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New Province of Brazil. From 14 to 17 November, Father General traveled to Brazil to erect the new Province of Brazil. The main event took place on Sunday, 16 November, at the John XXIII Center in Rio de Janeiro. Here, Father Nicolás spoke to Jesuits and lay guests. A Eucharist followed, presided over by Father General, and concelebrated by many priests. At the end of the Eucharist, the decree of erection of the new Province was read, as well as the decree which appointed Fr João Renato the new Provincial of Brazil. The previous day, Saturday, 15 November, Father General visited São Paulo. In the "Patio do Colegio," which is the Padre Anchieta Museum today, he met with the Jesuits and their collaborators. In the evening, he visited the Social and Educational Center Santa Fé, where he met the teachers and children of small apostolates entrusted to the Society in that area.
FROM THE PROVINCES
AFRICA-EUROPE: In Partnership
At the recent meeting of European Provincials in Lviv, Ukraine, Fr Mike Lewis, the President of JESAM, the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar, was also present. He spoke about the challenges facing Africa and Madagascar today. At the meeting, the European Provincials approved a grant every year for the next five years to the Jesuit Historical Institute, which has its base in Nairobi. "Father General wanted part of the Institute to move from Rome" said Mike Lewis, "because he wanted African history read and written through African eyes. In years to come, the Nairobi Institute will be an important historical resources center for the Society of Jesus in Africa and the Universal Society. We really appreciate the support from Europe for this new step in recording our history and building up the Historical Institute." John Dardis, the President of European Conference, added: "The history of Europe and Africa is intertwined, so it makes sense for Europe to support this project financially, at least in these early stages." The commissio mixta of the two Conferences met on 16 October, prior to the CEP meeting. It reviewed the joint Malta refugee project which reaches out pastorally to refugees and asylum seekers. Ukrainian Jesuit, Vyacheslav Okun has started regency in Malta alongside his Central African counterpart, Dieudonné Mampasi. JESAM has invited European Provincials to come to Africa in 2015 to learn about new developments there.
EL SALVADOR: The Martyrs of the UCA
16 November marked the 25th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuits - five of them Spanish - an employee and her daughter at the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), in San Salvador. Fr Ellacuría is perhaps the best known among them. He was a philosopher and theologian, and the Rector of the Jesuit University in San Salvador from 1979 till his death, aged 59. Fr Ellacuría was committed to seeking a negotiated solution to the civil war in his country, and dedicated to the defense of the weak. This made him a thorn in the side of El Salvador's military regime. The other murdered Jesuits were also prominently engaged in the human rights' area, such as the care of refugees, the support of communities, and education for the poor. The UCA victims became the representatives, the symbols, of an anonymous host of victims - about 80,000 in El Salvador during the 80s. They became an example of a way of being Church, committed to peace and justice. After Vatican II, under the leadership of Superior General Pedro Arrupe, the Society of Jesus refined its mission, stating that the promotion of justice is an integral part of the service of the faith. This led Jesuits worldwide to walk with victims, and to denounce the unjust structures which create them. The UCA murders confirmed what the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus stated clearly: "Any effort to promote justice will demand a price from us" (D. 4.46).
FRANCE: Réseau Jeunesse Ignatien (Ignatian Youth Network)
The French Réseau Jeunesse Ignatien (RJI, Ignatian Youth Network) was founded in 1984. Its aim was to bring together various Ignatian activities for young people aged between 17 and 35. Religious sisters with the Ignatian charism, as well as Jesuits, are involved in RJI's various activities. The network celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. To mark this, a major event was organized on the 25-26 October weekend. Entitled Inigolib, it brought together around 250 young people, as well as 200 former members of RJI. The young people took part in a number of workshops aimed at helping them to discover how God actually works in their everyday lives. The effective workshops included "Finding God in Sport" - a cycling tour with spiritual pauses around Paris - and "Opening up to the World" - a reflection on culture through Indian dance and cooking. The young people enjoyed a festive Saturday evening, with a theatre show and a cheerful party: for the more spiritual ones, there was silent prayer, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with the opportunity to go to confession. On Sunday morning, participants could attend talks about the Eucharist, the affective life, the ecology, and their relationship to money. In the afternoon, there was a joy-filled Mass at the St Ignatius Church in Paris. Inigolib helps the Society in France to gain greater visibility among catholic youth. The challenge is to bring together people from different backgrounds: some of these young people have a strong faith and expect activities with spiritual depth, while others are more distant from the faith and, to feel at ease, require more human and social activities.
