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Vol. XIII, N. 14 July 20, 2009
Trip to Africa. From the 24th to the 30th of July Father General will once again visit Africa. The occasion is the World Congress of Jesuit Alumni/ae, to be held in Bujumbura, Burundi, from 22 to 27 of this month (see further). On the 25th of July Father Nicolás will meet with religious and civil authorities of Burundi, and will visit Yezu Mwiza, a service center for with HIV and suffering from AIDS. On the 26th of July he will devote the entire day to the Alumni/ae Congress and to the meeting with the Jesuits of Bujumbura. The other days will be dedicate to visiting the main works the Society of Jesus in Burundi, especially the Spiritual Center of Kiriri.
From Bujumbura he will travel to Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, near the border with Rwanda, to visit the works of the Society: Amani, spiritual house, the parish and, above all, the Alfajiri college where he will meet the Jesuits of the Region, professors, collaborators and friends of the Society. Next he make his way to Rwanda. He will visit the novitiate, in Cyangugu, not far from Bukavu, and then proceed to the capital, Kigali. The Jesuits sponsor a number of works in the capital.
First and foremost on the itinerary is a visit to the Christus Centre, specializing in the giving of the Spiritual Exercises and a spirituality training centre. It was here, on the 6th of April 1994, that 17 people were killed: eight young women of the Vita et Pax Movement who were making their retreat, four diocesan priests, one volunteer social worker, a cook and three Jesuits. Among the Jesuits was Father Mahame, age 67, who was the first Rwandan to enter the Jesuits. One special place on the visit is Saint Ignace elementary school that opened last year. In it hoped that in the not too distant future it will offer secondary and perhaps tertiary education.
The office of the Regional Superior of Rwanda-Burundi is also located in Kigali. At Christus Centre Father General will attend a meeting of Jesuits from the southern part of the country on the 29th of July. He is scheduled to return to Rome on the 30th of July.
From the Curia
Communication and Public Relations: is the name of the new office which will oversee all communication activities of the Curia. The new office has three branches:
1) Press and Information: (Father Giuseppe Bellucci in charge) includes the biweekly Electronic Bulletin as well as relations with journalists
2) Internet: (Father Philip Debruyne in charge) includes websites, RSS, pod casts, video, etc., Father Debruyne will work in Rome one week a month.
3) Publications: Yearbook of the Society, News and Features, Acta Romana Societatis Jesu and other Curia publications. Oversight for these resides with the Communication Committee.
Father Giuseppe Bellucci will have overall responsibility for this new office and will be assisted by a small group of Curial Jesuits (five or less) as well as a team of Jesuit and Lay experts, who will meet regularly with the Curia Communication Committee. The committee's role is to evaluate current performance levels, present recommendations, provide feedback and encourage a high level of professional expertise. Some of those on the committee will reside in the Curia so as to ensure a rapid response to inquiries; others will live in Italy or beyond, attend one or two meetings a year in the Curia and participate in other meetings via Internet or phone linkups.
This new configuration of the information sector is part of the renovation of the General Curia requested of Father General by the 35th General Congregation; it will take effect "step by step".
New arrivals. In addition to the appointments noted in the previous Electronic Bulletin, there are two more to mention:
- Father Marc Lindeijer, of the Netherlands Province, will be the assistant Postulator. Father Lindeijer is 43 years old and was recently awarded a degree in Church History.
- Father Philip Debruyne, of the Province of North Belgium, will be the new webmaster in the Communication and Public Relations Office. Father Debruyne, 60 years old, remains the editor of Jesuits in Europe and webmaster in the Conference of European Provincials Office in Brussels.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Timothy Kesicki Provincial of Chicago. He is presently Provincial of Detroit and will remain so when he assumes the office of the Provincial of Chicago on the 30th of August. Father Kesicki was born in 1962, joined the Society in 1984 and was ordained a priest in 1994.
- Father Peter Bujko Provincial of Slovakia. Father Bujko was born in 1968, joined the Society in 1993 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He received his degree in Theology in Frankfurt, Germany. Presently he is a professor of dogmatic theology at the Jesuit Theological Institute in Bratislava and spiritual father for young Jesuits at the Institute.
