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Vol. XVI, No. 3 20 February 2012
Visit to India. Rev Fr General is visiting the South Asian Assistancy from February 15 to March 1. He is accompanied, as always, by the Regional Assistant, Fr Lisbert D'Souza, but also by Fr Marcos Recolons, Regional Assistant for Southern Latin America, also one of the Assistants ad providentiam. As usual, the visit is meant to coincide with a meeting of the Provincial's Conference. Since the venue of the Conference meeting is XLRI, the Management School in Jamshedpur, Fr General will also briefly visit Jamshedpur Province, and the neighbouring Provinces of Ranchi and Hazaribag. This visit will afford Fr General his first experience of the Church in the tribal belt of Central India. Arguably, the most vibrant Church in the country is found here. In the tribal belt, perhaps more than in other parts of the Assistancy, efforts at inculturating the liturgy have been effective and well accepted. It is appropriate that Fr Marcos Recolons, who has extensive experience of the indigenous people of Bolivia, should be Fr General's companion on this visit. Hopefully the other major tribal area, that of the North East, will be host to Fr General on a subsequent visit. There are as many as six Jesuit Bishops currently in office in this Central Zone.
An issue that the Conference intends to take up at length, hoping to profit from Fr General's presence, is the final revision of the Conference Statutes. This revision is meant to better reflect the expectations of GC 35 on the nature and scope of Conferences as units of mission facilitation of the Society locally and universally. There will be three new faces among the Major Superiors at the Conference meeting.
From the Curia
JRS Advocacy and Communications meeting. Between 13 and 18 February, the bi-annual meeting of the Jesuit Refugee Service's (JRS) Advocacy and Communications Officers has taken place in Rome. This is a particularly important moment for the JRS International Office. Regional Advocacy and Communications Officers have gathered together for a week of workshops, training, and planning. The particular focus of the gathering is the integration of the new Strategic Framework 2012-2015 (see: Digital News Service, no. 2, 6th February 2012) into JRS's work at the project, national and regional levels. The training has presented an opportunity for JRS personnel to familiarize themselves again with JRS policies and procedures. The Framework encourages the creation of networks with other regions to develop unified communications and advocacy strategies, and to devise a concrete work plan for the coming years. Guided by the Strategic Framework and equipped with improved strategies, it is the hope of JRS that this meeting will strengthen its ability to accompany, to serve and to be the advocate for refugees and displaced persons more effectively.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Christian Rutishauser Provincial of Switzerland. Father Christian, at present director of Lasalle-Haus de Bad Schönbrunn, was born in 1965, entered the Society of Jesus in 1992 and was ordained a priest in 1998.
- Father Christopher G. Llanos Regional Superior of Jamaica. Father Christopher, at present Superior and Master of Novices in Kingston, was born in 1960, entered the Society of Jesus in 1986 and was ordained a priest in 1996.
From the Provinces
AFRICA: A Conference Against AIDS
The response to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa came under close scrutiny during a conference recently hosted by the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN). Twenty-six Jesuits, as well as others involved in the Catholic Church's response to AIDS in Africa, came together in late January in Nairobi to present their contributions to a book that AJAN will publish later this year. The participants offered a blend of diverse approaches to the pandemic. Theological, philosophical and sociological questions were considered, as were issues related to human rights and ethics, and the immediate outlook of care and treatment of those infected. Lessons learned while reaching out to people with HIV, orphans and others, occupied an important place in the discussions. The participants brought a wealth of experience from many African countries. Fresh insights emerged about the rapidly developing responses to AIDS at global, national and community levels, and especially about the contribution of the Catholic Church. Among the main challenges identified were (a) the persistent stigma and discrimination of AIDS victims, (b) the long-term sustainability of AIDS projects affected by donor fatigue, (c) the economic crisis, (d) poverty, (e) corruption and other woes, and (f) the need to form members of the clergy to reach out to those infected and affected by AIDS. The AJAN book project was launched in June 2011 to mark the 30th anniversary of the first diagnosed case of AIDS in 1981.
