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Vol. XVI, No. 10 18 May 2012
Visit to the Province of Romania. Father General will visit the Province of Romania from the 19th to the 21st of May. Fr. Pablo Guerrero Rodríguez writes: "I think there are three important events in this trip: the visit to JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service), the Eucharist in Cluj and the meeting with the Jesuits in Cluj. Fr. General wished to visit Romania since a long time and we succeeded in making it to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Centro Manresa in Cluj. Ten years ago, there were the Roman-Catholic Archbishop Mgr. György Jacubinyi, the Greek-Catholic Bishop Mgr. Florentin Crihälmeanu and Fr. General (Fr. Kolvenbach at that time). Both bishops are the same who in that day blessed the Centro Manresa, only our General is 'new'. The Eucharist and the lunch will be an encounter of priests, religious and lay people with whom we work. All the Jesuits working in Romania will be present, together with guests from neighboring provinces. We hope the weather will be nice so as to celebrate outdoors (we expect about 300 people). The following meeting is reserved for Jesuits."
From the Curia
SJES: Annual Meeting of Conference Social Apostolate Coordinators. The annual meeting of the Conference/Assistancy Social Apostolate coordinators was held at the Curia in Rome, from May 14-18. This year the major area of discussion and reflection was on the responses of Jesuits to the Ecology document "Healing a Broken World" (Promotio Justitiae, n. 106/2011). These responses were gathered from the Province Social apostolate delegates based on a questionnaire sent from the Secretariat. They revealed a clear picture of our response to the challenges of ecology and environment today both in the Provinces and Conferences. On the last day, the team shared on the state of Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN) in each of their conferences and the way forward. The members had also an interaction with Fr. General, who complimented them for their committed work and shared his concerns of the Society of Jesus especially in the area of ecology.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Peter J. Bisson, Provincial of the Jesuits in English Canada (CDA). Fr. Peter, at present Socius to the Provincial, was born in 1957, entered the Society of Jesus in 1983 and was ordained a priest in 1993.
From the Provinces
AUSTRIA: 450 Years as a Province
On June 10, 1563, the first Provincial of the newly founded Austrian Province, Fr. Nicolaus Lanoy (originally from Belgium), took office. This means that 2013 is the 450th anniversary of the foundation of the Province. Therefore, in April 2010, Fr. Provincial Gernot Wisser SJ appointed a preparatory group in order to compile possible scenarios for the celebration of the Jubilee. At the occasion of the Conference of Local Superiors in November 2010, all communities were asked to talk about the jubilee and the following basic question: "What do we as Austrian Province of the Society of Jesus want to celebrate in the upcoming anniversary year?" The result was a clear vote "for a basic orientation focusing on our way into the future. Equally clearly expressed was the wish to use the year 2013 as an apostolic opportunity and to especially pay attention to our spiritual heritage when defining the content of the presentation." Then followed a discussion of motto proposals in the preparatory group and in the Province consult. Finally, Fr. Provincial opted for the motto: Companions of Jesus for men. 450 Years Austrian Jesuits. During the same period of time, it was discussed how to celebrate. Finally Fr. Provincial decided in favour of one big apostolic event for three days (7-9 June 2013) in Vienna. "So we are on the road to the Jubilee event and hope it will mean days of joy, of meeting with a lot of friends, of thanking God for his grace during 450 years".
BELIZE: Jesuit Honored for Life's Work
Jesuit Father Jack Stochl, of American origin, found his heart's home when he first went as a Jesuit scholastic in 1948 to Belize, where he remains today at age 87. The government of that Central American nation recently recognized his commitment when it presented him with the Meritorious Service Award for his 64 years of helping the people of Belize by teaching English and, more recently, caring for prisoners. This disciplined man followed the same daily routine for years, rising at 4 a.m. to exercise, pray and teach English each morning at St. John's College in Belize City. He ran the Extension School in the late afternoon and evening, returning home in time for bed at 9:30 p.m. Fr. Stochl founded the Extension School in 1957 in the heart of Belize City. The school's academic offerings were limited but effective, and were aimed at helping students earn a grade school diploma that would qualify them for a government job. In 2005, when he turned 80, Fr. Stochl became pastoral minister to inmates of the Belize prison. Fr. Stochl's work has grown. He goes to the prison at least five days a week and offers Mass on Saturdays for around 100 inmates with no guard present. He also runs three weekly counseling groups and visits men in the Maximum Security and punishment sections. He became a Belizean citizen in 1974, not as a political statement but as a sign that he would remain with the people.
