By Molly McCarthy, Writer-Editor, Le Moyne College Office of Communications
There is no better way to understand a person than to walk a mile in his or her shoes, and visit firsthand the places by which one is shaped and formed. Jesuit educators know this well. Over the years, they have seized the opportunity to trace carefully the footsteps of St. Ignatius, to visit the sites that are sacred to the Society of Jesus and to Jesuit education as a whole. These pilgrimages bring them face-to-face with nearly 500 years of history, and provide Jesuit educators with a deeper and renewed understanding of the religious mission and tradition that is central to their work.
This past summer, Le Moyne College President, Linda LeMura, Ph.D.; Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Rev. Joseph Marina, S.J.; and Vice President for Mission Integration, Rev. David McCallum ’90, S.J., traveled to the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, where they joined approximately 300 colleagues from 189 Jesuit institutions of higher education from around the world, to attend the inaugural meeting of the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU). With education and collaboration at its core, the IAJU seeks to leverage the schools’ collective power to transform the world through faith and justice. In the words of Jesuit Superior General, Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., who chaired the event, the Association seeks to “go beyond what we normally achieve in our local societies, to have the best possible impact on our world.”
During an address to the assembly, Fr. Sosa said, “We have traveled a long journey which is full of achievements, but where we have faced numerous challenges. This journey is already several centuries long and the intention is for it to continue for much longer. In order to take the next steps on the path ahead, which are as yet unknown to us just as the previous ones were, we believe we should come together and make the most of who we are and what we have, so as to become a source for a full, reconciled life.”
Over the course of their time in Bilbao, the participants visited the family home of St. Ignatius, as well as that of Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Those sites served as a source of inspiration, as the participants focused and debated many of the 21st century’s most pressing challenges, including violence, forced migration, racial discrimination, poverty, authoritarianism and environmental degradation. Participants also attended a Mass inside of the basilica in Loyola, which was celebrated by Fr. Sosa and other Jesuit leaders. Perhaps most significantly, they signed the formal agreement establishing the IAJU in the Loyola Sanctuary, the cradle of the Society of Jesus.
Fr. McCallum said, “At a time when many relationships around the world are becoming increasingly frayed, it is incumbent upon us to build more thoughtful and intentional partnerships. In his remarks, Fr. Sosa reminded us that our presence in Bilbao signified our willingness to come together in order to produce greater and better outcomes, outcomes that ultimately lead to what he called ‘a dignified full life for each and every human being.’”
The principle aim of the conference was for educators to discern how best to share their resources in order meet their collective, universal mission – to be a force for good, particularly in areas of global concern. With that in mind, the IAJU aims to expand efforts to bring higher education to the marginalized and the disadvantaged; promote the formation of civic and political leaders to better serve the common good; and raise awareness for an integrated economic and environmental justice through education and advocacy in Jesuit schools. In addition, the Association will seek to increase efforts to better preserve and develop the Ignatian character of their schools through the formation of lay and Jesuit leadership; elevate interfaith dialogue and collaboration on our campuses; and support the study and practice of peace and reconciliation.
In addition to sending delegates to the assembly, Le Moyne played a crucial role in helping to facilitate it. President LeMura led a panel discussion on what Jesuit institutions can do to combat income inequality. Fr. McCallum helped to guide an international task force in drafting a position paper on forming Ignatian leaders in higher education, drawing upon the expertise of representatives from Jesuit institutions in Mexico, the Ivory Coast, Germany, Indonesia, India and the United States. In addition, the College was highlighted in a video announcing the launch of the IAJU, and members of the Le Moyne community assisted with the development of the IAJU’s website.
“I am immensely proud of the work that was done to make this assembly possible by all those involved from Le Moyne,” said President LeMura. “I am also honored to be a witness, along with Fathers Marina and McCallum, to this historic occasion, which will make an indelible and lasting impact on Jesuit education worldwide.”