Envisioning the collaborative initiative- a road map by Prashant Madtha S.J.

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Envisioning the collaborative initiative- a road map

Prashant Madtha S.J.


St Joseph’s College of Commerce

Brigade Road

Bangalore 560 025

JESCOL seminars are organized for all the teaching and non-teaching members, social workers who work in our centres, both Catholics and persons of other faiths. These seminars are organized at the Province/Region level.

Who are the laypersons chosen to be the proactive collaborators? Those collaborators who are the admirers of the Ignatian spirituality and charism and those who are persons of faith who envision that the Kingdom of God is possible, could be invited to be the full-fledged  collaborators with the Society to fulfill her mission. Primarily this collaborative linkage and bonding would be rooted in their holy desire to serve God by collaborating with the Society in her apostolates. For this purpose there ought to always be a spiritual motivation, identification with the charism and spirituality of the Society.  The desire to collaborate apostolically with the Society ought to predominate to forge this collaboration between the Jesuits and lay people to grow tighter and develop upon solid and enduring foundations,

Formation of the lay collaborators: In order to achieve lay collaboration it would be necessary to delegate more responsibilities to lay people and at the same time promote their formation-not only spiritual but also administrative training them in managerial skills and leadership. It might be necessary to offer them some of the opportunities that Jesuits have had during their own formation. In the business world the most talented people for each task are sought out, identifying them to take up the administrative work.

Formation of Jesuits for collaboration: Along with the formation of Lay collaborators, the Jesuits need a change in mind-set and training in effective collaboration with the lay collaborators. The Jesuits need to be persons who can relate with them on an equal basis, work with them as a team and function as good facilitators. During their formation Jesuits ought to get accustomed at the very beginning of their religious life to seeing in laymen and women their collaborators or being collaborators to lay administrators, in a common mission: a mission that they share with them and that is not exclusively theirs. For this purpose it is advisable to organize a seminar for the Jesuits on the rationale and dynamics of effective collaboration and team work.

Change of structures that are conducive to instill a culture of Collaboration: How to transform an organization culture into a collaborative one? How to engage in smart collaboration?  Collaboration is not easy, given how tough it is for the Jesuits to stop working in silos when they have been doing so for ages. Smart collaboration isn’t just a nice-to-have. It is a strategic response to the signs of times. Along with the policy implementation of collaboration, it is also important to create an organizational structure that supports collaboration. That may be less about changing existing, formal reporting lines and more about creating a change of perception of ownership and administration. For collaboration to work over a long term, leaders must invest one-on-one time with the key implementers of the strategy and support them with adequate training and coaching.

Difficulties in collaboration: Lack of spiritual formation- Sometimes the lay persons lack the necessary spiritual and religious formation to relate and collaborate in mission as members of the same team. To collaborate as equals, with Jesuits who have spent long years forming and preparing themselves for the mission that would be now entrusted to them.  At the same time Jesuits need to be sensitive to the real conditions in which lay people live and work and not to treat them as if they were ‘semi-religious’.  One of the dangers in collaboration is sometimes lay persons invited to take over as administrators or to participate in some activity but suddenly they are shoved aside as if the Jesuits are indispensable and no longer need lay persons’ services.  Sometimes, disillusioned by the difficulties and one or other failure, some Jesuits are tempted to go backwards- “Lay people are not yet ready for this collaboration.” “we have our vocation, they have theirs; “people prefer  Jesuits to be at the helm of affairs” etc. etc.

Procedure that could be followed in forming and enlisting the collaborators

(For the First and Second stages the participation of all  the lay collaborators could be insisted upon, and for later stages participation could be kept optional)

I Stage: Familiarization: JESCOL (Jesuit Collaborators) Seminars of minimum three days duration. ‘A very short introduction to Jesuits’ -booklet both in English and vernaculars could be prepared and distributed to the participants.

II Stage: Those participants who show keen interest in our apostolates could be exposed to our frontier apostolate by organizing a trip to such places.

III Stage: Formation of lay collaborators: Lay collaborators could be invited to attend  one day recollection/3 days retreat/7 days retreat/19 annotation retreat.  In the long run, lay persons  themselves might direct the Exercises to other lay persons. This needs religious-theological formation  and on-line theology course could be organized.

