African Jesuits Gathering in Baltimore Explores Future Opportunities to Partner with American Jesuits
In May, the Jesuit Conference of the United States sponsored a gathering at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore of African Jesuits currently studying in the U.S. and Canada. The gathering was a means of solidarity, support and collaboration with the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) with its president, Jesuit Father Michael Lewis also present at the meeting.
During the meeting, the members of the U.S. Assistancy and JESAM in attendance considered strategies for the various ways the U.S. and the African provinces might have opportunities to work more closely together, such as in the arenas of potential exchange programs between the U.S. and Africa’s apostolic works, in creating partnerships between apostolates, and by identifying tertianship experiences in Africa for U.S. Jesuits.
The African Jesuits also shared with their U.S. brothers the challenges the Society of Jesus faces in Africa around educational opportunities; with ethnic and political tensions; in health care, especially for HIV/AIDs and malaria treatments; and also the environmental and ecological concerns facing the continent.
“It bodes well for the future of the Society of Jesus that there will be well trained men in various disciplines to continue and develop the work of the Jesuits in Africa and Madagascar. It goes without saying that the Jesuits of North America have been extremely generous to us in providing the wherewithal for African and Malagasy Jesuits to specialize in these many and varied subjects. The Church and the Society are very grateful for this often unsung and open-handed support for the apostolates of the Society in our continent,” said Jesuit Father Michael Lewis, president of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar. “There are men studying everything from engineering, informatics, administration, to pedagogy and the like which will help the Church and the Jesuits of the future to continue offering the work we do for the people of Africa and Madagascar.”
Thirty-seven African Jesuits participated in the gathering (there are approximately 60 African Jesuits currently in the U.S. and Canada), representing seven African provinces and regions, and 16 different countries. The participants came from various places throughout the U.S. and Canada where they are studying, ministering or on sabbatical.
In addition, five people from the U.S. Assistancy participated: three from the Jesuit Conference, including Jesuit Father Tom Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States; a provincial assistant from the New York province; and a provincial assistant from the Wisconsin province.
The previous African Jesuit Gathering was in 2006, also hosted by the Jesuit Conference of the United States and was held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
One of the attendees of the meeting, Jesuit Father Jacques Randrianary of the Madagascar Province of the Society of Jesus who is completing his Masters degree in Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif, created this short video piece from the material he captured during the gathering in Baltimore: