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    Vol. XVI, No. 8 4 May 2012

    From the Curia

     

    The International Committee for Jesuit Higher Education met in Rome from 2 to 4 May. The annual meeting is an opportunity for the six regional directors, the Secretary for Higher Education, and several other consultants to review developments over the past year in higher education and the intellectual apostolate. Such issues as the development of higher education in Africa, education for sustainability and justice, collaborations in social entrepreneurship business programs, and planning for several commemorations, including the anniversary of the Restoration of the Society (1814-2014) are topics for discussion. The International Committee receives reports on developments of Jesuit Commons and its project with the Jesuit Refugee Service which is bringing higher education to several refugee camps.  The annual meeting is an opportunity for the membership to examine trends and strategic directions in higher education and to encourage collaborations across Conferences and among our Jesuit institutions. 

     

    From 30 April to 12 May, the Colloquium for English Speaking New Provincials, appointed during the past year, is taking place at the General Curia in Rome.  The purpose of the meeting is to provide the opportunity for reflection on important issues of provincial government.  Matters raised will include the accounts of conscience and personal accompaniment, the animating of community life, insertion into the reality of the local Church, the mission at the frontiers, and interprovincial and international collaboration. Father General participates in these Colloquiums. The colloquium is also useful to introduce new provincials to the various offices and services of the General Curia.  It provides personal contact with the staff of Father General in the government of the universal Society.  These include the secretary, the procurator general, the treasurer general, the secretariats, and JRS.  Issues related to the various international Roman houses are also discussed.  The Colloquium has always had an international character. This time there are 18 participants who come from the 6 Jesuit Conferences. As a sign of deep commitment to the charism and mission of the Society, the Provincials will visit and celebrate the Eucharist in the Rooms of St Ignatius at the end of the Colloquium.

     


    From the Provinces

     

    BRAZIL: The "Bicycle Padre" Keeps Rolling at 93

    Jesuit Fr Harold Rahm learned long ago the value of staying close to the people.  In El Paso, his first assignment in his native Texas, Fr Rahm celebrated Mass in people's backyards.  He prayed the rosary on street corners and ministered to those on bread lines.  And, he rode a bicycle to talk and play with street kids in his battle to eliminate youth gangs.  During his 14 years in El Paso, Fr Rahm became fondly known as the "Bicycle Padre".  He says that he learned to work with ordinary people.  South El Paso was ruled by gangs in those days, so he and his team worked with schools, founded clubs, and built a youth center.  Over the past nearly 50 years, Fr Rahm has used similar techniques to reach out to the abandoned, the poor, the addicted and the desperate of Brazil, where he lives and works today.  Today, Fr Rahm, now 93, spends his days directing "Christian Yoga" retreats.  These aim to help people use their senses in their meditation, and so work to union with God.  "I endeavor to do my little part to serve the poor and those especially in need, both financially and spiritually," he said.  Visit: www.padreharoldo.org.br

     

    EAST TIMOR: New President, Old Challenges

    The Republic of East Timor, the youngest country of Asia, has a new president: Mr Taur Matan Ruak.  The elections "were characterized by openness and peacefulness, free of tensions and violence.  The situation in the country is stable, and this is a good sign for the future," says Fides Agency Jesuit Fr Bernard Hyacinth Arputhasamy, SJ, director of Jesuit Refugees Service Asia-Pacific.  JRS has been operating in East Timor for many years.  He notes that "the president does not have executive powers, and therefore it is the next general elections, due to take place between July and September, which will be more important with regard to the policies which the nation will adopt in the future."  Fr Bernard includes the following among the challenges which face East Timor: "We hope that good governance will develop such areas as education, food security, infrastructures, and general well-being and security.  The unemployment rate in East Timor is very high, and poverty is widespread: there is need for both short-term as well as long-term plans to improve the lives of people."  This year, East Timor is celebrating ten years of independence from Indonesia.  Also this year, the country is preparing for a transition, because the UN peacekeeping forces are planning to leave after a deployment of six years.  The Church has always claimed an interest and role in contributing to the growth and development of the country.  In East Timor, Jesuits work in the fields of education, pastoral ministry, and assistance to refugees.  They also direct an audiovisual production center (see Bulletin N. 2, February 2012).