IV Stage: Motivated by the Spiritual Exercises various lay persons could be invited to opt and associate themselves to the Society by means of a tighter bond. Called not only to participate but also actively collaborate in tasks and events which previously were almost exclusively reserved for the Jesuits. Such collaborators could be called to participate in Province assemblies and the apostolic planning process.  Interprovincial meeting of lay collaborators could be organized. This makes them to come in contact with the Jesuits resulting in multiplying and strengthening true friendships among them. Annual Meetings, retreats could be organized. A newsletter could be published to keep in touch with our works.

V Stage: Inviting the lay collaborators to stay-and-work in our Mission Stations for a month/ a year/or few years.



JescolSeminars………towards  proactive  partnership

I day: Who are these Jesuits ?

Day & date



Resource person


9.30 to 10.00

Registration, Coffee



10.00 to 10.30

Inauguration, Introduction



10.30 to 11.30




11.30 to 12.30

HISTORY OF THE Society of Jesus-Part I







2.00 to 3.00

Recent History of the Society- Part II



3.15 to 4.15

JESUITS IN INDIA & the Province







4.30 to 5 .30

General Congregations-

a brief introduction







II Day: why do we do what we do?

Day & date



Resource person


7.30 to 8.30




9.00 t0 10.00

 Prayer, & Spirituality







10.30 to 11.30

St Ignatius, Jesuit Spirituality,

Spiritual Exercises, Vows



11.40 to 12.40

JESUIT Formation







12.30 to 2.00




2.00 to 3.30




3.30 to 4.30








4.45- 5.45







III day :From participants to partners

Day & date



Resource persons


7.30 to 8.30




9.00 10.00








10.30 to 11.30

How to build a pro-active Team



11.40 to 12.40`








2.00 to 3.30

Best Practices of a Jesuit Institution



3.30 to 4.00

Evaluation, Concluding Session







Some helpful tips for the resource persons

  1. The above list is about the different topics to be covered by different resource persons. Please  stick to the topic allotted to you, so that repetition  and overlapping of information could be avoided.
  2. The purpose of the JESCOL  seminars is to impart information to  our partners on charism and apostolic thrusts of the Society of Jesus,  so that they become familiar with why we do what we do and to enthuse them to become partners and to vibrate proactively with our apostolic endeavors.
  3. The ultimate goal of such seminars is to form our employees as our partners, sharing our ideology and thus work as team, carrying on our charism, especially  when they have to administer  our institutions.
  4. We also intend to invite the Catholic partners to do the Spiritual Exercises (during  summer holidays)  and possibly  to form a close-knit  Ignatian family. The well-motivated group members would be called to visit our apostolic centres and spend a few days with us.
  5. Since there would also be non-Christian participants in the audience, it is advisable that the resource persons  speak from listeners’  world-view and avoid churchish, theological, clerical  jargon (ex:  apostolic, church, grace, sacraments, Vatican II, missionary, missions,   etc.) and enter into the world-view of the lay person.
  6. Please confine your talk to the time allotted to you – one hour!

It would be helpful to prepare and distribute a summary of your talk, so that the audience could follow the talk easily and,  that the  talk is not diffused,  but to the point and  systematic.


Sample talk structure

Topic: Jesuit administrative structures and Obedience

The aim, goal or Mission of the Society of Jesus

  • Personal relationship with Jesus
  • Jesus’ mission- service
  • The Constitution of the Society of Jesus- its composition, its authority, amendments


Administrative units in the Society of Jesus

  • The Universal Society
  • Provinces, Assistancy
  • Local Community


Administration of the Universal Society

  • The Supreme Governing Body (General Congregation)
  • Its composition
  • Its convocation
  • Preparation
  • Its authority
  • How it functions
  • Its Decrees


The Supreme Executive (Father General)

  • How he is elected
  • His authority
  • His duties
  • His advisors (Assistants)
  • Expert Commissions
  • His term of office


Administration of a Province

  • Chief Province Executive (Father Provincial)
  • How he is appointed
  • His authority
  • Consultors, Commissions
  • His duties
  • His term of office


Administration of a local Community

  • Chief local Executive (Rector or Superior)
  • How he is appointed
  • His authority, his consultors
  • His duties
  • His term of office


The Vow of Obedience

  • The spirit and quality of relationship between authority and an individual in the Society of Jesus.
  • The foundation of the vow of Obedience.
  • God is my ultimate happiness
  • He has a plan for me
  • I am happy when I go according to His plan. 
  • God guides my life through other human beings near to me.
  • The manner of taking decisions in the Society of Jesus- descernment
  • The practice of obedience
  • Its benefits