Message of the President
Dear Alumna, dear Alumnus,
Our European continent may be facing its greatest challenge since WWII. Migration to Europe from other continents and regions of the world of people seeking asylum or fleeing an undignified life, has become an issue for its humanitarian implications and also for our society due to the direct and huge impact at the cultural, religious, social, political and economic levels.
Armed conflicts, natural hazards, and economic crises in places all over the globe have triggered massive displacements of population which threaten to overwhelm our capacity to respond adequately, that is, both with humanity and order, and have generated a clash between two sometimes conflicting loyalties – the desire to embrace otherness and the attachment to our identity – which risks breaking the cohesion and the unity of our continent, a great achievement of our recent history that we used to take for granted.
It is time that Europe, as a community of destiny, starts reflecting around this issue, that is not likely to disappear any time soon and could even become more important as long as steps are not taken in the direction of preventing the migrations where they originate, by tackling the root causes that are triggering them: poverty and social despair, violence and oppression, climate change. As European citizens and as Christians, we are called upon to take an active part, modestly, but ambitiously at the same time, in this daunting task.
The European Confederation of Jesuit Alumni (ECJA), being aware of this unfolding situation, wants to help approach the problem in ways that can be described as Jesuit, leading them to be “Contemplatives in Action”. For that purpose, it has set up the European Encounters of Jesuit Alumni, taking place in Rome, from September 14th to 16th 2016, an event in which we will be confronted with the migration crisis in a reflexive way, providing a glimpse at its different root causes, the challenges it poses, the response of the various actors and our possible role as bridge-builders and problem-solvers.
Under the title of Global migration and refugee crisis: time to contemplate and act, these European Encounters promise to be a series of moments in which we will enrich ourselves intellectually, open up spiritually and be touched emotionally. To organize this event, we have teamed up with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS International), a NGO created in 1980 by Father General Pedro Arrupe. With their help, we will have the opportunity to attend conferences offered by renowned experts in the field, which will help us understand the complexities surrounding migration in a holistic way. We will also have the opportunity to share with first-hand actors, what it means to be a refugee in a city like Rome and how we might help when we are back home, starting from the way we look at them. We will as well be able to interact with migrants who benefit from the actions of JRS and many others.
These European Encounters, which are preceded by a pilgrimage between Gubbio and Assisi (from September 10th to 13th), organized by the French Federation of Jesuit Alumni, will officially begin with the attendance of the General Papal Audience on Wednesday, September 14th. You will find on this website all information regarding the program and the practicalities (registration and accommodation).
As President of the European Confederation of Jesuit Alumni (ECJA), I cordially invite you to join us and share what promises to be a challenging and moving experience, as the encounter with the Other will inspire us to live our lives as true followers of Ignatius.
European Confederation of Jesuit Alumni