“Our commitment to follow a poor Lord, quite naturally makes us friends of the poor”.
– Saint Ignatius
What is SJES?
Formerly Jesuits in Social Action (JESA) now Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) South Asia was formally initiated in 1973 to assist the Major Superiors to translate the faith – justice of GC 32 into action in all the ministries and in particular in social action ministry of the Society of Jesus. The Primary function of SJES is to encourage and elicit well-studied and analyzed responses and interventions from Jesuits and collaborators in favour of and with the marginalized groups and communities. It would further promote and coordinate ongoing action/reflections, interactions research/study and actions leading to greater development and empowerment of the priority community. It would also gather and disseminate information and knowledge through bulletins, workshops, seminars, training and visits.
Social justice is at the heart of the mission of the Society of Jesus. Our mission is the service of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement. Our commitment to social justice leads us to view the world through the eyes of the poor and marginalized. We want to learn from them, to work for them and with them. In fact, the preferential option for the poor has been a call and also a graced challenge for the Society of Jesus. As St. Ignatius wrote to the Jesuits in Padua, “Our commitment to follow a poor Lord, quite naturally makes us friends of the poor”. By being friends of the poor, the Jesuits in social centres and social institutions accompany, serve and empower those who are poor and at the margins of our societies.
Our accompaniment of those who suffer poverty makes us listen to the cry of those who suffer the consequences of the destruction of the natural environment. And so, we are particularly active in those countries where the poor fall victim to environmental destruction. Entire communities have been uprooted and made to move out of their natural environment, and in most cases, it is indigenous communities who suffer most. Pope Francis links the challenge of the social and the environmental, saying:
We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 139
In all of this, reconciliation is a key guiding value and we develop networks that advocate for reconciliation and which promote God’s Kingdom. We emphasize the areas of Ecology, Migration, the Right to Education, Justice in Mining and Peace and Human Rights. We want to work for reconciliation of people with each other and with creation and to bring the charity and justice of the Gospel to all societies and cultures. Inequality, says Pope Francis, “is the root of social evil” (Pope Francis, April 28, 2014).
We have been given the Good News and we want to share it with passion and energy even as we are aware of our own limitations. In this enterprise, which is religious as well as socio-economic, local as well as global, we wish to share the hope and joy of the Gospel and to announce the Kingdom of God, a new way of being and living, of loving and serving.