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Vol. XV, n. 19 19 October 2011
Renewal of Province Structures. On 27 September Father General sent a letter to all Major Superiors, accompanying a document entitled The Renewal of Province Structures in the Service of Universal Mission, an "important document for study, prayerful reflection, and implementation by all Regions, Provinces, and Conferences. This document fulfills one of the mandates of the 35th General Congregation and is aimed at 'better serving our universal mission.' (cf. Decree 5, n. 26). After examining the internal and external challenges facing the Society today, the Congregation called us to re-imagine the ways we have organized ourselves for the sake of our Jesuit life and mission. With all the changes we are experiencing, how can we rethink our structures so that we can better serve the Church and the world? (...) This entire process requires the Ignatian indifference or spiritual freedom which allows us to go beyond personal interests, ideologies, or disordered attachments, so that we can see and embrace God's will. At the same time, this process calls us to deepen our Jesuit identity. St. Ignatius and his first companions came from different countries and cultures, and they deeply felt the impact of diversity and historical conflicts."
Committee for Mission. With a letter of 13 October Father General announced the formation of a Committee for Mission (CM). The Members of this "Committee for Mission" will be the three Secretaries: Gerald R. Blaszczak, who heads the Service of the Faith, Francisco Javier Álvarez, who heads the Promotion of Justice and Ecology, and Anthony D'Silva who heads Collaboration with Others, and three General Councilors, Fathers Marcos Recolons, Antoine Kerhuel, and Daniel P. Huang. The goal of the Committee "will be to expand the capacity of the General for reflection with regard to the items in which the Society has defined itself in the last General Congregations and to submit proposals and suggestions for the Society's Mission to be discerned with the help of the General Council." As a way of working "I anticipate the following: 1. The topics and the meetings will be decided by Father General; 2. The General will preside at the sessions, although he may ask others to lead the discussion; 3. Proposals and suggestions will be directed to the General; 4. The General will present these proposals to the General Council for discernment and treatment according to the importance they have for the mission and service of the Society; 5. Decisions will be made by the General after hearing the opinion of the General Council." The Committee will begin to work on November 1st.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Anthony da Silva, of the Goa Province, Secretary of the new Secretariat for the Collaboration with Others at the General Curia in Rome. Fr. da Silva, currently Provincial of Goa, was born in 1945, entered the Society of Jesus in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1975. Graduated in Social Psychology, he was for many years professor at the Pune Theologate.
The Secretary of the Society has appointed:
- Father Roy Sebastian Nellipuzhayil, of Nepal Region, assistant to the director of the Communication and Public Relations Office at the General Curia in Rome. Father Roy Sebastian was born in 1972, entered the Society of Jesus in 1992 and was ordained a priest in 2008. At the moment he is principal of Moran Memorial School in Nepal.
From the Provinces
BRAZIL: Pan-Amazon Observatory
The first international workshop to create a "Pan-Amazon Observatory" will be held from 27th to the 29th October in Manaus, Brazil. The workshop is organized by "Service of Action, Reflection and Social Education" (SARE) and the Social Center of the Jesuits of the Amazon Region. The proposal of a Pan-Amazon Observatory comes, first of all, from the need to collaborate in addressing conflict situations in which populations of the Amazon region find themselves before the impositions of neo-liberal models of development and the urgent need to continue to build strategies for action that help to better articulate the struggles and the alternatives necessary to build a more just Amazon. Secondly the Observatory is born from the need to facilitate a reading of reality in collaboration with social movements and entities that deal with various problems that threaten life in the Amazon. Thirdly, the need to intensify alternative productions in harmony with the policy of preservation of the planet and of the forests which are common heritage of traditional peoples. In each Amazon country (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, English Guyana, French Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela) local observatories will be opened to monitor the situation, in touch with central headquarters. See: http://www.sares.org.br/.
CANADA: 400 years of Jesuit Service
Register, the Canadian Catholic newspaper, published a 36-page homage to the Jesuits on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of their presence in the country. According to the director, Jim O'Leary, "more than any other religious order, the Jesuits not only witnessed the birth of Canada, but they shaped significant parts of its history." The Jesuits landed at Port Royal in Acadia, in 1611, on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. "Over the decades that followed, they moved steadily inland and, while fulfilling their mission as evangelists, they also become explorers, cartographers, educators, chroniclers and pastors," O'Leary underlined. The Register financed the printing of an additional 14,000 copies of the special issue for distribution to the catholic elementary and high schools. "The story of the Jesuit martyrs -O'Leary continued - is an important part of the Canadian education curriculum." For more information: www.catholicregister.org/jesuits
EUROPE: Jesuits looks at Asia and Africa
The annual Mission Directors and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) of the Society of Jesus in Europe Meeting, called this time East Asia: The Jewel of the Society, has taken place at El Pardo, Madrid, from October the 6th to October the 9th. During this meeting both Michael Lewis SJ, JESAM´s (Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar) president, and Mark Raper SJ, President Conference of Asia Pacific, have shared their points of view on African and Asian biggest challenges, two regions that are geographical preferences for the Society. "The 50% of African population is less than 25 years old. We have to take advantage of their strength and enthusiasm", Mike Lewis SJ explained. At the same time, Jesuits are working on other projects in Africa, some of them related to good governance and the fight against corruption; others are related to development, peace and reconciliation. Mark Raper SJ explained the work that takes place in a region as big and culturally diverse as the Asia-Pacific. Nowadays, apostolic projects as migration, environment, education in East Timore and Jesuit formation are the priority on the agenda.
