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Vol. XVI, No. 1 17 January 2012
Visit to Australia. Father General will visit Sydney, Australia, for a week, beginning 17 January, the week of Chinese "New Year of the Dragon," to attend the Assembly of Major Superiors for the Asia Pacific Jesuit Conference (JCAP). He will be accompanied by the Assistant for Asia Pacific, Fr Danny Huang, and Fr Francisco Javier Álvarez, the Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology. The Provincials will consider the recent document on the "Renewal of Province Structures" and its application to Asia Pacific. "Our Provincials have already commented that this document is relevant and useful for us. They are eager to begin using the criteria it proposes in order to explore new governance arrangements in Asia Pacific," said JCAP President, Fr Mark Raper. An important question for JCAP is how to give appropriate governance support to the missions and regions. JCAP has seven Provinces and 6 Regions and its territory includes some 16 countries, and more than that number of main languages, although the normal language for Conference communications is English. Several of the Provinces are newly created in the last few years and several Regions, notably Myanmar and Timor Leste, have a growing number of young Jesuit members and are now engaged in important institution building. Yet the overall number of Jesuits in the Conference has remained the same for about 25 years. Jesuit formation is high on the agenda for the assembly, as also are the two Conference priority engagements of Migration and the Environment. In Sydney, Fr General will spend a day with members of the Australian Province, first with the Jesuits, and later will be joined by several hundred close collaborators in mission.
Commemoration of 7 August 1814. Father General's letter to all the Jesuit Superiors on January 1, requests that the whole Society recall the document of Pope Pius VII, Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, of August 7, 1814, by which the Society of Jesus was restored all over the world. " I am bringing this event to your attention now because I am convinced that commemorating it can help us enter more deeply into the continuing renewal of the Society that takes place in each generation." After speaking about the committee created for this purpose and its tasks, Father General continues, "...during meetings with the Presidents of the Conferences and the Major Superiors in all the Assistancies I have asked that new studies be undertaken, especially in the regions where the Society was active at the time of the Suppression. We all need to know more about the main apostolates of the Society in the last half of the 18th century; the impact of the Suppression on Jesuits and their contemporaries as they experienced the event; what happened in the late 18th and early 19th century to the institutions and ministries that Jesuits had to leave; when and how Jesuits returned to places where the Society had previously served; and what new initiatives the Restored Society undertook, especially in the many places where it began to serve for the first time." The letter then explains the purpose of all this: "Prayerful reflection based on the historical knowledge that is or will become available can enable us to learn from the lights and shadows of our past so that we might see more clearly and embrace more generously what the Lord calls us to do in our own times."
From the Curia
Fr. General and his Council began the New Year with a four day long solemn conference from January 3 - 7, focusing on the mission and the government of the Society. The main topics of the meeting included the evaluation of the various recommendations that the GC35 had entrusted to Father General and the Procurators' Congregation which is going to be held next summer. Four years have passed since the GC35 and the council have intensively taken the reflection on the apostolic preferences of the Society, the spiritual and communitarian life, and the formation of ours. As we already have mentioned in the previous issues, the Congregation of Procurators will be held in July 2012 in Nairobi (Kenya) and the council has been working these days on the agenda of the meeting and the topics to be proposed for discussion. Finally, there was a session of personal sharing to strengthen the sense of team work among the councillors. The Eucharist and common prayers helped to keep the spirit of discernment that characterized the meeting.
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed:
- Cardinal Fr. Karl Becker, former professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and for many years consultant of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Father Becker was born in 1928 in Germany, entered the Society of Jesus in 1948 and was ordained a priest in 1958.
- Father Antonio Spadaro Consultor of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Father Spadaro, Director of the magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, was born in 1966, entered the Society of Jesus in 1986 and was ordained a priest in 1996.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Boniface Tigga the new regional Superior of Nepal Region. Father Boniface, at present Principal of St. Xavier's School, Godavari, was born in 1966, entered the Society of Jesus in 1980 and was ordained a priest in 1999.
- Father Pierre André Ranaivoarson Provincial of Madagascar. Father Pierre André, at present rector of Collège Saint François Xavier of Fianarantsoa, were born in 1957, entered the Society of Jesus in 1982 and was ordained a priest in 1993.
From the Provinces
COLOMBIA: 70 Years of "Ecos de Pasto" Radio
The 70th anniversary of the beginning of the radio station Ecos de Pasto was celebrated on the 8th of December. It was founded by Gerardo Bueno Delgado on the 8th of December 1941, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Ecos de Pasto was the second radio broadcasting after Radio Nariño, which had been launched four years earlier. Later, Ecos de Pasto was taken over by Don Antonio José Meneses, who later entrusted it to Father Jaime Álvarez, S.J. Father Alvarez arrived in Pasto on the 3rd of June 1947 and fifteen days later began his radio apostolate which lasted until the week before he died on the 25th of May, 2001. On the 2nd of July 2008, the Episcopal Conference awarded the radio station Ecos de Pasto with its most prestigious award, the Inter Mirifica, for its commitment to the Christian faith and culture.
