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Vol. XVIII, No. 18 12 September 2014
Visit to Brussels. From 15 to 17 August, Father General took part in a meeting in Brussels organized by the Southern Belgian and Luxembourg (BML) and French (GAL) Provinces. Its theme was Quid agendum? (What needs to be done?). There were about 450 participants, most of whom came from Belgium and France. They comprised Jesuits and collaborators, both lay and religious. The meeting was part of the process towards the amalgamation of the BML and GAL Provinces.
Letter of Father General on the "Ex Officio" letters. On September 8 Father General has written a letter to all Society in which he offers a synthesis of the ex-officio letters. These are the annual letters from every Province on a subject which Father General indicates each year. This year he has asked for information about Reconciliation and working for peace. "The rich content of the letters, has occasioned many interesting sessions of reflection with my Counselors. I trust that its several sections can be read, prayed over, and studied by both individual Jesuits and communities, in order to lead to some apostolic fruit." Then Father General adds: "It is clear that the realities presented in your letters includes a call to action. Many Jesuits and many Provinces are already responding with creativity and in very diverse ways, given the enormous differences of contexts and cultures in which the conflicts emerge. Clearly, General Congregation 35 was correct when it proposed reconciliation and bridge building as contemporary ways of deepening our mission." The sections of the letter are: present reality; analysis: discernment; conversion: interior transformation; mission: our contribution on behalf of reconciliation and peace; and then some suggestions for our apostolate. The letter concludes: "It is evident that by working for reconciliation we not only participate in the mission of Christ but also help to make visible the credibility of the Church and the relevance of her message. In this ministry, we will find what is most authentic in our Ignatian spirit and one of the most certain sources of our spiritual consolation."
FROM THE CURIA
Pope Francis Visits the General Curia. On 31 July, the feast of St Ignatius, Pope Francis decided at short notice to join his Jesuit brothers at the Curia for lunch. It was a strictly private gathering. After lunch, he met the members of the community at recreation. Also present at the meal were members of Fr Paolo Dall'Oglio's family. They had been invited to celebrate St Ignatius day with the Jesuits before it was known that the Pope would come. It provided an opportunity for Pope Francis to express his concern and sympathy for their brother who was kidnapped over a year ago, and of whom there has been no definite news since.
European Jesuits in Formation. The European Jesuits in Formation (EJIF) had their annual meeting in Rome this year focusing on "Re-Establishing the Society of Jesus after 1814" between 30th July and 18th August. The 23 scholastics, representing various European Provinces or Regions, as well as an Indonesian Jesuit studying in Paris, were generously hosted at the Curia and St. Peter Canisio communities. The meeting included visits to Ignatian places in Rome, and historical inputs by Jim Grummer SJ, Robert Danieluk SJ as well as by the scholastics themselves about the re-establishment in their various Provinces. The group had the rare opportunity to be with Pope Francis twice within a few days: during lunch on St. Ignatius' feast in the Curia and then on 2nd August for a private Mass at St. Martha on the feast of Peter Faber. The group also had a session and Mass with Fr. General. Before heading to the annual retreat at Galloro, the scholastics had the beautiful chance to celebrate Mass in the Chapel of the Nobles, close to Gesù Church on 7th August, chapel in which, exactly 200 years after the Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum bull was issued by Pope Pius VII. Tom Layden SJ, directed the retreat, helped by three other spiritual Fathers. John Dardis SJ or his socius, Jose de Pablo SJ, accompanied the group throughout and also gave an input on the Society's mission in Europe.
Tertian Instructors. From August 4 to 9, Tertian Instructors gathered in the Curia in Rome, ten years since the last such meeting in 2004. Twenty-six attended - 3 from Africa, 4 from Europe, 6 from South Asia, 8 from Asia Pacific, 2 from the US, and 3 from Latin America. It was a great time to share experiences and good practices, discuss relevant issues and concerns, and review the 1991 document on tertianship. Father General attended many of the sessions, engaged the group in discussions, and led the Instructors through a half-day of prayer and recollection.
