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We are united in our desire to promote peace and reconciliation, says Fr Sosa after first dialogue with Buddhists
Landing in Siem Seap on the second leg of his first trip to Asia Pacific, Fr General Arturo Sosa quickly found himself in completely different setting. From Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country with about 350 Jesuits and many institutions and collaborators, he was now in a largely Buddhist country, with a small cohort of 26 Jesuits working with a modest number of collaborators.
It was his first time in a Buddhist country, and to visit Jesuits and partners in mission working together in such a context, he shared in his homily on July 15 in the chapel of the Metta Karuna Reflection Centre in Siem Reap where stayed for most of his visit.
He pointed out that the readings of the day were reminiscent of General Congregation 36, saying "In a world of so much violence, divisions and intolerance, we are called to build bridges, to create a ‘culture of hospitality' and welcome. In a world where there is so much ‘fear and anger,' and where ‘hope is threatened,' we are called to bring the hope of the risen Lord in all our apostolates and ministries."
Later that morning, Fr In-don Oh SJ, Superior of the Jesuits in Cambodia, presented the history of the Jesuit mission in the country, from its beginnings in the refugee camps of Thai-Cambodia border in the early 1980s to its present commitments in social service, education, ecology, interreligious dialogue and pastoral work. Msgr Enrique Figaredo SJ, the Apostolic Prefect of Battambang, introduced Fr General to the creative ministries of the Prefecture.
In his talk after the presentations, Fr Sosa underscored the importance of collaboration and reminded them that they are, themselves, collaborators too. "We like to talk about Jesuit mission with our collaborators. But, we have to remember that our mission is not our own, but Christ's mission, and we Jesuits are also collaborators in that mission," he said.
In the afternoon, Fr General met with a group of Buddhist monks to learn about Buddhism and Buddhist work on peace and reconciliation in Asia including the story of the Buddhist peace walk, begun by the great Buddhist sage Maha Ghosananda during the bloody days of the civil war in Cambodia.
The 80 Jesuits, collaborators and volunteers gathered were touched by the simplicity, depth and spiritual wisdom shared by Buddhist monk Ven Sovechea and peace activist Bob Mat. Fr Sosa found it "deeply consoling to see how we are united in our desire to promote peace and reconciliation in our world". He added, "It is also consoling to see how we share a belief that the path to peace begins from within, from the deep transformation of the inner person, from growing in detachment and in loving kindness".
The interreligious dialogue ended fittingly with the blessing of the wheels of reconciliation located along a pond in the Metta Karuna grounds that was hollowed by a cluster bomb. The monks chanted blessings for peace and reconciliation, and the Christian beatitudes were proclaimed in the Khmer language.
Afterwards, JCAP Coordinator for Dialogue with Buddhism Fr In-gun Kang took Fr General to the 1,000 year old Wat Svayromeath, the oldest temple in Siem Reap. It was Fr Sosa's first visit to a Buddhist temple and the Chief monk Ven Vuthi introduced Fr General to 80 novice monks - children and teenagers studying in the monastic school - who impressed him with their concentration during meditation. In a gesture that surprised Fr Kang, Ven Vuthi invited him and Fr Sosa to sit among the young monks.
"It is very unusual to sit in that way in the Theravada tradition; even the king has to respect monks by sitting in a separate seat. I think Ven Vuthi respected us as equal religious friends who deserve to sit together in the temple," said Fr Kang.
On July 16, Fr General Sosa flew to Phnom Penh where he visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Memorial Museum built to remember the tens of thousands who were tortured and killed after the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975. The visit prompted Fr Sosa to recall the tragic events of his own country, Venezuela, during the dictatorship. He said that this kind of history is tragic and terrible but something that people have to remember. After his tour, Fr Sosa met with Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh.
The following day, Fr General visited Banteay Prieb, the Jesuit vocational training centre for survivors of landmines and polio and people with learning disabilities that had been the foundation of Jesuit involvement in Cambodia. Fr Sosa was also shown the room where Richie Fernando, a Filipino Regent, was killed in October 1996 while attempting to calm a problem student who had threatened the school with a grenade. Fr Sosa, moved by the martyrdom of Richie, offered a short and silent prayer in front of Richie's memorial and blessed the people gathered around.
