Adapting the Spiritual Exercises across Asia
Jesuits and lay people working in Ignatian Spirituality ministries have begun efforts to increase collaboration across the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP), following a meeting at the Canisius Centre of Ignatian Spirituality in Sydney last month.
Some 23 participants gathered from 22 to 26 August at Canisius, with Father General's Secretary for the Ministry of the Spiritual Exercises, Fr Eddie Mercieca SJ as a special guest speaker, along with JCAP President Fr Mark Raper SJ and Australian Provincial Fr Steve Curtin SJ.
Both Fr Mercieca and Fr Raper made presentations at the conference exploring the need for greater formation and training for people in the ministry of the Spiritual Exercises.
Fr Mercieca provided a global overview of the ministry of the Spiritual Exercises, and said Ignatian Spirituality should be a key element in the direction and style of all the Society's ministries. He extended a number of challenges to participants, including the need for stronger spiritual formation for Jesuits after they leave the novitiate.
‘I would add that it is imperative that each Province has two or three of its best men trained seriously in spiritual studies with special reference and research in Ignatian Spirituality', said Fr Mercieca.
The participants at the conference included representatives from nearly every Province in the region. After the presentations, the participants were invited to speak about what excites them in their ministry, then took part in personal reflection, group sharing and a general forum exchange.
In his talk on the final day of the meeting, Fr Mercieca addressed the need for broader collaboration across the Asia Pacific Assistancy. He outlined three themes for the collaboration between the various Provinces: Common apostolic discernment; Ignatian leadership formation; and the insertion of the Spiritual Exercises in local cultures and traditions.
With Asia being such a vastly diverse region of cultures and communities, Fr Mercieca said one of the biggest challenges facing the Society would be adapting the Exercises to local contexts.
A core group was formed to plan for future meetings, and to establish a database for ongoing conversation and formation. The core group consists of Mrs Bernadette Miles (Australia), Fr Victor Baltazar SJ (Philippines) and Fr Stephen Tong (Hong Kong).