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Vol. XVI, N. 11 5 June 2012
From the Curia
Meeting of JRS Regional Directors. The two-week period between 25 May and 1 June was a busy time at the Jesuit Refugee Service International Office in Rome. The Regional Directors of the ten JRS regions met with the International Director, Fr Peter Balleis, to address ways to implement the JRS Strategic Framework 2012 - 2015. The group of directors focused on building "a stronger, more united JRS" by jointly developing more coherent governance and management standards, which are built on the values of subsidiary and participation, and which reflect transparency and accountability. Specific topics addressed included continued implementation of JRS human resources policies, and the establishment of an international fundraising strategy. Also considered were plans to follow up on the recent JRS Urban Refugee Workshop in Bangkok, as well as last March's Advocacy and Communications Workshops in Rome. During the annual meeting, the senior management team of the ten Regional Directors and the International Director also met with members of the JRS Administrative Council and with Fr. General. This group discussed ways in which JRS can promote effective communication with the Provinces and Jesuit Conferences. Prior to the full Regional Directors' meeting, JRS's five new Regional Directors attended a week-long orientation session with the JRS International Office team.
The International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education (ICAJE) will meet in Rome from June 7 to 9. The annual meeting is an opportunity for the six regional delegates and the Secretary for Secondary and Pre-secondary Education to come together, share the state of Jesuit Education, evaluate the programs and plan the projects that can address the main task of becoming a global network. During the meeting each delegate presents a regional report on the development of Jesuit Education. Will also be discussed and reviewed such issues as some of the recent speeches of Fr. General on Education, the program and expectations for the upcoming International Colloquium of Jesuit Secondary Education in Boston (ICJSE); the need for a new document on Education dealing with our mission and identity and the possibility of a partnership agreement between the International Baccalaureate Organization and the Society. The meeting is a unique opportunity to contribute to the renewal of the Apostolate of Jesuit Education, another important goal of the Commission.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Susaimanickam Arul Regional Superior of Kohima Region (India). Father Susaimanickam, at present Superior of the Holy Family Centre of Pfuitsero, was born in 1957, entered the Society of Jesus in 1980 and was ordained a priest in 1992.
From the Provinces
ALBANIA: Honor to Fr Valentini
On May 7, 2012, Bamir Topi, President of the Republic of Albania, conferred the highest honor of Gjergi Kastrioti-Scanderberg to the memory of Fr Giuseppe Valentini,S.J. He "devoted his whole life to Albania, offering an essential contribution to the deepening of issues concerned with Albanian ethnicity, its culture and history." For these reasons, he is considered one of the founders of Albanology. The presentation ceremony took place in the President's palace in Tirana, in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio, the President of the Episcopal Conference, the Jesuit community in Tirana, as well as the many Albanian intellectuals who had promoted the initiative. Fr Gian Paolo Salvini, director emeritus of Civiltà Cattolica, received the award on behalf of the Italian Province. Fr Salvini lived with Fr Valentini in Milan for a number of years. Fr Giuseppe Valentini was born in Padua in 1900, and he died in Milan in 1979. He arrived in Albania in 1922, and he remained in Scutari until 1943, when he had to flee after the death sentence was passed against him by the communist regime. He studied the Albanian language and culture in depth. Through his countless writings, and drawing on many aspects of the missionary methods of Matteo Ricci in China, he strove to build bridges between cultures, but always in the context of faith. Many of his works in the Albanian language have been published in 20 volumes. About another 40 will follow to complete his opera omnia. Fr Valentini also explored the byzantine world, as well as the Venetian influence in Albania. This is celebrated in the 22 volumes of Acta Albaniae Venetae. Once back in Italy, Fr Valentini taught at the Oriental Institute in Rome, and was then named professor of the Albanian language and literature at the University of Palermo. In Milan, he was the first director of Letture, the review published by the Jesuits of San Fedele. He held the position until his death.