     

    INDIA : Darjeeling Jesuits for Food campaign

    As the result of the direction of the Supreme Court of India in 2001, the Indian government has initiated several food-related schemes for the welfare of the poor, especially through the Public Distribution System (PDS).  However, because of the current criteria which classify people into the Above the Poverty Line (APL) and the Below the Poverty Line (BPL) categories, a large majority of the poor and deserving tea workers of North Bengal, in the state of West Bengal, are included in the APL category: this deprives them of many of the benefits.  This is in spite of the fact that they are paid daily wages of between 85 and 90 rupees (less than US$2), and this is for only for six days a week.  This is far below the existing minimum wage.  As a result, malnutrition, health issues, unemployment, unrest, forced migration and human trafficking are on the rise. To highlight the plight of the tea workers and villagers of North Bengal, a rally was organized in Siliguri under the banner of the North Bengal Right To Food Campaign.  Over 2500 people from Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts took part in the rally. Jesuit Frs Shiju Mathew, Pascal Xalxo and Joe Victor have been working very hard for the success of this campaign, as its treasurer, resource person and convenor respectively.  They network with many secular NGOs, trade union leaders, and some other committed religious in advocating right to food.  They are supported and guided by Mrs Anuradha Talwar, the State Advisor to the Supreme Court on PDS.

     

    ITALY: World Meeting of Families

    "Benedict, we are waiting for you in Milan."  This is how six thousand children of the Ambrosian dioceses greeted the Pope on 11th April, when, before the Wednesday's general audience, the Holy Father blessed and gave to Mons Erminio De Scalzi, president of the Milan Family 2012 Foundation, the icon symbol of the Seventh World Meeting of Families.  This meeting will be held in Milan from May 30 to June 3, and the icon is a mosaic of Slovenian Jesuit Fr Marko Rupnik, artist, theologian and director of Centro Aletti Atelier in Rome.  The Atelier is a place of study and research, and the "community site" of Pontifical Oriental Institute.  The Centro works at bringing liturgy, art and the spiritual life together, and aims to promote intercultural dialogue between East and West.  Fr Rupnik and his studio have become well known throughout the world through the mosaics of the basilica of Fatima and of the Crypt in San Giovanni Rotondo.  Pope John Paul II commissioned the Redemptoris Mater chapel in the Vatican from Fr Rupnik.  For the World Meeting of Families, Fr Rupnik presented a mosaic icon of the Holy Family, as a model for today's Christian families which strive to live the holiness of marriage and the gift of parenthood.  Recently Fr Rupnik, together with his team, renewed the Chapel of the Jesuit General Curia in Rome with a mosaic representing the Annunciation.

     

    ITALY: Ignatian Youth Pilgrimage

    The Italian Jesuit Youth Ministry organized a Walking Ignatian Youth Pilgrimage to Rome.  The pilgrimage was entitled "I will be favorable to you in Rome".  It aimed to help young people learn more about the history of St Ignatius of Loyola.  The experience took place from Friday, 27 April, to Tuesday, 1 May 2012.  Interested young people, whose ages ranged from the fourth year of high school to 30 years old, were invited to take part.  On 1 May, they arrived to the Gesù Church in Rome after completing two ancient pilgrimage routes, one from Viterbo in the north (along the Via Francigena), and the other from Formia in the south (along the Via Appia).  They retraced itineraries also covered by Ignatius of Loyola.  During the morning, the group Pietre Vive (young people who are eager to proclaim the Gospel through art) helped the pilgrims to rediscover the spiritual treasurers of the mother church of the Society of Jesus, and a group of young Jesuits accompanied them in their visit the rooms of St. Ignatius. At the , the celebration of the Eucharist, presided by Father General on the occasion of the final vows of two Jesuits of the Italian Province.

     

    NEPAL: Jesuits Celebrate Diamond Jubilee

    The 60 years of Jesuit presence in Nepal will be commemorated with a grand Jubilee celebration at St. Xavier's School, Jawalakhel, Kathmandu, on 6 May.  This will conclude three days of Region Gathering.  The invitation to Fr Marshall D Moran SJ, in 1950, from the then Government of Nepal to establish a school was the first breakthrough of  the Jesuit Mission and Catholic Church into the 'Forbidden Hindu Kingdom.'  On 6 June 1951, Frs Ed Saxton, Frank Murphy and Moran made the historic entry into the Kingdom.  They were assigned to the new mission of Nepal from the Province of Patna, India.  Since then, the Provinces of Chicago and Patna have provided the main personnel and financial support to the Nepal Jesuit Society (NJS).  But many Jesuits from different Provinces of India, Japan and North America have volunteered to work in Nepal over many years. Though education was the primary mission of the Society in Nepal, Jesuits are currently also involved in social services and pastoral care.  The contributions of Frs John Locke, Lud Stiller and Cap Miller, in the study of the religion, history and anthropology of Nepal provide valuable source reference materials for universities.  When Jesuits found out that more than 70% of Nepal's 26.6 million people still have insufficient educational facilities, they moved to the far Eastern, Western and the Himalayan communities North West of Kathmandu.  JRS, in collaboration with Caritas Nepal, is catering to the educational needs of thousands of Bhutanese Refugees in the country.  Catholics number about 7000 in Nepal, and the church there has been raised to the level of an Apostolic Vicariate under the Jesuit Bishop, Msgr Antony F Sharma SJ.  There are 70 Jesuits in Nepal; these include 30 in formation, and another 5 working outside the region.

     

    PHILIPPINES: Rags turn into high fashion items

    A recent fashion show in Manila's business district was in full swing, with models walking the runway slinging brightly colored purses of different styles from the Philippine fashion powerhouse Rajo Laurel's latest collection.  The high-fashion purses have come a long way from their humble beginnings: floor mats made of old rags discarded in one of the largest dumpsites in the Philippines.  The evolution of the rags to riches started five years ago with the vision of  a Jesuit seminarian who was assigned to a parish at the Payatas dumpsite, northeast of Manila; about 60,000 people live around the dump's fringe.  Fr Xavier Alpasa said he saw exploitation flourishing as he ministered in this deeply impoverished community.  Women were buying dumpsite scraps that scavengers picked and sewing them into rugs to be sold commercially. "Middlemen were coming in and buying the rugs for 9 pesos and selling them to department stores for 35 pesos," Father Alpasa said.  "Then I started to ask, 'Where did all the profit go?  Why is it all going to the middlemen?  How come the women would only get 1 peso [about 2 cents] profit?'"  Fr Alpasa took on the role of middleman for the women.  At their first bazaar the rugs sold out in an hour. Fr Alpasa and several friends then tapped Laurel for ideas on how to make the rugs more marketable.

     

    SPAIN: Fifth Centenary of Diego Laínez

    The opening ceremony of the Fifth Centenary of the birth of Diego Laínez, the second General of the Society of Jesus, was held in his birthplace, Almazán (Soria), on the 21st of April.  The agenda spread with various events in Almazán, Soria and Madrid.  These include conferences, an exhibition, a panel discussion and various Eucharistic celebrations.  Laínez was one of the big Jesuits of the first generation but he has remained somewhat overshadowed, between St Ignatius and St Francis Borgia, respectively the first and third Generals of the Society of Jesus.  The celebrations began on 21 April in the Church of San Pedro de Almazán.  Mons Gerardo Melgar Viciosa, bishop of Osma-Soria, presided over a solemn Eucharist.  Then a commemorative plaque was unveiled in the public school which bears the name of Laínez: it is located in the ground of the house where he was born.  Present were the mayor of Almazán, as well as the Assistant for southern Europe, Fr Joaquín Barrero, who was representing Father General.  The ceremony ended with the presentation of flowers and the sharing of wine typical of the region, and a guided tour of the town. A panel discussion on Diego Laínez will take place in the auditorium Tirso de Molina in Soria on May 25th.  The anniversary celebrations will end next October.  For more information: www.jesuitas.es

     

    UNITED KINGDOM: The Jesuit Mission Marathon

    Mark - a former pupil at Stonyhurst College, the Jesuit school in Lancashire - is a first year Economics and Politics student at the University of Bath.  He has been running for the Jesuit Missions Marathon on April 22, to raise funds for Jesuit Missions, which supports a diverse range of invaluable projects in the developing world.  Mark's fundraising efforts is going specifically towards the Limpopo Project in South Africa.  "The Limpopo Project provides extensive aid, relief and assistance to the many illegal Zimbabwean immigrants who have fled Zimbabwe to escape the widespread political and often violent persecution," explains Mark.  Last year, the Jesuit Missions Marathon team raised just under £50,000 (about 61,000.00 €) for projects overseas.  This year, with 30 runners, the target was £75,000 (about 91,000.00 €).  All runners have a link to the Jesuits and the work of Jesuit Missions.  "In Georgetown, Guyana, the Jesuits' Drugs Rehabilitation Programme gives drug addict that crucial second chance by providing counseling, food, shelter and employment assistance.  Jesuit Missions also provides scholarships which allow poor, talented children to attend St Aloysius' Secondary School in Kibera, Kenya and St Peter's School, Kubatana, Zimbabwe".  For the full story, see www.jesuit.org.uk/latest/120417.htm.

     


    New in SJWEB

     

    A podcast (in English) with Fr. Eugène Didier Goussikindey,S. J., Provincial of the West African Province. Click on "Jesuit Voices"