Sent in a Global Network by José Alberto Mesa, SJ

Sent in a Global Network
José Alberto Mesa, SJ 1
“Networking: Collaboration naturally leads to cooperation through networks. New technologies
of communication open up forms of organization that facilitate collaboration. They make it
possible to mobilize human and material resources in support of the mission, and to go beyond
national borders and the boundaries of Provinces and Regions.
Often mentioned in our recent Congregation documents, networking builds on a shared vision
and requires a culture of generosity, openness to work with others and a desire to celebrate
successes. Networks also depend on persons able to provide vision and leadership for
collaborative mission. When properly conceived, networking provides a healthy balance
between authority and local initiative.
It strengthens local capacity and encourages subsidiarity while assuring a unified sense of
mission from a central authority. Local views are more readily and speedily heard.”
(CG36, Decree 2, 82)
The theme I will present is the fundamental purpose of JESEDU-Río 2017 : our schools’ calling to
become a global network, or how we are Sent in a Global Network .
The Society of Jesus and the world are calling on us, as schools, to discover our international
potential. P. General Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, already challenged us when he asked: “can’t we go
beyond the close but autonomous relationship we now maintain as institutions and re-imagine
and reorganize ourselves so that, in this globalized world, we can more effectively carry out the
‘universality’ that has always been part of Ignatius’ vision of Society?” (Profundidad,
1 Secretary for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education, Society of Jesus.
2 Not official translation from Spanish.

Universalidad y Ministerio Intelectual. Mexico, 2010).
Therefore, the challenge is whether we can reimagine ourselves and our schools, and thus
view ourselves as a global network and work as such ; as a global network that is capable of
going beyond the local dimension, and which therefore understands and takes on global
challenges as opportunities from our world. This requires a new way of thinking and a new
way of proceeding , since we need to work as an international network of schools woven out of
different cultures, nations and societies. We need to work as a network that is united by a
common mission and vision that develops its enormous apostolic potential when we recognize
that our current context “requires that we act as a universal institution with a universal mission,
keeping in mind, at the same time, the radical diversity of our situations”(CG35, Decree 2, 20).
5 key points for reflection
I consider these to be five key points regarding the call to work “United in a Global Network”:
1. What do we mean by Jesuit network of schools? We can use the definition of “networking”
from the Congress on International Networking in the Society of Jesus held in Boston: “as a
way of proceeding apostolically that enables better global and regional cooperation at the
service of the universal mission, raising the apostolic structures to a new level of agency
with global (or regional) impact, and therefore connecting persons and institutions in such a
way that they act as a global and interdisciplinary body, in collaboration with others” (Final
Document, 2012). This way of understanding networking indicates, first of all, that we have
great potential if we learn to collaborate as a global network and we discover effective ways
of working apostolically that would otherwise be impossible.
At the same event, Chris Lowney explained the meaning of networking: “Jesuit institutions
and individuals in them understand themselves as participating in a greater Jesuit mission
that transcends the boundaries of their school or country, and are willing to lend their
talent, time, or treasure as part of this broader mission.”
As a result, the invitation is to go beyond my school, my country, my province, my region ,
and to be capable of understanding that if we move forward together, we will go farther
and do better. This means that the management teams from each of our schools need to
understand that international and global collaboration is also their responsibility. Real
Ignatian leadership in our schools today should work to consolidate the global network with
its resources, its people and its enthusiasm, as this is the only way that we can develop the
global apostolic potential we have. Anything else would be burying our talents and ignoring
the call from God, the Church and the Society of Jesus.
We can reflect on this point with the following question: how can we re-imagine our
schools (and in particular, my school) and networks as collaborators in a global network
with a global mission?
2. The Society of Jesus asks that we return to our Ignatian vision and we recognize that God
continues to act in our history and in our world. Therefore, loyal to our Ignatian tradition,
we should ask ourselves: how is God acting in the world today?
One of the messages that the Church, the Pope, the Society and the most recent General
Congregations have clearly delivered to us is that we need to recognize the reality of
globalization, which opens a different perspective in history and presents us with new
possibilities, challenges and opportunities. In recognition of our tradition of responding to
the constantly-changing signs of the times, we need to explore what this new globalized
reality means for our education. JESEDU-Rio2017 happens to be an opportunity to continue
this discernment, but this will only be possible if we come together, explore and walk as
In our schools, we can reflect on this point with the following question: what type of
fringes, frontiers and innovations can we explore and recognize together as a global
This means defining what we can do differently, and identifying the fringes, frontiers and
innovations that a single school, or even a country, could not take on by itself, but which we
could take on as a group.
3. The third idea I would like to share with you today is that nowadays, we say that our schools
have local roots. This is not only a characteristic aspect of our way of working, but also a
strength that we would like to maintain. However, at the same time, we want and need our
schools to respond to the global context by creating a common global perspective.
We want to prepare our students to respond to the problems of this global world:
environmental problems, or problems involving justice and solidarity that cannot be solved
or understood without a global perspective. In our schools, we want families and students
to see themselves as global citizens beyond local, national or regional barriers. Now, more
than ever, “my life” is connected to the life of all the inhabitants of the planet.
In a world like the one we have today, where fanaticism, extremism and nationalism are on
the rise, our schools are called to be spaces for hope in a different future of global solidarity
where we can realize that another world is possible.
The questions that can guide our reflections in this sense are:
How can we exercise unity and dialogue in a world profoundly divided by fanaticism and
How can we contribute globally to dialogue between peoples, religions and cultures?
