Fr. Tom, 01-29-17

Dear Loyola Parishioners and Visitors,

Last Saturday, the Magis Leadership Team spent 3 hours learning about discerning as a team in furtherance of their own mission, which includes helping innovation teams in their own discernment of apostolic choices. The next scheduled Ignatian formation day for them in April is to focus on discernment in the parish context which, coincidentally, is what the US and Canadian Provincials are going to ask of Jesuit parishes beginning in the Spring.

My understanding is that parishes will be asked to discern where and how they are being called by Christ to apostolic service. It will be important to gather as many voices of parishioners in this process as we can, but we will be seeking voices informed by personal prayer first, then by prayerful consideration of others’ voices so that all listen to one another with great generosity and openness and then prayerfully discover where God seems to be leading the parish as a body and embracing the directions and decisions made regardless of whether “I personally” felt that call.

In Decree 2 of the documents of General Congregation 36 of the Society of Jesus that met in October 2016, we read:

Discernment, collaboration and networking offer three important perspectives on our contemporary way of proceeding…. Discernment, a precious gift of Ignatius, is integral to our personal and corporate apostolic life. It begins in contemplation of God at work in our world and allows us to draw more fruit in joining our efforts to God’s designs. Discernment is what ‘roots us in the Church in which the Spirit works and distributes [its] various gifts forthe common good.’ [Address of Pope Francis to GC 36] Discernment serves as the foundation for decision-making by the proper authority in our way of proceeding. In preparing for this Congregation we already have an experience of discernment that began in Provinces and Regions and helped us to name both significant challenges to our mission today and our responses to the Good News of Jesus. This discernment process offers the spiritual base that enables our apostolic planning.

[D]iscernment is more than ever critical for apostolic effectiveness. Consistent and participative discernment is our way of ensuring that ongoing apostolic planning, including implementation, monitoring and evaluation, is an integral element in all Jesuit ministry…. By living discernment, we can impart its practice to others. Sharing in discernment leads to a shared vision. Forming collaborators for mission [Emphasis mine] means first that we be formed for discernment

“Collaborators for mission” are both the key leaders of Jesuit institutions and the people who carry out the discerned mission of our institutions. That is why we are working on the formation of the Magis Leadership Team, and the Magis Leadership Team will be working with the leaders and members of various innovation teams. But, it is not just the teams connected to Magis that are called to formation in discernment, rather all parish ministers, ministries, organizations, parishioners are called to discernment in the context of our parish life. We will need to continue to create ways and opportunities for that to happen.

Fr. Tom