By Julian S Das
Pune, April 30, 2019: A group of South-Asian Jesuits has expressed the joy of rediscovering the richness of an Ignatian spiritual tradition.
President of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia, Father George Pattery, called the ‘spiritual conversation’ as “a rare fruit.”
Some 200 Jesuits from 19 provinces and regions of South Asia attended the April 25-28 assembly on ‘Interculturality for Reconciled Life and Mission,’ held at the Jesuit philosophy-theology center, Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, the cultural capital of the western Indian state of Maharashtra.
Father Pattery said that the Jesuits continue to rediscover the Ignatian treasure that is always present.
He said that the technique of ‘spiritual conversation’ conserved energy. There was no arguments no fighting, and everyone was listened to, with deep respect for one another’s culture, he added.
He invited the Jesuits to sharpen and nuance the tool of ‘spiritual conversation’ and use it in their communities.
Father Pattery, a member of the Calcutta Jesuit province, said the Ignatian tool for discernment introduced ‘respectful listening’ providing a true democratic space for those engaged in it.
Father Wendell D’Cruz, a member of the Bombay province, explained that the focus of the ‘spiritual conversation’ was to look at the interior movements, how the presentations affected them and triggered ripple-effect in them.
The two most important components of spiritual conversation, according to him, are ‘intentional speaking’ and ‘active listening.’
The participants held four sessions of ‘spiritual conversation’ in groups of 10 members, each session lasting an hour.
Father Prince Clarence of Kerala province said the assembly presented him a new way of inter-relatedness and the beauty of spiritual conversation.
He also said that the discussions challenged him not to be in his comfort zone with peace and reconciliation.
Kohima Jesuit Scholastic Joseph Zoliana said the spiritual conversation helped him get bonded with different delegates during the assembly.
Social scientist and columnist Shiv Visvanathan, who attended the seminar and presented a paper on the Intercultural Context of South Asia, said he found the Jesuits’ spiritual conversation a fascinating “ability to listen and reinvent Jesuit identity.”
The ‘spiritual conversation’ and the search for interculturality had added an element of praxis, an act of faith, to the intellectual aspect of the Jesuits, the former Jesuit college student said.
Convener of the workshop, Jesuit Father Joe Arun said that the General Congregation 36 of the Society of Jesus had stressed reconciliation and justice, based on understanding the cultures operative in mission.
He said Jesuit Superior General Father Arturo Soso had invited his men to explore interculturality as a way of life and mission, leading to reconciliation and justice.
Father Arun said that in future the approach of the Jesuits’ life and mission would be characterised by the way they feel, think and act interculturally.
According to the organizers, seven Jesuits who were expected to attend the assembly from Sri Lanka, had cancelled their trip after the serial bombing on the Easter Sunday.
The participants of the assembly had sent a signed-message of ‘Solidarity with Sri Lankan People and the Jesuits’.
The Jesuits had sent the note to condemn in the strongest terms the heinous terror attack and the gruesome serial blasts in the Churches and hotels of Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday 21 April, 2019, killing many innocent children, men and women.
They also expressed their “deepest empathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Sri Lankan Church and the Jesuits of Sri Lanka.”