Ecuador: the characteristics of social works

What is the essence of a Jesuit social work? In other words, how can the Jesuit perspective on faith and social justice help us identify the goal and purpose of the social mission of the Society? These were the questions which were the focus of two formation seminars directed at Jesuits and lay collaborators involved in running and managing the social works of the Province of Ecuador. Held in Quito and Guayaquil on 8 and 12 October and attended by 121 participants, these seminars are part of a wider planning process of the social apostolate in Ecuador. The apostolate acknowledges the need to strengthen its collaborators? networking skills and capacity-building qualities, both crucial elements for its advancement. During the workshops, guided by Fr Fernando Ponce SJ, the Province coordinator of the social apostolate and accompanied by Fr Fernando Franco SJ, Secretary of Social Justice, the participants were invited to discuss and reflect upon their identification with the characteristics of a social work inspired by the Society. While working ?for the poor? or ?in favour? of the poor must be one of the elements of all our ministries, Fr Franco stressed that the Social Apostolate is characterised by a specific charism of working ?with the poor? and in some cases living ?like the poor? (living in insertion-communities). More concretely, working with the poor entails a set of characteristics marking our daily action: looking at problems and solutions from the perspective of the poor; considering the poor to be not object but subjects of their own destiny; assuming a global perspective in our local insertion; always aiming at structural changes; and working as a team in close collaboration with lay women and men. Fr Fernando Ponce SJ, Coordinator of the Social Apostolate for the Ecuador Province: