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Vol. XVI, No. 4 06 March 2012
Father General visit to South Asia. Father Lisbert, Assistant of Father General for South Asia, writes from India. "The Jesuit Conference of South Asia and three of the tribal Provinces in Jharkhand, Jamshedpur, Ranchi and Hazaribag had the joyful experience of the presence of Fr General Adolfo Nicolas during his two weeks visit to South Asia. What follows is not a report of those happy days. Rather, I wish to identify just two themes that I believe have special relevance to South Asian Jesuits which Fr General proposed on several occasions when in our midst.
Perhaps the most emphatic was the importance of having all our ministries supported by serious study and research. Without this research, which brings depth and opens up creative possibilities, our response to the challenges of mission will likely be trivial even though we do much good. In this connection, Fr General made the salutary point that we are overburdening our most gifted men. Our tendency to expand and take on new responsibilities, without finding a way to hand over existing ones, leads to our more talented handling many tasks, each lacking in real depth. Once we are judged as lacking depth, we will also be judged as lacking credibility.
Another insight, hi articulated with insistence, was a fuller understanding of our role in the mission of God which God shares with the Society in and through the Church. This point was made in his reflections on the magis, the call to excellence which must imbue all our apostolates. The excellence we strive for is not just to be acknowledged as having the best (school, parish, pastoral centre). Rather, we are excellent in the measure in which, like leaven in the dough, our high quality service enriches the service in the schools, parishes or elsewhere.
However, more than the many precious insights he shared in homilies and discourses, what will be remembered by most is the simplicity with which Fr General communicated deep insights, his constant speaking from his heart. When Fr General urges us to seek depth, he clearly knows whereof he speaks.
A word now on what I believe impressed Fr General during this brief visit. He experienced at first hand the enormous variety that constitutes our Assistancy. Even within these three tribal Provinces, he was exposed to a bewildering variety of languages and cultures. Nevertheless underlying this diversity he noted a unity: tribals, the girls in particular, dance holding one another to form a chain. Fr General found this custom very engaging and an expression of the union which he hoped would permeate all our activities.
A second noteworthy experience that was the very large number of Jesuits in formation Fr General encountered in these three Provinces. His message to them was always: be deeply conscious of the vast mission you are called serve. Vast, as it is the mission of God. Prepare for this by seeking depth (spiritual, intellectual, human), creativity and life in the Spirit in your formation and be open to collaborate with all for we are "the least Society of Jesus" and are inadequate to respond to so vast a mission on our own. And he had a similar message for the formed: without continual updating professionally and growth in wisdom and spiritual depth, we shall have no relevant contribution to make to the mission of God.
Fr General has returned to Rome but the fragrance of his presence and the wise guidance he offered lingers as an encouragement and as a spur to love and serve in all things His Divine Majesty in many hearts and minds."
From the Curia
Development Office. On the March agenda of the Office of Development Resources of the General Curia are the annual meetings of the Development Offices of the Conferences of Asia-Pacific (Manila, Philippines, March 10 to 14) and Africa-Madagascar (Nairobi, Kenya, March 13 to 16). Twenty Provinces and Regions have confirmed that they will take part in these meetings. Both meetings provide the opportunity to examine the progress of projects in the Philippines, Indonesia and the East Africa Provinces. In addition, in Nairobi from March 21 to 22, there will be a seminar with superiors and directors of works on the spirituality of raising funds for development. This workshop follows on from the one which took place last November, which dealt with the formulation, execution and reporting of projects that depend on international financing. The Office of Development Resources of the General Curia will facilitate this workshop.
