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Vol. XVI, N. 14 25 September 2012
Visit to Poland. From 23 to 30 September, Father General visits both Provinces of Poland. Two important anniversaries were the reason for this visit. 27 September is the fourth centenary of the death of Father Peter Skarga, a Jesuit who is very important in the story of Polish culture. 12 October will mark the centenary of the death of Father Jan Beyzym, a great missionary who dedicated his life to the care of lepers in Madagascar, and who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
From 23 to 26 September, Father General will be in the Northern Poland Province. Starting in Gdynia, he visited the College and met with Jesuits who work in the pastoral ministry - a second meeting with them is planned in Warsaw on the afternoon of 26 September. He met also with Jesuits from both Provinces, their collaborators and employees, who work in the Spiritual Exercises ministry. From Gdynia, he travelled to Warsaw where many activities have been planned. He met with the scholastics of the theologate (the Bobolanum in Warsaw) and philosophate (the Ignatianum in Cracow), the lay colleagues in our works, movements and communities (members of the Christian Life Communities (CLC) include), university chaplains, and student representatives from both Provinces.
From 27 to 30 September, Father General will be in the Southern Province, based in Cracow, where he had a busy schedule of appointments. He met with Jesuits and lay personnel of both Provinces who work in the communications sector (publishing, editing, multi-media, the Deon internet portal, etc), as well as those who work in the intellectual apostolate. In Nowy Sacz, there will be meetings with the students and teachers (both Jesuit and lay) of our Colleges, as well as the Jesuits engaged in the pastoral ministry. Yet another meeting was planned with them at Gliwice, which will include young people and Jesuits associated with the Magis community. 27 September is set aside for the blessing of a plaque commemorating Father Skarga, which will mark the start of his beatification process. The official commemoration of Father Beyzym's centenary will be on 30 September. Father General is calling on religious and civic dignitaries in each of the cities he is scheduled to visit.
From the Provinces
AFRICA: Ten Years of AJAN
The African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) has just celebrated its tenth anniversary from its foundation. The network was set up by the Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) in 2002 to coordinate and expand the Jesuit response to the AIDS pandemic across the continent. Building on what has been achieved to plan for the future, AJAN has organised two workshops in last few months. The first launched a unique programme for HIV prevention, in the context of integral youth development. The second workshop has considered programmes in the wider context of the social injustice that causes AIDS, and has focused on a response that enhances the self-reliance and dignity of people. "For AJAN this anniversary is a time to give thanks and evaluate what has been achieved. It is clear that the Network has attained a number of remarkable objectives, most of which are due to the indefatigable enthusiasm and courage of the two coordinators, Frs Michael Czerny and Paterne Mombé, and their helpers. I can't emphasise enough how much we have been helped by the generosity of our overseas donors and brother Jesuits. We have much to be grateful for", said Fr Michael Lewis SJ, JESAM President, but, he added, "the next decade poses fresh and difficult challenges. The general perception is that HIV/AIDS is now a controllable chronic condition easily treatable with modern ARV drugs. While this may be the case in developed countries, it is not so in Africa and Madagascar, where Jesuits and their co-workers help poor and struggling people who often don't have the necessary medication."
BRAZIL: New Jesuit Website
In recent months the Brazilian Jesuits have launched a new website with a new logo. With this initiative the Society of Jesus wants to give more visibility to social, educational and cultural projects which have been undertaken since some times in the country. "The Society of Jesus - explains Father Gerard Lacerdine, coordinator of Jesuit communication in Brazil - is known as something of the past, not as it is today, and that is why we want to disclose our current works and what we plan to do in the near future." At the moment the Jesuits in Brazil are about 650, many of them involved in various charitable works. The educational network of the Society of Jesus counts about twenty schools including universities and institutes of higher learning, with about 150,000 students , plus more than 70 social and educational projects spread all over the country. "They are schools on the cutting edge - explains Father Lacerdine - in which it is offered to everybody the possibility of scholarships which cover the total amount of fees." The new website, realized by a well-known graphic agency after having heard the opinion of 70 Brazilian Jesuits , has a modern visual language. "More than a graphic project - sais Fr. Lacerdine - it summarizes the location and the width of the sphere of activity of the Jesuits in front of the new problems in cultural, educational and social fields. Visit: www.jesuitasbrasil.com
GUATEMALA: Training on Agroforestry