FRANCE: Music from the Reductions in Paris
The Baroque musical heritage, almost miraculously preserved in the Jesuit missions of Latin America from the XVI to the XVIII century, came to live in Paris on the occasion of the festival Caminos del Barroco (Baroque Walks) which was held from 2nd October in the Museum of Quai Branly. Dozens of ancient scores of music and Masses have been restored, and baroque violins have been reproduced together with waterspouts, harps and organs of the Jesuits, in a formidable operation launched in 1986 and named Caminos del Barroco which was attended by citizens of a dozen Latin American countries. The baroque music of Chiquitos, a Bolivia's indigenous community, was the star of the first evening. With flagioletti, flutes, violas, cellos and bassoons of the Jesuits, and under the direction of Argentina's Ricardo Massun, the vocal and instrumental complex Louis Berger moved the audience the following days, playing music attributed to Domenico Zipoli, an Italian composer who, in the Jesuit missions, used music as a tool to evangelize native people, as well as music of anonymous composers. This journey into the Baroque music of Latin America, which involved musicians from the Old and the New World, will end on 1st November in the "sublime ruins" of the Misión de Jesús, Paraguay, which was one of the first Jesuit missions and also the cradle of Latin American baroque.
JAPAN: Silence becomes a Film
In 1966 Silence, the novel of Endo Shusaku, a Catholic and one of the most well-known Japanese writers, was very famous and raised much discussion. The novel is set in Japan at the time of the violent persecution against the Christians which began in 1587 with the shogun (general) Hideyoshi and continued with the shogun Tokugawa from 1614 on. A large number of believers and many missionaries and local priests died as martyrs, often because of terrible tortures. The main character in the novel is the Portuguese Jesuit missionary Cristovão Ferreira who, under torture, commits apostasy. In the turbulent story of this man, Endo portrayed many of the problems and discussions which are still relevant today, about the Japanese attitude towards the Catholic religion and Christianity in general. The story is now becoming a film by Martin Scorsese with, it seems, a highly qualified cast. The script is under way and the filming should start at the beginning of next year.
KOREA: Retreats in Twitter
When Fr. In-young Albert Cho S.J. thought of offering retreats to the people, he opted to use Twitter. Called Street Retreat, these retreats are now going to be published. From September, The Catholic Times in Korea is publishing every week the tweets of Street Retreat along the edge of the newspaper so that readers can cut and take it with them. The Street Retreat is not intended only for those who use high technological gadgets, but also for those who are more familiar with the analogical culture. Since its launch in September 2010, Fr. In-young published a tweet every Monday morning for retreat participants. The tweet is divided in two parts: "word" offers a Biblical phrase, and "walking" provides a simple guide or suggestion for prayer. Tweets are in Korean. The participants to Street Retreat have to commit themselves to spend an hour a week in prayer, using the tweet, where and when they like. They are invited also to take pictures during the retreat and to share them online along with their comments at the website: http://jesuits.kr/gilpi (JCAP eNews Bulletin).
LATIN AMERICA: Recognition for Fe y Alegría
The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) granted the International Federation Fe y Alegría special consultative status, which allows for a more active participation in ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies. This is an important recognition that offers a series of privileges as well as obligations. On one hand, it allows consultation with member states and with the United States system in general, on the nature and importance of the work carried out by Fe y Alegría. At the same time it gives Fe y Alegría the opportunity to be informed on the agenda of the Council. But the most important thing is the fact that Fe y Alegría, thanks to this new status, has the possibility to insert topics of particular interest in the Council's agenda through the Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations. These topics may be introduced orally to the Council, to emphasize issues of particular relevance for Fe y Alegría, or for which one is looking for practical solutions. The special consultative status allows Fe y Alegría to request consultations and recommendations to ECOSOC, which in some cases may require the Federation to conduct more detailed studies or research. (Source: Entreculturas: http://www.entreculturas.org/noticias/fya_organoConsultivo#.Tnn3kVztDIQ.email.