From the Provinces
CANADA: Messenger of the Sacred Heart
In 1966, Fr Frederick Power SJ was assigned to be the editor of Canada's longest running Catholic magazine. He was 42 years old and had no idea that he would still be at the helm 46 years later. But in February this year the 500th edition of Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart was published under Power's stewardship. Power will turn 88 in May, but says he has no plans to step down from the magazine that has been published continuously since 1891. The 121-year-old magazine does not accept advertisements, nor is it subsidized by anyone, including the Jesuit order. Since 1968, it has served as the official Messenger of the Sacred Heart for Canada and the United States. "We exist by keeping costs low, and through subscriptions and donations," he said. However a fuller explanation might be found in a letter Power received in 1990 on the centenary of the magazine from the former bishop of St. Catharines, Thomas Fulton. "The secret to the magazine's longevity is found in a tried and true formula," he wrote. "The Messenger speaks to people in a language they can understand about matters which are relevant to their lives against a background of faith and devotion. In today's terms, it is a remarkable instrument of evangelization and social communication." The prolific use of the Internet poses the greatest challenge to print journalism, yet Power applauds the new technology. He has set up a web site, www.sacredheartcanada.ca, and encourages religious communities and their communicators to embrace it.
INDIA: Jesuits House Flood Victims
Thanks to the work of the Jesuits, 127 poor families have new homes. They had lost their homes towards the end of 2009 when flood waters struck in Karnataka, and washed away thousands of houses. The construction of the houses, in Raichur district, was made possible through the generosity of Jesuit houses across Karnataka state. These contributed 90 percent of the cost, while the remaining funds came from donations. The beneficiaries are families from the most disadvantaged classes of Indian society. Each home costs 150,000 rupies (US $3,000), and consists of a kitchen and two rooms. During the handing over ceremony, Hampayya Nayak, a local government representative, praised the Jesuits for their efforts on behalf of the most needy. He declared: "I appreciate the Jesuits' commitment to the cause of the poor. They have shown people through their work where God is really found."
INDIA: Radio Sarang Wins Award
At the first National Awards for Community Radio in New Delhi, community Radio Sarang won the Best Program Award at for Promoting Local Culture for the second time. These Awards are instituted by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This is the first time that the Ministry has granted these awards to recognize and promote best practice in Community Radios across the country. There are five categories in the competition: Best Programs in Promoting Local Culture, Adapting Creative and Innovative Content Practices, Sustainability Model, Thematic Program, and Community Engagement sections. Community Radio Sarang won the Award in the Best Program in Promoting Local Culture category, for its program in the Beary language. The program, Beary Harate, is a chat show of and for the Beary women of Mangalore. In it, local women discuss HIV/AIDS, its causes, and ways of preventing the infection. The Beary language is spoken by a small group of Muslims in Mangalore. Radio Sarang is a radio station run by the Jesuits of St Aloysius College in Mangalore, southern India. It was launched in September 2009 as part of the College's social outreach activity.
ITALY: Courses of Chinese Language
Chinese language courses, promoted by the Istituto Sociale in Turin (one of the six Jesuit Colleges of the Italian Jesuits) and the Italia-China Foundation, have taken off. The initiative was launched in the city on January 31 by Fr Vitangelo Denora (Rector of the Institute), Piero Fassino (mayor of Turin and alumnus of the Istituto Sociale), Cesare Romiti (President of the Italia-China Foundation), and Francesco Boggio Ferraris (the officer responsible for the Italia-China Foundation's School of Ongoing Formation). The 70 students are divided into five classes: two classes are at primary school (Xiauxue), one is at secondary school (Zhongxue), another is at high school (Gaozhong), and the fifth is at adult (Gaozhong) class levels. The goal of the venture is to foster the relationship between Italy and China by learning what is now the most commonly spoken language in the world. The initiative also encourages young people to respond to the challenges which globalization posits. The Istituto continues the tradition of Fr Matteo Ricci. It plays its part in offering formation in multiculturalism and international collaboration. Teachers, both Italian and Chinese, accredited by the School of Ongoing Formation of the Italia-China Foundation, present the tuition.
