Final day: Giving thanks for all that we have received

The final day of the IAJU Assembly began with a prayer inspired by Ignacio Ellacuría SJ’s words: “A Christian university must take into account the gospel preference for the poor… the university should be present intellectually where it is needed: to provide science for those without science; to provide skills for those without skills; to be a voice for those without voices”. Ignacio Ellacuría was rector of the Central American University (known as UCA) in El Salvador; and today, another such university, in this case in Nicaragua, and its rector José Alberto Idiáquez SJ, received the solidarity of the members of IAJU Assembly as the manifesto read by Jorge Huete-Pérez, Senior Vice President of UCA in Managua was met with a standing ovation.

In the morning, it was time to present projects for networking and collaboration for the Assembly’s consideration. All the projects and proposals are already in place, although in different stages of development: some of them are regional projects, others are collaboration initiatives between some universities that invited the rest to join them, and there was also a project from the Office of Discernment and Apostolic Planning in Rome. The Secretary for Higher Education Michael J. Garanzini SJ himself presented the new digital platform of the International Association of Jesuit Universities, a tool on which the Association has set great hopes to carry out its mission.

Today participants were also grouped into the six Conferences of the Society of Jesus, and they were asked to deliberate on several points: the IAJU Charter; the Strategic Plan containing 6 top priorities and some specific requests related to the projects presented in the morning. The groups took their responsibility very seriously, and when they shared their results in the plenary session, a range of recommendations were formulated: different demands for clarification, new elements that could be added to the statements, proposals for the Strategic Plan, etc. The new IAJU board will certainly have work to do with all these contributions. On the other hand, the majority of the new IAJU board members were chosen today as was planned although some Conferences preferred to wait until the next meetings of their regional associations.

In the evening, the rector of the University of Deusto presided a thanksgiving Mass at the Gothic Chapel of the University of Deusto. And it was then time for the finishing touch: a last dinner in the cloister at the University of Deusto. During the dinner, Michael Garanzini SJ expressed his gratitude to the University of Deusto for hosting this Assembly, and the rector of the University of Deusto, José María Guibert SJ, thanked Garanzini for his “vision, inspiration and support” and gave him a traditional Basque “txapela” or beret. Each participant also received a very special gift: a luxury edition of the recently published book on the University of Deusto’s Paraninfo, where this Assembly has been held. A book on the history of this unique place which, as Guibert said, “you all are already part of”.