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Vol. XV, n. 8 5 April 2011
From the Curia
- From March 28th to April 9th the Colloquium for English Speaking Major Superiors appointed during this last year is held at the General Curia. The purpose of the meeting is to provide group reflection, with the participation of Father General, on important issues of the Provincial government, such as the statement of conscience and the personal accompaniment, the communitarian animation, the insertion into the reality of the local Church, the mission to the frontiers and the interprovincial and international collaboration. The colloquium is useful also to illustrate to the new superiors the various offices and services of the General Curia and to have a personal contact with the staff of Father General in the government of the universal Society. The colloquium has always an international character. This time the participants are 12 major superiors from Canada, Hungary, Ireland, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Japan, Micronesia, as well as the new presidents of the European and African Conferences. At the end of the colloquium the Provincials will visit and celebrate the Eucharist in the Rooms of St. Ignatius, as a sign of real commitment to the charism and mission of the Society. This Colloquium in English is the first of those in programme for this year.
- From April 3-7 the meeting of the Socii of the Assistancy of Western Europe (EOC) will take place. Following the format of the meeting of the African Socii, the purpose of this meeting is to familiarize the Socii with the administrative and bureaucratic system of the General Curia and to come to know Jesuit brethren working at the Curia. The meeting is also an opportunity for exchange and friendship. The Secretary of the Society and the Procurator General will help the participants in the study of the various aspects of the work of the Socii, especially with regard to the procedures contained in the various documents, as for instance, the Constitutions, the "Complementary Norms", the "Legal-Practical Manual of the Society", Acta Romana, the Practica Quaedam. The last have been renewed after the last General Congregation, and we hope that soon it will be published.
- From April 4-9, the five leaders of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks (GIAN) on Ecology, Education, Governance of Natural and Mineral Resources, Migration and Peace and Human Rights meet at the Jesuit Curia in Rome with four experts from Britain, Germany, Singapore and Spain. This workshop marks the beginning of a two-year formation program on advocacy and networking designed by the leaders and run by the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Dermot Preston new Provincial of the British Province. Father Dermot, up to now Regional Superior of Guyana Region in Georgetown, was born in 1957, entered the Society of Jesus in 1979 and was ordained a priest in 1990.
From the Provinces
AFRICA: The desert blooms
On the occasion of the World Water Day, established in 1992 by the United Nations and celebrated on March 21st, Magis Foundation, the nongovernmental organization of the Italian Jesuits, presented a video with the first fruits of the campaign "Water in Africa": the construction of a dam in Lebda, in Burkina Faso. "The works - says Fr. Umberto Libralato, Vicepresident of Magis - started in 2009 among many difficulties. Today, after two years, the 4 million cubic meters of water contained in the dam are flourishing dozen of gardens in the villages in the 30kms around Lebda." The "Water in Africa" campaign, says Italian bishops agency SIR, was launched at Christmas 2010 to raise money for three African countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo). The resources will be used to build water infrastructures such as reservoirs, wells and dams, which will change the life of the people to whom they are directed. The instrument for the promotion of the initiative is a crossword puzzle relating to the water problems of the African people. The video is available on Youtube at the Magis website: www.magisitalia.org
ARGENTINA: "Agrobio" Project
The project ISAS, funded by the Ministry of Labour, ended on March 4th with a final meeting at the Governor's Palace in Cordoba (Argentina). The project is intended for 30 Italian-Argentine young people residing in the consular district of Cordoba, and it is for changes in the agriculture and its transformation into organic. The project "Agrobio" has been a great experience of formation and organizational work for ISAS (Institute of Administrative and Social sciences of Palermo Jesuits). A work lasted 14 months, rich in results, that appeared evident in student achievements, in the quality of the initiatives, in the involvement of agricultural associations and institution of the Argentine government (who is particularly interested in the transition of farms to organic), and not least to development projects drawn up by students with the intent to spread the results to Argentine institutions that can support, we hope, its realization and generate examples of enterprise replicable in other areas of the Country. At the end of the study program the 30 students were in Italy (Emilia Romagna and Sicily) for a stage. The success of the project was thanks to Fr. Rafael Velasco S.J., rector of the Catholic University of Cordoba, who generously put at disposal some University rooms. This above all thanks to the cooperation among Jesuits in the world that spreads from the ideal of service that motivates us for the common good of the people with the spirit of universality that St. Ignatius recommends us.
