A little over a year ago, the Social Involvement Coordinating Office (SICO) boldly decided to change its name—and thus carried on the heavy burden of renaming itself the “Arrupe Office of Social Formation” in honour of the 28th Superior General of the Jesuits (1965-1983), considered by many as one of its most influential figures in the 20th century, hence, a leader being credited for transforming the corporate apostolate of the Society of Jesus around the world. The heavy burden of taking on this decision was considered as a crucial juncture for the office. The administration of the then SICO underwent a period of collective discernment in the process of reinventing itself, and reaffirmed its mandate by refocusing its overall direction in the work of social formation in view of the newly rearticulated vision-mission-goals (VMG) of the university. On 26th September 2012, the office then launched the new Arrupe name as it kicked off the celebration marking the office’s 30th year.
The decision to change its name was audacious, as much as it was a product of ingenuity and inspiration, for it responded positively to the emerging challenges brought about by the university’s new institutional leadership, with the installation of Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ as the new university president. And so taking on the name of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ as the new name of SICO was as unanimous as much as it was a humbling assertion of paying tribute to one of the gigantic Jesuit historical figures in the last century. Arrupe is as Basque as the name suggests―it calls to mind the heritage of St. Ignatius’ Basque origin, and it bears the inspiration of generous service and selfless giving of oneself in love especially to the marginalized and those in dire need (reminiscent of Arrupe’s experience tending to the victims of the nuclear bombing in Hiroshima). For all intents and purposes, the Arrupe name mirrors the call to leadership and spirituality and the formation of social conscience.
Today, 5th February 2014, the 23rd death anniversary of Fr. Arrupe, the office celebrates the legacy of this iconic Jesuit who is fondly referred to as the second founder of the Society of Jesus. The office not only pays tribute to his very person, but also to the important transformation of the overall corporate apostolate of the Jesuits around the world, as it heeded to the important challenge of promoting a faith that does justice in all its apostolic missions. Last year, 2013, was another milestone year for the Jesuits, for it also marked the 40th year anniversary when Fr. Arrupe first reflected on how Jesuit institutions worldwide should take to heart their role as instruments in the formation of men and women who are called to greater service for others, especially the marginalized (“persons for others”).
As the university celebrates two centuries of the Jesuit’s restoration as a religious order in the Catholic Church (1814-2014), in concert with all the major celebrations in every Jesuit institution around the world, may it also call to mind the important contribution credited to the beloved Arrupe, especially in the second half of the 20th century—the impact of which is palpably felt today. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam! (By M. Isabel S. Actub, Arrupe Communications & Advocacy)