AFRICA: Social Centers on the Move
A seminar on project management was inaugurated on January 26 in Nairobi for the delegates of Jesuit social centers in Africa. This seminar was the first in a series of six that will be held during 2012. They are organized by JASC Network (Jesuit African Social Centers Network), a specialized structure animated by JESAM (Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar), which coordinates social action. JASC aims to encourage joint initiatives among Jesuit social centers in the continent, and to facilitate the exchange of experiences and mutual enrichment. For 2012, JASC has planned two formation courses in management, and another two in research, analysis and production. The courses will be held in the French and English languages in four African cities (Nairobi, Abidjan, Kinshasa and Lusaka). In response to the invitation of the general assembly of the social apostolate in Africa, JASC plans to organize training courses specializing on the processes of elections, and on how to prevent electoral conflicts and violence. Finally, in the light of the fifty years of independence of many African countries, the final seminar will address the question of how to make Jesuit social centers in Africa structures of action and social transformation.
COLOMBIA: Hundred Years of Jesuit Presence in Barranquilla
To celebrate the centenary of the Jesuit presence in Barranquilla (Colombia), a cocktail party was held on February 1, at which the alumni-ae of Pontifical Javeriana University who reside and work in the town, were present. Among the guests were Fr Gabriel Jaime Pérez, SJ (coordinator of the Society of Jesus in the Caribbean Region, and Rector of Colegio San José), Fr Eduardo Valencia, SJ (chaplain for alumni-ae of PUJ), Dr Elsa Noguera de la Espriella (an economist and mayor of Barranqilla), many former students of PUJ's various faculties, and members of the Jesuit community of Barranquilla. Those present heard Fr Gabriel Jaime recall the main milestones of the first Jesuit century in Barranquilla, and the apostolic works in which the Jesuits have been involved. He also shared his ideas on the educational programs and vision which the Society of Jesus has for this part of the country. Today, the Pontifical Javeriana University has an Advisory and Education Center permanently located in Colegio San José. This Center offers seminars, courses and diplomas in many professional fields.
ENGLAND: Student to Play for London Olympics
Fourteen-year-old Harry Castle, a pupil at Mount St. Mary's College, a Jesuit school in Derbyshire, is due to perform at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony on 27 July in London after being invited to join the 46 violinists of the prestigious National Youth Orchestra (NYO) of Great Britain. The National Youth Orchestra members are all aged between 13 and 19 years old and are selected by auditions which take place in the autumn each year. Harry has been a member of the Orchestra for the last three years. He has two Grade 8 distinctions in piano and violin, a Grade 6 distinction in singing and last summer achieved an A grade in GCSE music after taking the exam two years early. In 2011 he composed a programmatic piece for the college Jazz Band who performed it at the National Festival of Music of Birmingham for which he received a special award. Lucy Kitchener, Director of Music at Mount St. Mary's College, said: "The NYO is, by far, the superior orchestra for young people in this country and is incredibly difficult to get in. Harry has worked really hard for many years to achieve this standard. We are very proud of him."
INDIA: Students as Agents of Cultural Traditions
St Xavier's Collegiate School in Kolkata has set up a club to help students to immerse themselves in the culture and traditions of West Bengal. According to Father Sebastian James SJ, the school's vice principal, one of its aims is to train them to be agents of cultural traditions. "Most people think there is no scope for nurturing cultural traditions in Church-run English schools and we wanted to break this myth," said Fr James. The school's most famous alumnus is Rabindranath Tagore, the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature. The students and teachers recently paid tribute to him by bringing out an album entitled Xavier's to Tagore: Muktapushpa (Gemflower), which contains ten songs and six of Tagore's most famous poems. "We wanted to give something back to our celebrated alumnus on the 150th anniversary of his birth, by singing some of the songs he had written," Fr James said. "Exactly 100 years ago, in his autobiography Jivan Smitri, Tagore reminisced on his days at the school. So it is fitting that the present students should honor the poet with this album. It is part of a larger project to help students cherish their culture and literature, through music, art, recital, poetry and one act plays." The album, released on February 2, is being marketed by one of Kolkata's leading audio production and marketing firms.
