After over a year of preparations, we have reached our destination: El Escorial, where the Ignatian Advocacy Workshop takes place from 10 to 16 November 2008. The name of the workshop gives an indication of what is supposed to happen here: “Ignatian”, in the spirit of Saint Ignatius, gathering Jesuit initiatives and those that are close to the Jesuits, for example Christian Life Communities.
“Advocacy” – this is the first time people with an Ignatian background have come together to exclusively talk about advocacy and to get to know others from around the world who are involved in this particular way of defending the rights of the weakest in society.
“Workshop”: the character of this gathering is not something definitive, it is not a seminar or a conference. The elements of common apostolic discernment (e.g. collective review of the day as part of the eucharist) that are built into the days here give an indication of the openness and maybe even open-endedness of this workshop. We are here to discern together a common language for Ignatian Advocacy and to come up with a plan of action. But really, none of the participants knows what the actual outcome will be, and that is part of the plan.
In his keynote speech on this first evening, Father Elías Royón, the provincial of Spain, said: “I believe that Ignatian spirituality can enrich advocacy with the practice and attitude that discernment demands, with the aim of discovering where the greatest necessity lies, and where the hope for the most universal good can be found. Necessity and universality are the two Ignatian criteria for deciding where to act and where to be present.”
Following Fr Royón’s speech, Valeria Méndez de Vigo, the main coordinator of the event, gave an introduction to the workshop.
Then the participants presented themselves according to the Conferences of Provincials they come from. Here are some pictures of the presentations – more pictures of all the participants can be found here:
South Asia: Tom Kavalakatt, James Mascarenhas, Xavier Jeyaraj, Joe Xavier
Three of the six participants from the United States: John Kleiderer, Ted Arroyo, Jim Stormes
Africa: Charles Chilufya, Ferdinand Muhigirwa, Paulin Manwelo, Tshikendwa Matadi