Towards the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
- A statue in China. Father Peter Wang Leizhen decided to erect a statue in honour of Matteo Ricci, on the occasion of 400th anniversary of his death in a parish near Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi, East China. Father Leizhen is the first resident priest in this area in 40 years. The statue will be place in the spot where, according to tradition, the missionary lived for some time around 1595. The statue is expected to be placed next October in the garden of the church of Xuposhan, a village at about one hour trip drive from Nanchang. The only problem facing Father Wang is "to find somebody gifted enough to make a statue of Ricci" and at a good price, since the parish priest has little money. Before 1949, the church of Xuposhan was an important center of missionary activity and the region included about 3.000 Catholics. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) everything was confiscated and it was only in 1980 that the church was returned to the diocese who occasionally sent some priests to celebrate Mass.
- Ricci Institute in Paris. The Institut Ricci in Paris, directed by Father Michel Masson, prepared a rich program of events for the 2010 celebrations. Among them a conference on Les échanges de savoir ("The exchange of knowledge") in China during Matteo Ricci's times, with the participation of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The Institute succeeded in inserting the centenary of Matteo Ricci's death among the French "national celebrations" for 2010.
- "The real significance of the God of Heaven". In its 2006 book series, the Urbaniana University Press in Rome published "Missionaries in history", the translation of Matteo Ricci's book: "The real significance of the "God of Heaven" (Tian shi zhi yi)", by Alessandra Chiricosta, an expert in philosophy and history of religions. Translated into Italian for the first time in 400 years, this work represents the earliest effort to present the Catholic message in China. Ricci wrote it in Chinese in 1607, and it constitutes a very important text for the dialogue and understanding among different cultures.
From the Provinces
AUSTRALIA: Awards for Collaborators
Nearly 230 people from Jesuit works across Australia came together for the Province Gathering on the 3rd and 4th July at St. Ignatius College in Sydney. It was the first Gathering with the new Provincial, Father Steve Curtin. The theme "A heart for mission" focused on what inspires and sustains people in their mission and work. The personal stories of some participants highlighted the various ways that the mission is viewed and energized in the Province's works. A session focused on mission formation and ways to ensure that people from the Province's various ministries understand the broader story of the Australian Jesuits. Father Mark Raper, actually President of the Jesuits Conference of East Asia and Oceania, said that the three actual priorities in the Assistancy are the formation of young Jesuits, supporting Cambodia, Myanmar and East Timor, and promoting cooperation internationally. The meeting was also the occasion for recognizing with the Companions Medal Awards five people for making a significant contribution to the work of the Australian Province. This year awardees were one sister religious and four lay collaborators, three men and a woman. The Companions Medal was created two years ago during the Jubilee Year.
BURUNDI: International Congress of Jesuit Alumni/ae
The 7th Congress of the World Union of Jesuits Alumni/ae will be held in Bujumbura, capital of Burundi, in the heart of Africa from 22 - 27 July. Participants will come from all over the world. The choice of Africa, and especially Burundi, for this occasion is full of significance, especially given the political turmoil in the country, widespread malnutrition and the AIDS pandemic suffered there. The Society of Jesus has a long tradition in Africa, especially in the field of education. The tradition of the old Collège Saint-Esprit continues today with the Lycée Saint-Esprit serving nearly 900 boys and girls. The theme of the Congress embodies a program in itself: For a better Africa: What have we done, What are we doing, What must we do? The event will be preceded by a week long program of "spiritual experiences" for young alumni/ae. These experiences will consist of activities in centers for vulnerable children (AIDS orphans) and visits to hospitals. The program will take place in Burundi and in the Bukavu Region in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
COLOMBIA: A Jesuit named Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference
Bishop Juan Vicente Córdoba, auxiliary bishop of Bucaramanga, is the new secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, in place of Bishop Fabián Marulanda, who left the position after seven years of service. It is the first time a member of the Society of Jesus (though present in the country for more than 400 years) has been elected to this high post. Bishop Córdoba is 58 years, old, did graduate studies in bioethics, was ordained bishop five years ago by Pope John Paul II and is one of the youngest members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy of Colombia. He is the only Jesuit bishop of the country (in its entire history there have been only five!), and thanks to his formation he brings to this position an innovative spirit: "We have to give up the old image of a conservative Church" he said, "and think about new ways of evangelization as a humble, servant church." Talking about the need to change the conception of morality, he continued, "We do not have to condemn the faithful, but we have to motivate them. We do not have to say to them do not do this or that, because it is a sin, and God will punish them, but we have to stimulate them to be at the service of others, to take care of their own person and environment."
