Jesuits are, among many other things, hundreds of educational institutions forming citizens on the basis of a pedagogical proposal and common values; thousands of local projects that are imbued with the needs and context of different communities throughout the world; many communities of faith with the same spirituality and a call to "be for others;” and multiple social works that accompany and serve the most vulnerable populations in the most complex frontiers... Have you ever thought about what would happen if the institutions and networks of the Society of Jesus were more effectively coordinated internationally to carry out more projects in common? Think about the scope of this collaboration, and the propulsion it would give to our mission. Can you imagine the benefits for the service of faith and the promotion of justice in the Kingdom?
It may be difficult to comprehend such a scope, but this is forging the present of the Society and, undoubtedly, the future of our apostolic responses. It is well known that we live in an increasingly connected world, in which globalization and Information and Communication Technologies have increased connectivity and interdependence networks at all levels. Some years ago we already heard it in the words of Father Adolfo Nicolás: "Interconnectedness is the new context for understanding the world and discerning our mission". The situation in which we now live enhances even more the significance of these words.
In this context, a new ecosystem is being sought that favors collaboration and association on a larger scale. It is then appropriate to speak of Jesuit networks and networking. This includes initiatives that connect people and institutions, making it possible to act as a global and interdisciplinary organism, where collaboration elevates apostolic structures to an organizational level that, going beyond their provinces and local spheres, achieves a regional or global scope and impact.
After the General Congregation 35, the Society rediscovered its vocation to universality and decided to reactivate the dynamism of creating and developing international networks in the different apostolic sectors. In this context, at the end of 2012, the jesuit.network initiative was created as a meeting point for Jesuit networks, to accompany and make visible the international collaborative initiatives underway and to promote innovation in this area that poses so many challenges to our current structure and way of proceeding.
The response of the networks has been very positive and there are many examples in which collaboration has transcended borders and sectors to multiply its reach and achieve a greater goal. Let us understand networks not only as operational structures or technical solutions: they are ways of channeling a culture of collaboration and collective action that allows for new apostolic responses. Therefore, —we insist—perhaps the challenge we now face is not to create new networks, but to recreate new ways of connecting and collaborating among them.
This letter is only intended to bring about curiosity, concern and reflection on networking by Jesuits and collaborators. jesuit.network is not a generalist project, but for those who are interested in international collaboration for the Jesuit mission. If this is your case, you should know that there is a place to be informed about what is being done in Jesuit networks, to connect local projects with international collaboration, to dialogue, and to contribute and reflect on networks and the universality of the Society's mission. We are convinced that in these years the international apostolic body is being "wired" with relationships, connections and networks that will facilitate our apostolic responses in the future. Do you want to be part of this?