, we Jesuits have been asked to begin this process. In time this process will include others who share in our mission. Anything that we do as an apostolic body of men in this part of our world draws on our presence across ministries where we work with so many people of good will.
We have much to offer as a Province, both in the particular gifts of Jesuits and in the life-giving nature of our ministries. Jesuit Mission Australia provides a bridge from our Province to so many communities in need, just as Jesuit Refugee Service provides a link to a global mission dear to our hearts. Our parishes have Jesuit ‘sister’ parishes in our region. The links both Jesuit Social Services and Jesuit Ignatian Spirituality Australia have across our region and globally are important to their work. The Cardoner Network introduces young people to the works of the Church in places of need, just as our schools engage with the global Society of Jesus through immersions and service placements, and through engagement with communities sharing the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm.
The connection we have, as Jesuits and as ministries supported by wonderful companions, with the Society of Jesus in our region and around the world enhances our mission here. In engaging in our ministry in this place we look to the horizon beyond it. I ask that we all join together in prayer as this discernment takes place and that we are open to listening to God’s call. Whatever its outcome, this can be a time of growth in faithful witness to God’s desire for our Province. It is appropriate we come to this process in Lent, a time for returning to the call of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Fr Quyen Vu SJ
Photo by Elsa GUYADER on Unsplash