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Knowing conversion, being disturbed, and building trust in a network: Day 1 of the 2019 Ecojesuit Annual Meeting

23 November 2019
A warm welcome in Mumbai, India for the 2019 Ecojesuit Annual Meeting team

A warm welcome in Mumbai, India for the 2019 Ecojesuit Annual Meeting team

Brex Arevalo

How do I know conversion has happened in my life? This question set the tone for the first day of the 2019 Ecojesuit Annual Meeting in Mumbai, India (22-24 November), during which we seek to: reflect on the narrative we are shaping as the Ecojesuit network, understand more about effective networking, and draw deeper commitment towards the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) and our three strategic objectives of promoting global cooperation, accompanying regional actions, and sharing and promoting local initiatives.

This occasion also serves to strengthen our relations with one another in the physical reality. Some of us are new and have only spoken with one another through emails or in our monthly online meetings. At its core, a network is a community of people who trusts one another and works toward a shared vision.

In a recent document on Jesuit networking, one of its conclusions is the emergence of in the last 40 years in the Society of Jesus of “a new Jesuit wirearchy” that complements the traditional hierarchy “by providing new flexibility, horizontality, and transversality for complex apostolic answers.” (Source: Prophetic Networks for a Universal Mission, 2nd International Jesuit Networking Conference, Georgetown University, USA, 15-17 February 2018).

Reflection and review

A quick review of “where we are as a network” gave a snapshot of the past year and some bases for discernment. Helpful also was a discussion on the 10-year history of Jesuit networks. We highlighted some of our strengths like online engagements through our website and social media platforms on Twitter and Facebook, collaborations in global processes like the Amazon SynodGlobal Climate Strike, reviews of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN Headquarters in New York, and the emerging Ecoteams of each Conference, particularly from the Jesuit Conference South Asia (JCSA) and the Conference of European Provincials. Our weaknesses were also given focus, such as frequent changes in Conference representation over the years that has resulted in difficulties in continuity and sustaining efforts.

In the afternoon, a time for reflection encouraged us to draw from our personal experiences in terms of our participation and the actions we are willing to contribute going forward. It was also a time look deeper into how we perceive global realities in light of the UAPs and how we can respond.

Two insights emerged: the need for constant conversion and being disturbed, and the importance of trust. Returning to the question, “How has conversion happened in my life?” it was clear that being disturbed is an essential element for conversion to occur, and that conversion happens when we make decisions we would not have otherwise made.

The UAPs and SDGs are helpful in disturbing us in this sense, in that they reveal to us global challenges. However, they also posit a message of hope to go beyond ourselves and respond through collective action. Going beyond ourselves and our institutions means to trust one another actively. Networking is built on conversion and trust.

Advancing the network

The second and third days of the Ecojesuit Annual Meeting will have a more technical focus but deepened by our reflections and insights. We will review our strategic objectives, our actions, and how to take our networking further. The JCSA Ecoteam will participate and give their insights and recommendations from the perspective of their Conference. We will also hear from and learn from Tarumitra and the Don Bosco Green Alliance, whom we invited to give their thoughts on how networking is advancing their actions and deepening existing collaborations.

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