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Vol. XIII, N. 20 December 4, 2009
Letter on Implementation of General Congregation 35. On the 13th of November, the feast of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Father General sent a letter to the whole Society in which he analyzes the process of implementing the recommendations from the most recent General Congregation. He briefly describes how the discernment process was used by the General Curia. Father Nicolás says that for Jesuits, apostolic planning requires prayerful discernment, freedom from attachments, and an attitude of continuous conversion calling us to go beyond the concerns and interests of our own Province or Region to embrace the more universal dimension of our mission. He continues, "After reflecting and praying over the results, I determined five main areas of attention for the General Council: Spiritual Renewal, Apostolic Frontiers, Collaboration with Others, Formation, and Restructuring of the Curia."
Expanding on the final point, Father General writes: "Regarding our Apostolic Secretariats I have come to the following decisions. We will retain the current number of Secretariats with some important modifications. Three Secretaries (Higher Education and Intellectual Apostolate, Ignatian Spirituality, and Justice and Ecology [new name]) will reside in Rome and operate from the Curia. The other three will reside in their Provinces and operate from their apostolates; these are the Secretaries for Primary and Secondary Education, Social Communications and Dialogue with Other Religions. For this last Secretariat, considering the great differences among Religions and the need to be in touch with local situations, I have decided to name three persons rather than one. Thus we will have a Secretary for Dialogue with Hinduism in India, one for Islam in the Middle East or South East Asia, and one for Buddhism in East Asia. I am still studying and considering what shape to give to our interest for dialogue with our Jewish brothers and sisters and for Ecumenism." "Besides the Secretaries we will continue to have in Rome three Delegates for Special Apostolates (Jesuit Refugee Service, Christian Life Communities, Apostleship of Prayer), who will no longer be called Secretaries, but Apostolic Delegates. They will reside in the General Curia and will be members, along with the Secretaries, of the Extended Council. All the resident Secretaries and Delegates will have a small council of three or four persons who will assist them in their reflection and discernment. In each team there will be at least one General Counselor. These changes will take place as soon as Jesuits are named for these positions."
Father General closes the letter with the hope that these changes will help the governance of the Society and will provide more flexibility for responding to the signs of our times.
- Father General participated, November 25-27, in the 74th USG (Union of Superiors General) General Assembly. The theme was "Justice and Cultures. Future paths for consecrated life." Fr. Jean Roger Ndombi, general counsellor for Africa, participated in the 25-26 November sessions. Fr. Pascal Chávez, Major Rector of the Salesians, was confirmed as President and Josep Mª. Abella, Superior General of Claretians was elected Vice President. Fr. Nicolás was elected in the Executive Committee and in the Committee of "16" (8 superiors and 8 superiors general who meet regularly with representatives of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated life and the Societies of Apostolic Life).
From the Curia
Letter Written by Saint Stanislaus Kostka. Monsignor Erwin Gatz, rector of the Teutonic College inside the Vatican, came for community lunch on the 13th of November, the Feast of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, patron saint of the novices. During the meal Monsignor Gatz donated to Father General the original letter written by Saint Stanislaus on the 27th of October 1567 requesting admission to the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. The novitiate at the time was located on the Quirinale hill in Rome. It is believed this letter, written by the saint's own hand, was bought by one of the former rectors of the college from an antique dealer at the end of the nineteenth century.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Arturo Ernesto Peraza Celis new Provincial of Venezuela. Fr. Peraza, until now rector of the Filosofado Ignacio Ellacuría in Caracas and director of the review SIC, was born November 20, 1965, joined the Society of Jesus in 1985 and was ordained a priest in 1999.
- Father Benjamín Crespo Regional Secretary for Latin American Assistancies. He will replace Father Jesús Martínez and Brother Fernando Breilh. Father Crespo is a member of the Province of Peru, and has, for many years, been Socius to the Provincial. Presently, he is Superior of Santiago de Surco Community in Lima. He will arrive at the Curia on January 9, 2010 and devote some time to Italian language studies. He will replace Father Martínez by Easter and Brother Breilh by the middle of May.