KENYA: Degree for refugees
A distance learning course, to be followed online thanks to internet, to obtain a degree in "Social Services". This is the initiative launched by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Kenya for young people of the refugee camp in Kakuma, in the north-western part of the country. The course, the first of its kind, includes the study of the psycho-social aspects to deal with vulnerable people, such as the refugees. At the moment the students are 19, who follow the lessons (ten hours per week for 15 weeks) thanks to computers and internet installed in the refugee camp. At the end of the course, those who scored the highest marks will receive the degree. In the future the students will be able to connect, always through internet, with their fellow peers in the United States and others countries which enrolled to the 'online degree.' The students have been chosen among those who serve the community as volunteers or who work with the local organizations in the refugee camp. The course is run in cooperation with Fordham University, the Jesuit university based in New York. The JRS works in Kakuma since 1994. At the moment the camp of Kakuma houses eighty thousand refugees, most of them Somalis.
INDIA: To stop nuclear production
India should drop the idea of relying on nuclear power for energy production and instead use natural sources, said Father Ambrose Pinto, a leading Jesuit theologian and dean of St. Joseph Institute in Bangalore. He called for a mass movement to draw the government's attention to the problem. "Let us unite to tell the government that we do not feel safe with a nuclear program in India," he said. There are 20 nuclear reactors operating in six plants in India. Another five centers are under construction for the supply of electricity. "Despite all possible developments, we cannot dominate nature and nuclear power plants cannot withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters."
JAPAN: After the earthquake
On March 24th the Provincial of Japan wrote a second letter after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. Here is an excerpt. "The number of victims has increased daily, to over 14,000, as more bodies are discovered and more people are reported missing. Meanwhile, the critical situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is causing concern not only in Japan but around the world as well. Local farm and dairy products have shown higher levels of radiation, and only yesterday warnings were issued concerning contamination of the Tokyo metropolitan water supply. By way of responding to the expressed desires of many to provide help for the afflicted areas, I sent a letter to the Province on March 15 suggesting that monetary contributions be directed to Caritas Japan and that this could be done through the our Province Treasurer. The first transfer to Caritas Japan from the Province will be made tomorrow, March 25, and a second on April 25 (...). Sendai diocese, with the cooperation of Caritas Japan, has set up an emergency center to coordinate humanitarian aid operations in Sendai. A group of volunteer youth from Tokyo, including one of our newly ordained Fathers, left yesterday to help for a week at this Sendai Support Centre.
Many thousands of people lost their homes in the tsunami or have been urged to evacuate a 20-km radius around the nuclear power station. Many have sought refuge with relatives, but many are still sheltered in large gymnasiums with little food and heat. Besides providing needed supplies to these shelters, parishes and religious houses have been probing possibilities to make empty space available to evacuees (...). Mid-March marks the end of the academic year in Japan. Most schools have canceled formal graduation ceremonies as well as opening ceremonies for the new school year in April. There are a number of Catholic educational institutions in the Sendai Diocese, which received considerable damage from the earthquake but sustained no on-campus fatalities. Some of their students, however, have relocated elsewhere. As the days wear on, we still experience frequent seismic jolts. Three-hour programmed cutoffs of electric power are affecting areas beyond the central Tokyo wards. There is also a notable lack of some basic foods and commodities. The main fear, however, concerns the invisible threat of radioactivity. We pray that more adequate measures will quickly be taken to cope with the triple disaster that has crippled such a large area of Japan."
TANZANIA: New Jesuit High School
Last January opened in Dodoma St. Peter Claver High School, a new Jesuit boarding school in Tanzania, with Fr. Martin Connell as its first director. Fr. Connell, who in March 2009 left his faculty position at Loyola Marymount University to help open the high school, said his primary mission is to help Tanzanians "build capacity" by establishing a strong educational system. "We're here because it's a poor region that's been underserved by education. The notion of building capacity is a fundamental value of the democratic way of life," said Fr. Connell. The school currently serves 140 boys and girls in their first year of secondary school, and "will cultivate democratic ideals, which in fact dovetail with Jesuit values. Students will be encouraged to build their capacity as individuals, always with an eye to how this positively affects their fellow citizens to the greater glory of God," Connell said.
Zambia: Paddy Walsh and Kaunda. A hundred years ago, Paddy Walsh was born in Rosmuc to an Irish-speaking family. Paddy was the first Irish Jesuit missionary to "Northern Rhodesia" (Zambia). He felt a natural sympathy with the leaders of the struggle for independence. When Kenneth Kaunda was imprisoned by the Colonials, Paddy drove his wife and family 300 miles to visit him in Salisbury (Lusaka). As a citizen of the new Zambia, Paddy was trusted by Kaunda. He upbraided the President for permitting abortion, and for doing too little for the poor. Kaunda revered him, insisted on personally carrying the stretcher when Paddy had to fly to Dublin for a heart operation, and wept as he eulogized Paddy after his death: "This was the one man who would always tell me the truth without fear or favour."
New in SJWEB
- A slide show about the visit of Father General to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey (21-28 March 2011). Click on: "sjweb Media".