THE Bujumbura CONGRESS (2009)
The seventh World Congress of Jesuit Alumni took place at the Lycée du Saint-Esprit in Bujumbura (Burundi) from 22 to 27 July 2009.
It was organized by the Burundian Association of Jesuit Alumni with the assistance of Alumni/ae of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on the topic “Witnesses to hope”.
Some excellent speakers touched on different aspects of the question ‘Jesuit Alumni/ae, for a better Africa, what have we done, what are we doing, what must we do?’. As his predecessors, Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus since 2008, took part in this great encounter. Before the Congress, an international group of young Alumni met for a few days of ‘experiments’ and discovered various Burundian realities.
The General Assembly of the World Union of Jesuit Alumni and Alumnae, meeting in Bujumbura (Burundi) on 27 July 2009 at the end of the 7th Congress of the World Union held there from 23 to 27 July, has adopted the following résolutions.
- The General Assembly thanks very warmly Fr Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, for taking part in the Congress, for the strength of his message and his fostering of the alumni actions, and for presiding over the Eucharist of 26 July. It values in particular his wish to have a stronger collaboration between the Society of Jesus and Jesuit alumni and assures him that they will pray for the accomplishment of his mission.
- The General Assembly warmly thanks his Excellency Mr. Yves Sahinguvu, first vice-president of the Republic of Burundi, for taking an active part in the Congress, as an alumnus of Jesuit Fathers, and for constantly supporting its organisation. It assures him of its high esteem and warm wishes for his action in serving his country.
- The General Assembly :
- Is deeply grateful to the Organising Committee of the Congress and to its president Mr. Grégoire Banyiyezako.
- Congratulates them on the considerable work of preparation that they performed and on the outstanding success of this Congress.
- Sends Mr. Grégoire Banyiyezako and all the other members of the Congress Organising Committee its warm and friendly wishes for their future action in favour of the alumni, of the Society of Jesus and of the countries of the Great Lakes area.
- [Resolution concerning the proposal to establish a centre of superior education of “excellence” in the Great Lakes area (Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo)]
- Considering the inspiring central theme of the Congress: “Jesuit Alumni/ae, for a better Africa : What have we done ? What are we doing ? What must we do?”
- While recognizing the urgent need of a quality high education in all sub-Saharan Africa;
- Going back to the history of the Jesuit presence in Burundi and the Great Lakes area and its considerable role in the formation of the educated elite of Burundi, Rwanda and DRC since the establishment of the Collége Inter-racial in 1953 as the only inter-regional and inter-racial institution of secondary education for Burundi, Rwanda and DRC;
- Considering the fact that graduates of the highly reputed Lycée du Saint-Esprit, which for 50 years has been offering the highest standards of secondary education, cannot find a local Catholic university of the same educational standards despite the fact that the country and the region are Catholic at more than 65%;
- Taking into account the resolution adopted by representatives of the alumni associations of the three countries concerned.
- The General Assembly:
- Brings its full support to the proposal of studying the establishment of an initiative for promoting superior education of excellence for the Great Lakes area.
- Encourages the different associations and federations members of the World Union of Jesuit Alumni/ae, especially those of the three countries (Rwanda, Burundi, DRC), without excluding alumni from other countries, to actively participate in the “study committee” of the Society of Jesus, as mentioned by Father General Adolfo Nicolás in his address to the Congress regarding the establishment of a centre of superior education, and to provide the Society of Jesus with all forms of cooperation and partnership, particularly in fundraising, helping to find and supporting administrators and professors from all over the world, especially from other third world countries where they have been involved in developing similar institutions.
- Encourages the analysis of the possibility that the first campus of this centre of superior education would be on the site of the former Collége du Saint-Esprit at Kiriri.
- Jesuit alumni attach great importance to the organisation of quality teaching in schools, which includes notably a high level of social commitment among the teachers, the pupils and the alumni. This position is the logical consequence of our priority commitment for the deprived, who not only need such teaching but have a right to it. Any measure of public authority that prevents schools from ensuring that pupils and their parents are ready to comply with the pedagogic project of the school, is therefore to be regarded as an hindrance to such a teaching of excellence. The General Assembly then calls on all authorities concerned to guarantee and, if needed, to restore the schools’ freedom to decide on the choice of the pupils whom they want to educate.
- During the last decades, the three countries of the Great Lakes area, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, have gone or are still going through massive criminal violence, whether ethnical, political or mafia-type, that have created huge human suffering reaching to the point of genocide. We believe that Jesuit alumni can contribute to restoring peace, starting with themselves. We therefore recommend that the concerned associations organise a gathering of alumni from the three countries, in which people are able to speak freely and frankly to each other, if needed with the presence of Jesuit fathers, in order to contribute to restore the sense of common good necessary to the resumption of development.
- The General Assembly is very pleased with the many and excellent conclusions and suggestions presented both by the working groups and by the young participants during the congress. As it cannot immediately draw up the many resolutions that might come out of these conclusions and suggestions, it entrusts the Council to analyse them as soon as possible, to draw an action plan from them for the four coming years, with objectives and deadlines for the implementation of this plan, for individual alumni, for their associations and for the World Union itself, and to make this plan public in three months at the latest. It wishes the Council to present an assessment of this action plan to the general assembly planned for 2013.