The World is our House

“The World is our House” – International Colloquium of Jesuit Secondary Education – Boston, Summer 2012


'The World is our House'

These words by Father Jeronimo Nadal, S.J., capture the gist of the marvellous experience of around 400 school leaders and administrators representing 300 Jesuit secondary education high schools from 60 countries, gathered for the first ever International Colloquium of Jesuit Secondary Education (ICJSE) held in Boston at the end of July. 

The colloquium, which was initiated and generously organized by Boston College High School with the full support and collaboration of the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education (ICAJE) and the Jesuit Curia in Rome, had two main goals:   

  1. To meet as a global network to respond together to current challenges, especially the challenge to become a more effective apostolic network and
  2. To reflect together on the Jesuit Mission and Identity today to better respond to our apostolic frontiers.

The different speakers challenged us not to be content with the good work we are doing in our schools. In such a fast changing world we are constantly reminded that we need to have a deeper understanding of our Ignatian Charism and the new contexts and frontiers in which we are immersed. Fr. Jose Mesa, S.J., secretary of education for the Society of Jesus, remarked that there is a temptation to feel that we are so good that we prefer not to take the risk of changing, exploring, pioneering new programmes and learning from others. During the conference there was a constant emphasis that the identity of our schools should be mission driven.  

Our mission as Jesuits is stated clearly by the last General Congregation 35: “In this global world marked by such profound changes, we now want to deepen our understanding of the call to serve faith, promote justice, and dialogue with culture and other religions in the light of the apostolic mandate to establish right relationships with God, with one another, and with creation." (G.C.# 12)

We all felt the need to use the big potential and opportunity we have through our educational apostolate of the Society – 792 primary and secondary schools and 1290 Fe y Alegria schools - to put identity and mission at the heart of all we do and to strive to globalize solidarity, cooperation and reconciliation. We were constantly challenged to go beyond academic and economic success. Our goal is to have students who can truly become “men and women for others and with others.” 

I was particularly struck by the concern of many speakers to make Jesuit education available to ALL, including the poor and marginalized. Fr. Alvarez, S.J., the Social Justice and Ecology secretary of the Society of Jesus, pointed out that there are 70 million children who are not in school. Another 70 million children do not finish school for a variety of reasons. “The world is not only our house. The world is everybody’s house”, asserted Fr. Alvarez who observed that the regions of the world that currently present the greatest obstacles to education are Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Though the conference was very intensive, with many inputs and workshops on particular themes ranging from the importance of technology in our schools to what makes a Jesuit school 'Jesuit', one could notice exchanges between school leaders from rich countries and poorer ones; between leaders of very old schools and leaders of newly founded schools such as in East Africa and East Timor. 

The most important part of the colloquium starts now. We all approved a document with short-term initiatives and common collaboration projects as well as middle term and long-term networking initiatives that include the restructuring of the education secretariat in Rome.

Throughout the colloquium there was a clear message from the Roman Curia secretaries and assistants that the apostolate of Jesuit education remains an important way of going to the frontiers of mission, to those places where, as Pope Benedict told the 35th General Congregation, others “do not reach or find it difficult to reach”. 

I hope that the second International Colloquium for Jesuit Secondary Education, to be held during 2016 or 2017, will include evaluation sessions of the different networking initiatives taken during the coming years. 

Jimmy Bartolo sj – Boston College 

For more information, videos and presentations on the International Colloquium of Jesuit Secondary Education please visit

Back to overview

facebook youtube twitter flickr