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Vol. XVI, No.18 5 November 2012
From the Curia
Jesuit Commons Meets in Rome. In 2010, Jesuit Commons, a collaborative effort of Jesuit educational and social service networks, partnered with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in establishing Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM), a pilot programme that has already offered online higher education to more than 1,000 refugee students in Kenya, Malawi and Syria. Hands-on support is offered by JRS field staff, with lectures and materials provided online by academics from Jesuit institutions in the US. From 5 to 7 November, JC:HEM will hold its annual meeting at the Curia in Rome. The focus of the three-day event will be to review the 2012 activities, to establish an academic board, to draft a 2013 action plan, and to consider proposals for expansion. During the meeting, participants will explore proposals for expanding JC:HEM to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka (in partnership with Jesuit universities in India), and to Chad with the help of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The annual meeting will also focus on ways to encourage more Jesuit universities to respond to the higher-education needs of many displaced people living on the margins of society.
Secretariate for Social Justice and Ecology. From the 10 to 14 of November, the leaders of the five global networks of Ignatian advocacy will meet in Rome. The meeting will consider the following issues: peace and human rights, ecology, the right to education, migration, and the management of natural and mining resources. Over the last two years, these networks have drawn up position papers on the particular area for which each is responsible. They identified the works which the Society performs in these fields, and they worked towards an agreement on the future development plan of such networks. During the coming meeting, they will evaluate the work already done, and will try to find ways to enhance the efforts of each network.
From the Provinces
COLOMBIA: Chirac Prize to Fr. Francisco de Roux
Jesuit Father Francisco de Roux, currently the Provincial of Colombia, is the winner of the annual award of the French Fondation Chirac. This prize is awarded to individuals who have distinguished themselves in their efforts to prevent conflicts. At the conclusion of his studies, Fr de Roux, who holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Paris and a second one from the London School of Economics, chose to return to his country of origin. He went to work in the Magdalena Medio, one of the most violent and poor regions of Colombia. There, he founded the "Program for peace and development". He has been threatened by the FARC guerrillas for his commitment to the participation of ordinary people in democracy, and for his struggle for justice. In 2001, he won the Human Rights Award.
COLOMBIA: Jesuits Support Peace Negotiations
The peace process, to try to put an end to the 48 years long conflict in Colombia, is a "unique opportunity", says Fr Francisco de Roux, the Provincial of Colombia. He was speaking about the negotiations which began on October 18 in Oslo (Norway) between the delegation of the Colombian government and the revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (FARC). The negotiations will continue on November 15 in Havana, where of the preliminary meetings were held. In making his comments, Fr De Roux recalled the 11 October invitation of the president of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, Mgr Rubén Salazar, to pray for peace. Fr de Roux committed the support of the Jesuits to the process. They will raise the issues in their universities, colleges, parishes, social centres, and the media. "It is necessary to make this commitment to the peace process clear both privately and publicly", says Fr. de Roux. "It is time to keep the appeal for peace alive, to support those who lose hope, and to explain to the sceptics the difficulties of the journey. Our explicit support of the private and in public talks between the parties is necessary. The process may encounter many obstacles. These can come from those who seek an armed solution to the problem, or simply from the human failings which are brought to the negotiations."
EUROPA: Bells of Europe
On October 15, the film, Bells of Europe, about the relationship between Christianity, European culture and the future of the continent, was screened to the Fathers of the Synod of Bishops. The film presents extracts from a series of exceptional, original interviews with major religious Christian personalities. These included Pope Benedict XVI, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Moscow Patriarch Kirill, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the former president of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Germany, Huber, and a number of other political and cultural personalities. The unifying thread of the film is the sound of the bells from different corners of the world, as well as the fusion of a bell in the ancient foundry of Agnone. The soundtrack comprises the music of the famous Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt, who, in an interview, explained how he was inspired by the tinkling of bells. The film was produced by Centro Televisivo Vaticano, and based on an idea of Jesuit Fr Germano Marani, of the Pontifical Institute Russicum in Rome. A number of other institutions, including the Gregorian Foundation, supported the production of the film. The film is now at the disposal of RAI-Cinema, which holds its rights for TV and video reproduction.
