Irish Jesuit Missions is now known as Irish Jesuits International, with the tagline ‘Men and Women for Others’. In this article IJI communications officer, Martina Madden, outlines the reasons for the change.
History of Irish Jesuit Missions
When the Irish Jesuit Missions office opened in 1945, its priorities were funding programmes run by Irish Jesuits in African and Asian countries, and providing a support system for the men themselves and for their families in Ireland. 75 years later, there are just 15 remaining Irish Jesuit missionaries overseas. Therefore, the main objective of the organisation has changed. Supporting the missionaries overseas remains a priority, but most of its funding these days goes towards education and development programmes run by Jesuits and their lay colleagues who are from the countries in which those projects are based.
This change mirrors not just the changes in Irish society – which has become increasingly less religious in the last few decades – but the success of Irish Jesuits’ mission. Those men travelled across the globe to go to communities on the margins and to give them the means to carry on the work themselves. Many of the African Jesuits who now run programmes in their own countries were educated by Irish Jesuits and led to their vocation by them.
Consultation and discernment process
Jesuits are widely respected across Ireland, however there is a negative perception among younger generations that the work of ‘the missions’ is about the conversion of people in Africa and Asia to Christianity. The old name was misleading in this sense. Although it is a faith-based organisation underpinned by the Jesuit ethos, the name did not accurately reflect that the organisation works with men and women of all faiths – and none – in education, healthcare, advocacy, and building sustainable livelihoods and communities.
The new name was chosen after a period of consultation with groups and individuals within the Irish and overseas Jesuit network, over many months and discerned from the compiled responses the feeling in the wider community. Overall, the response to the change was extremely positive, including from a key stakeholder group – Irish missionaries themselves.
Our new name, Irish Jesuits International, reflects the Jesuit global outreach and service to all people living at the margins of our world. All peoples who find themselves excluded because of poverty, climate change, war and displacement are our concern. In collaboration with our international Jesuit and lay partners, we continue to be in solidarity and support to these men, women and children who struggle to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves.
– John K. Guiney SJ, Director
New website, logo and branding
IJI has also updated its logo and branding to refresh and modernise its image. The new colour scheme and logos are featured across all IJI social media channels – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In addition, the website has been completely redesigned to better display stories and updates from international partners with a more user-friendly and visually appealing interface.
Future of Irish Jesuits International
Irish Jesuits International remains committed to the same values that the organisation began with in 1945 and to the support of Irish missionaries overseas, and is grateful for the loyalty and generosity of the donors and supporters which are the foundation on which it stands.
To sustain and continue the work in development and education that IJI does it must build on this foundation and increase its supporters base by appealing to a wider audience. The new name reflects both the past and future of the organisation.
— Martina Madden, Communications Officer, Irish Jesuits International