BURUNDI: For the Promotion of Women
"To help the women of Burundi to become protagonists in their own communities": this is the goal of the project launched some days ago in Burundi by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). The project, in partnership with the Rutana diocese, is situated in Kibimba. The project comprises an educational farm where women and girls receive courses in literacy, civics, agricultural techniques and livestock rearing. Through the participation of women, JRS staff seeks to promote food security of the whole population, and to strengthen the communal relations between the local people and the former refugees, who have returned to Burundi after many years of exile in Tanzania. "Women are the driving force of the family", says the project director, Herman Nakintije. "If we want to pursue real societal development we have to focus on them. By teaching them to read and write and to improve their land cultivation and livestock rearing practices, we will help them offer a better education to their children, and to produce better quality food to feed their families." The project is restricted to about 150 women in Kibimba. The center has land, stables and chicken coops, which allow the participants in the courses to learn agricultural and animal rearing techniques.
CHINA: New Director for The Beijng Center
French Jesuit Thierry Meynard SJ takes over as the international director of The Beijing Center (TBC) from August 1, 2012. He will succeed Fr Roberto Ribeiro SJ, who is stepping down after completing his three-year term as international director. "Over the years I have seen TBC growing into a unique place for teaching and research on China," said Fr Meynard, who is a professor in the Philosophy Department at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, where he has been teaching since 2006. "TBC has offered an in-depth knowledge of Chinese language, culture and society to hundreds of students, and the TBC alumni are today engaged in China in many different ways. We shall continue our mission to provide a rigorous training in understanding China and to foster academic exchanges between China and the world." Fr Meynard first arrived in China in 1988 and brings with him wide experience through his work in higher education and life in China, in understanding Chinese culture, and in bridging Chinese and Western cultures. The Beijing Center was founded in 1988 by Fr Ron Anton SJ, who ran the centre for a decade before passing the reins to Fr Ribeiro. Initially conceived as a standard Study Abroad Programme, TBC has expanded in unexpected directions - today, it offers scholarships, publications, and a varied menu of programmes. TBC makes its resources available to students who wish to study in Beijing, to scholars who seek to explore the history and culture of China as it relates to other cultures, and to professional people who desire to understand and to build relationships with contemporary China. For more information: www.thebeijingcenter.org
EGYPT: A Jesuit Discovered the Sources of the Nile
Richard Francis Burton and especially John Hanning Speke have gone down in history as the discoverers, in 1858, of the sources of the Nile. They located them in Lake Victoria. But, in fact two centuries earlier, Spanish Jesuit Pedro Páez discovered the main source of one of the largest rivers in the world. Marco Tosatti, an Italian journalist, speaks of this in his contribution to Antes que Nadie, published by the Spanish writer Fernando Paz. In his book, Paz devotes a chapter to the heroism of the Madrid Jesuit, who predated by two centuries the unveiling of one of the great mysteries of history. In fact, Burton and Speke located the origin of the White Nile in Lake Victoria. But it is flow that matters in a river, and it is the Blue Nile which carries 80% of the water. The Blue Nile holds up the waters of the White Nile, until they join together at Omdurman. And these are the waters identified by Father Páez. He was born in 1654 in Olmeda de la Cebolla in Spain. He studied in Coimbra, became a priest in Goa, and then began a journey to reach the Somali coast. It was an odyssey that took him through every kind of adventure: malaria, pirates, capture by the Turks, torture and imprisonment. Finally, he was sold as a slave to the sultan of Yemen. He then crossed the desert barefoot, eating locusts. Páez traveled and described places such as the desert of Hadramaut, and Rub-al-Khali, the discovery of which other Europeans took the credit two centuries later. In 1603, he left to evangelize Ethiopia, calling himself Abdullah. He remained in Abyssinia for twenty years. One day, while accompanying the king on a horse ride, he discovered the sources of the Nile. It was April 21, 1618.
INDIA: Training Tribals in Electronic Media
Students from Bangladesh, India and Nepal have benefitted from a course in video production conducted by a Jesuit institute in Ranchi, capital of the Eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. The Lievens' Institute of Film and Electronic Media (LIFE) organized a fifteen-day certificate-course on various aspects of electronic media. The students were given training in communication and production processes, ranging from screenplay writing to cinematography, lighting, sound and online production. The course was practice-oriented, and the students worked in groups. Each group produced a news story and a short film. The course ended with a live studio production in which students used a multi-camera setup to produce a talk show on tribal-related issues in Jharkhand. Rituraj Sapkota, the course animator, said the course covered topics which are usually taught over a four to five month period. He said the students learned new concepts and skills easily, although most had little or no prior training in communication and production. The Jesuits of Ranchi set up the Institute last year in honor of Fr Constant Lievens, who is known as the apostle of Chotanagpur. The Institute conducts regular courses for local people, especially tribals.
