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Communicating good news

Thirty-two Jesuits and lay colleagues collaborating in the work of online and digital communications met in Brussels for the annual Jesuit Webmasters (Jesweb) Conference from Monday 23 to Thursday 26 April. Patrick Muldoon of Sacred Space and Irish Jesuit Communications represented the Irish Province at the meeting.

JesWeb is made up of a group of Jesuits and lay people responsible for the websites of the European Jesuit Provinces and their major works in communication. This year’s conference also welcomed participants from Jesuit Provinces in Asia, Canada and Africa, making it a broad communication forum for Jesuits and their co-workers.

Over the four days two main themes were discussed; ‘Communication as a mission’ and ‘How to reach the youth’, in the context of the upcoming Synod on Young People, The Faith, and Vocational Discernment; which is scheduled to take place from 3–28 October in Rome.

The participants discussed the long tradition of communication in the Society of Jesus and how communications has evolved, from Saint Ignatius who always encouraged communication and seeking to understand the other to the modern-day example of Pope Francis who continues the Ignatian tradition, going to the frontiers and positively communicating the Good News of Jesus Christ with purpose and hope.

Participants also discussed ways to reach the youth, a generation which is characterised by its relationship with the modern technologies of communication. Strategies and programmes were explored that could to be a bridge to empower them to be instruments of change, including the pastoral ministry of young Jesuits and the international Magis events, the Ignatian immersion experience for young adults from Jesuit schools, parishes, and ministries worldwide.

The meeting also included a number of practical workshops that offered participants the opportunity to develop and advance their skills in the production of videos and photography; while Jesuits and colleagues also had the opportunity to update each other on the online developments and strategies of their various provinces.

Jesweb participants took part in a tour of the centre of Brussels including the European quarter on Wednesday 25 April. During a visit to the European Parliament they were addressed by Philippe Lamberts MEP, co-chair of the Greens/European Free Alliance group, who shared about his Christian faith and his involvement in politics. The visit concluded with a short time in the visitor gallery of the parliament chamber.

Following a short visit to the Parliamentarium, Europe’s largest parliamentary visitor centre, the Jesweb attendees were welcomed at the nearby Chapel for Europe, an ecumenical space for prayer and celebration which the Jesuits hold overall responsibility for. Fr. Krystian Sowa SJ, Director and Sabina Gonzalez, Communications Coordinator, outlined the mission and ministry of the Chapel and Mass was celebrated by Fr. Krystian, Fr. François Boëdec SJ, Provincial of the Jesuit Province of Western Europe (EOF), and Fr. José De Pablo SJ, Socius and Treasurer of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials.