President Mary McAleese gave a challenging and encouraging address to almost three hundred Jesuits and their colleagues at the Irish Jesuit Province Assembly on Saturday April 12, 2008 where she said, “We have reached a type of zero-hour, a moment when our next steps can radically alter the trajectory of our history”. Speaking to the conference theme “Called to the Frontiers” she continued, “It is a time for people who are not afraid of frontiers, for people who have courage to face even the most unmapped of roads, for people who have a clear set of values for the journey and an unshakeable belief in the vision that is our destination. That pretty much sums up the Jesuits.”” I wish you well as you look beyond this day,”she continued, “as you chart your path, choose your companions and do the work of hands, heart, mind and soul that will bring many blessings to this new Ireland of many miracles and many new frontiers of hope.”
Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, presided at the closing Mass. He said he was very encouraged by what he had encountered at the assembly, namely a community of faith, of lay and relgious co-workers involved in pastoral care, “the expression of what I believe the Church is being called to develop today and for the future.”
The conference was held in the Irish Management Institute, Dublin, now home to the Irish Jesuit Curia since the fire in their headquarters in Eglinton Rd. just a year ago. It comes in the wake of the election by Jesuits worldwide of a new Father General, Fr Aldofo Nicolás at their 35th General Congregation, GC35, just recently finished in Rome. After the election this January over two hundred delegates spent three months helping the new General in developing the way forward for Jesuits around the world. The head of the Jesuits in Ireland, Provincial Fr John Dardis, was a delegate in Rome along with theologian Jim Corkery SJ. They and delegates Jan van de Poll SJ and Mark Rotsaert SJ, briefed the conference on Fr Nicolás, collaboration with lay collegues, changing principles of Governance and how Jesuits now understand themselves and their work in an increasingly globalised world.
“The mission of Jesuits and those who work with Jesuits is to be at the frontiers” said John Dardis, “the frontiers of faith, poverty and culture. Just as St. Francis Xavier travelled to the geographical frontiers of his day, we are called to be at the frontiers for the Church, to be ‘where the Church does not easily go’ as Pope Benedict said.”
To read the President’s address, click here: President’s Address