What is the context for the evolution of a university’s Catholic and Jesuit identity?

There has been a steady and large change in the demographics of the Jesuit community (and the Catholic Church more broadly) that may be very important for the question of the “mission and identity” and who has the greater influence in defining those terms.  I think it also worth noting that for me the relevant discussion is about “the Jesuit and Catholic identity of Santa Clara University” where I would emphasize the of Santa Clara University; our concerns can be unapologetically parochial: We care about this university, and the larger enterprise and institution sets a context but we can choose to be followers, leaders, revolutionaries, conformists, conservatives or whatever.

Here is a great blogpost from Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate CARA summarizing the demographics of the Jesuit community.

Their summary conclusion:
“Over the course of 30 years the Society of Jesus worldwide will have “flipped” in its geographic composition from two-third / one-third division of developed to developing world, to the reverse.  Added to this is the great change in age distribution across the Society which is resulting in a rapid shift from a more European/USA Vatican II perspective to a more Indian/African post-Vatican II perspective.  The change is both in generation and in geography which may be more creative and/or disruptive than might be assumed.”

Disruptive change can be embraced, surfed, suffered… but it cannot be held at bay.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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