A Report of the Meeting Convened by JEA to Propose a Policy on Ecology for Jesuit Schools.

At the initiative of Fr. Sunny Jacob, JEA Secretary, and as decided in the meeting of the JEA Zonal Coordinators and Central Zone PCEs on April 14-15, a one-day consultation was organised at Patna on 03/06/2018. Fr. Robert Athickal, the Director of Tarumitra was the host. The seven delegates, namely, Frs. Stephen L. Pragasam (MDU), John Kennedy (MDU), LumneshSwaroop Kumar (KAR), Simon Fernandes (GOA), LancyD’Cruz (GUJ), P.J. James (HAZ) and Sunny Jacob (JAM) were accommodated at Atmadarshan. Fr. Sunny could not participate in the programme of the day as he was laid low with a viral infection. Fr. Robert and Ms. Devopriya Dutta guided the other six delegates through a tour of the Tarumitraforest. A group of about 60 students from different schools of Bettiah camping at Tarumitra interacted with the six during lunch. Ms. Margaret Molomoo,Assistant Director, Tarumtira, joined the delegates for a special “eco-liturgy” in the evening.

The deliberations were held in the parlour of XTTI community. The delegates discussed the contents of the proposed policy statement and guidelines for schools. It was agreed that Eco-spirituality of interrelatedness of the entire creation should be the basis of the document. The introductory part will include a brief reflection on the context as well as the various sources of inspiration, such as Laudate Si, GC documents (esp. GC 35), instructions of recent Superiors General, the statement of JESEDU-Rio2017 and various documents of the UN such as the Millennium Development Goals. Theguidelines will include recommendations for promoting eco-spirituality, environmental education and eco-friendly practices in the school and beyond, etc. It will also focus on how we could become more credible by our communities and individual Jesuits exemplifying the sustainable behaviours that we expect from our students and co-workers.

Fr. John Kennedy has accepted the responsibility to formulate the document. Fr. LancyD’Cruz will supply the material for the introductory section. The first draft is expected to be emailed to the delegates by June 15. The delegates will give their comments and suggestions for modification. It is expected that these comments will generate online discussion which will help in refining the text. It is intended that the final draft takes shape by the end of June.

Each delegate felt that the discussions were rich and fruitful against the backdrop of the Tarumitraexperience. We are grateful to Fr. Robert Athickal for being such a gracious host taking care of all logistics, even cutting short his visit to Kerala. We are also thankXTTI, Atmadarshan and Xavier Bhavan Jesuits for the warm welcome, hospitality and comfortable accommodation. 

PJ James SJ