The gift of a Jesuit education

More than 2,300 schools comprise the global Jesuit network of education.
Meetings are enriching experiences because of differing regional contexts.

 JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH 

By Fr Tom Renshaw SJ, Rector, Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview 

There are more than 2,300 schools that belong to the Jesuit network of education across the world. Riverview is one of five Jesuit-owned and governed schools in Australia and there are a further six Jesuit Companion schools that belong to our Province network of schools.  

Five of these are located in Australia: John XXIII in Perth; two in Victoria: Loyola College Watsonia and Saint Ignatius College Geelong; Xavier Catholic College Hervey Bay in Queensland; and Xavier Catholic College Ballina, NSW. Earlier this year, we welcomed the newest member of the network, St Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College in Auckland, New Zealand.  

From a governance perspective, the Jesuits divide the world up into Assistancies or Conferences, and then within each Conference there are Provinces and regions for smaller areas. We belong to the Australian Province of the Jesuits; in turn, we are part of the Asia Pacific Assistancy or Conference.  

Within each Conference, there are ministry groups that meet regularly, including the Education Ministry. The Provincial Assistants for Education gather annually to share with each other the developments within our schools. This is part of our expression of belonging to a global network of schools. Prior to starting at Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview, I was the Provincial Assistant for Education and Chair of Jesuit Education Australia. I had the privilege of attending network meetings in Singapore, Jakarta, Manila and Taipei. They were enriching experiences, especially in the context of learning how Jesuit education is present in a variety of different contexts, through the Asia-Pacific region. 

There is a co-ordinator or secretary for each ministry group in each Assistancy/Conference. The Education Secretary for the Asia-Pacific region is Fr Leonardus Winandoko SJ, an Indonesian Jesuit who goes by the name of Koko. Fr Koko represents the Asia-Pacific Jesuit education ministry at the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education, known as ICAJE. This consists of the Superior General’s Secretary for Education and the secretaries/co-ordinators from each Assistancy. 

On 24 May this year, Pope Francis met with the members of ICAJE in Rome. Each representative presented a report on their region, reflections on the role of online Jesuit education platform Educate Magis, artificial intelligence as well as the promotion of a consistent culture of child protection within all Jesuit schools.  

In addressing the representatives of ICAJE, Pope Francis thanked all of those involved in Jesuit education. He then said the following: “It is true that Saint Ignatius and the first companions did not consider the importance of the schools at the beginning of the founding of the Society. But it is equally true that very soon they became aware of the immense evangelizing potential and welcomed it with enthusiasm and dedication. Without doubt, the Jesuit schools have ensured that the message of the Gospel continues to be listened to by the new generations, accompanied by their characteristic academic and intellectual rigour. But the centre is, and must continue to be, Jesus. Therefore, the Jesuits, through study programmes and activities in the schools, have been committed in order to enable young people to enter into contact with the Gospel, with service to others, and thus to contribute to the common good.”  

The recent Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminded us that love is at the centre of God’s relationship with each one of us and all of humanity. In the final week of this term, our Year 10 students will engage in Service Week, including some on country placements in Moree, Central Australia, Bathurst Island and Mount Druitt. This will be a living expression of the fruit of their contact with Jesus and the Gospels, responding with loving service, offering themselves to the service of others for the common good of our country. In turn, they will learn much about themselves, others and our society. A key part of this learning will take place in the beginning of Term 3 when they return to the College and engage in a reflection day, deepening their insights, thoughts and “heart” moments. 

This article was originally published in a recent edition of the ‘Viewpoint’ newsletter for Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview. 

Banner image of the Dalton Chapel at Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview. Photo: David McMahon

To enquire about becoming a Jesuit in Australia, contact vocations@sjasl.org.au and for more info, visit our Vocations page.

Share This