Dear Mr. Devendra Singh President JAAI, Mr, Chenthil, Secretary JAAI, Prof. John Verghese, Principal, St. Stephen’s college (key note speaker), Mr. Alan Denef, President WUJA, Mr. Naresh Gupta, Secretary, WUJA Fr. Danis Ponnaiah Provincial, Madurai, Fr. Jebamalai, Provincial, Chennai, Fr. Leonard, Rector, St, Joseph’s College, Trichy, Fr. Sunny Jacob, National advisor to JAAI, other dignitaries, All JAAI Friends, ladies and gentlemen,
I am indeed honoured to be here for the triennial gathering of JAAI. It is a joy to be with you all, especially to relish the wonderful hospitality of Mr. Chenthil Kumar and team here in Trichy at the prestigious St. Joseph’s College in this Jubilee Year. It is also an occasion for me to thank Dr. Devendra Singh and Mr. Chenthil and team for the quality leadership they gave to JAAI for the last three years.
The Federation of Jesuit Alumni Associations of India (JAAI) is an association of all alumni associations of Jesuit academic institutions in India. It hopes to bring together all Jesuit alumni in the country together and direct their energies for the betterment of the society. It is part of the World Union of Alumni Associations (WUJA). As JAAI website says JAAI is a forum for networking between alumni from across India/ eventually SA, to play a role in shaping public policies in favour of secularism, poverty alleviation, women empowerment, upliftment of marginalized, safeguard human rights, preservation of environment and spread of literacy.
Friends, we are glad that we are meeting in St. Joseph’s, in this Jubilee Year. ‘For the Good and the True’ (Pro Bono Et Vero) – the motto of SJC – is the most universal, comprehensive and challenging perspective for any educational institution to embrace. I wish that all education is geared to ‘the good and the true’. Seeking and doing the true is indeed praiseworthy, but it can lead to certain arrogance. Seeking the true with goodness makes one humble. Seeking and doing the Good is admirable but it can lead to certain naivety; seeking the Good with the true makes one credible.
SJC has done precisely this – humble and credible presence in education across the country. The goodness that it has spread around through eminent personalities like Dr.Abdul Kalam was in pursuit of truth. SJC has every reason to celebrate. At a time when education is being manipulated to suit political aims and commercial gains, SJC’s motto and accomplishment stand a challenge to the culture around us.
I am proud of SJC as an eminent Jesuit institution. Its creative ways to educate students, especially those on the margins and its pioneering spirit to look for new avenues for research are indeed unique. Bio-Eco spirit that was cultivated long time ago in SJC was indeed a trend setter. The academic world will always be proud of SJC on account of such innovative researches.
I take this occasion to congratulate the innumerable students and staff in celebrating the humble and credible glories of SJC over these hundred and seventy years of commitment and service. May the all-abiding Presence continue to guide and lead us all in the pathways of ‘The True and the Good’.
Mr. Alan mentioned about discernment. This is important Jesuit tradition. At the annual convention of Lok Manch (Peoples’ platform), one of the local animators from U.P mentioned átmasanthushti’ as the gift of working in Lok Manch. Atmasanthushti means ínner joy’, happiness in the soul. Working in JAAI should bring us inner joy personally and as a group. Discernment in common is a Jesuit tradition that we need to propagate.
Jesuit paleontologist and geologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is believed to have said that ‘for those who know how to look, nothing is profane’. This in a way summarizes Jesuit perspective on the world. Jesuit tradition finds itself at home with the world. This at home-ness with the world invites them to engage the world. Such engagement with the world led them to the world of knowledge. There is much to be known and there is much to learn. Jesuit ‘Ratio studiorum’ was born out of this engagement with the world of knowledge. Jesuit Alumni/ae are the bearers of this ‘Jesuit knowledge tradition’ of engaging the world. This engagement has doble perspectives. The perspective of humanism that engages anything and everything that is human and of a God who is laboring in the world to bring it to completion. This double thrust of utterly humanistic and reassuringly divine perspectives make us citizens of the world.
Jesuit knowledge tradition invites to be ‘Global Citizens’. Jesuit Alumni/ae are inheritors of global citizenship. The growing tendency across the world is to create the other, to exclude the other, and define identities in narrow sense. India witnesses to the same trend of delimiting citizenship to majoritarianism. This not only goes against the very idea of India and dangerous to the Republic but also tears apart the soul of India, shaming the knowledge tradition. The Jubilarian St. Joseph’s College, Trichy along with numerous other illustrious Jesuit Centres of learning bear witness to a knowledge tradition without borders; to Jesuit tradition of humanistic and divine labour in a world that is increasingly becoming global. As Jesuit Alumni/ae, let us be worthy of our global citizenship; let us not build narrow domestic walls of religion, language, ethnicity caste and nation.
As the founding Fathers of the Jesuits said ‘world is our home’ and as Jesuit Pope Francis said in Laudato si, ‘earth is our common home’. We are global citizens! Let us be worthy of our legacy! That is my wish and prayer for JAAI – South Asia.
Once again I thank Dr. Devendra Singh, Mr. Chenthil and team for the excellent quality leadership – serving with humility – they gave to JAAI for the last three years. May the all abiding Presence continue to walk with them.
I wish every success for this three days convention. May God Bless all!
George Pattery SJ
Provincial of South Asia (POSA)