- Father J. Thomas McClain General Treasurer of the Society of Jesus. Father McClain is a member of the Detroit Province. He was born in 1949, joined the Society in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He has a long experience both in financial administration and in pastoral ministry. He will replace Father Gerardo Aste, the present General Treasurer, on July 1, 2010.
From the Provinces
AFRICA: Statement to Mark World AIDS Day
In a statement prepared for the 1st of December commemoration of World AIDS Day, and sent to all Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar, Father Fratern Masawe, moderator of the Jesuit Conference of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) invites them to meditate with him on how to face the AIDS crisis. In his statement, Father Masawe speaks about the context and complex factors which encircle the human situation in Africa. He writes, "AIDS is not to be looked at as either merely a medical-pharmaceutical problem or solely as an issue of a change in human behavior. It is truly an issue of integral development and justice, which requires a holistic approach and response by the Church. It takes its place amidst the great challenges and inter-related problems facing Africa." After analyzing the African culture he continues, "Besides sexuality, there are other important causes which fuel the spread of HIV. Thousands of people, for example, are infected because of poverty, hunger, war and forced displacement, domestic violence and the sex trade . . . Anyone who wants to understand the HIV-AIDS impact on human life must consider economics, politics, society and culture... The aim of many Church programs, including our own, is to help people live as a family, to respect the dignity and life of each one, and to show solidarity with anyone in need." Father Masawe concludes the message with a word of gratitude to all those who are generously involved in this difficult apostolate of love and care.
ALBANIA: 150 Years of the Inter-Diocesan Seminary
On August 2nd, 1859, the Holy See officially recognized the Pontifical Albanian Seminary in Scutari, that had been operating for several years. From its foundation, the seminary was under the care of the Society of Jesus at the request of the Albanian language bishops of the region after consultation with the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. The purpose of the seminary was the formation of young Albanian priests of the southern Balkans region. In 1847 the first group of Jesuits arrived from Sicily and were joined by members of the Veneto Province in 1850. With the declaration of the national boundaries of Albania, the seminary was expanded with the building of a new wing. The seminary remained open until 1946 when the communist government closed it. After the collapse of the communist regime in 1992, the Episcopal Conference reopened the seminary and renamed it: Mother of Good Counsel Albanian Inter-diocesan Seminary. The Seminary has educated many generations of priests, scores of whom gave courageous witness, even to the loss of life, during the difficult period of communist persecution. The celebration of the Year of the Priest gives special meaning and importance to the 150th anniversary of the Seminary. A group of seminary professors and members of the Albanian Episcopal Conference are planning these celebrations with a date to be announced.
AMAZONIA: A Project of the Latin American Association for Radio Education
The Latin American Association for radio education (ALER) launched a project for gathering relevant information to stimulate public politics for the sustainable development of the Amazon region. Six countries are involved: Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. The goal is to develop a network of 30 radio stations in Amazonia that will produce reportages, articles, investigations and radio programs in order to offer information on the Amazonian reality. A group of reporters will travel by boat along the Amazon, Napo, and Orinoco rivers collecting information on living conditions in Amazonia. In this way the radio becomes a means of influencing civil society and through it people become aware of the problems of this region. The project will develop in stages during the next three years and many Jesuits will participate as members of tour groups. Those interested in supporting the project may write Nelsy Lizareazo email@example.com. For more information: www.aler.org
LATIN AMERICA: Tenth Anniversary of CPAL
The tenth anniversary of CPAL, the Conference of Latin American Provincials, was celebrated on November 27. For the occasion a booklet was published detailing its origins, development, and commitments to the various apostolic endeavors of the Society of Jesus in Latin America. Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, then Superior General, said on October 30, 2001, at the fourth CPAL meeting in Paraguay, "CPAL is not only a simple union of major superiors who enrich each other through the exchange of ideas and experiences or who mutually assist one another through some service that meet the felt needs of the group. CPAL is a unit, a body responsible along with Father General, for the religious and apostolic government of the Society, especially in Latin America." In a message sent for the tenth anniversary, Father Adolfo Nicolás wrote: "The problems of our time are global in nature and demand global answers. These common responses today assume the shape of apostolic networks, active interprovincial sectors, common houses and works (especially for formation) and international groups. In this manner, a new way of being on mission is emerging as we make ourselves available to go to the "apostolic frontiers" where the Holy Father has invited us. In these ten years CPAL has established a solid base from which to go forward in this direction." According to the 2009 statistics, CPAL encompasses 18 Provinces and Regions Latin America and the Caribbean, for a total of 2.710 Jesuits. The Conference president is Father Ernesto Cavassa, from the Province of Peru.