IVORY COAST: Inauguration of a Health Centre
On the 13th of June, a new Health Centre was inaugurated in Niamkey Konanko, Ivory Coast. Father Umberto Libralato, vice-president of Magis, the non-governmental organization of the Italian Jesuits, Tomaso Spingardi, member of the board of directors of Magis, and Antonio Rampinini were present at the ceremony as well as local authorities and many others both, young and old. All were there to celebrate this important event for so many local communities. The center was dedicated to the memory of the mother of one of the benefactors and a plaque with her name was placed at the entrance. The inscription reads: "En memoire de Giovanna Ponza par ses enfants qui ont perdu trop tôt son amour et ses soins" ("In memory of Giovanna Ponza from her children who lost her love and care too early"). The Centre was an idea born in 2001 and its realization has been possible thanks to the help of many benefactors, the work of Magis and the Sisters Filles de Saint Camille. The Niamkey Konanko dispensary serves a large region of 30 square km, home to nearly 25.000 people. Each month over 1.000 come for help. The most common diseases are Bouruli ulcer and malaria. Many of these diseases are curable if treated in time; the real secret, of course, is prevention. In addition to treating diseases, the dispensary will, as far as it is possible, to diagnose them at an early stage of development.
HONDURAS: Jesuits Caught in the Political Earthquake
The political turmoil that erupted on the 28th of June in an already earthquake devastated Honduras touched the Jesuits in Progresso. On that day, the president of the country, Manuel Zalaya Rosales, was removed from office and at 10:30 a.m. Radio Progresso, run by the Jesuits was invaded and silenced by a group of 25 soldiers. Father Ishmael Moreno, director of the radio station wrote, "While the soldiers were inside our workrooms, a large group of people besieged our offices and wanted to enter to defend the Radio and the staff. Thanks to numerous mediations we avoided any incidents that could have resulted in violence." The next morning the soldiers left and the station resumed its broadcasts knowing that it could again be silenced. Radio Progresso is in contact116 radio stations throughout the country in order to follow events as they happen. During the 1970's, Radio Progresso was the symbol of resistance against Central America military dictatorships.
RUSSIA: Vocations in Kazakhstan
Vocations to religious and priestly life is one of the signs of life in the Kazakhstan Mission; ten or more men and women have entered religious life or seminaries. Three sisters from the Pavlodar region made their solemn religious profession on the 7th of June during a ceremony attended by many parishioners and celebrated by Father Ryszard Matejuk. Two colleagues of the Jesuits in Kazakhstan are Sisters Theresa and Mariana. They prepare people for the reception of the sacraments and do so in a variety of settings: private homes, churches and pubic gathering spaces. After evening Mass, they will gather people for a cup of tea and share fellowship. All are welcome including parishioners, casual visitors, children and those looking for something to do.
SPAIN: Eurojess Congress in Granada
"Muslim populations in European Societies" will be the title of Eurojess 2009 meeting, that will be held in Granada from the 25th to the 29th of August. The meeting is one of the initiatives of the Society of Jesus in Europe in order to address the challenges linked to the growing number of Muslims on the continent; it is organized by Jesuits experts in Social Sciences (Eurojess). After some necessary preparation so as to better understand the Muslim reality in Europe, time will be given to deepen ideas regarding integration at the local and national level. Finally, the participants will try to identify some action steps for Jesuit institutions in light of promoting justice and dialogue.
Jesuit left speechless
Many Jesuits are remembered for speaking out. One, however, should be remembered for keeping his mouth closed. In the early 1800s Anthony Kohlmann, a German Jesuit and long time resident of the United States, became embroiled in a law case that gained national attention. He had facilitated the restitution of stolen goods to a man who then tried to have the courts force Father Kohlmann to divulge the thief's name but he refused to violate the seal of confession. His right to do so was later upheld, and the principle of 'confessional privilege' was enshrined in law. It was derived the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion.
The next issue of the ELECTRONIC SERVICE will be sent in September.