INDIA: Migrant Workers' Movement in Kerala
Fr Martin Puthussery SJ, originally from Kerala but belonging to the Calcutta Jesuit Province, came to Kerala and began his mission of helping migrant workers in July 2011. Thousands of impoverished Tamils, Bengalis, Oriyas and Biharis are flocking into the thriving state of Kerala, looking for work. Many of these migrants are challenged by the locals who look down on them and consider them dirty, unhygienic and even possibly criminal. Some of them, suspected terrorists, end up in jail, as it was the case of Kora. Fr Puthussery was able to get him out of prison and to help him return home to West Bengal. Fr Puthussery is conversant in both Malayalam, his mother tongue, and Bengali. This skill alone makes him a highly valuable link between the locals and the migrants. Local courts in Kerala seek his help as interpreter during interrogations with laborers from the Eastern States. Now he and two religious sisters have formed the Migrant Workers' Movement in the urban centre of Ernakulam. This Movement provides legal aid to the migrants. This is a highly challenging project, with an enormous workload. "Officially there are 1.3 million migrant workers in Kerala now, but the unofficial figure is closer to three million," says Fr Puthussery. "About 40 percent of them are from underprivileged districts of West Bengal."
ITALY: Encounter of Civilization
On May 10, the exhibition "Encounter of Civilizations: Father Matteo Ricci European Ambassador in Ming's China" opened in Macerata, at the Biblioteca Mozzi Borgetti. The exhibition presents an integrated narration, through documents and images, of the first significant meeting between the Chinese and European civilizations in modern era. It was the Jesuit Matteo Ricci who inaugurated this meeting. This explains the title of the exhibition: a meeting of civilizations. It was Ricci's desire and goal that this meeting should take place, and he was finally received at the imperial court, as "European ambassador", on 24 January 1601. Ricci never lost the European dimension of his mission, and he often signed himself with the title "European Matteo Ricci." The exhibition is comprised of both documents and an historical narrative, and it focuses on Ricci the man, his mission, and his work. The exhibition is designed for the general public.
ITALY: Precious Discovery
In Modica, Sicily, hundreds of books from an old Jesuit library have been discovered and restored. The discovery is invaluable. It fills in the historical record and the cultural context of a span going back as far as five hundred years. The books were found in some basements of the Study Centre, where they had been stored and forgotten. This valuable legacy came to light again, and was restored to the community through the determination of some teachers of Campailla high school. The 500 odd books deal with canon law, theology, moral philosophy, Lenten and other sermons: they were published mainly between 1500 and 1700. All bear the stamp of the Capuchins, but they are the legacy of the Jesuits who had their residence and study center in that building, which is now the headquarters of the high school. The authors are mostly members of the Order. The content of this find enables us to understand the cultural, philosophical and moral trend of those times. There are also some Latin classics, volumes which are now no longer available. Among the interesting and curious is a volume on "The controversy on the consumption of a cup of chocolate during Lent." It is a philosophical dispute between Dominicans, Franciscans and Jesuits on the consumption of chocolate. That dispute was understandable in Modica, a town famous for the production of chocolate.
SPAIN: A Magic Magazine
The University of Deusto launched El Diario Tomorrow, a magazine which invites you to participate in rewriting the news with a positive angle. El Diario Tomorrow is a magic magazine; it focuses on the news of the future. The participants choose a current news item, and rewrite it imagining how it will unfold in a few years. The rule is to post positive messages, because negative ones have ample airplay every day. The participants who rewrite the news in this virtual magazine can share their efforts through social networks. The aim is to offer a positive and optimistic dimension to the crises and negative news which fill our airspace. The focus of the exercise is directed mainly to young people. It calls them to "change the world" by rewriting reality and imagining a better future. But the initiative is open to everybody between the ages of 16 to 100. The first aim of El Diario Tomorrow is to draw out a smile; but the magazine will offer a prize of an Interrail ticket for travelling Europe to the person (with three of his or her friends) who will demonstrate the strongest commitment to the positive news initiative. The winner will be the author of the 10 June 2012 item which has received the highest number of "I like" hits on the webpage of El Diario Tomorrow. What are the main qualities to participate in the contest? A positive attitude, wit and sense of humor. For more information visit: www.eldiariotomorrow.com
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