In this AJANews Newsletter, July issue, African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) takes this opportunity to officially welcome the new President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) Rev. Fr. José Minaku Lukoli, S.J. of the Central Africa Province (ACE) as he takes over the mantle from the outgoing President, Rev. Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J. on July 31st, 2023.
Upon the announcement of the appointment of Rev. Fr. José Minaku Lukoli S.J. as the next JCAM President by Fr. General of the Society of Jesus back in December 2022, the outgoing president expressed his desire to see the new leader make use of his “extraordinary gifts” in guiding members of the Society.
Referencing Father General’s message to Major Superiors, Jesuits and Collaborators of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar, Fr. Orobator disclosed: “in his letter of appointment, Father Sosa noted that “Father Minaku is not new to JCAM.” He is endowed with “qualities, language skills and his experience will help him to fulfill the office of President with fidelity, courage, and spiritual sense. He will be able to take into account the needs and expectations of the Conference and the Universal Society, and he will be able to be attentive to people – Jesuits and collaborators.”
The change of leadership takes place on the same day that the Catholic Church commemorates the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, known for founding the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius of Loyola was a man well ahead of his time with realities about leadership that still resonate today, his spiritual exercises of self-reflection, his wisdom that everyone is a leader, his teaching that leadership is a lifetime process and that it comes from within us all is an inspiration to the Society of Jesus in Africa during this transition period.
While we rightfully celebrate and learn from St. Ignatius of Loyola and his life, it is also important to remember his personal trajectory: one of devotion to God, and that of leadership which sought to credit all who joined him to direct their efforts towards the same. His leadership tradition ultimately spawned a strong and purposeful organization that would survive for posterity. This is where we are today.
As Rev. Fr. José Minaku Lukoli S.J. assumes his new mission as the President of JCAM, we pray that God provides him with strength, love, and the ability to imagine new ways in guiding the Society of Jesus in Africa and Madagascar. As the great Jesuit paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: “God is not remote from us. He is at the point of my pen, my pick, my paintbrush, my needle — and my heart and my thoughts.”
On the other hand, we take this opportunity to thank the outgoing JCAM President, Rev. Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator S.J. for his unwavering support towards AJAN’s mission, Jesuits’ efforts in the promotion of well-being, the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa and for the accompaniment and integral development of the young people in Africa as we heed to his advice, “to remain flexible to adapt to changing times, contexts, and circumstances. To live up to the best of our tradition and ways of proceeding, always remind ourselves that Jesuits and partners in the mission are never content of the statu quo, the known, the tried, the already existing. We are constantly driven to discover, redefine, and reach out for magis; frontiers and boundaries are not obstacles or ends, but new challenges to be faced, new opportunities to be welcomed.” We wish him all the best in his next mission in the USA as the new Dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (JST-SCU) starting on August 15th.
AJAN continues to put the youth at the forefront by making them bearers of the message of prevention against HIV and making them steadfast in their faith and values. During this celebration of St. Ignatius feast, the youth are challenged by the life of St. Ignatius to know how to serve tirelessly others and care for our planet in all the dimensions with great generosity. This is how their light will shine in service! That is why in one prayer, Ignatius wrote: “take Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my will. You have given all to me and now I return it. Your love and your grace are enough for me.” May that prayer be ours as we respond to Jesus’ call to be his disciples, missionary of his compassion and care for all.
Moreover, inside this issue get insights about “AJAN Youth-for-Youth initiative” updates, a fact sheet on HIV and AIDS latest global and regional statistics highlighted by the UNAIDS Report 2023 and areas of interventions that need to be addressed for us to have a generation free of HIV and pandemics, more responsible and committed to protecting everyone and the globe.
By, Fr. Matambura Ismael, SJ