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Ecology and the Jesuit mission

Ecology is central to the Jesuit mission.

At the 35th General Congregation – an international meeting of Jesuit representatives held in 2008 – Jesuit ministries were called on to develop concrete programs and initiatives concerning our environment.

Our sustainability strategies heed the call of Jesuit mission on ecology. They strive to restore right relationships with creation and to respond to ecological or environmental challenges, so as ‘to appreciate more deeply our covenant with creation’ (GC35 D3, 36).

To learn more about the Jesuit ecological mission, we recommend reading:

Our environmental pledge

We understand that social justice and eco-justice are connected. The poorest in our world are most vulnerable to the effects of environmental degradation.

We commit to operating in a responsible and sustainable way that protects and improves our environment and our communities.

We are grateful for the environment and web of life that we are part of and that sustains us.

We encourage our staff, participants, volunteers, friends, stakeholders and the Jesuit community to share our commitment to ecological and social justice.

How we enact our environmental pledge

We enact our environmental pledge through:

  • our programs
  • our environmental way of proceeding
  • our international leadership on governing natural and mineral resources

Our programs: ecology in action

Our programs connect with the natural and social environments in which they operate. They recognise that the natural world can play an important role in healing, and seek to nurture the relationship between people and their environment.

Examples of our programs’ commitment to ecology include:

The Outdoor Experience by Jesuit Social ServicesThe Outdoor Experience, our community adventure and bush therapy program, takes participants walking by the coast, to the Macedon ranges and to Lerderderg Gorge, as well as kayaking and rock climbing.

The chance to do something different, to share experiences and make friendships in a different environment, and to learn skills alongside caseworkers helps to open hearts and minds to other possibilities.

The Outdoor Experience provides participants with some relief from the difficult conditions in which they live, and helps them connect with nature and the broader environment. The program has a significant positive impact on participants’ morale and strengthens their relationships with caseworkers.

Garden at Perry House by Jesuit Social ServicesPerry House is our living skills residential program for young people with intellectual disabilities who are involved with the criminal justice system. The house has a large backyard, which staff and residents have developed into a garden with a vegetable patch.

Taking responsibility for nurturing the growth of the plants and connecting with nature has had a positive therapeutic impact on Perry House residents.

The garden provides an opportunity for residents to engage in something productive and practical, as well as to think more about what they eat. In a world of instability, the garden provides residents with a sense of security, a place to reflect and an opportunity to practise patience.

Artful Dodgers Studios by Jesuit Social ServicesArtful Dodgers Studios is our creative spaces for young people aged 17–28 who experience marginalisation due to risk factors such as substance misuse, mental health, homelessness and involvement with youth justice.

Staff are conscious of the resources that they use and often employ materials discarded from industrial projects.

One project at the Bush Hut involved taking photographs of nature, working together to make artworks out of materials found in the bush, and highlighting the sense of decay, regeneration and renewal.

Our environmental way of proceeding

Sustainability is not an add-on to our mission and practice, but an integral part of who we are, how we manage our organisation and how we meet the needs of the community we serve.

In 2012 we released Our Environmental Way of Proceeding, a framework that guides our engagement with ecology.

The framework describes our organisation-wide promises and processes for social and environmental justice across three domains:

  1. Human Spirit – through our deep gratitude and appreciation of the interconnectedness of all life, we will form and deepen our capacity to engage and sustain our commitment to social and ecological justice
  2. Practice Framework – we will promote environmental awareness and initiatives through our programs and advocacy that reflect our commitment to social and ecological justice
  3. Business Processes – we will adopt environmentally sustainable business practices and processes

Our efforts involve more than changes to our business processes and practice framework, such as reduced waste and improved energy efficiency.

Our commitment also invests in the human spirit – we ourselves need to be transformed and sustained in our commitment to social and ecological justice.

Our international leadership on governing natural and mineral resources

We lead the Governance of Natural and Mineral Resources (GNMR) Network, one of four Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks. To learn more, visit our International Leadership page.