4. The fourth idea that I would like to share is closely related to the third. A couple years ago,
Father Nicolás called on Jesuit education to prepare our students and our school
communities for global citizenship . In other words, to understand that all human beings
recognize our interdependence, responsibility and solidarity with all of humanity. Not just
with my family, my local community, my country, my religion, my audience and my Jesuit
conference, but with the entire world, with humanity as a whole. This means going beyond
nations or ethnicities, farther than any cultural or social barrier, and this requires a new way
of thinking. It breaks with national bonds from past centuries (especially the 19 th and 20 th ),
and it recognizes the new global reality that presents us with so many new possibilities.
Of course, as with all human things, we also know that globalization can bring darkness and
increase exploitation and injustice in our world. But with our Ignatian vision, we want to
work tirelessly for the new possibilities for solidarity, justice or environmentalism that it
offers us.
Questions that can guide our conversation on this point are:
As a global network, how can we work together on a global citizenship program for our
How can we help to build bridges of hope and solidarity in the divided world of today?
5. The fifth idea encompasses everything I have said so far. In addition, it states the
importance of what the last two General Congregations and Father General Arturo Sosa SJ
have also emphasized: we are all apostolic companions on a mission of reconciliation,
justice and dialogue, and therefore collaboration is our means of proceeding. We need to
learn to collaborate (to work together in service of the mission) as laypeople and Jesuits,
Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers, different ethnicities and nations,
different ways of understanding life and seeing the world, and as schools on different
continents with very different local circumstances. This collaboration requires a new way of
proceeding, of thinking, new structures and a strong global network that allows us to
effectively respond to this collaboration challenge. Not only do our schools benefit from this
type of collaboration; it also seems to be the only possible way of serving our mission in this
day and age and of moving towards the educational and human frontiers of our time.
This means of collaboration constitutes a new perspective, as for many centuries, Jesuits
believed that the only possible way of offering greater service was to increase the number
of Jesuit callings. Of course, today we do need to continue working to increase the number
of callings in order to maintain collaboration between laypeople and Jesuits. However, it is
also true that we are convinced that by maintaining this collaboration on every level, we
open up possibilities and strengthen our mission in a way that was not possible with the old
way of operating, under the sole direction of Jesuits. We have won a great deal with our
apostolic companions (whether Christian or non-Christian), who share our mission
throughout the world, our perspective and who feel motivated by the Ignatian vision.
The question that can help us to reflect and to move forward along these lines is:
In our schools (and at my school in particular), what can we do on a global level so that
the level of collaboration and commitment that helps us to better serve our mission can
continue to grow?
Suggestions for upcoming steps to be taken in order to become “Sent in a global network”
There are several small and large steps we could take as schools to begin to think and act as a
global network.
Some of these steps are: 1. Be aware that we need to train our educators and especially our
management teams in a global perspective. All of our faculty training programs should include
this global perspective. The message should be clear for anyone who manages one of our
schools: what is expected of someone in their position includes co-responsibility with local,
regional and global networks. The time in which management was simply seen as being
responsible for a single school has passed. Without this awareness and commitment, it would
be very hard to achieve the progress we seek.
2. We could also consider creating a coordinator or global delegate for our schools. In other
words, a person whose principal responsibility is to ensure that the school is connected with its
local, regional and global networks— truly and effectively connected. We are educators, and
we know that for something to be really effective and useful it needs to go beyond speeches
and documents— it needs to reach the foundation of the school and the curriculum.
3. We should also take advantage of what we already have that can be useful in helping us build
this global perspective and way of working. In Educate Magis , our schools have the opportunity
to create an online community where we can address our challenges and solutions together. It
is clear that Educate Magis echoes General Congregation 36: “ New technologies of
communication open up forms of organization that facilitate collaboration. They make it
possible to mobilize human and material resources in support of the mission, and to go beyond
national borders and the boundaries of Provinces and Regions” (Decree 2, 8). Using Educate
Magis we can, for example, discuss and work on global education and citizenship: as a global
network, can we create common guidelines that our schools can use to make our students
global citizens? This path is very promising, and not so difficult to travel. All of this will help us
to move forward and to prepare our future generations for the world that is being born.
4. Pedagogical and educational innovation is clearly one of the frontiers to be faced in our
schools. We need to think of new ways of doing what we do, new ways of learning and
teaching. Innovation is a particularly difficult terrain for a single school to take on. Working as a
regional and international network can help us to recognize borders or explore and implement
innovative models with the same creativity as the first Jesuits had when they created the Ratio
Studiorum . We should not forget that the creation of the Ratio itself was the result of
collaboration in an international network, and without this it would not have been possible.
6. There is a great deal we can do to create innovative ways of training our educators in our
mission and identity. We have many resources in this area, but these resources are not being
shared throughout our network. Sometimes, we only repeat what others do, failing to take
advantage of the opportunity to improve and collaborate. It is true that there are many barriers
to a greater level of collaboration in this area, such as language and local laws, but we can be
more creative and take advantage of what we do.
International Congress for Jesuit Education Delegates. JESEDU-Rio2017
Ultimately, the question that we all need to ask ourselves as schools, educators, management
teams and Jesuits is:
What steps can we take locally, regionally and internationally to become a strong global
network at the service of our mission in today’s world?
This is a question that needs to be answered locally, regionally and globally. What we will
attempt to do in Rio de Janeiro is to answer it globally, but it will be very difficult to find a global
response unless our schools answer it locally and our national and regional networks answer it
on their level. We need everyone’s creativity and commitment.
We all need to think as a single body with the same mission.
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