CHILE: The Jesuits and the Chiloé Traveling Missions
A meeting on "The Jesuits at the edge of the world: the Chiloé traveling missions in the fourth centenary of its foundation", was recently held in Chile by Adolfo Ibáñez University. The meeting examined the way in which the Jesuit missionaries, from the time of their arrival in 1608, developed and organized their apostolate in Chiloé by providing support to scattered communities through "the traveling missions". Annually the Jesuits undertook on long trips visiting each village along the route for several days. The rest of the year a lay person (called the fiscale) looked after the spiritual needs of his companions and took care of the parish. The person in charge was recommended by the local community, selected by a Jesuit and his appointment approved by the governor. When the Jesuits left the country, the Chiloé Missions were given to the Franciscans; to this day, the traveling mission system has continued. The archipelago of Chiloé runs along the south coast of Chile, from Chacao channel in the north to the Gulf of Corcovado in the south and includes Isla Grande, the main island of Chile after Tierra del Fuego. In the year 2000, 16 of its 150 churches were listed by UNESCO as cultural heritage sites. During the meeting the documentary film "The traveling mission: churches of Chiloé, UNESCO cultural heritage," directed by Sergio Raczko was shown. An article on the churches of Chiloé was published in the 2003 Jesuit Yearbook, p. 133.
EL SALVADOR: 20 Years After the Death of Six Jesuits at UCA
On November 16, 1989, six Jesuits were killed at Central American University (USA) in San Salvador along with their housekeeper and her daughter. The 20th anniversary was marked by a series of events around the world. Here we note several of them. In early November the U.S. Congress approved a lengthy resolution honoring "these eight spiritual, courageous and generous priests, educators and laywomen" and urging "the people of the United States, academic institutions and religious congregations to participate in commemorations of the anniversary." On November 16th Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes awarded El Salvador's highest honor, the National Order of Jose Matias Delgado, to the murdered Jesuits. In Italy the Jesuit magazine Popoli and Fondazione San Fedele organized a triple event: a prayer vigil in San Fedele Church followed by an evening at the Cultural Center with presentations of some readings by Ignacio Ellacuría, concluding with a video and presentations by Fathers Michael Czerny and Silvano Fausti. On November 19th there was the launch of a book by Emanuele Maspoli called Ignacio Ellacuría e i martiri di San Salvador. In Trieste on November 14th a round table discussion was organized by Veritas Cultural Centre and Study Center for Latin America. The Veritas Cultural Centre also hosted a photographic exhibition of those tragic events.
INDIA: Jesuit Provincials Pray at a Hindu Shrine
About 20 major superiors of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia who were attending their twice-a-year meeting at Konchowki, south of Kolkata, visited a Hindu shrine in Belur on the banks of the Ganges, north of Kolkata. They accompanied Father George Pattery, Provincial of Calcutta. Dipankar Basu, a Hindu teacher at Kolkata's Jesuit sponsored Saint Xavier's College guided the group during their visit. He said it was remarkable to see Catholic priests praying in their own way in a shrine of another faith. "An event like this is sure to have greater effects in creating goodwill, and help people of all faiths to have a change in attitude towards other religions," Basu noted. Earlier that same day, the Jesuit superiors celebrated Mass at the tomb of Blessed Teresa in Kolkota and met Sister Mary Prema, Superior of the Missionaries of Charity.
