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    Vol. XVI, No.19 19 November 2012

    Father General

     

    Trip to the Provinces of Slovakia and Bohemia. From 23 to 29 November, Father General will undertake his second trip to the two eastern Provinces of the Assistancy of Central-East Europe.  From 23 to 26 November, he will be in Slovakia.  He will meet the Jesuits of the whole Province in Precov, the famous city where our martyrs, Frs Stefano Pongráz, Melchior Grodzhiecki and the priest Marco Krzevcanin, are revered.  Then he will proceed to Rožomberoc, the location of our common novitiate for the two Provinces. In Piešt'iany and Bratislava, he will meet the academic community of the Faculty of St Louis.  After a visit to the sick and elderly Jesuits in Ivanca pri Dunaji, Father Nicolás will start his visit to the Province of Bohemia.  On 27 November in Brno, he will meet the Jesuits of the Province, and visit the tomb of the famous theologian and professor, Fr Martinus Stredonius SJ (1587-1649).  Then he will proceed to Olomouc, where, at the Centro Aletti, he will meet with the Jesuits, collaborators and friends of the Society of Olomouc, Brno, Velehrad,  Host'yn and Tešìn.  After a short visit to Archbishop Graubner, he will travel to Prague, where he will again meet the Jesuits, collaborators and friends of the Society.  The visit will end with an encounter with students and professors of the grade school of Decin.  Before returning to Rome, Father Nicolás will call on Cardinal Dominik Duka OP, the archbishop of Prague.  Many questions, from many different places, have arrived to Father General in advance of his visit: he will respond to these questions on various occasions during the trip.  These questions make it clear that not only the Jesuits, but also the laity, collaborators, friends and young people are well prepared for this visit.

     


    From the Provinces

     

    AUSTRALIA: World's Oldest Schoolteacher

    Recently, just weeks short of his 100th birthday, Jesuit Fr Geoffrey Schneider has been declared the world's oldest teacher by the Guinness World Records.  The secret, according to the 99-year-old, is "a mountain of patience".  "If things are going wrong, don't start shouting.  Just proceed quietly, and things will settle down eventually," says Fr Schneider, who turns 100 in December.  The Jesuit priest has taught in schools in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.  He has shaped the intellects and values of leading Australian government, business, academia and sport figures, including the current leader of the federal opposition. As most workers switch between jobs or eagerly plan their retirement, Fr Schneider has no intention of ending his 47-year tenure at Sydney's St Aloysius' College, where he enjoys an enviable popularity.  In the early 1990s, students were asked to name a new building after their favourite Jesuit saint.  Innocently, three of them chose "Saint" Schneider.  "I didn't worry about it at the time, really, but after that we received a direction that Jesuits were not to have any buildings named after them while they are still alive," he says.

     

    BOLIVIA: International Congress of Fe y Alegría

    The 43rd International Congress of Fe y Alegría on Inclusive Education and its Challenges was held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, from the 6 to 9 November.  Father General participated in this meeting.  Present were more than 2,500 young people, the representatives from 19 countries.  Delegations from the various countries presented different aspects of the general theme of the Congress.  For instance, representatives of Fe y Alegría Bolivia reflected on their experience of working with disabled people, while representatives from Guatemala spoke of their work with indigenous people.  Fe y Alegría Chile explained the challenges and opportunities which arise from its work with people at risk, while their work with the heirs of the first African immigrants was introduced by the representatives from Honduras. "One of the cornerstones of Fe y Alegría is that everybody must have the basic right to education.  We are to share our experiences and outcomes, and to provide the education which may be missing in any person's life",  said Graciela Amo, who was responsible for communication during the Congress.  On Wednesday, 7 November, Father General spoke to the Congress on Inclusive Education. During his three days in the country Father Nicolàs also met with the Jesuits of Bolivia. They opened up their apostolic works to him. Father General also paid a visit to Cardinal Julio Terrazas. For more information on the Congress visit: http://www.feyalegria.org/?idSeccion=40.

     

    CHILE: Meeting of Jesuit Novices

    From 28 to 31 October novices of the Provinces of Argentine-Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile and Peru met in Valparaiso.  These were very intensive days.  The novices visited Valparaiso and Viña del Mar to acquaint themselves with the significant works of the Society of Jesus: the Sanctuary of St Alberto Hurtado, Infocap, Techo, the Retreat House, and the community of the international theologate.  There, they met with Fr Orlando Torres, who is responsible for Jesuit formation at the international level.  They also visited the prisoners at the Valparaiso prison, and participated in a guided tour of the Congress of the Republic. The busy days helped to create an atmosphere of brotherhood, generosity, and acceptance of what God's Spirit wants to convey to the novices through the Society.  The meeting deepened fundamental aspects of the spirituality of their vocation.  This is a spirituality which is embodied in the encounter with the needy, and an option for young people which leads them to search for a more just society.  The responsibility to put their human, spiritual and academic formation at the service of others came to the fore in this meeting of novices.

