Vol. XV, No. 20 07 November 2011
Service to Youth. Father General has written to all Major Superiors of the Society of Jesus in which he offers a synthesis of the ex-officio 2011 letters. These are the annual letters from every Province on a subject which Father General indicates each year. Last year, he asked for information about our Jesuit work for youth. "God has much to do with youth and their joy", the letter begins. "Many of us still know by heart the old Latin response at the beginning of Mass: "Ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam" ("I approach the God who brings joy to my youth"). Last August 2011, in Loyola, I encountered thousands of young people from all over the world who were participating in the MAGIS program prior to the World Youth Day in Madrid, and I had a profound experience of the truth of these words. There, for all to see, was this simple joy of young people: contagious, inexplicable, abundant. You could not miss it. Neither the heat of the summer sun nor the sudden rains could alter that happiness. I felt that God must have been very near . . . The ex-officio letters of 2011, focusing on the ministry of the Society of Jesus to youth, gave me much valuable and indeed consoling information about the many good things Jesuits and our collaborators are doing to serve the youth and their deepest joy. At the same time, the letters raised concerns and questions." Among the concerns Father General mentions the work of Jesuits, especially in the field of education. He calls to mind the danger of being so involved in administration that the opportunities "for the personal contacts and relationships, that have always been at the heart of Jesuit education", are neglected. Among the concerns are those which center on the relationship between the Church and youth, and the issues of youth language and culture. He asks the question how Jesuits can be "real bridges between the young and the Church."
After a review of the general situation, Fr. Nicolás shares "some personal reflections about what I feel Jesuits can do today in this important field of ministry to the young." His reflections focus on three points: (1) "Young people know that they will not remain young forever. That is why they seem to be in a hurry to make the most of their youth. We have to understand this and cooperate with them in this adventure." After discussion, he concludes: "We have to ask further: what is the quality of our presence among the young who are poor, excluded, or vulnerable, the young who are most in need? I wonder whether each Province could plan in such a way that at least 20% of our resources (men, structures and finances) could be directed to these marginalized young people." (2) "Our second great service to the young is to facilitate their discernment. Young people have a hard time making well founded decisions. Our first concern will be to help them become free; from the decisions made about and for them by others." (3) Young adults continue to need spiritual accompaniment after graduation, and this "is a serious challenge to us Jesuits." Father General's letter ends with the challenge: "In reading and reflecting on this year's annual letters with my Council, I have grown in the conviction that the Lord is calling the whole Society to pay much more attention to the service of young people. Having successful institutions does not excuse us from discerning whether we are giving the best possible service that the Lord calls us to give at this time and whether the accompaniment the young people receive from us is adequate."
Visit to Spain. In view of the process of unification of the Spanish Provinces (2016) Father General is bringing forward his plan to visit all of them. In these days (7-10 November) he is in the Province of Betica, specifically in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Granada and Seville. The main purpose of the trip is to meet the Jesuits and their collaborators and taking advantage of the visit to get in touch with some of the main apostolic works. In the Canary Islands, in addition to the Jesuit Community, he will visit St. Ignatius College and Centro Loyola, as well as Radio ECCA, the cultural radio station that extended its action and influence well outside of Gran Canaria (its students are about 100.000). In Granada the faculty of theology will be the focus of the visit, while in Seville Fr. Nicolás will meet with the leaders of Cordoba's ETEA Foundation, an institution of the Society of Jesus at university level founded in 1963 as the Escuela Superior de Técnica Empresarial Agrícol. This will be the occasion for Father General to discuss the project of transformation of ETEA into the Universidad Loyola Andalucía (Loyola University of Andalusia). In Seville Fr. Nicolás will meet also with Province's lay collaborators and directors of the schools of SAFA Foundation ("Sagrada Familia") which includes 27 colleges (with 20,760 students) for young people of poor families spread across the city and surrounding areas; and the Fundación Loyola which includes four colleges (two in Malaga, one in Seville and one in Las Palmas) with a total of over 7.000 students. On the evening of November 10 Fr. General will return to Rome.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Agustinus Sugiyo Pitoyo Regional Superior of the Dependent Region of Thailand. Father Augustinus, currently the superior of Loyola House of Samphran, was born in 1963, entered the Society of Jesus in 1983, and was ordained a priest in 1995.
- Father Vicente Palotti Zorzo Provincial of Southern Brazil. Fr. Vicente Palotti, currently rector of the community Nossa Senhora da Estrada in Belo Horizonte, was born in 1965, entered the Society of Jesus in 1984, and was ordained a priest in 1996.