CHINA: Media Praises Xu Guangqi
Mainstream media in China praised Paul Xu Guangqi highly when they reported on Shanghai city's series of commemorative events to mark his 450th birth anniversary. Xu (1562-1633) was the first Shanghai Catholic convert, and the Holy See is reviewing his beatification along with his master and collaborator, the Italian Jesuit missionary Father Matteo Ricci (1552-1610). Well-known even among non-Catholics in modern times, Xu was regarded as the first Chinese to introduce advanced European scientific knowledge into the country in the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was also a famous scholar-official, mathematician, astronomer and agricultural scientist. Shanghai Daily, the most influential English newspaper in the municipality, published a report on April 24, Xu's birthday, describing him as "one of China's great men of applied science." The report interviewed Huang Shulin, a cultural official, who said Xu's "clear and open mind to all advanced knowledge and technology was very precious at his time and is still a legacy for Shanghai people today."
FRANCE: Catholic Social Doctrine Online
CERAS, The French Centre for Social Research and Action has created a new web site on the social teaching of the catholic church that helps to understand the doctrines in the context of the tradition of the church, of the new theological perspectives and the reading of the signs of the times together with the contributions of the natural sciences. The articles that present the different questions come from very renowned authors. They show today's position of the Church on about twenty themes, among which: cultures, ecology, laity, liberalism, property, work, politics, migrations, etc. There are eight principles that build the structure of the social doctrine of the Church: common good, charity, universal destination of goods, dignity of the human persons, justice, preferential option for the poor, solidarity and subsidiarity. This site offers to its users a trustworthy, and at the same time practical instrument for a rapid consultation. CERAS offers the texts for translation into other languages. www.doctrine-sociale-catholique.fr. If you wish to translate them, kindly contact CERAS.
ITALY: Rights Under Construction
To invest in rights in view to promote development and to rethink welfare between justice and real growth: this is the starting point of Rights under construction, a volume edited by JSN-Jesuit Social Network, the network of activities in social field of the Society of Jesus in Italy. It is a transversal analysis which is the result of a direct interaction between researchers and those groups of people most affected by cuts in spending and social protection. The book was presented in Rome at the beginning of May. In times of crisis, governments limit the costs, including those for welfare services for the citizens, social security, forgetting that where there is no investments on the rights there is no growth and development, and that during the emergency it is important not only to be there but also to be near and to give voice to the weakest, the needy, those who risk to see their dignity humiliated. "To start again from the rights does not mean to divert resources to the development of the country - said Fr. Giacomo Costa, director of Aggiornamenti Sociali, the magazine of the Milan Jesuits. On the contrary, in order to promote development, one has to invest in these rights." With this contribution JSN wants to offer the legislator a valued tool for the definition of more adequate norms, but it wants also to accompany all public and private entities involved in the planning process and implementation of social policies towards common paths.
ITALY: Valignano in the Third Millennium
"Valignano in the Third Millennium: the inventor of cultural diplomacy and today's betting in Asia." This is the title of a conference sponsored by the Foreign Ministry and the Japan Embassy in Italy that was held in Chieti, hometown of Valignano, on May 4th. Among the speakers there was Mons. Giuseppe Pittau, S.J., former rector of Tokyo's Sophia University, who offered his testimony. Fr. Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606) entered the Society of Jesus in 1573 and was appointed "Visitor", that is head of the Oriental Missions. For half a century he organized the spread of the Gospel between India, China and Japan and the missions in those lands, becoming the great strategist of the development of the missionary work of the Society of Jesus, especially in India, China and Japan. The conference of Chieti was a mixing between history and enterprise, culture and economic exchange with Asia.
