For the majority of participants, the IAJU Assembly event began on Sunday. After the check-in at the Student Residence Hall, the Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Spain, José Antonio España, presided a Mass at the Gothic Chapel of the University of Deusto.
In his homily, the Provincial gave a warm welcome to all participants, stressing that the Assembly marks a “historic moment” for Jesuit universities. He also raised the question of how Jesuit universities could fulfil the aspiration stated in the motto (transforming the world). He went on to answer that there is a proposal for this meeting: “strengthening our identity and mission; developing collaboration among us; increasing our intellectual depth; using discernment for life; and continuing with the preferential option for the poor”.
After the Mass, the whole group had the opportunity to enjoy a dinner in the magnificent main hall of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the city’s most iconic building. Bilbao mayor Juan Maria Aburto delivered a welcome message on behalf of the city. Bilbao will host several important social and cultural events this year but the mayor (himself educated at the University of Deusto) highlighted the importance of this particular Assembly for the city, because –he said– Bilbao wants to be known as “a city of values”.
From the Guggenheim Museum, participants could enjoy also beautiful views of the University of Deusto and the Nervión River. It was a privileged opportunity to enjoy a warm night in Bilbao, before taking a rest and preparing for four days of work.