INDIA: South Asian Jesuit Theologians' Forum
From 19 to 21 October 2014, Fr Michel Amaladoss SJ convened the South Asian Jesuit Theologians' Colloquium at the Nav Jivan Center in Delhi. Fr Amaladoss is an eminent Asian theologian and secretary of the Jesuits in Religious Studies. Thirty two theologians attended the conference. They deliberated upon the challenges that Jesuit theologians face in building up in the South Asian region, a community which thinks and feels theologically, and which is sensitive to glocal concerns. Participants felt that the overarching, as well as the underpinning aspect of their journey as a Jesuit theologian, is the quest to help Christians, as well as people of other religious faiths and traditions, to cherish their faiths. In other words they seek to encourage a context oriented theology. Building bridges between peoples, their cultures and religions is another key element that emerged from the sharing. The Gospel transforms cultures and enriches every believer in his/her pilgrimage towards the Divine One. On the second day of their meeting, the theologians identified a number of areas that demand the attention of every South Asian Jesuit theologian. Participants pondered on the challenges which were listed in presentations, and considered the responses that emerged: this led to the establishment of the South Asian Jesuit Theologians' Forum. In this network, Jesuit theologians in South Asia interact together on themes of common interest concerning our mission in South Asia and the world. On the third day of the meeting, Fr Lisbert D'Souza, the General Assistant, Fr Edward Mudavassery, the former President of the South-Asia Jesuit Conference, and Fr Noel Sheth from Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth stressed how important serious research writing from South Asia really is. They noted that Indian Jesuit theologians should show how one could be faithful to the Gospel and at the same time open to the Spirit of God at work in other religious traditions and cultures.
LATIN AMERICA: Message from CPAL
From 28 October to 1 November, the twenty-ninth assembly of CPAL was held at the John XXIII Retreat House in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia. The Major Superiors of Latin America and the Caribbean took part in the meeting. In the final message "to our Jesuit brothers and the lay companions in our works," we read, among other things: "An important part of our meeting was to pray together and to celebrate the Eucharist as a community of Provincials. Our experience of feeling deeply united to God helped us to move forward in discerning about all of CPAL's issues and projects. In all our activities we commit the life and work of the Jesuits and lay people of our Provinces. Our friendship and brotherhood allowed us to look with hope to the future of the common universal mission in this continent, a mission which is so full of challenges but also opportunities. From this meeting in Bolivia, we invite all our Jesuit communities to celebrate and to live the Year of Consecrated Life. This begins on the Feast of Christ the King 2014, and will end on 2 February 2016. This presents a time of grace in the Lord and a wonderful opportunity to renew our lives as religious. The Year of Consecrated Life will allow us to grow in our commitment to faith and justice, so that we may continue to be a gift from the Lord to our Latin American continent."
MYANMAR: Companions to Indigenous Peoples
The recent Jesuit Companions in Indigenous Ministry meeting in Myanmar provided its participants with fresh opportunities to reflect on their own contexts. There are one hundred and thirty five ethnic communities in Myanmar, who constitute one third of the country's population of fifty six million. The five-day meeting began with two days of presentations on a variety of topics. These included Trends and Challenges of ASEAN, Indigenous or Minorities, The Asian Question, Reconciliation with Creation, and the Message of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences to enhance theological reflection about the pastoral accompaniment of indigenous peoples in the Asia Pacific. Two exposure trips offered the fifteen participants - four lay persons, seven scholastics, and four priests - opportunities for personal interaction with some indigenous communities and internally displaced persons in the Phekon diocese. At the end of the meeting, Philip Mang Lam, a young Chinese Jesuit Scholastic shared his conviction: "Even though most people see city life as a preferred way of life, I believe that the indigenous way of life is still a better way because we live in harmony with nature, with the cycle of life."
PHILIPPINES: Jesuit Education at the Frontiers
Students from six Jesuit universities in Asia recently spent three weeks dialoguing and working with the Xavier Ecoville community. Xavier Ecoville arose from the devastation wrought by the 2011 tropical storm Sendong (Washi). After the storm, Xavier University (Cagayan de Oro) together with the city government led the relocation and rehabilitation of affected families on a plot of land donated by Xavier University. There are approximately six hundred households residing at Xavier Ecoville, and part of the rehabilitation process is to provide them with opportunities to rebuild their lives. Twenty three students participated in the 2014 Service Learning Program organized by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in Asia Pacific, and hosted in August this year by Xavier University. They came with eleven faculty members from Sogang University in South Korea, Sophia University in Japan, Sanata Dharma University in Indonesia, Ateneo de Davao, Ateneo de Naga, and Ateneo de Zamboanga Universities in the Philippines. This is the 40th anniversary of former Superior General Fr Pedro Arrupe's historic address on Jesuit education entitled "Men for Others." The theme of the program was "Jesuit Education in the Frontiers of Greater Societal Engagement."