EUROPE: OCIPE Becomes JESC
Following a decision of the Conference of European Provincials in its plenary assembly in Poland in October 2011, the Jesuit European Office, also known as OCIPE, is being restructured and has become the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC). Up to this point, OCIPE has been an international Jesuit network in Brussels, Budapest, Strasbourg and Warsaw. Juridically, though, it is a lay foundation registered in Strasbourg. As a result of the change, the offices in Budapest and Warsaw will become social centers of their respective Provinces. OCIPE itself will remain a small foundation in Strasbourg, especially with regard to work at the Council of Europe. The Brussels office will be a separate legal entity, apostolically under the aegis of the Conference of European Provincials. Operationally the JESC will continue to reflect and comment on European affairs from the perspective of faith, to maintain relationships in the EU institutions and with other partners in Brussels. So JESC will have two principal roles: of coordination/networking at the level of the European social apostolate, and of reflection and commentary on European Affairs. The new website is: www.jesc.net
JAPAN: Education of the Head, the Heart and the Hands
In a speech delivered at the 31st International Symposium (Sophia Symposium) on Education with a Social Dimension: the Challenges of Globalization, held at Sophia University in Tokyo on December 10, 2011. Fr Mark Raper SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, argued for a view of education as "formation for decision and for action: education of the head, the heart and the hands." Advocating a pedagogy in which reflection is central, Fr Mark sees the role of education as leading students to love the world, to assume responsibility for it, and to acquire tools in order to renew it. As such, universities need to go beyond the core business of providing education in competence and critical thinking. "Too many schools and universities are busy themselves with covering the curriculum. But here at Sophia and in a Jesuit university, I like to think we concern ourselves with uncovering the curriculum. That is, pausing and digging deeper. Reflection is where meaning is allowed to surface from human experience. That makes the difference," said Fr Mark. "That kind of critical thinking should often have you testing the strength of public opinion - especially when it is inaccurate or deliberately deceitful. That kind of critical thinking should have you asking: What is behind the financial crisis, why are these banks collapsing? What are the root causes of misspending and corruption? Why am I so fortunate when others go without?" From reflection comes compassion, which gives a compass and leads to action. Fr Mark said education should show students where their heart is - to help them "become large-hearted, whole-hearted, and to speak from the heart in truth and with integrity" and "to discover happiness in supporting our brothers and sisters - especially those who are the least, the lost or the last". For more information: www.sjapc.net
MADAGASCAR: A New Saint for the Society
On December 19, 2011, the Holy Father signed the decree authorizing the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to declare "Saint" Blessed Jacques Berthieu of the Society of Jesus, a French missionary in Madagascar where he suffered martyrdom. The Postulator of the cause describes the miracle that led to this decision: Jean François Régis Randriamiadana, due to a poisoning during a wedding dinner in 1990, at the age of 54, suffered of xerostomia (salivary secretion arrest) with severe deterioration of general conditions. This disease developed rapidly and, having no adequate medical care or therapy, the prognosis was that the patient would soon die. In this grave situation the family began to invoke the intercession of Blessed Jacques Berthieu and at the same time gave the patient his "relics": the water of Jacques Berthieu from Mananara river with leaves of angavodiana, both taken from the spot where the body of the slain missionary, beatified by Paul VI in 1965, was seen for the last time. The recovery was sudden and radical: within a few days the patient was able to eat regularly and resume his physical strength and his usual life." The canonization ceremony will probably be held in October.
NEPAL: Christmas Among Himalaya's Christians
"For Nepal this Christmas meant reconciliation among the different parts of the Society, in order to bring joy and prosperity," said Father Lawrence Maniyar, regional superior of Jesuits in Nepal, who works since 35 years with the small Christian communities of Himalaya. "Reconciliation among political parties, religious and ethnic groups is a must for the country. Therefore, we offer our prayers for national reconciliation". According to Fr. Maniyar, small groups of people are a threat to the harmony of the country. Among those, there is the Nepal Defense Army (NDA), the unofficial armed wing of the Hindu extremist groups, that tries to threat the Christians and other minorities. "I do not blame Hinduism in itself - says Father Lawrence - but only those fundamentalist groups in society. These have to be punished, to bring reconciliation between hindus and non-hindus. We should act together, for the development of the country and economic prosperity. We will continue to serve the society without fear." Despite the threats of violence by NDA, the whole country celebrated Christmas in peace. The hotels set up colored trees and lights; the shops became more crowded than usual and people, Christians or not, exchanged greetings.