NEPAL: Religious Freedom at Risk
"We really hope that the work on the new Constitution will be completed. We appeal to the responsibility and good will of all political forces. We ask, for the future, full respect for religious freedom in Nepal": this is the appeal launched through Fides agency by the Apostolic Vicar of Nepal, Mgr. Anthony Sharma, while, with the deadline of May 27 approaching, the impasse in the preparation of the new charter has not yet passed. "The Church, the Apostolic Vicar reaffirms, calls for the new constitution to enshrine full religious freedom. We want a secular state, which protects the freedom and individual rights and recognize all religious communities. We hope for a Constitution that gives women equal rights, equal opportunities, overcoming finally the caste system." If the text will not be completed, those principles may be in danger, says Mons. Sharma. "Nepal was a hindu kingdom. Today there are still parties and groups that want to make Nepal a hindu state. This legagy gave life to the Nepal Defense Army (NDA), a radical hindu group that in the past hit people and cristian targets. We suspect it is finance d by hindu extremist groups operating in India, such the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)." In Nepal Christians communities want to contribute to the development of the country, operating with respect for the dignity of every man.
SYRIA: Jesuit Solidarity
In Alep, Syria, Jesuits are assisting 500 families who fled the areas of fighting. Other families are assisted in Damascus and in a center not far from Homs. It is an initiative authorized by the Syrian government that employs Christian and Muslim volunteers. A message of peace, the latter, accompanied by a sign of solidarity towards those who have been most unlucky and that stands out against those who right now are fanning the fire of intolerance and differences. In a conversation with missionary agency Misna, Father Peter Balleis, JRS director, talked about the Jesuit commitment in Syria and the projects which, although small, compared to current needs, bear not only support but also significant messages of dialogue. It is a humanitarian action effort at alleviating the suffering of large families which, because of the conflicts, had to leave their places of origin. According to current estimates, refugees and inland displaced are about half a million, mostly from Homs, one of the towns where the confrontation between government troops and armed opposition forces has become more strong in spite of the peace plan of former UN secretary general Kofy Annan.
SOUTH SUDAN: Catholic University, First Graduation
The Pioneer Class of the Catholic University of South Sudan (CUofSS) has completed their four year degree program in Economics and Business Administration and Saturday 12 May marked the graduation event! The Catholic University of Eastern Africa has agreed to grant CUofSS affiliation status. Fr. Michael J. Schultheis S.J., Vice Chancellor/President of the Catholic University of South Sudan, writes: "As you may be aware, many voiced the opinion at one time or another that it could not be done - at times I all but agreed with them... but the first fruits are here. Other potential donors condition support on "special projects" such as "planting trees" or "piece-meal projects", but in fact the University itself is the Project. This year CUofSS has some 400 students in the Faculty in Juba and 120 students in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in Wau. In fact, the baby is born ... and with proper nurturing, it promises to be a significant contribution to the Church and the new country of South Sudan, in forming lay people who are competent and committed and have a sense of the social ministry of the Church."
THAILAND: To Push for Mine Clearance
On April 4th , in more than 70 countries today, the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, thousands of people rolled up their trouser legs and stood side-by-side with survivors and communities affected by landmines. These campaigners have taken part in Lend your Leg, an inspirational global day of action launched to call for an end to the curse of anti-personnel mines. "Lend your leg today. With the simple action of rolling up your pant leg we want to remind the world that landmines still present a huge danger and continue to devastate many innocent lives. We want all landmines in Thailand to be cleared by 2018 in accordance with the deadlines set out in article five of the Mine Ban Treaty", said Norwegian People's Aid Thailand Programme Manager, Aksel Steen-Nilsen. In 2001, Thailand had around 2,557 square kilometres of mine-affected areas. After 10 years of de-mining by NGOs like the Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC), around 528 square kilometres of suspected and confirmed hazardous areas are now left to be cleared, according to the Level 1 Survey by Norwegian People's Aid. In addition to four humanitarian mine action units, four demining NGOs are working using a special methodology. "We believe this approach will speed up mine clearance operations, and if Thailand has commitment from the top, this will enable the country to meet its deadline", added Aksel.
New in SJWEB
Video. We are happy to inform you that there is a new webpage hosting videos at the curia website. Kindly click on the video icon on the homepage or click here http://www.sjweb.info/video/ to view the latest post of the interview with Fr. Marcos Recolons, S.J. (in Spanish with English subtitles), who explains about the striking similarities he discovered between the lives of tribal's in North India and Latin America during his first visit to India along with Fr. General in February, 2012.
Podcast. A new podcast in which Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, Provincial of East Africa, evaluates the progress of the Province and explores the road map for the future in the light of the young Jesuits and their formation while facing the challenges posed by the Sudan crisis. http://www.sjweb.info/jesuitvoices/index.cfm