     

    CZECH REPUBLIC: Meeting of European Jesuits

    A meeting of Jesuits and their collaborators, who work in the field of campus ministry, was held in Prague, the Czech Republic, from the 8 to 11 November.  This was the third of such meetings.  The theme of the gathering was: The new evangelization: the Ignatian way.  The meeting was attended by about 30 delegates from all over Europe.  Those present included James Corkery, a professor of systematic theology, Fr John Dardis, the President of the Conference of European Provincials, and Fr Gerald Blaszczak, director of the new General Curia's Secretariat for the Service of Faith. "The main theme of the conference was particularly appropriate in this time when the Church is celebrating the Year of the Faith on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council", said Fr Jan Regner, the coordinator of the conference.  During the event, there were two eucharistic celebrations open to the public: one on 9 November in the Church of St Ignatius, and a second on 10 November in the Church of St Saviour.

     

    KOREA: A Second Jesuit Priest Imprisoned

    In April of this year, it was widely reported that a Jesuit priest, Fr Joseph Kim Chong-uk, had been imprisoned for opposing and attempting to hinder construction of a naval base in Jeju Island, Sth Korea.  Fr Kim has been released, but recently a second Jesuit priest, Fr John Lee Young-chan, has been put under court-ordered arrest.  He is presently imprisoned without bail, awaiting trial.  Fr Lee, together with five other peace activists, was detained by the police on October 24.  He had been protesting about the excessive force the police used in detaining a woman activist.  When the police manhandled him, they claimed his resistance amounted to use of violence.  On October 26, the court upheld the Fr Lee's arrest.  The great majority of residents at the construction site, Gangjeong Village, oppose the project not only because it disrupts their lives but also because it destroys the desire of many residents of Jeju that it be an island of peace.  The government has manipulated a small number of residents to voice their approval of the project.  Furthermore, the government has proceeded extra-legally in the construction, and has been deluding the people into thinking it is not just a naval base, but a joint government-civilian harbor to boost tourism.  The naval base will raise military tensions in NE Asia.  Large numbers of peace activists, including many priests and religious, are supporting local residents in their efforts to physically hinder construction of the base.  The Justice and Peace Committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea and the Korea Province of the Society of Jesus, among others, have issued statements in support of Fr Lee.

     

    INDIA: Magis South Asia 2012

    From 1 to 5 November, for the first time ever on such a large scale in Asia, the Jesuit Youth Convention (Magis), organized by Jesuits, was held at St Joseph's Boys' High School Campus Bangalore.  The theme of the convention was 'On pilgrimage with Christ at the Heart of the World,' and the participants were called 'pilgrims'.  Youth and youth animators from Jesuit Institutions all over India participated in three days of exposure, reflection, and a variety of activities.  Present were over 300 youthful pilgrims from twelve Indian states, from such diverse places as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Pune, Bombay, Mangalore, Hazaribag, Andhra Pradesh, Ranchi, Delhi, Patna, Madhya Pradesh, Darjeeling, Goa and Dumka.  Fr Brian Pereira SJ was the main coordinator of the Convention, assisted by Cyril and Lizzel, who were the coordinators of youth groups.  Magis began with the solemn Eucharistic celebration.  Fr Francis Serrao SJ, the Jesuit Provincial of Karnataka, was the main celebrant.  He invited the pilgrims to have "squint (2 way) vision" - one towards God and the other towards one's fellow human beings.  The Convention was firmly rooted in the Jesuit motto Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, and the major aspect of the convention comprised prayer, Eucharist, reflection and Examen.  But the participants, together with their animators and guides, were exposed to the villages, slums, hospitals, homes for the aged, and leprosy colonies in and around Bangalore.  See: http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=154295.

     

    INDIA: Ignatian Eco Retreat

    From 8 to 17 November, an eco retreat was held for Jesuits. It encouraged them to experience and relish the presence of the Lord in His creation.  It follows the Ignatian approach to God's creation, and our relationship with Him in Nature.  Robert Athickal SJ, who has introduced a "new Cosmology for our Times" for over two decades, was the animator for this retreat.  God created the Earth.  Adam (human) was created from Adamah (topsoil), and is therefore permanently linked to both God and the Earth.  Fr Kolvenbach notes of this relationship: it is "so closely united that a person cannot find God unless he finds him through the environment and, conversely, that his relationship to the environment will be out of balance unless he also relates to God."  Ignatius affirms a "three-fold relationship of subjects" between God, humans, and the rest of Creation. This relationship is particularly evident in the Principle and Foundation and the Contemplation to attain love, both at the beginning and at the culmination of the Spiritual Exercises.  In the Contemplatio, it is clear that Creation is both a source of God as well as a pathway to God.  The Ignatian Eco Retreat was held at the Navsarni Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Sawantwandi, on the banks of a beautiful lake near Goa.  The lake and lush green hills close by helped in the contact with God through nature.

