Fr. Hendrickson Shares Thoughts on Jesuit Address

In July, Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ — accompanied by Eileen Burke-Sullivan, STD, vice provost for mission and ministry, and René Padilla, PhD, vice provost for global engagement — attended the 2018 general assembly of the International Association of Jesuit Universities in Bilbao, Spain – an opportunity for institutions around the world that share in the mission of Jesuit higher learning to convene. On July 10, the Rev. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, gave an address, “The University as a Source of a Reconciled Life.” Fr. Hendrickson was in attendance, and his thoughts on the address follow.

In his address at a convention of the nearly 200 college and university presidents of Jesuit institutions of higher learning and their delegates, the Rev. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuit order, was effusive of a genuine and abiding interest in the humanist tradition of the Jesuit university generally, and more particularly, of the ability of a corresponding pedagogy that instructs and exacts the dignity of individual persons and embraces the common good wherein any of us dwell as colleagues, neighbors, friends, and families.

Fr. Sosa spoke of institutions such as Creighton University — that is, Jesuit universities — as sources of transformation that positively impact our local communities, the broader region around us, and the world. The scopes of impact — at home, well around, and global — are true to the ambitions of Creighton University. Our core curricular studies cultivate critical thinking, social analysis, ethical regard, empathy, and compassion, and our myriad areas of disciplinary, professional, and inter-industry excellence fashions expertise in the lives of our students. Fr. Sosa is cognizant of the qualitative distinction of studies in the humanities, as well as their ability to cultivate care and fullness in the lives of individual students. In also acquiring the skills of meaningful and sophisticated jobs and careers, Fr. Sosa further explained how the Jesuit university can graduate true global citizens who evaluate their own individual needs and desires with the broader needs and desires of the global community.

Recognizing what is the largest network of institutions around the world, Fr. Sosa expressed excitement for how we might work together in new and creative ways. To formalize a remarkable and unprecedented international educational group, Fr. Sosa convened the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU). Symbolic of a shared charism, and practical in its aspirations for faculty and student exchanges, global immersion experiences, online programs, digital resources, virtual conversations, and collaborative research projects, the formation of IAJU demarcates a profound global sensibility that is partnered with a passion for institutions to greatly impact their own locales.

A clear charge of IAJU’s work is for Jesuit colleges and universities to reach out to the margins of society. Like Creighton University, so many of the U.S. Jesuit universities were founded to educate underserved urban and immigrant populations. Reaching to the margins lets us keep envisioning new expressions of access and affordability to those around us, but it also stretches us to troubled global locales, such as refugee camps and places designated by the United Nations as “populations of concern.” Creighton’s contribution to the global dimension of this challenge occurs in many ways, and in particular, through our participation in Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL). Through the work of our faculty and the faculty of many institutions within the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), JWL offers online courses to refugees in Kakuma and Dzaleka refugee camps in, respectively, Kenya and Malawi, among other places. Opening our doors to the margins of society is a clear directive of Fr. Sosa’s.

Embracing the prevalent theme of General Congregation 36 — the highest governing body of the Jesuit order that meets to elect a General Superior and to name global priorities — Fr. Sosa spoke repeatedly about Jesuit higher learning as a source of reconciliation. Inequalities, conflicts, and divisive polarities breed poverty, warfare, forced migration, and discrimination, and the work in Jesuit universities of study, dialogue, collaboration, outreach, and experience of other people and places mitigates such divisions.

Read the address from the Rev. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus.