They started arriving in Bilbao on Monday, the 13th of June 2011. From Kinshasa to Seoul; Bogota to Boston; from Melbourne to Madrid; Lusaka to London: they all streamed into Bilbao for onward travel to Loyola. The first to arrive was Augustin Kalubi SJ and the last was MK George SJ today.
They are members of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network, GIAN, in Loyola to attend a general workshop which is part of a long journey that started in 2005. The workshop dubbed the ‘General Workshop’ is the latest installment in a journey that is already six (6) years old. This workshop will hopefully culminate in concrete action plans to move the process forward.
In recent times the Society of Jesus through the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat has been studying, exploring, discernment and reflection on how to respond to General Congregation 35‘s call to “..build bridges…establish advocacy links…” to move the mission of the Society of Jesus to the ‘frontiers’. The journey has taken many twists and turns. It has negotiated some tricky corners. A lot of work from initial ‘promptings’.
Now in Loyola, the GIAN is expected to take off, first by mapping diverse interventions on the five themes: Peace and Human Rights, Migration, Education, Governance of Mineral and Natural Resources and Ecology. Each thematic group has developed tentative and preliminary plans of action. The Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat has accompanied the process particularly from El Escorial in November 2008. It has given its time, expertise and helped source financial resources to help the networks take off the ground.
Reflecting on the journey so far one cannot but believe that the GIAN has reached a critical stage. A lot of thinking, planning and discernment has gone into the process. There are expectations that finally we are the point of doing something concrete jointly across the world, conferences, and apostolates. Participants include world renowned scholars. Many run important social centres in the Society of Jesus and others accompany them with specific expertise. The process and the workshop have the blessings of Fr General and is truly anchored in the Ignatian tradition and in line with recent teaching of the General Congregations.