The Granja Escuela Popol Ja (or Popol Ja Farm School) is part of the Jesuit parish La natividad de la Virgen María in Santa Maria Chiquimula, Totonicapán in Guatemala. The farm is located next to a Fe y Alegría (Centro de Educación Integral Indigena Popol Ja) and is a place of education, training and experimentation designed to generate knowledge that can be replicated in home gardens and communities across the municipality. Totonicapán is an agricultural region inhabited mainly by the K'iche', one of the Maya indigenous groups. The Society of Jesus has been working for more than 20 years in this community, with educational, pastoral, and development programs. The Granja Escuela Popol Ja started three years ago with the desire to expand the school's academic programs by providing training on agriculture, livestock, and forestry to the local community. The farm has several stables for breeding pigs, chickens, and rabbits, a composting centre, a greenhouse, a nursery, more than 15 agricultural experimental plots, a permanent botanical garden, and a laboratory for the production of natural medicine. More than 50 medicinal plants are grown in a permanent botanical garden. Medicinal products are developed in a laboratory equipped with precision instruments.Four products - soap, shampoo, syrup and ointment - are produced and sold on the farm and in the parish clinic. Eggs, meat, seeds, vegetables, forest plants, and natural medicines are the products marketed at the Granja Escuela Popol Ja. The Granja Escuela Popol Ja aspires to become a regional resource centre in agroforestry education; a centre able to generate knowledge and catalyze sound agricultural and forestry practices and thus build sustainable local communities (www.ecojesuit.com)
HONG KONG: The Jesuits and the Founding of a University
The Jesuits in Hong Kong officially present the Hong Kong Special Administration the request for the establishment of their own University. According to the Kong Ko Bao (the Chinese version of the diocesan bulletin), the Jesuits have centuries of experience in the field of education, appreciated also in China, especially in Hong Kong, where they have two high schools. In China, their commitment to education dates back to Fr. Matteo Ricci (1552-1610). In recent history, the Jesuits founded in Shanghai the Institute of Chinese Studies in 1870 and the Aurora University in 1903: in Tian Jin, in 1922, the Institute for Trade and Industry. With the arrival of the first Irish Jesuits in Hong Kong in 1926, Ricci Hall was founded (a male accommodation within the University of Hong Kong) and two Wah Yan College. Precisely the alumni of Wah Yan launched the first proposal for the establishment of a Jesuit University in Hong Kong, appreciating the excellent education received by the Jesuits. For a couple of years, therefore, the project has been developed with a special Commission. Fr. Ron Anton, SJ, who has worked for a long time in Beijing contributed to the founding of the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies said: "The work for the foundation of the university is in progress and is very intense. We have already signed a cooperation agreement with 21 universities in Asia, America and Europe, and negotiations with other 4 or 5 are in progress". At the International Book Fair in Hong Kong, held in August, the Jesuits presented The texts of Education of the Society of Jesus and The Education of the Jesuits as part of the preparatory work for the establishment of the new university.
INDIA: Eco-friendly Roof for Bom Jesus Basilica
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is planning to provide an eco-friendly roof to Bom Jesus, Goa's oldest Basilica, a world heritage site, which houses the remains of St. Francis Xavier. The massive asbestos roof on the imposing lateritic stone building will be replaced by eco-friendly galvanized sheet. The decision was taken to ensure that tourists were not exposed to the risk of cancer due to exposure to asbestos, said Jesuit Father Savio Barreto, Rector of the Basilica. "We agreed to the idea of galvanized sheets because all such heritage buildings in the world have discarded asbestos as a building material. I believe that the modern material would be of great help as it is eco-friendly too," he said. Built in 1604, the church attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims every year. A few decades ago, heavy maintenance costs forced the authorities to switch from tiles and rafters to asbestos to cover the 300 sq mt wide roof of the church.
IRELAND: Jesuit Awarded Prestigious French Honor
Conor Harper, an Irish Jesuit, has been awarded one of the most prestigious honors that the French government can bestow. He has been appointed as a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of the four ministerial orders of the French Republic. The purpose of this award is to honour individuals who have distinguished themselves through their artistic or literary contributions or the contribution they have made to the spread of French culture in France and worldwide. For over forty years Conor has promoted French culture in Ireland and abroad, teaching French to young Irish students during all that time. Since 1976 he has been chaplain to the French community in Dublin, an appointment made by the French Embassy and the Archbishop of Paris. He is also vice-president of Alliance Française, an organization whose aim is to promote French culture and serve as a place for intercultural exchanges between Irish culture and the cultures of the French-speaking world. He is regularly called on by French radio and television to do interviews concerning current Irish stories of interest abroad. Conor, who is now a curate in Donnybrook Parish in Dublin, says that the award is really a credit to the Irish Jesuit Province and the Jesuits who encouraged him in his teaching and study. The French Ambassador will officially grant him the insignia of the Ordre in the early Autumn at a special ceremony in Dublin.