ITALY: Movement for a Better World
Last week the Movement for a Better World celebrated its sixtieth birthday. On 10 February 1952, Pope Pius XIII launched the Movement with an appeal which is still relevant today: "The whole world needs to be rebuilt from its foundations. Our world must be transformed from what is brutal to what is truly human, and from what is human to the divine, according to the heart of God." The founder and soul of the movement was Fr Riccardo Lombardi, the uncle of Federico, the current director of Vatican Press Office and Vatican Radio. Through his preaching and "missions", Fr Riccardo led the so-called Crusade of Goodness, a great revival movement in Catholicism, first in Italy and then throughout the world. Today the Movement is present in more than thirty countries. According to Don Enzo Caruso, Italian director of the Movement, the relevance of the message of Pius XII still applies. "It is reproduced in a new context, but always with the same goal. The world always needs to be made new at its foundations, to be ever transformed according to the heart of God. But at this time, the basis of this transformation is not a society ravaged by the war, but rather one in which true humanity is undermined by an anti-human culture."
MACAU: Caritas Celebrates 60 Years of Service
"Together for new roads to help the poor" is the theme of the International Conference dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Caritas Macau held in recent weeks at the Macau Cultural Centre. The Conference was attended by a number of experts, priests, men and women religious, and lay helpers from Caritas. They came from the Vatican, Canada, Pakistan, England, France, Bangladesh, Thailand, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, as well as from Macao. The Conference provided an opportunity to exchange experiences of the fight against poverty, and to analyze the situation of the world overwhelmed by the economic crisis, a crisis which has caused a significant increase in the numbers of the poor. The conference also dwelt on finding new ways to eradicate poverty, on which alone a better future for humanity can be built. The founder of Caritas Macau was Fr Luis Ruiz Suarez, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who arrived in Macao in 1951. He died on 26 July 2011, at the age of 97. At the end of the war, he immediately set his mind to assist the host of immigrants who were beset with great difficulties. He founded the Center of Social Service Matteo Ricci, better known as Casa Ricci. In 1971 the organisation became part of the diocese of Macau, and is now known as Caritas Macau.
USA: The White House Honors Three Jesuits
Jesuit Fathers Charles L Currie, John P Foley and William P Leahy were three of the nine leaders in Catholic education from across the country who were recently honored at the White House as Champions of Change for their service to their communities and the nation. The Champions of Change program is part of President Obama's Winning the Future initiative to highlight groups of people, ranging from educators through to entrepreneurs and community leaders, who are acknowledged for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities. "We are thrilled to recognize these extraordinary Champions in Catholic Education at the White House. Each of these nine leaders embody the values of education, innovation and service through their stellar contributions to Catholic schools and the wider communities they serve," said Alexia Kelley, Senior Policy Advisor White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. "These Champions, like their colleagues in Catholic education across the country, inspire all of us to build up our communities and our nation's young people."
USA: YouTube Channel Featuring Ignatian News
Loyola Productions, a Jesuit-sponsored film production house in Los Angeles, has recently launched a YouTube channel dedicated to promoting the works and mission of the Society of Jesus. Ignatian News Network (INN) will tell the stories that inspire, inform and spread the word about the people in and around Jesuit ministries and institutions. These short videos, many featuring biographical profiles of Jesuits, will give a distinctive Ignatian lens to news and happenings across the U.S. National Jesuit News will be featuring upcoming INN videos right here. You can also subscribe to the INN YouTube channel and check out this promo piece below: http://www.jesuit.org/blog/index.php/2012/01/jesuits-launch-youtube-channel-featuring-ignatian-news/