MEXICO: A Museum in honor of Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro
A month ago the Province of Mexico opened a Museum devoted to Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, S.J. This Jesuit priest fought against religious suppression that took place in Mexico between 1926 and 1929, supporting religious groups and celebrating Mass in secret. The government of that time accused him of participating in an attack against the President. Fr. Pro was arrested, imprisoned and five days later, without a trial, executed publicly together with his brother. In the museum one can see the reviews of the magazines of that time which spoke of the shooting as well as the pictures taken by authorities. On display there are also belongings of Father Pro, among which a mini altar with everything needed to say mass. There are also pictures where he appears in disguise, due to the persecution suffered for his actions in behalf of religious freedom. Father Pro was beatified by John Paul II in 1988. The museum is located at the Parroquia Sagrada Familia in Mexico City. It can be visited virtually in the web page: www.padrepro.com.mx.
SLOVAKIA: Tomas Munk and his Father Progress towards Beatification
The diocesan process of martyrdom of Servants of God Tomas Munk, a Jesuit novice, and his father Frantisek Munk was opened in Bratislava, Slovakia. On September 27, 2011 the archbishop of Bratislava Mons. Stanislav Zvolensky presided at the solemn act, with other bishops present. A tribunal was constituted to examine the proofs and verify the martyrdom. Tomas and his father Frantisek were both shot to death on 22 April 1945 by the Nazis during the death march near to Sachsenhausen. They were Slovaks of Jewish origin. From the middle of 1930-ies the Munks, earlier declaring they did not belong to a particular confession, experienced a deep conversion to the Catholic faith. They received baptism in 1939. In December 1944 in Ruzomberok the Munk family was arrested by the Nazi forces after the racial laws were made more severe. Tomas was detained directly from the novitiate under threat of using force. The night before his arrest, Tomas offered his life to God in prayer for the salvation of his people. Frantisek with his wife Gizela and sons Tomas and Juraj were put together in the concentration camp in Sered. At the beginning of 1945 they were divided in different transports heading for Germany. Regrettably, the subsequent trails of the mother and the younger son disappeared. What was documented by eyewitnesses, is the life of Frantisek and his son Tomas in the concentration camps Sachsenhausen and later in Lichtenrade, as well as their death near the city Neuruppin in Germany.
SOUTH SUDAN: Education as a Tool of Development
Education is an essential tool to eradicate poverty, reduce child mortality, and curb population growth, said JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) South Sudan Project Director in Lobone, Lam Leone Ferem, speaking on 8 September, the forty-fifth anniversary of International Literacy Day. Supporting the education system of South Sudan is an investment in a peaceful future for the nation, the region and the international community, Mr Ferem continued, drawing attention to the importance of education as a fundamental human right, a tool for personal empowerment and a means of development. "Here in South Sudan, having gone through more than two decades of civil war, we look at literacy and education as tools to promote peace. The task ahead is tremendous. Now that we have acquired independence, education needs urgent attention". The international community has pledged to improve adult literacy levels by 50 percent between 2000 and 2015. The literacy rate in South Sudan, at 24 percent, is one of lowest in the world, on a par with some of the worst in sub-Saharan Africa.
TAIWAN: At the Court of the Emperor of China
On the 2nd of October the exhibition Art and culture at the time of Kangxi Emperor in China and Louis XVI, the Sun King, in France opened in Taipei (Taiwan). Great emphasis has been given to the presence of the Jesuits, especially of French origins, at the Beijing's court: mathematicians, geographers, astronomers, painters, and their valuable contribution to the development of relations between China and Europe, France in particular. From the General Curia in Rome, in the name of Father General, Father Giuseppe Bellucci participated in the event. In his speech at the opening of the exhibition, he emphasized the special relationship of the Society of Jesus with China since its inception, from St. Francis Xavier to Matteo Ricci and his successors. And he concluded: "Today, as in the past, we Jesuits, here in Taiwan, and all over the world, see ourselves as called to a mission of reconciliation, a mission of building bridges and promoting the understanding and friendship that God desires for the world. Our hope and our prayer then is that we may all be inspired by this exhibit to cast away fear and suspicion, to replace them with openness and respect, so that true friendship between peoples and peace among nations may become a reality."
Confederate Priest. As he lay in prison after the defeat of his troops in the American Civil War, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, received a small token of comfort from Pope Pius IX. It was a crown of thorns, together with a portrait of the pontiff, as a sign of sympathy and support. The man most likely responsible for bringing Davis so firmly to the Pope's attention was an Irish Jesuit, Fr. John Bannon, who became a prominent leader of the Irish community in St Louis and an indefatigable chaplain during the war. He was sent by Davis to Ireland to urge emigrants not to sign up with the Union, and he used his time in Europe to visit the Pope. He had several long audiences with Pius IX, during which he pressed - successfully, apparently - the Confederate cause. (AMDG Express).