The World Assembly of Jesuit Universities was hosted by the University of Deusto from 8th to 12th July in Bilbao, Spain. The event was attended by more than two hundred Jesuits and Lay Collaborators from Jesuit Universities and Institutions of Higher Education from around the world.
The Indian delegation was one of the biggest with about 50 Jesuits. From Calcutta Province Fr Dominic Savio SJ, Rector and Principal of St Xavier's College, Calcutta and Fr Paul Arockiam SJ, Principal of St Xavier's College, Burdwan participated.
The Assembly was Chaired by Fr Arturo Sosa,SJ, Superior General of the Jesuits. The Theme was "Transforming our world together". The occasion was to reflect and examine some of the key challenges faced by Jesuit and other universities.
Accompanied by Fr Arturo Sosa SJ, the Basque president Iñigo Urkullu and the
Rector of the Deusto Fr José María Guibert SJ, King Felipe VI of Spain presided
over the official inauguration. The Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic
Education, Cardinal Guiseppe Versaldi and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi addressed
the Assembly. Other participants were Pedro Duque, Spanish Minister of Science,
Innovation and Universities, Fr Michael Garanzini,SJ, the Secretary of Higher
Education of the Society, the economist Fr Gaël Giraud SJ and Pankaj Mishra,
expert on Indian situation.
The formation of the International Assembly of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) was discussed and new possibilities for cooperation between universities, regional networks and the international associations were analyzed.
The IAJU has been organised into six thematic areas:
Civic and Political Leadership Formation, Education of the Marginalized,
Environmental & Economic Justice, Inter-religious Dialogue and Understanding,
Leadership in an Ignatian Way of Proceeding, Peace and Reconciliation.These will
shape the areas of action for Jesuit education centres in future.
The participants were taken on a pilgrimage to Loyola, the birth and ancestral place of St Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Jesuits. The establishment of the new International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) and the signing of the Charter took place in the Loyola Sanctuary. The IAJU ( www.iaju.org ) will provide the Jesuit universities with a clear legal status, structure and stability.
The main Jesuit universities present were Georgetown, Santa Clara, Loyola Chicago, San Francisco Universities (USA), Pontificia Gregoriana (Italy), Xavierian University (Mexico), Catholic University of Córdoba (Argentina), Ateneo de Manila (Philippines), Sophia University (Japan). Special mention was made of the contributions by St Xavier's, Calcutta, in the field of education.
The University of Deusto was chosen as the venue in recognition of services rendered for 132 years, being the first private university of Spain in 1886. It is situated in Bilbao, the birth place of Fr Pedro Arrupe, the beloved, dynamic and saintly Superior General who guided the Society in the aftermath of the Vatican Council, facing much turmoil. After St Ignatius, he was only the second Spaniard to be the 28th Superior General (1965-83).
The Jesuits have the largest global university network in 54 countries with 210
universities, 800,000 students, 450,000 lecturers, researchers and staff and
5,000,000 alumni. St Xavier's College Bombay that has Agnelo Menezes as its
first Lay Principal, is all set to welcome its first non-Christian Principal
Rajendra Shinde on its 150th anniversary.
Fr Dominic Savio SJ