Why does Europe need a Jesuit University in its southern most bit of land?

Francisco de Borja Martín Garrido, Director of International Relations at Universidad Loyola Andalucía, has the answer: “Andalucia is one of the biggest regions in Spain and the one with the youngest population he said visiting JESC in Brussels on April 9 with a group of 25 students –  Andalucía is a place of mission, in the border with Marocco and door of Latin America people to Europe.”

Borja has contributed to the founding process of the first southern Spain private non-profit university. He has also been part of the steering committee of IAJU (International Association of Jesuit Universities) launching assembly in Bilbao.

“Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God.” This is a well-known quotation of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. Which are the most important qualities of an Ignatian leader?

An Ignatian Leader is a person that knows himself well. He (or she) knows consolation and desolation his strength and his weakness. Ideally knows discernment, put his life to the service of the others, love is a pillar in this service to the community. Love himself, the others and God. He finds a dialogue with people that are not necessarily open to the transcendence and come from other cultures and religions.

He’s a guide called to do difficult things and apply the Magis, to be more and better. Searching for projects that have a big component of service for the community he demonstrates to have a dynamic character. 

The Ignatian leader doesn’t have to be a politician, CEO of a multinational company or a famous person. He makes people around him grow, he has to lead well his own life in order to then lead better the others. 

Leaders nowadays must have a good heart and a strong sense of service, this what we need at the peripheries of Europe. People who believe in themselves and the community where they come from. The answers to the challenges of these territories will primary come from people anchored there, people who have a global vision to make a local impact.

Director Borja, what makes Universidad Loyola Andalucía different from the other universities?

Loyola follows the principles of all Jesuit Universities based on the four pillars of the Ledesma Kolvenbach paradigm: Utilitas, Humanitas, Justitia and Fides, in order to give a holistic dimension to the student formation. The faculties of our university are as it follows: School of Economics and Business Sciences, School of Political and Legal Science, School of Social Sciences and Humanities and Superior School of Engineering. 

We also have some differentiated projects such as our deep partnership with the Loyola University Chicago where we have developed a wide range of collaborations such as the Spanish language and culture summer programs, faculty led programs, exchange programs for student, faculty and staff, international research collaborations and also the US/Europe Double Business a unique opportunity where, in four years, students from both institutions study three semesters abroad and obtain a Bachelor in Business Administration with official recognition in the United States and Europe.

I want to highlight that is also a great opportunity for the American students to come and study in Spain, experience the European citizenship and understand the relationship between both regions. Moreover, the European Union has supported this collaboration with Erasmus + K107 as a program that is following  best practices for what the European Union wants to support to transatlantic relationship with USA.

Is this why you are in Brussels today with 25 students?

Yes, we are here with a diverse group of students from Spain and Chicago. We think that this programme is more complete with an inside to Brussels to see the European institutions such as the European Parliament and the Commission. In this occasion, we have been received by Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Energy and Climate Change. We also went to the American chamber of commerce in Europe (AmchamEU) where they explained the commercial relationship between the European Union and the U.S.A. and finally of course came to the Jesuit European Social Center so that our students can better understand the mission of the different apostolates of the Society of Jesus in Europe with particular attention  to the Jesuit Refugee Service.

How important is to have a network of all of the Jesuit Universities in the world?

The new International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) is formed of 204 higher education institutions distributed in more than 50 different countries. It was launched in Bilbao in 2018 with Superior General Arturo Sosa SJ in a ceremony attended by Cardinals Versaldi and Rabasi and His Majesty the King of Spain Felipe VI. The IAJU is formed by six regional associations AJCU in North America, AUSJAL in South America, AJCU – AM in Africa and Madagascar, Kircher Network in Europa, JHEASA in South Asia, and AJCU-AP in Asia Pacific region. This new association serves as a channel of communication between Fr General and the network of universities and is also a platform that will enable us collaborate globally to promote peace and reconciliation, justice and faith through research and the formation of students, in order to transform society and culture.


Susan Dabbous,
JESC Communication Assistant 2019