SOUTH ASIA: Conference of South Asia at Kohima
The JCSA (Jesuit Conference of South Asia) met at Phesama (Kohima, Nagaland) from 27 October to 1 November 2014. During the inaugural Eucharist, Fr Edward Mudavassery handed over the baton to the new President, Fr George Pattery, in the presence of Frs Lisbert D'Souza and Daniel Huang, General Counsellors of Father General. The absence of Father General was felt: he was not well, and indisposed to travel to Kohima. The Conference opened with presentations on Recognizing the Kairos Moment in South Asia. Other issues in the agenda were: Restructuring for more Effective Mission, the Frontier Ministries of the Assistancy, and Formation. In the final statement we read, among other things: "We the members of JCSA, after much sharing, discussion, discernment, and inspired by a palpable experience of the Spirit at work among us, desire to give a generous and bold response to the invitation of Father General regarding restructuring at the JCSA level. We recognize the "kairos" in the church, in the style and ministry of Pope Francis, in the paschal joy experienced by our companions at the bicentenary celebrations of the Restoration of the Society and in the imminent convocation of GC 36. We are happy that we have completed the first level of restructuring by reflecting on our ministries, resources and challenges at the Province level. At this juncture the Spirit is decisively challenging and leading us to move into the next level of restructuring in the South Asian Assistancy as a corporate body. We invite every member of the South Asia Assistancy to acknowledge and to rediscover, in practice, that our Jesuit vocation is to the universal Society. We join the Society of Jesus, not a Province, and are available to be sent anywhere on mission."
SPAIN: The Challenges of Education Today
In the context of the International Seminar on Education and Ignatian Spirituality, convened by the Secretariat for Education of the Society of Jesus, more than seventy experts in education met in Manresa from 2 to 8 November. They came from Jesuit educational centers all over the world to reflect on the challenges for education in the twenty first century. The meeting aimed to promote reflection together on the educational mission of the Society of Jesus in order to contribute to the renewal of its educational centers. The initiative is part of the mission of educational renewal which Jesuits are promoting with a view to creating a Jesuit school network throughout the world. The General of the Jesuits, Father Adolfo Nicolás, welcomed the initiative which presents an opportunity of dialogue between pedagogy and spirituality. In a message to the participants he pointed out that "education goes beyond what we do in schools." This meeting flowed from the Colloquium on International Jesuit Education held in Boston in 2012. There the stress was twofold: the importance of networking, and the need to place an emphasis on a transformation of education that encourages responses to new paradigms. According to Colombian Jesuit José Alberto Mesa, Secretary for Secondary and Pre-secondary Education for the Society of Jesus throughout the world, "the rapid changes and developments of the twenty first century pose profound challenges to educational centers."
USA: Award to Fr Don Doll
On 3 October, the Photographic Society of America, a worldwide organization with 6,000 members, presented Jesuit Fr Don Doll with their highest photojournalism award at a banquet held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Earlier in the day, Fr Doll was the keynote speaker with his presentation, "A Call to Vision: A Jesuit's Perspective on the World," his latest book celebrating fifty years of his photography. Fr Doll, whose work has been featured in National Geographic magazine, has traveled the globe "to tell the stories of people who have no voice." His ministry began on the plains of South Dakota in the early 1960s while working with the Lakota people on the Rosebud Reservation. He joined the Jesuit order after graduating from high school in 1955. Since 1969, Fr Doll has worked at Creighton University in Omaha, where he is a professor of journalism. For the last twenty years, he has documented the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service in some fifty countries including India, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Sudan and Rwanda.
VATICAN: The Venerable Fr John Sullivan
On 7 November, Pope Francis signed the official decree recognizing the heroic virtue of the Servant of God, Fr John Sullivan SJ. The now Venerable Fr John Sullivan was born in Dublin on 8 May 1861. His father, the future Lord Chancellor of Ireland Sir Edward Sullivan, was a Protestant. His mother, Lady Bessie Josephine Sullivan was a Catholic. John was brought up in the Protestant tradition of his father. He was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, and later at Trinity College, Dublin. In December 1896 John Sullivan was received into the Catholic Church and, some four years later, he entered the Jesuit Order. Most of his priestly life was spent in Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare. From the beginning he showed remarkable holiness and soon gained a reputation as a saintly person. The sick and distressed flocked to him because they had great confidence in his prayers. And so it is to this day. There was widespread devotion to Fr John Sullivan during his lifetime and it has continued since his death on 19 February 1933. Many believe that his prayers have brought the healing power of God into their lives. His tomb in the Jesuit Church, Gardiner Street, Dublin, is often visited by those who seek his help. The Church of Ireland (Protestant tradition) joins with the Roman Catholic Church in celebrating this holy priest who was formed in both traditions.