On August 7, the very day of the 200th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Society, the Instructors, accompanied by Father General and Fathers José Magadia (Counselor for Formation) and Patxi Álvarez (Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology), had the distinct privilege of joining Pope Francis for a special Mass of Thanksgiving in the Chapel of Casa Santa Marta. In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on the account of St. Peter's declaration of the Lord as Messiah, and traced three stages of discipleship - confession, mission, and temptation. From a confession of faith in the Lord flows an acceptance of mission. But confession and mission are diminished in meaning without subjection to temptation and final acceptance of the cross. Pope Francis points out that the Society is blessed by having experienced the cross of Suppression and the resurrection of Restoration - the recognition of which brings the Society to profound thanksgiving.
Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations. From 8 to 11 September, the fifth meeting of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations took place at the General Curia. The participants were Father General and nine counselors, each of whom is responsible for a confessional or religious group: non-Catholic oriental churches, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindus, and Indigenous religions from the Americas, Africa and India. In addition to the information on the development of relations with individual groups and the involvement of Jesuits in these relations, the focus of this year's meeting was recognizing how the various confessions/religions, including Catholic Christians, can be understood as a gift for learning how to strengthen one's faith and ecclesial life. One particular aspect of this sharing was the role of the family and marriage in other traditions, in view of the next extraordinary Synod of Bishops.
Pope Francis has appointed:
- Father Robert Geisinger Promoter of Justice for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Father Geisinger, at present General Procurator of the Society of Jesus, was born in 1958, entered the Society of Jesus in 1981 was ordained a priest in 1991.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Oduor Joseph Afulo Provincial of the Eastern Africa Province. Fr. Afulo, at present Principal of the Hekima College of Nairobi (Kenya) was born in 1962, entered the Society of Jesus in 1991 was ordained a priest in 2000.
- Father Carlos Eduardo Correa Jaramillo Provincial of Colombia. Fr. Correa Jaramillo, at present Vice-Superior of Alfredo Vargas and rector of Colegio San Bartolomé La Merced of Bogotá, was born in 1960, entered the Society of Jesus in 1978 was ordained a priest in 1990.
- Father Juan Carlos Morante Buchhammer Provincial of Perù. Father Morante Buchhammer, at present rector of the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya of Lima, was born in 1958, entered the Society of Jesus in 1981 was ordained a priest in 1992.
- Father Thomas H Smolich, of the California Province (CFN), new International Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Fr Smolich, former Provincial of California and for eight years President of the Jesuit Conference USA, was born in 1955, entered the Society of Jesus in 1974, and was ordained a priest in 1986. He will take office on 1 November 2015.
- Father Patrick Mulemi, of the Zambia-Malawi Province, director of the Communication and Public Relations Office at the General Curia in Rome. He will take the place of Father Giuseppe Bellucci. Fr. Mulemi was born in 1973, entered the Society of Jesus in 1993 and was ordained a priest in 2004. Father Bellucci will remain in the Curia, helping especially for the Yearbook of the Society of Jesus.
- Father General has decided that Father João Renato Eidt will serve as the first Provincial of the new Province of Brazil. Fr. Eidt, currently Rector of the Interprovincial Theologate of Belo Horizonte, was born in 1962, entered the Society of Jesus in 1986 and was ordained a priest in 1998. The Province of Brazil will be officially established on November 16 in the presence of Father General.
FROM THE PROVINCES
AFRICA: Jesuits against ebola
Ignorance, prejudice and fear are the first enemies to fight if you want to eradicate the ebola virus: affirms AJAN, the network of the Jesuits in Africa who have been taking care of patients suffering from another illness, AIDS. In a statement released in its newsletter, AJAN underscores that "there is an urgent need to provide adequate information" to stop the rapid spread of the disease. Especially in West Africa "people are infected because of ignorance, prejudice and fear, which lead them to commit counterproductive and harmful acts, as the attack on a clinic in Monrovia, Liberia," in August this year. "Some rural communities - explains Father Paterne Mombe, director of AJAN - refuse to conform to the sanitary measures proposed by the institutions and international organizations, which they see as the source of the problem." In addition, this means, "all communities, including the Church, have an important task to carry out, or to warn the people about how to prevent the epidemic." AJAN has already taken action to act on three positions: information, education and communication about ebola. Special material will be disseminated widely through the Jesuit communities, parish and the local Caritas organization. There are two phases of operation: first, illustrated posters, flyers and brochures will be disseminated in the countries where ebola is already a sad reality; and second, later on, there will be some actual information and training seminars in the countries where ebola could potentially arrive, in order to prevent its spread.
