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Vol. XV, No. 23 22 November 2010
From the Curia
Juridic Commission. In Decree 5 (numbers 2-6), General Congregation 35 directed and authorized Father General to undertake a comprehensive revision of the Formula of a General Congregation (FCG), to be approved by GC 36 in its first sessions. Revisions in the FCG that would take effect before GC 36, as well as any related changes in the Formulae of the Congregation of Procurators and of the Province Congregation, may be approved by the General after consulting with the Major Superiors and with the deliberative vote of the General Council. From 8-13 November, a Juridic Commission met at the General Curia to compose specific imminent revisions for consideration and possible implementation, as well as to draw up the particular concepts and concrete matter regarding the deeper and comprehensive revision foreseen by GC 35. Committee members who met in this week-long session are: Carlos Cardó (PER), Joseph Daoust (DET), Robert Geisinger (CHG), Geoffrey King (ASL), and Ulrich Rhode (GER). Due to unforeseen reasons, M. Devadoss (MDU) needed to cancel plans to participate. Mark Rotsaert (BSE) is also appointed to the commission as a consultant. In early December, Father General with his Council will review the commission's proposals so that the project may enter its next phase.
From the 11th to the 14th of November the Curia hosted the first meeting of the Board of Advisors for Communication. The board was created by Father General to help the director of the Communication and Public Relations office, and it is composed by five members (two laymen) from various parts of the world. The program was very intense. It started with the study of Basic Statement, a mission statement on the purposes and way of proceeding of the Roman office. Then the participants took into account all the main activities of the office: the new Curia website, the biweekly news bulletin, the Yearbook of the Society. Suggestions have been asked for improving the service. Another subject on the agenda was the discussion of a draft of job description for the Director of the Communication and Public Relation Office in view of the search for a new director. The meeting was very cordial, and decision was taken to repeat these encounters at least once a year. In the meeting, apart from Fr. Bellucci, Fr. Debruyne and Fr. Tshibamfumu, from the Curia, were present the following Fathers: George Martinson (CHN), José Martinez De Toda y Terrero (VEN), Jacob Srampickal (PAT), and two lay partners: Renato Reggiani (Italy) e Jeremy W. Langford (United States).
Final meeting of the Jesuit Mission and Ecology Task Force. The Task Force, set up in April this year (see Electronic Service no. 7 of 12 April 2010) in order to discern the way ahead on ecology within the Society, concluded its work with a final meeting from 15 to 20 November. Over the last four months, the members have collaborated online, consulted with a number of people and drafted a document with concrete recommendations. On Friday 19 November, they met Father General to discuss the work they have done. The Task Force consists of a five Jesuits and one lay person: José Alejandro Aguilar S.J. (Colombia), Leonard Chiti S.J. (Zambia), José Ignacio García S.J. (Spain), Pedro Walpole S.J. (Philippines), Joseph Xavier S.J. (India) and Nancy C. Tuchman (USA). The co-conveners of the Task Force are Fernando Franco S.J. (Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology) and Ron Anton S.J. (interim Secretary for Higher Education); Patxi Alvarez S.J., the designated Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology, has participated as an observer. Also present at the meeting was Uta Sievers, from the Roma office.
In the meantime, Jesuits and friends in ecology have started Ecology and Jesuits in Communication, an e-newsletter as a response as we respond to the global invitation (GC35 Decree 3) to understand the universal importance of engaging in ecological concerns and the need for reconciliation with creation. Initially to be distributed monthly in Spanish and English. For more information and to subscribe: http://ecojesuit.com/subscribe/
About the new Cardinals. On November 20, Pope Benedict has installed 24 new cardinals, more than half of whom are graduates of premier educational institutions of the Society of Jesus in Rome. Cardinals who are former students of the Pontifical Gregorian University or the Pontifical Biblical Institute come from Brazil, Congo, Egypt, Guinea, Italy, Spain, Sri Lanka and the United States. Two of them have also taught on the Canon Law Faculty of the Gregorian for a total of almost 50 years. They have joined the College of Cardinals, over one-third of whom are graduates of the Jesuit Pontifical Institutions in Rome.
From the Provinces
ARGENTINA: The first incunabulum in guaraní language
The occasion was the commemoration of the bicentennial of the Revolution of May, the most important political event in the history of Argentina. To underline the country's cultural origins, the Instituto Bonaerense de Numismática y Antigüedades proposed to the publishing house of Buenos Aires and Rosario to reprint in facsimile De la diferencia entre lo Temporal y Eterno, a book written by Fr. Juan Eusebio Nierember and published by Misiones Jesuitícas de Loreto in 1705. The famous book, published for the first time in Madrid in 1640 and translated into various languages, was translated into Guaraní by Jesuit Joseph Serrano and it is considered the first incunabulum rioplatense (River Plate area) because of his peculiarity of having been printed by typographer Fr. Juan Bautista Neumann, in a mission with native material and equipments and in the local language. For his peculiarity the book is considered the first printed work of American origin. The special edition, 485 total pages, will carry also a CD with the Spanish version of 1684 Fr. Serrano used to translate it into Guaraní.
AUSTRALIA: "Where the Hell is God?"
This is the title of the book written by the Australian Jesuit Richard Leonard after becoming convinced that his struggle and reflection in dealing with his own family's suffering could help other people hold on to faith in God when tragedy hits their lives. The title of the book comes from a question that his mother, a daily Mass-goer, asked repeatedly in 1988 when her daughter was left a quadriplegic after a car accident. Interviewed in Rome, where he is teaching a communications course at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Father Leonard said that if he thought God was responsible for his sister's accident, then he would have to leave "the priesthood, the Jesuits and the church. A God who would hurt a 28-year-old like that is not a God that I can believe in, and I don't want to serve that God," he said. And he continued: "God does not send people pain, tragedy and suffering, and I think God is as devastated as we are. After 20 years ministering among people who were hurting or struggling to help them to find God in midst of pain instead of walking away from faith, I decided to write the book to avoid this withdrawal."