INDIA: Students Against Radiation
The students of Xavier Institute of Engineering, Mumbai, have begun a campaign to bring awareness to the public about the radiation effects of mobile towers in Mumbai city. One of the leading English dailies, The Hindustan Times, has reported on the efforts taken by our students. It notes: "From forums on social networking sites and blogs, to college festivals and seminars, the students want to build pressure on the union government to take cognisance of the hazards of suspected high levels of radiation emitted by mobile towers." Xavier Institute of Engineering, Mumbai, is the first Jesuit Engineering School in South Asia. It offers undergraduate degrees in three branches: Computer Engineering, Information Technology Engineering, and Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering. According to Fr John-Rose SJ, Deputy Director of Xavier Institute, the permissible limit for mobile / cell tower radiation emission is 450 milliwatts per square meter. But there are as many as 1830 illegal cell / mobile towers in Mumbai city alone and their radiation exceeds 9.2 Watt per square meter. "It is one of the efforts taken by the Jesuits of the Bombay Province in response to Father General's "Healing the World", says Fr John-Rose, while commenting on the students movement against radiation. http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Mumbai/Students-take-up-fight-against-radiation/Article1-943331.aspx.
ITALY: "Matteo Ricci" International Award
On 23 October this year, the Matteo Ricci International Award, sponsored by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan (Italy), was conferred on Fra' Matthew Festing, Grand Master of the Order of Malta. On the occasion of the conferral, Festing gave a Lectio Cathedrae Magistralis on "Charity: the basis of civilized human life. How the Order of Malta should play its part". The award was established in 1998 by the Faculty of Political Sciences of the Catholic University, under the presidency of Alberto Quadrio Curzio. It recalls the memory of the Jesuit missionary who straddled the XVI and XVII centuries. This year, the award was granted to Fra' Matthew Festing for "the way in which he has ordered the various activities of the Order. These, squarely based on Christian principles, are always oriented to values of solidarity, of respect for and protection of people, and of help for the weak and defenceless." The practical implementation of these is the humanitarian face of the Order, which operated in more than 120 countries around the world.
MALAWI: A New School for the Poor
The Zambia-Malawi Jesuit Province has made an "option for the poor" commitment to open a co-educational boarding school for 500 students at Kasungu, a rural area of Malawi. The Loyola Jesuit Secondary School (LJSS) will operate in cooperation with the Government, which will pay the salaries of teachers and other staff. This means that fees will be lower than those of other schools, and LJSS will be accessible to families of lesser means. In Malawi, less that 35% of the youth attend secondary school, and less than 40% of these actually finish up the four years with passing grades. Statistics for girls are even lower. Fr Emmanuel Mumba SJ, the Provincial of the Zambia-Malawi Province of the Society of Jesus, outlined the background of the Jesuit decision to establish LJSS. He highlighted the Jesuit commitment to create an "option for the poor" in response to the country's need for excellent secondary education accessible to children from all backgrounds. Enrolment in the school will not be only for Catholics, but a Catholic environment and the Jesuit ethos will be emphasized at the school from the start. Thus the Jesuit vision and mission will stress a commitment to learning that is not only geared to making a living but also to making a difference - to transform Malawian society with the values of a faith that promotes justice. For more information see the school website: www.loyola-malawi.org
NORTH AFRICA: The Dialogue of Life
In his address to the Synod of Bishops, Mgr Paul Desfarges, Bishop of Constantine-Hippone in North Africa, stressed the importance of the dialogue of ordinary life. Among other things he said: "The extreme condition of our churches in Maghreb - the very small numbers, most of whom are foreigners in and among a muslim population - always brings us back to the basics: the dialogue of ordinary life. For us, there can be no inter-religious dialogue without a dialogue of life, and the dialogue of life joins the dialogue of God with humanity. This dialogue of life bears witness to salvation at work: it is the mediation, or sacrament, of the salvation of God. In and through dialogue, the good news is already announced. It is in a smile, in a handshake, in sharing a cup of coffee or tea that we say to each other: "I am happy for your life." The Church not only bears the good news of God, but also the good news of man. These ordinary encounters comprise the first evangelization, because they talk about the Good News of universal brotherhood. How many muslims have been marked by the encounters with a study colleague from Sub-Sahara, with a business executive, or on a building site with a fellow worker from the Philippines or Korea or elsewhere. Many of our church members (foreign workers on international working sites, sub-Saharian students, migrants), once they have overcome the sometimes very difficult hardships of their early days in a muslim world, experience a renewal of their life of faith. And so, we experience inter-religious dialogue first as a meeting of humanity, a human encounter between believers: we sit down with one another, at the same table. Our witness takes the shape of the washing of feet. Other forms of dialogue - spiritual dialogue, theological dialogue, and the dialogue of collaboration in common tasks - are found within this dialogue of ordinary life."
