The formula of the institute of the Society of Jesus (our foundational document) begins with an exhortation to serve beneath the banner of the cross. From July 27 to 31, 2011, Jesuits, collaborators and friends of the Jesuits in English Canada gathered at the heart of Huronia - home of the Martyrs' Shrine and Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons - to discern together the future of our service under the banner of the cross. We came together to remember, to be renewed and to learn to give and to labour without counting the cost. The Congress was an opportunity to remember and to contemplate the sacred history of our Jesuit Province; especially the story of the first saints of North America: Saints Jean de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and their six companions.
Our visits to the Shrine and to Ste. Marie, our conversations, liturgies and the pilgrimage to St. Ignace II (the site of the torture and death of Saints Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant) prepared us for an exercise of communal apostolic discernment that allowed us to dive deeper into the riches of our mission in this part of the world and to renovate our energy to labour together to build the kingdom of God.
A significant element of our discernment was the visit of Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, General Superior of the Society of Jesus. Fr. General (as we call him) energized and challenged us with his reflections, humility and joy. His fatherly presence encouraged us to go forward to serve and love with greater depth and creativity. His visit inflamed our hearts with zeal to continue promoting a faith that does justice.
Our time together was a time of renewal and great communion. It was good to laugh, pray, hope, dream and sing together. This experience filled us with the desire to praise, reverence and serve God more radically. It was very humbling to come together to ask the Father to give us the Spirit of true discernment, and a deeper trust in his goodness and providence. Our celebration was an occasion to give thanks. It rekindled our desires to listen to the Spirit and to one another and to share our heartfelt knowledge of the Crucified and Risen Lord by speaking from the heart.