Fr Oh, who accompanied Fr Sosa from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh and then to Singapore, said that Fr Sosa's visit had been a source of inspiration for the Jesuits and collaborators in the Cambodia mission. "Many expressed their gratitude and joy for being graced with his loving presence, simplicity, joyful laughter and accessible nature."
Six Jesuits ordained priests in Indonesia
The Society of Jesus welcomed six new priests from the Indonesia Province with the ordination of Fathers Antonius Dhimas Hardjuna SJ, Ferdinandus Tuhu Jati Setya Adi SJ, Gerardus Hadian Panamokta SJ, Stephanus Advent Novianto SJ, Thomas Septi Widhiyudana SJ and Thomas Surya Awangga Budiono SJ.
They were ordained by the Archbishop of Semarang, Msgr Robertus Rubiyatmoko, on July 13 in the Church of St Anthony of Padua in Yogyakarta. Emeritus Archbishop of Jakarta Julius Cardinal Darmaatmadja SJ and Fr Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, concelebrated the Ordination Mass as did Indonesia Provincial Fr Sunu Hardiyanta SJ and St Ignatius College Rector Fr Andreas Sugijopranoto SJ.
During his homily, Bishop Rubiyatmoko highlighted the many firsts in the occasion. It was his first presbyteral ordination since his appointment as Bishop. It was the first time for Fr General Sosa to concelebrate an ordination Mass in Indonesia, and the first ordination Mass in the local church to have a children's choir. All six ordinands were also from different dioceses.
Speaking at the end of the Mass, Fr General, who was in Indonesia for his first official trip to the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, told the new priests, "Do not be afraid to sail into the deep and be fishers of people". The ordinands had chosen as their ordination theme, "Because of His Grace and Love, I Cast the Net", inspired by the vocation of St Peter.
All six men had studied in minor seminaries prior to entering the Society, with most of them attending the Jesuit-run St Peter Canisius Minor Seminary. All but one, Fr Novianto, studied Theology at Sanata Dharma University, the Jesuit university in Yogyakarta. He did his Theology in the Loyola School of Theology in Manila.
Four of them - Fr Hardjuna, Fr Setya, Fr Budiono and Fr Widhiyudana - have been assigned as associate pastors in different parishes in the Archdiocese of Semarang. Fr Hardjuna will go to St Anne Parish in Duren Sawit, Fr Setya to St Servas Parish in Kampung Sawah, Fr Budiono to St Joseph Parish in Ambarawa and Fr Widhiyudana to St Isidore Parish in Sukorejo.
Fr Novianto will serve as associate pastor of the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary Parish in Tangerang in the Archdiocese of Jakarta, while Fr Panamokta has been assigned to St Aloysius Gonzaga High School in Jakarta.
The new priests led their first mass with the community members of St Ignatius College the day after their ordination.
Diálogo con Budistas
TMuchas gracias por el tiempo y la sabiduría que han dedicado a compartir conmigo hoy. He aprendido muchas cosas, y me han dado muchas ideas sobre las que pensar, y sobre las que orar.
Es profundamente consolador ver cómo estamos unidos en nuestro deseo de promover la paz y la reconciliación en nuestro mundo. Es igualmente gratificante comprobar que compartimos la convicción de que el camino hacia la paz se inicia desde el interior de nosotros mismos, desde una profunda transformación personal, desde un crecer en desprendimiento y en una amabilidad fruto del amor.
Agradezco mucho lo que mis hermanos jesuitas hacen para promover un diálogo franco con el budismo aquí en Camboya, tanto al nivel del intercambio intelectual, como de la oración común, o, en el nivel de compartir vida, en la acción común en servicio de los pobres. Gracias por su significativo e inspirador testimonio de cómo viven nuestra misión jesuita de reconciliación.
Entre las muchas cosas que he aprendido del Papa Francisco, una es la insistencia en la importancia de crear una cultura del encuentro. Usa esta expresión con frecuencia. Cree que en nuestro mundo dividido, donde algunos quieren levantar muros, lo que hemos de hacer es facilitar encuentros, sin miedo y con respeto, pueblos encontrándose con pueblos, oyéndonos, el uno al otro, profunda y respetuosamente, creando relaciones y amistad.
Muchas gracias por este espacio de encuentro en esta tarde, que me ha enriquecido a mí, y que espero llevará fruto en servicio de otros.
15 de julio de 2017
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