SPAIN: Tribute to Ruiz de Montoya
On October 16, in Madrid, the Real Academia de la Lengua (R.A.E.) published a new edition of the book: Arte, vocabulario, tesoro y catecismo de la lengua guaraní. It provided the occasion to pay tribute to Jesuit Fr Antonio Ruiz de Montoya with a lectio magistralis. The address was given by the great Ruiz de Montoya scholar, Fr Bartomeu Meliá, who opened up the life and work of his subject. This great missionary was a pioneer in the Guaraní language. He came to the Reductions of Paraguay in the first decades of the seventeenth century. Ruiz de Montoya was born in Lima (Peru) in 1585, and he entered the Society of Jesus in 1606. He was still a novice when his superiors sent him to Paraguay, a country where the Reductions were taking shape. The Reductions comprised an original system of mission organization: they were self-sufficient small towns, created to evangelize and to protect the indigenous people from the so-called Paulists, or native hunters who came from the city of São Paulo in Brazil. Fr de Montoya was one of the first to translate several books in Guaraní, the language of local population. He also wrote of the persecution of the indigenous people. The lecturer, Jesuit Fr Bartomeu Meliá, arrived in Paraguay in 1954. As a writer, researcher and ethno-linguist, he devoted his life to the defence of the indigenous people. In 2010, he was awarded the Prize Bartolomeo de las Casas.
USA: Award to Kino Border Initiative
The Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a Jesuit, binational ministry in Nogales, Ariz., USA, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, was recently honored for its work with migrants. "There's a lot of negative press about the US-Mexico border, and I think these awards draw attention to positive programs and efforts that are happening on the border and to the people who live and work there," says Jesuit Fr Sean Carroll, executive director of KBI. "It's a real affirmation of our staff and the work we're doing." The KBI has been one of four organizations to receive an award for binational cooperation and innovation along the US-Mexico border. The awards program honors "success stories" in local and state collaboration between the United States and Mexico. KBI was founded in 2009 by six organizations: the California Province of the Society of Jesus, the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, the Diocese of Tucson, and the Archdiocese of Hermosillo. Currently, there are four Jesuits working at KBI - two from the California Province and two from the Mexican Province. Jesuits are involved in other ways as well. In addition to education and advocacy, KBI also focuses on humanitarian assistance. Since its founding, the group has provided thousands of migrants with food, shelter, first aid and pastoral support. "It's a great blessing for us to offer those services," Fr. Carroll says. Visit: http://www.kinoborderinitiative.org to learn more about volunteer and educational opportunities.
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There is a video of Jean Roger Ndombi, S.J., the outgoing Regional Assistant to Africa and Madagascar, sharing his experience of the General Curia in Rome. To view, follow the link below or click on the "video" icon on our homepage. http://www.sjweb.info/video/VideoShow.cfm?VideoID=15
There is a video of a conversation between Paul Beré, S.J. (Expert at the recent Synod of Bishops 2012) and Anthony da Silva (the Secretary for Collaboration with Others). Follow the link below http://www.sjweb.info/video/VideoShow.cfm?VideoID=16 or click on the "Video" icon on our homepage.