Day 2: New challenges training ‘men and women for others’

The second day of the IAJU Assembly has been a working day without the formalities of the strict protocol of an inaugural ceremony with State authorities. We started the day with a prayer inspired by Father Pedro Arrupe’s words: “today our prime educational objective must be to form men to serve others; men and women who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ”. Father General Arturo Sosa blessed those gathered in the ceremonial hall at the University of Deusto.

Today there were two keynote addresses. In the first one, Indian author Pankaj Mishra invited us to abandon today’s faith in the imperative of expansion, growth, instrumental calculation, and possessions and to search for a new Enlightenment that will put people at the centre. In the second one, the economist Gaël Giraud SJ offered an overview of the state of the world with regard to problems like inequality, global warming, depletion of resources and biodiversity, and education.

Two new group conversation sessions were held to work on the challenges outlined yesterday (leadership in the universities, educating the poor, environmental and economic justice, inter-religious dialogue, peace and reconciliation, and political leadership). Participants shared best practices and learnt what others are doing at their universities to promote those priorities. We will have to wait until the plenary on Thursday to know the results of these dialogues.

In the evening, we placed all our endeavours in the hands of the Lord in a solemn Mass held at the Cathedral of Bilbao. The Eucharist was presided by the Bishop Mario Iceta, along with Father General Arturo Sosa SJ, and the Provincial of Spain, Antonio España SJ, among other Jesuits. In his homily, Bishop Iceta described the university as a community that intends to scrutinise and go deeper into the truth of the human being. He warned that mentioning “truth” may sound rare in these times of «post-truth», a concept that “goes against the genuine and foundational reason of universities”. After the Mass, light refreshment was offered to the participants in the beautiful Gothic cloister of the Cathedral.

It’s now time for the IAJU Assembly members to take a rest. Tomorrow, with the Father General’s address at the Sanctuary of Loyola and the signing of the founding documents for the international network of Jesuit universities, will certainly be a day to remember for years to come.