UNITED KINGDOM: Jesuit Receives Award for Cancer Research
A Jesuit, studying at Oxford University, has been awarded the runner-up prize for the Peter Beaconsfield Prize in Physiological Sciences, 2014. Fr Sumeth Perera SJ, from Sri Lanka, is in the second year of his DPhil. He is a member of the Campion Hall community. He is reading for his doctorate in Genetics at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG), and working in the Goberdhan and Wilson laboratories. The Peter Beaconsfield Prize is intended to reward young researchers who are capable of going beyond the stereotype of narrow specialization, to engage with translational medicine, and to display a wider grasp of the significance and potential applicability of their research. "I'm interested in cancer cell communication," says Fr Perera. "Cancer cells send out signals that allow them to grow and invade our bodies. Some of these signals are packaged into tiny particles called exosomes. In particular, we attempt to understand how certain exosomes in colorectal and breast cancer cells are regulated and what role they play in educating neighbouring cells." During the course of his research, Fr Perera has discovered that these particles are altered by the drugs used to treat cancer patients. He has been investigating whether this allows cancer cells to resist the effects of these drugs.
USA: Award for Jesuit Astronomer
Jesuit astronomer, Br Guy Consolmagno SJ, has been awarded the prestigious Carl Sagan Medal for "outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist." The American Astronomical Society's (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences made the award. The Society described Br Consolmagno as "the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a rational spokesperson who can convey exceptionally well how religion and science can co-exist for believers". Br Consolmagno became a Jesuit when he was in his late 30s, after working at the Harvard College Observatory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and after his time in the Peace Corps. He is an astronomer to the Vatican Observatory, where he is also the curator of the Observatory's meteorite collection. Br Consolmagno is widely respected as a writer and speaker on scientific matters from a faith perspective. A statement from the Society of Jesus in Rome said that Br Consolmagno had received the Carl Sagan Medal "because of his unique perspective as both a scientist and a man of faith". Carl Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences. He died in 1996. He is best known for his research on the possibilities of extra-terrestrial life.
1814-2014 RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SOCIETY
Italy: Conference on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
On 6 and 7 September, the Italian Province of the Society of Jesus sponsored a conference in Rome on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Its theme was "Show us the Father: the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a Ministry of Consolation and an Experience of God." Fr Daniele Libanori, the rector of the Gesu in Rome, was the driving force behind the conference. It was part of the celebrations for the bicentenary of the Restoration of the Society. The conference reflected on one of the most typical aspects of priestly ministry and, in particular, of the Society of Jesus. It emphasized the anthropological aspect of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, highlighting elements of human experience which prepare, assist, and support the knowledge of God through an openness to his mercy. As background, the meeting took into account the human and spiritual experiences which St Ignatius lived and embodied in the Spiritual Exercises. The conference was primarily directed towards Jesuits, but was open to others involved in pastoral care, particularly confessors and formators.
Perù: Symposium for the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society. On 19 and 20 August, a Symposium, El Imaginario Jesuita en los reinos americanos: siglos XVI-XIX, was held at the National Library in Lima. It was organized by the Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University, the Peruvian National Library, and the Peruvian Province of the Society of Jesus. Leading academics from a number of universities were among the participants. These included Fordham University (USA), the École des Hautes Etudes de Sciences Sociales (France), Centro de CC. Humanas y Sociales (Spain), and Queen's University Kingston (Canada). The following were among the contributions: "The Pre-Restoration Society of Jesus in America, and its Impact on the Attitudes of the Restored Society: Notes for a Bicentennial" (Pierre A. Fabre); "The Jesuits and the Posthumous Christianization of Incas in the Seventeenth Century: Inculturation and Ethno-history" (Nicanor Dominguez); "Music in the Mayna Missions in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries" (Jame Regan); "Franciscans and Jesuits in the Americas: A Comparison of the Utopias in New Spain, Paraguay and New France" (Gauvin Bailey); "Jesuit Colleges in Peru Before the Expulsion in 1767" (Adolfo Dominguez); and "The Missions in Latin America: Glorious Images and Cruel Realities" (Luce Giard). There were many other contributions. Peru is celebrating the Restoration of the Society through a number of events and publications. Their purpose is to recall what was achieved by the Society of Jesus in the nearly 450 years that it has been present in the country. For more information: www.misionjesuitaperuana.com/.