From the Provinces
AUSTRALIA: Creating space for hospitality
A group of young Muslims and Christians, including two Jesuit scholastics, gathered on 24-25 September at Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality in Melbourne to share their experiences of faith. The interfaith retreat was a joint project of MAGiS and the Sydney-based Al Ghazzali Centre. Participants reflected on the themes of hospitality and welcome. The retreat, which included prayer, sharing, humour, and much laughter, was jointly facilitated by an Imam and a Jesuit priest engaged in various interfaith activities in Australia. By the end of the meeting, the participants discovered how many similarities exist in the divine message of the Bible and the Qur'an. "I learned that God speaks a very similar message to all people," said a student from Adelaide, Daniel McCabe, a member of MAGiS. He continued: "reading passages of the Qur'an was a new experience of prayer. I learned that I have much more in common with Muslims than I would have thought." MAGiS and the Al Ghazzali Centre work together to promote interfaith friendship and service to the community. In spontaneous, informal settings, they arrange events which strengthen the ties among their young people, and which encourage mutual hospitality.
BRAZIL: CPAL Assembly
From October 18th to 22nd the 23rd CPAL Assembly (Conference of Mayor Superiors of Latin America and the Caribbean) was held in Bahia, Brazil. Attending were 19 Mayor Superiors, the two Regional Assistants, and representatives from Haiti and Jamaica. On the agenda was the discernment process which will offer Father General a list of names for the appointment of the new President of CPAL. Discussion therefore centered on the "criteria for the selection of candidates": the basis of this consideration was a document prepared by Fr. Armando Raffo, drawn from a letter of Father General. Other agenda issues included the first priority of the Common Apostolic Project (PAC), regarding migrants, refugees and displaced persons (proposed by the Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (SJM) and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)); a report on the situation in Haiti and Cuba; a formation day on "chastity and violation of limits"; and the experiences of those Provinces which have already held their Provincial Congregations. At its conclusion, the Assembly voted to renew the membership of some on the Council of CPAL. The program included a visit to Colegio Antonio Vieira, the free overnight college. There was a meeting with its students, a visit to the historical center of Bahia, and a dinner with Dom Murilo Krieger, archbishop of Salvador.
HUNGARY: The House of Dialogue
In a unique and pioneering initiative, four Roma University Halls ("Roma", namely "The Rom People) have opened their doors in different locations of Hungary. Four churches and the government have cooperated in, and support this venture. This is all part of the European Roma Strategy in which civil organisations and the Churches are taking part. Hungarian Jesuits are involved in this new ecumenical initiative, which has grown out of their past pastoral experiences. The Jesuit Roma College in Budapest has some 30 Roma university students: they are all supported by government scholarship. A staff of five, one of whom is a Jesuit, work together to support the students. 2011 also marks the 20th anniversary of the high profile St Ignatius University Hall. Besides attending different universities, students of the College participate in workshops and conferences organized by the College. They learn the democratic process, about taking responsibility in society, and they experience the value of team work. 2011 marks yet another milestone, when Jesuits move to the freshly renovated Jesuit Centre in downtown Budapest: the House of Dialogue. At its opening, Cardinal Archbishop Erdo emphasised that a Christian college is a place of seeking the Truth. The renovated House of Dialogue has numerous Jesuit institutes and programs within its walls, and it has became one of the most important Christian cultural and spiritual centre in Budapest. All this coincides with the 450 year anniversary of the first Jesuit presence in Budapest, the founding our first College there.
ITALY: Centenary of the Interregional Pontifical Seminary
On the 19th of October Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, inaugurated the celebrations for the centenary of the Campano Interregional Pontifical Seminary. He presided at the Eucharist concelebrated by the bishops who signed the convention with the Society of Jesus. Joining them were the formators of the different dioceses to which the seminarians belongs. The seminary is in the care of the Jesuits. The Pontifical Seminary opened its doors on the 29th of April 1912. It was established out of the solicitude of Pope St Pius X for the southern part of Italy. There was at the time a joint desire among the Campania Region bishops to enhance the training of future priests for the local churches. In a letter to celebrate the occasion, the bishops of Campania call for a jubilee year. They note: "this is not an occasion for redundant self-celebration or fruitless commemoration. This year is a precious gift of Providence to open our mind in gratitude, to foster a living memory of the ways in which the Lord has led us all these years as individuals, as an educating community, and as diocesan ecclesial communities."
ITALY: Giulio Aleni in China and Milan
Giulio Aleni was born in Brescia in 1582 and he died in Yanping (China) in 1649. He is still alive in the memory of many. He was Jesuit, missionary, astronomer, writer, geographer and mathematician. He arrived in China in 1610, the year Matteo Ricci died. Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, he embraced the inculturation process which led him to adopt Chinese customs and clothing. He learned the language well enough to write 25 books in Chinese. These were useful for his work as a missionary, but they also made China known in Europe. He wrote a Life of Jesus which was published in Beijing and reprinted many times. He was the author of a globe, inspired by those of his master Matteo Ricci. In Brescia, an active study and research center bears his name. His figure has been recently mentioned in various conferences, and in 2009 the first volume of a project to publish all his books has appeared. On the 16th of October, in the Sarpi district of Milan, where many Chinese live, the "Chinese-Italian Cultural Center Giulio Aleni" was established. Its director is Don Liu Enci, a young Chinese priest. Chinese students can study Italian and Italians can study Chinese in the Center.
