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Reflection on Universal Apostolic Preferences

Jesuit Social Services welcomes the Apostolic Preferences announced by Jesuit Superior General Arturo Sosa, and the opportunity to strengthen our commitments in their light.  The four Apostolic Preferences are:

  1. To show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and Discernment.
  2. To walk with the poor, outcasts and victims of violence in mission of justice and reconciliation.
  3. To accompany young people in creation of a hope-filled future.
  4. To collaborate in care for our common home.

The choice of these preferences follow discernment by Jesuits and colleagues personally, in communities, ministries, at Province, Regional and International level. They naturally flow out of prayer and are expressed in the language of Christian faith. They spell out what it means for Jesuits and Jesuit Ministries today to follow Jesus in their lives and work.

In this context, they primarily engage the heart. In reflecting on our lives and work they are things that should excite us and so influence how we live and work and the choices we make about how we spend our time, orient our ministries and cooperate with others. They will then also influence the shape and choice of our Jesuit ministries.

This implies that they are not separate priorities but influence one another. If we are engaged in social ministry, for example, we would also ask how in our choices in our own lives and work we can engage young people, how our values and practice embody the Spiritual Exercises and how we makes care for the environment central.

These are big questions for consideration for us at Jesuit Social Services. On first reflection, we can say that we see the heart of our way of working is to accompany people who are poor and victims of violence.  And no group of people is more cast out than prisoners, particularly young people in detention.  We also strive for justice through our advocacy and public comment, and look for  reconciliation rather than conflict within the justice system and through the relationships we build with decision makers and public servants.

A central focus for us at Jesuit Social Services is also to accompany young people who are vulnerable in the hope that they will find grounds for hope in the connections they build with and through us to society. Our focus is on relationships.

Our collaboration in care for our common home deepens each year. We are committed to see the justice we strive for as integral, combining care for people who are poor and the environment of which we are part.

Finally the habit of discernment, attending to our own hearts and to our world, asking what matters most deeply and reflecting on what we are doing, is commended as central at each level of Jesuit Social Services and is integral to our way of proceeding. We are drawn to our work by many different philosophies and religions. That is our strength, not our weakness. It means that the Christian language of the preferences must be translated into all the languages by which we speak of meaning. But we could all see the words used by Fr Sosa to summarise the heart of the Preferences – Justice and Reconciliation –  as central to what we are doing and why we are doing it.

In short, Jesuit Social Services is on the same page as the Apostolic Preferences. These words inspire us, giving us energy to get up each and every morning to breathe life into them through who we are, what we do, and how we do it.