Directors from the Xavier Network (XN), the network of Jesuit Mission Offices and development NGOs from Europe, Australia, and North America met in Paris from October 19-21 for one of its two annual meetings. Among the topics discussed were strengthening emergency response, child safeguarding, and the strategic directions of each member organization.

The Xavier Network, which takes its name and inspiration from St. Francis Xavier, was founded in 2004 under the simple principle “that by joining together we can achieve more.” Member organizations collaborate in four areas: response to humanitarian emergencies, advocacy, development projects, and overseas volunteer programs. While the network is under the responsibility of the European Conference of Provincials, it brings together Jesuit organizations from across the globe.

To that end, Fr. Joseph Seok SJ, director of GIPUM NANUM, a Jesuit mission and development organization in South Korea, participated in the meeting as a special guest. Fr Seok gave an overview of the work and challenges of its work in South Korea.

At the meeting, the XN continued its work on an emergency protocol which builds on the experience of the last 14 years responding to humanitarian emergencies as Jesuit organizations. Following a previous conversation with the Jesuit conference presidents, the XN has added an annex to the protocol, which proposes ways to coordinate with other Jesuit actors in the first phase of emergencies. Informing this document are lessons learned from past emergencies, most recently the current emergency in Ukraine.

One of the most interesting moments of the meeting was an open dialogue on the strategic direction of the 14 organizations that make up this network. Directors shared questions and reflections on the different organizational models that make up the network, how each embodies its Jesuit mission, and how each director visualizes their respective organizations over the next 10 years. The possibilities of networking and collaboration are immense as the group has already shown through its coordinated work on international projects, advocacy, emergency and volunteer work. This meeting served as an opportunity to continue strengthening those lines of work, as well as explore new ones such as recruitment and compliance.

Additionally, the issue of child safeguarding has been one of the keys of cooperation among network members in recent years. The evolution of this process has been important and all the organizations are now implementing basic requirements to ensure the safeguarding of children in all the projects financed by the network. A package of resource materials for partners and tools for validating implementation of procedures is now in place. Special attention is being given to the conversation with the directors of works, provincials, directors and with networks such as Fe y Alegría and Jesuit Refugee Service, which are key actors with which we collaborate. At each network meeting there is a detailed follow-up on the fulfillment of the commitments of each member of the network and the deployment in their projects and institutional relations.

The three days of meeting, full of productive working sessions, helped to build the network’s common mission. The many years of experience of this network are also noticeable in the deep relationships and friendship among members of the teams, which translates into a truly remarkable atmosphere of friendship and shared mission. Maison Lasalle in Paris, close to the Jesuit Curia and the Sevres Center, was perfect for this meeting. On Thursday evening we had the luxury of a memorable boat ride on the Seine, where we celebrated our bonds as a global group, committed to a mission that we are trying to energize together.

The next Directors Meeting will take place March 15-17 in London, UK.