MEXICO: Raid on Parish and Human Rights Centre
Jesuits of St Judas Tadeus parish community and of the Centre for Human Right have denounced a raid on their parish and human rights centre. They denounced it as yet another attempt by the Mexican authorities to intimidate activists who have been critical of the excesses in their crackdown on organized crime. Jesuit Fr Jose Castilla Plasencia, the pastor of the St Jude Thaddeus parish and director of the Juan Gerardi Human Rights Center in the northern city of Torreon, spoke after a raid on 9 February. He said the raid was conducted without a warrant, and resulted from an anonymous tip which alleged that there were drugs on the premises. The raid, he added, even included the search of the crypt. "This incursion by federal and state forces as well as the army shows, in a clear way, that the current security policy does nothing to resolve the problem, but only increases the vulnerability of the population. It is really a form of abuse." Fr Castilla made the comments in an article published by the Monterrey newspaper, El Norte. "These raids constitute a clear aggression. The authorities try to intimidate defenders of human rights," he said. Individuals working on human rights issues, including Catholic priests who protect undocumented migrants, have been subject to police and army raids, as well as to attacks from other assailants. The cases largely go unsolved. Over the past four years, parish and diocesan human rights centres in Ciudad Juarez, Saltillo and Torreon have been either raided or robbed. Priests, including Fr Alejandro Solalinde in Oaxaca state and Franciscan Fr Tomas Gonzalez Castillo in Tabasco state, have been accused of human trafficking for their work with undocumented migrants.
USA: Martin Luther King Jr. Jazz Award
Loyola University New Orleans President, Jesuit Fr Kevin Wildes and six members of the New Orleans community were recently recognized as exemplifying the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and his vision, when they received the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr Jazz Award. The Martin Luther King Jr Jazz Award honors individuals who have contributed to enriching their community, advancing cultural awareness through music and art, and furthering economic opportunity while adhering to the principles of non-violence. In July, Fr Wildes was appointed to the New Orleans Civil Service Commission. This appointment continues Fr Wildes' long-time record of service to the city. Following Hurricane Katrina, he played a key role in establishing the city's Ethics Review Board and in setting up the independent Office of the Inspector General. Wildes currently sits on the Public Belt Railroad Commission. "While I believe public service is always important, the challenges for post-Katrina New Orleans make public service even more vital today," said Wildes. "New Orleans citizens are demanding, and rightly so, to live within a city government that functions transparently, efficiently and justly. I am honored to be able to assist in this effort."
USA: Meeting of Educators
Ireland: Jesuits and Jews. "In our school only Jews turn Jesuit." The writer is a Jesuit school Principal in Cordoba, Spain, reporting (round 1590) on the difficulty of promoting Jesuit vocations among his students. Why? "Those possessing the priestly vocation enter the Dominican monastery of San Pablo which, they say, is a community of caballeros, whereas in our schools only Jews turn Jesuit. Prejudice on this point is so strong that whenever anyone is bold enough to join us, he is looked upon as one who has received the san-benito (the yellow tunic that the Inquisition draped on false converts from Judaism)." The letter illustrates one chapter in the history of the relations of Jesuits and Jews. Ignatius Loyola withstood pressure from noble Spaniards, who valued limpio sangre in their Jesuits, and who turned up their noses at the New Christians who had converted from Jewry or Islam. Ignatius wrote to the Spanish Provincial:"if in consequence of the attitude of the Court and King you deem it impossible to admit converts in Spain, send them here as long as they are of good character: in Rome, we do not trouble ourselves as to the origins of a man, only his qualities." Ignatius' successor as general of the Jesuits, Diego Lainez, was of Jewish ancestry, as were some of the best early Jesuits. Four centuries later, Jews (not converts this time) and Jesuits lined up together as joint victims of Nazi persecution. The historian Lapomarda lists 152 Jesuit victims who were killed during the Holocaust by the Nazis. They died in the concentration camps, or as a result of captivity (Irish Jesuit News).
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