     

    LATIN AMERICA: Message for the Meeting of Provincial

    The 25th meeting of the Conference of Latin American Provincial (CPAL) was held in Lima from 30 October to 3 November.  At its end, a message was sent to all Provinces, Regions, Jesuits and their collaborators in Latin America.  It aimed to communicate information about the meeting, as well as the spirit which informed it.  Among other matters, it notes: "Father General has been with us at this time.  He has thrown light on the process of the renewal of Provincial structures, service and mission.  He has heard the accounts of conscience of the Provincial and Regional Superiors, and shared our prayer, Eucharists and meals.  His presence and contributions have encouraged our confidence to tackle the problems about planning, mission and government in the Society in Latin America.  On the evening of the first day, Father General invited us to draw our attention to three matters, both in this meeting and in our Provinces.  The first is to analyze the realities in which we live, and to examine the demographics of our Provinces and Regions.  He asked us to evaluate the mission and apostolates in which we are currently engaged, whether they should be maintained, expanded or developed, or whether we find it simply too difficult to enter this consideration.  Secondly, he challenges us to express our vision of what we want, and how this fits in with the apostolates which we currently have.  Thirdly, he challenged us to consider increased collaboration among ourselves for the future, wherever this is possible."  After considering some of the issues raised in greater details, the message to Provinces, Regions, Jesuits and collaborators sincerely thanks the Province of Peru which was the host for the meeting.

     

    PERU: Fr. General Attends the Signing of a University Consortium

    During his visit to Peru, Father General attended the signing of a new university consortium.  The event brought together the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (UARM), the Universidad del Pacífico (UP), and the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC).  The new network aims to create a context for dialogue between the humanities, economics, and technological sciences. The signing took place during Father General's visit to the Universidad del Pacífico and the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, where he addressed lay collaborators in the educational apostolate of the Society in Peru.  In his speech, Father Nicolás pointed out that Jesuit education had to be an education of high quality based on four pillars: it has to be free, interactive with the world, universal in its dimension, and with clear in its vision of history.  That same evening, in the "San Juan Berchmans" Juniorate, Father General met Jesuits in formation, priests and brothers, as well as the members of the formation commission.  He urged young Jesuits to form themselves in the best possible way in order to be available for the mission.  He encouraged them to seek their own rhythms of prayer: "the spiritual life must not be separated from studies".  He also stressed the importance of asking oneself questions, without being satisfied with past answers, and to be always searching for God in their lives.

     

    PERU: The Road of the Andean Baroque

    The church of San Pedro Apóstol in Andahuaylillas, Cusco, was recently reopened after a restoration process which took four years.  Now the church shines again in all its splendour, and it will be the main point of interest in a tour of the Andean Baroque (La ruta del barroco andino).  This is an initiative which seeks to promote development in the area through tourism. The church was originally built in 1610.  Today it again glories in the name that was given to it long ago: the Sistine Chapel of America.  During the reopening ceremony, Hanaq Pacha Kusikuynin, a seventeenth century polyphonic composition in Quechua, resounded through its nave.  It is an exciting, solemn choral piece which was performed by children accompanied by the "Youth Symphony Orchestra" of Peru.  The composer was the Jesuit Fr Juan Pérez de Bocanegra, the first pastor of Andahuaylillas.  He was also responsible for the original decoration of the church, which he considered an important aspect of his work of evangelization.  According to his ideas, the indigenous population had to be led to wonder at the greatness of God and in this way appreciate the vastness of his divinity.  The Society of Jesus, the World Monuments Fund, and a number of other organizations, launched La ruta del barroco andino.  It is a tour of colonial churches of XVII and XVIII centuries Peru.  The pilgrimage starts with the church of the Society in the Cusco Province, continues in the Province of Quispicanchis with the chapel de la Virgen de la Candelaria in Canincunca, leads to the church of San Juan Bautista in Huaro, and ends with the church of San Pedro Apóstol in Andahuaylillas.

     

    TAIWAN: A Film on Adam Schall von Bell

    Adam Schall von Bell in the Service of the Emperors is a two-part documentary co-produced by Kuangchi Program Service in Taipei and Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation in Nanjing (China).  The docudrama tells the story of the seventeenth century German Jesuit missionary Fr Adam Schall von Bell.  Adam Schall was a brilliant scientist and astronomer.  His talent and ingenuity made him a valuable asset in the late Ming and early Qing empires.  He became friend and adviser of three emperors.  Having survived the fall of the Ming dynasty, Schall soon found himself serving the first emperor of the new Qing dynasty, the six-year old Chung-chi emperor.  Schall was allowed inside the imperial palace because the emperor's uncle had learned that Schall had completed work on a new and accurate calendar begun by Matteo Ricci during the former Ming dynasty.  For Chinese emperors, nothing was more important than an accurate calendar.  Schall became the friend of the young emperor, as well as his teacher and mentor.  Schall never converted any of the emperors to Catholicism, but by his creative bridge-building he helped to establish the Catholic Church in China and to change the course of Chinese history.