BURKINA FASO: Tribute to Fr. Libralato
The President of the Republic of Burkina Faso awarded the honor of "Great Knight to the Merit of the Republic of Burkin Faso" to Fr. Umberto Libralato, vice-president of Magis (the NGO of Italian Jesuits for development), for the vast work done throughout the years, through Magis, on behalf of the poorest populations. The presentation took place at the end of the inauguration ceremony of two projects realized in Kaya Region as part of a larger project, entitled A challenge to the desert: an agricultural high school for the training of technical experts in all that concerns the improvement of production in Burkina Faso; and a new dam, in Lebda, with water capacity of four million-cubic meters, for the production of vegetables during the dry season, capable of giving work to 4000 people. "I dedicate the medal, said Fr. Libralato, to Magis and to all those who collaborated in these years to bring ahead this work, often heavy, always hidden, but concretely effective for the good of everybody."
Hardly anyone today knows Bishop Gottfried Xavier von Laimbeckhoven. Born of a noble family in Vienna on Jan. 9, 1707, he entered the Jesuit Order in 1728, and sailed for the Chinese Mission in 1736. He arrived in Macao in 1738, after a two-year journey interrupted by stops in Mozambique and Goa . Foreigners were banned from the Chinese empire, and to gain entry, he disguised himself. He often changed boats, lost part of his luggage at sea, and had to be covered with sails which almost suffocated him. While escaping government surveillance, his life was characterized by unceasing apostolic labors until his death. At night he visited the Christians to catechize them, listening to their confessions, celebrated the Holy Eucharist with them, solemnized their weddings, and administered the sacrament of the sick to those who needed it. But, he wrote, "all this is nothing, compared to the joy I share with the Christians who welcome."
INDIA: In loving memory of deceased members
To celebrate 150 years of Bengal mission and to honor all who had toiled and died in eastern India in these past years, on November 2, during a commemoration ceremony, two stone slabs bearing the names of 220 deceased Jesuits carved have been erected at the cemetery at Dhyan Ashram ("abode of prayer"), a Jesuit centre near Kolkata. "By placing the names of all those who died in the Bengal Mission, we wish to pass on a tradition to the younger members undergoing training to become Jesuits," said Jesuit Father Jeyaraj Veluswamy, rector and master of novices. Some 500 Jesuits had worked in the Bengal Mission for the past 150 years. Most of the 220 who had died and buried within the Calcutta territory are from Belgium, with some Yugoslavians and Maltese. Four Belgian and three English Jesuits established the Bengal Mission in 1859, which is now divided into seven Jesuit provinces.
NEPAL: The situation of the Catholic Church
Largely mountainous Nepal has a population of 28 million, 80 percent of whom are Hindus, and most of the rest are Buddhists. There are one million Christians. Elevated to Apostolic Prefecture by the Vatican on 1997, exactly 10 years after it was elevated to the rank of Apostolic Vicariate. Anthony Sharma, who was ordained the first ethnic Nepali Jesuit in 1968, in 2007 was proclaimed the country's first Bishop. During an interview with Ucanews, bishop Sharma declared that Nepal is a very tolerant country, and even when Nepal was officially Hindu, the Catholic Church rendered services freely. Then he continued saying that while the Church is working on obtaining government approval required to start Nepal's first Catholic university, run by the Jesuits, the major service is in the field in education, followed by health work. Vocations are increasing, even if slowly, especially in tribal parishes, where city attractions do not distract the youth much. The hope is to open new churches in different places, apart from a church in central Kathmandu. But these projects are hold because of budget constraints. However the hope remains that in the future things could change.
SLOVAK: Musical-drama "Martyrs of Kosice"
The premiere of a fresh new musical-drama oratorio "Martyrs of Kosice", written by Slovak composer Pavol Krska, highlighted the 350th anniversary of the Jesuit University of Kosice. Sponsored by the Mayor and authorities of the City, the spectacle was staged on October 9 in Trinity Church, which is the historical place of the martyrdom of Stephen Pongracz, Melchior Grodziecki and Mark Krizevcanin. The three martyrs died in 1619 and were canonized in 1995 by John Paul II during his visit of Kosice. Reactions of the audience to the spectacle were extremely positive. The artistic event was a conclusion for a two-days conference focused on the history and presence of Jesuits in Kosice, with participation of historians and representatives of Jesuit Provinces from Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, lay collaborators and friends.
UNITED KINGDOM: Unprecedented interest for The Big Silence
The Big Silence, a three-part documentary that was shown in England on October 22 and on the following two Fridays, has generated unprecedented interest. The program is a series about five men and women struggling to build silence into their daily lives and their experience of an eight-day silent retreat at the Jesuit Centre in Wales. They all believed that their lives were too hectic, with insufficient opportunities for exploring deeper questions about their lives and their relationship with God. After the documentary, the British Jesuit Curia has had a flood of orders for copies of a booklet to accompany the series. Published to help people step back from their busy lives to experience stillness, it is entitled "Growing into Silence".
New in SJWEB
- A slide show about the visit of Father General to Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. Click on "sjweb Media".
- A podcast (in Spanish) with Fr. José Ignacio García Jiménez, a Jesuit from the Castilla Province (Spain). He received a formation in economical studies and worked two years with JRS in Malawi. As director of the Brussels office of OCIPE (Jesuit European Office) he has been invited to be member of the Task group on ecology of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of our Curia in Rome.