NORTH AMERICA: Kateri Tekakwita, the First Native American Saint
On December 19, 2011, the Holy Father signed the decree authorizing the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to declare Blessed Kateri (Catherine) Tekakwita "holy". She will be the first native American to be elevated to the honor of the altars. She was born in 1656 in Ossernenon, present-day Auriesville, in United States and was the daughter of a Mohawk chief and of a Roman Catholic Algonquian. When she was four her parents died from an epidemic of smallpox and she was left with scars on her face. She was adopted by a relative of a neighboring tribe. The mission at that time was directed by French Jesuit missionaries and one of them, Fr. Cholenec, baptized her at the age of twenty and became her spiritual director. The members of her tribe did not understand her choice and marginalized her. Kateri went through many physical penances and mortifications, praying for the conversion of her relatives and her tribe. To escape persecution that threatened her life she fled and settled in a community of native Christians in Kahnawake, Quebec, where she devoted her life to prayer, penance and the care of the sick and the elderly. She died in 1680 when she was 24. The tradition says that the scars on her face disappeared miraculously after her death revealing a face of great beauty.
PHILIPPINES: The Typhoon Washi
Typhoon Sendong (International Name: Tropical Storm Washi) has wrought heartbreaking devastation to the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in Northern Mindanao (Philippines) on December 17th. Sendong came in the dead of night, tearing through swaths of Mindanao not usually in the path of storms, inundating houses up to the rooftops and drowning scores of sleeping residents in the most destructive calamity to hit the South in years. Cagayan de Oro was at the center of the storm, which could explain why it suffered the most - 23 flooded barrios in all. Around thousand people died while hundreds of families have been rendered homeless and have lost almost all of their material possessions. Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan of the Society of Jesus in Cagayan de Oro City has set up a Relief Center to receive donations of food, water, medicine, medical supplies, blankets, etc and to distribute them to the many victims of this natural disaster. The University has also opened its campus as an Evacuation Center to provide shelter to those whose houses have been destroyed by the floods. The University Clinic has been open to treat patients. Many University staff and students are volunteering in buying, packaging and distributing relief goods; in making sure that the evacuees are as comfortable as possible. They are also helping out in the other Evacuation Centers in the City. University medical personnel and students have been deployed to provide first aid and trauma debriefing. The University will also engage in rehabilitation efforts. For more information and contributions: http://sjapc.net/sites/default/files/xu_sendong_appeal_for_help_intl.pdf
RUSSIA: 20 Years of St Thomas Institute in Moscow
On the feast of St Francis Xavier, 3rd December, St. Thomas Institute of Philosophy, Theology and History in Moscow celebrated 20 years of its existence: first as a catechetical center, then college and since 2002 as an institute of higher education. On the same day, four publications of the Institute were presented to the public. This Jesuit-run Institute is the only Catholic higher educational establishment in the whole of Russian Federation, which provides education to lay people in the field of religious studies. A lot of things have changed since its founding in 1991 to its present day functioning. When Jesuits took over the administration of St. Thomas Aquinas College of Catholic Theology in 1997, it did not have its own building or library. Currently, the Institute has a well-equipped building and library. Its specialized library in religious studies, in addition to Russian books includes literature in major European languages. Thanks to Jesuits and their friends it has received a good number of major theological and philosophical journals. It has also received a great collection of books from the Jesuits in Europe and their institutions, thanks to the octogenarian Jesuit Brother Emilio Benedetti of Tarragon Province, who is instrumental in procuring these books. Recently, the Institute has received a precious collection of books from the Dutch Jesuit Province's Nijmegen (Berchmanianum) Jesuit study center. For more information: www.ifti-thomas.ru
U.S.A.: New Website on Inculturation
The Georgetown University has initiated a new website on the topic of Inculturation (click on link below). "The first item on the website is a video documentary that we produced in cooperation with the Xavier House Spiritual Formation Centre in Hong Kong.", writes professor Anthony Moore, Special Assistant to the President, Georgetown University, Washington. "The documentary is based on a symposium held last December in Hong Kong to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Fr. Matteo Ricci. The symposium, titled The Ricci Legacy: Finding God in Cultures, gathered together distinguished Jesuits and lay colleagues from around the world, including Fr. Michael Amaladoss, Fr. Robert Ng, Fr. Benoit Vermander, Fr. Stephen Tong, Fr. Peter McIsaac, Fr. Mark Raper and Fr. Howard Gray." The president of Georgetown decided to sponsor this project because it offered an opportunity to advance several priorities set forth in recent General Congregations, namely Inculturation, the Spiritual Exercises, and engagement with China. This project provides a good example of international collaboration between an American Jesuit university and a Jesuit spirituality center in China. http://www.georgetown.edu/inculturation.html
New in SJWEB
A podcast (in English) with Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj,S. J., born in South India but belonging to the Calcutta Province , who has just arrived in Rome as the new Assistant at the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES). Click on: "Jesuit Voices".