KENYA: School for Children Impacted by HIV/AIDS
More than one million people live in Nairobi's squatter community of Kibera. Among them are 30,000 orphans of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Jesuit Father Terry Charlton is the co-founder of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a unique Catholic high school designed specifically for young people affected by HIV and AIDS in the Kibera slums. In 2001, as Charlton visited people suffering from AIDS, he kept hearing a repeated concern for the children, a concern which centered primarily on their ongoing education. "There is free universal primary education in Kenya, but all secondary education, including the government schools is for a fee, and a fee that would be far beyond the means of these people mired in poverty because of their illness. They are simply not able to hold down jobs. So in 2003 our school decided to sponsor 12 of their children for freshman year of high school," said Father Charlton. Charlton opened a school for 25 students in 2004. Through the support of many people from around the world, in addition to a $ 600,000 grant from the U.S. Government, a school, which now accommodates 280 students, has been established.
PHILIPPINES: 50 Years of the Pastoral Institute
The EAPI in Manila celebrated its 50 years since it became known as the East Asian Pastoral Institute in 1961. It was set up in 1955 by Fr. Joannes B. Hofinger SJ as the Institute of Missionary Apologetics. However, the name was changed in 1961. The first course began with 34 students. Fifty years later, EAPI has more than 5,000 alumni. The anniversary was marked by a week-long celebration from September 26 to 30. Included in the festivities were a sports festival, cultural exhibitions and presentations, and a day of recollection. The celebration of the 50th anniversary provides the opportunity to consider the future, as EAPI continues to evolve and grow to serve the local Churches. These need to cope with the changes caused by globalization, and the need to support the laity in their efforts to full participation in the Church. Clergy and religious consistently express their desire for theological and spiritual renewal, and for those leadership skills which will assist them in their apostolates. At the conclusion of the celebrations, Fr Arthur Leger, current director of EAPI, said: "Today the Spirit of Jesus continues to pour out His gifts, especially joy, upon us, and this calls us into the future. He invites a new hearing of the Scriptures in our local cultures so that we may become credible conch blowers of the word of forgiveness before a world that yearns for spiritual joy. We are invited to pick up the conch and proclaim anew the message of salvation, forging ahead, so that 'our joy may be complete' (1 Jn 1:4)."
SPAIN: "Prolonged crisis, enhanced solidarity"
In the light of the present situation in Spain, with a general elections and new legislature on the horizon, the social apostolate of the Society of Jesus in Spain has published the document, appropriately entitled, "Prolonged crisis, enhanced solidarity". The document arose from the experience of the social apostolate with groups of people excluded from society and from those excluded from the work done in the international cooperation to development. The document presents a summary of reflections and analyses made in recent years, as well as a collection of principles inspired by the social doctrine of the Church and Ignatian spirituality. These may be helpful reference points for the necessary revision of the country's social policies. More concretely, the document presents seven basic proposals for revising social policies, and it directs these seven into four specific areas: (1) the fight against social exclusion, especially insofar as this affects youth and children; (2) immigration; (3) international cooperation, and (4) taxation. Among other issues, the document proposes (1) increased spending for social protection in the current period of crisis; (2) an immigration policy which facilitates family reunions; (3) fiscal policy which will effectively fight tax evasion; and (4) an improvement of the international cooperation system.
TAIWAN: Sixty Years from the Arrival of Jesuits
After a year or more of inquiry and preparation, the first Jesuit residence in Taiwan was established on December 14, 1951. It was named Beda Tsang Hall in honor and in memory of Fr. Beda Chang (Tsang) Cheng-ming, S.J., who had died in prison in Shanghai, as a martyr for the Catholic faith, on November 11, 1951. The Jesuits' introduction to Taiwan began in 1950, when Fr. Paul O'Brien, S.J., the Vice-Visitor of the China Missions, passed through New York and paid a visit to Msgr. Paul Yu Pin, Archbishop of Nanking in exile. It was the Archbishop who insisted that it was safe and opportune to send Jesuits to Taiwan. In June 1950, Fr. O'Brien consequently reported to Fr. General J.B. Janssens. He agreed about sending some Jesuits to "Formosa", but he also cautioned Fr. O'Brien to wait for the right occasion. At that time, Prof. Ignatius Ying Ch'ien-li, a fervent Catholic, was Dean of the Foreign Language Department at National Taiwan University. He learned that Fr. Edward Murphy had been exiled from China by the Communists. Professor Ying invited Fr. Murphy and other foreign Jesuits to teach at National Taiwan University. Fr. Murphy informed Fr. O'Brien. As a result, at the end of September 1951, Fr. Paul O'Brien landed in Taipei, becoming the first Jesuit in the modern Society to put foot on Taiwanese soil. After all the necessary investigations and arrangements had been made, Fr. Edward Murphy, was the first Jesuit priest to be assigned by Fr. O'Brien to start his academic and apostolic work in Taiwan. Some days after his arrival, Fr. Murphy made contact with Prof. Ying, and National Taiwan University provided a staff residence for the Jesuit professors, a Japanese-style home intended for a family of five. After converting the former dining room and living room into a chapel, it became, on December 14, 1951, Beda Tsang Hall, the first Jesuit residence in Taiwan.
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