ITALY: The Mouth of the Wolf
La Bocca del Lupo (the mouth of the wolf) is the title of a new film directed by Pietro Marcello depicting the reality of the poorest who are hidden in this town on the Riviera; the film was commissioned by the San Marcellino Community. The Jesuits of Genova, through the San Marcellino Community, work to improve the lives of the marginalized in the city. The film was showcased at the Turin Festival in November and presented for the first time in Genova on December 3rd. It has been an important occasion to present to a larger public the outstanding social work of the Society of Jesus in Italy. For more information: www.bimfilm.com - www.sanmarcellino.it
SPAIN: A New Biography of Francis Borgia
Father Miguel Lamet has written a fictional biography of the "Jesuit duke", for the 500th anniversary of his birth, using historic sources and creative imagination. The project began when Father Lamet came upon a book written in Brussels in 1680 by Juan de Borgia, third son of Saint Francis Borgia who was his companion on many trips and official missions. "He has been my ideal observer to tell the fascinating story of his father, both as a Great of Spain and a saint," Father Lamet said. The outcome of this research is a novel describing the multifaceted personality of Saint Francis Borgia from the point of view of his son, ambassador to Portugal who was asked by the Holy See to prepare a report on his father. The book explains in detail what happened in the life of Saint Francis Borgia after the death of his wife when he breaks with the past and becomes a Jesuit. From this point on there is a series of surprises and unexpected turn of events, from charges laid by the Inquisition to the election as General and successor of Saint Ignatius of the Society of Jesus.
USA: Woodstock Launches a New Series of Video and Audio Podcasts
The Woodstock Theological Center has announced the launch of Woodstock Reflections, a new series of theological reflections available for download on computer or iPod. The reflections, 5-10 minutes long, are available in both video and audio versions. New events are released every second Thursday. The first two episodes available for download concerned: one the need for religious voices to enter the ongoing debate on health care reform, the other features an exclusive interview with Woodstock senior fellow Father Raymond Kemp, speaking about the origins and aims of his Faith in the City project and his role as teacher of theology courses at Georgetown University. http://www.woodstockcenter/podcasts/Woodstock_Reflections_Video.xml
TAIWAN: University Students from Fu-Jen Among the Needy of Kolkata
Father David Yen, S.J., director of Fu Jen Catholic University Service-Learning Centre in Taipei reports that a group of students and teachers from the University participated in a service trip to work in the houses for the dying in Kolkata, India that were founded by Blessed Mother Teresa. In fact, for a number of years, the Catholic University in Taiwan has been organizing yearly service trips visiting such places as India, Mongolia, Cambodia and parts of Taiwan where those most in need live. These missionary experiences of charity are aimed at helping university students become men for others and amongst others, "doing the little things with great love." The students and their teachers take advantage of their vacation time to offer volunteer service to the marginalized. Among the volunteers are priests, religious, and laity, professors of Law, Psychology, Public Administration, Medicine. For nearly a week they served as volunteers in one of the houses founded by Blessed Mother Teresa; washing the dying, accompanying the handicapped, washing dishes, making clothing for the women in the poor house. According to the participants, "just like those who come here, we also understood what it means to be among angels."
ZAMBIA: Campaign Against Corruption
An anti-corruption campaign has been launched in Zambia by the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection together with two other catholic organizations, Caritas Zambia and Civil Society for Poverty Reduction. The three groups have mobilized 16 other local civil organizations in a campaign launched six weeks after the nation's high court acquitted former president Frederick Chiluba on charges of corruption, theft of public funds and abuse of office. The organizations launched a campaign of civil disobedience with an appeal to all Zambians to get involved in cleaning up the country from the "ugly spectacles of injustice and corruption."
New in SJWEB
A slideshow on Father General's trip to Slovenia. Link: http://www.sjweb.info/ss/index.cfm