The Irish Federation of Jesuit Alumni (IFJA) is a representative body for the Past Pupil Unions of Jesuit schools in Ireland. It exists to facilitate communication between Jesuit alumni/ae, both at national and international level. Fr. Michael Sheil SJ, Rector of Clongowes, is the current President, while the Secretary/ Treasurer is Gerard Long (Belvedere).
The Committee consists of representatives from all six Jesuit Past Pupil Unions active in Ireland. Internationally IFJA is affiliated to the World Union of Jesuit Alumni and the European Confederation of Jesuit Alumni. The World Union holds an International Congress every four years, the last one being in Columbia in August 2013. Ireland was represented at the Congress by Tony White (Crescent). The European Confederation holds regular meetings every six months, hosted by one of the member Federations.
It is important that Ireland is represented at these gatherings where Jesuit alumni can make contact with one another and learn of the work being done worldwide to combat poverty and fight for social justice, both by Jesuit organisations themselves and in co-operation with others. By reporting back on these events IFJA hopes to encourage Jesuit alumni to respond to the ideals and aims of the Society of Jesus and to be proactive as men and women for others.
European Confederation in Ireland
Ireland has offered to host a meeting of the European Confederation in March 2015 as part of the celebrations to mark the bicentenary of the Restoration of the Jesuit Order in Ireland. This will be an opportunity for Jesuit Alumni in Ireland to meet and debate with fellow Alumni from other European countries with the aim of enhancing their joint efforts to create and sustain a greater awareness of the need for social justice.
At a recent European gathering, it bcame clear that many federations experience similar problems. Schools are becoming less Jesuit and less Catholic, even less Christian. The paradox is that demand for Jesuit education in many countries remains very strong, even among those who do not practice. In Italy they are changing alumni organisations from being school-specific to being Jesuit-specific, since many schools have closed down.
However, the election of a Jesuit Pope has significantly raised the morale of alumni, especially in matters of social justice. The Swiss Federation is organising a series of workshops for younger alumni. Spain has a work experience project with Germany for young alumni. This has proved successful and may be extended to include Portugal and Italy. The current five Jesuit provinces in Spain are being amalgamated into one province due to the lack of Jesuits.
The French Federation is making a film of the testimonies of Jesuit alumni regarding their education and this is proving very positive. The importance of communication was stressed by many delegates and several federations are taking steps to improve this by making better use of modern technology.
Irish Jesuit News