LATIN AMERICA: Meeting of Theologians
From the 3rd to the 7th of September the Theological Commission of CPAL (Conference of Latin American Provincials) met in San Salvador (El Salvador). For the second year the meeting was devoted to deepen "How the Second Vatican Council was receipt in Latin America." Eleven Jesuits from different Provinces of Latin America participated in the meeting and the first day they met with the Provincial of Central America. The presentations touched various aspects of the Second Vatican Council (structure, Christology, anthropology, ecclesiology) and its relationship with Latin America (following Christ, preferential option for the poor, signs of the times and pneumatology). Next year, they will continue to reflect on the Second Vatican Council and the starting point will the conclusions drawn from this meeting: eschatology, biblical studies, inculturation, ecclesiology, Christology. The members of the commission consider that they are growing as a group and that every meeting is an occasion for learning and enriching discussion. Moreover, during the meeting they had the occasion to visit the "martyrdom path" (Msgr Romero and the Jesuit martyrs). Also, a conference was offered to the community of the Universidad Centroamericana.
MACAU: Casa Ricci Social Services
Casa Ricci Social Services, a Jesuit social services organization based in Macau, has been serving leprosy and HIV-AIDS infected and affected people in mainland China for decade, working with individuals and communities to understand and heal the different wounds that discrimination and marginalization cause in their individual and social life. "During the last 10 years of working with and in these communities, we learnt that discrimination results in isolation, which not only affects their bodies (physical disabilities), but also distort the way they understand and relate to themselves and to others, together with the way they relate with their natural environment", writes Fr Fernando Azpiroz, SJ, Director of Casa Ricci Social Services, who succeeded its founder, Fr Luis Ruiz, SJ who passed away last July 2011. Reconciliation to restore communion in these communities became a learning process of rediscovering needs and values. By learning how to care for their physical wounds to achieve physical health, they slowly rediscover the value of the individual person. Then, by learning how to work together to achieve economic development, they rediscover the need they have of the other and the value of the community life. Finally, by learning how to take care of their natural environment, they rediscover their need for water, land, and forest, and how these resources are gifts given in the natural environment where they live, and shared with other communities as well. To find out more about Casa Ricci Social Services, visit: www.casaricci.org.
EAST TIMOR: The Realization of a Dream
The Jesuits in East Timor marked a major milestone on July 14 when they broke ground for the educational institute they are building in Kasait, 18 km West of Dili. Construction of phase one of Instituto de Educação Jesuíta has began at the end of July. The first phase consists of what is needed for the secondary school unit of the institute to open in time for the new school year in January 2013 - the road and entrance, some classrooms and other teaching facilities, and an administration block. For the Timorese Jesuits the moment brought them closer to the realization of a dream - after 10 years of discernment about having a quality education apostolate in their country. The people in the area are excited about the project that they see as giving them an opportunity to improve their lives. Kasait is a rural area where many houses have walls of palm trunks, roofs of corrugated iron and floors of soil or concrete. Many families have to get their drinking water from a public tap or a river, lake or stream. There is now no secondary school in the immediate area so Instituto de Educação Jesuíta will give the children access to secondary education. The people are also expecting positive changes to the community as the Jesuits form good leaders. The Jesuits hope that the institute will be a model for other educational institutions in the country. In addition to the secondary school, Instituto de Educação Jesuíta will have a teacher education academy that will help the country increase its number of teachers with formal training in education.
USA: Online Retreat into Arabic
Father Andrew Alexander, of the Wisconsin Province, writes: "We are writing to share a piece of great news. Some time ago, Maureen Waldron and I heard from a Jesuit in Beirut (Lebanon) requesting permission to translate our Online Retreat into Arabic. We asked him to do the translation there and to host it on his web site. The good news I share now is that Tony Homsy, S.J., a member of the Near East Province, has completed his work and has sent us the link to his translation of our 34 week version of the movements of the Exercises, in Arabic. The next steps are publicity and so we will help him spread the news. We thought it was important to share the news with you, so that you can share it with whomever should know and so they could let others know about it. The Arabic retreat is linked on our Online Ministries home page and on our Online Retreat home page, along with the translations in Japanese and Swedish (hosted on their home sites) and Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese and Kiswahili (hosted on our site). If you have other ideas about other ways/places to share information about this retreat in the Arabic speaking world, we would welcome your help. Here is the direct link, along with the title in Arabic: The Online 34 Week Retreat in Arabic: Journey with the Lord." See: http://www.jespro-retreats.org. See also: http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/online.html