Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Immediately after the announcement of the resignation of Benedict XVI, Father General sent a short letter to the whole Society in which he says among other things: "We are profoundly grateful for the trust and inspiration Pope Benedict has given us through the years of his pontificate. In the spirit of the fourth vow that unites the Society in a special way to the Roman Pontiff, let us pray for Pope Benedict XVI, and let us recommit ourselves to the mission which he has entrusted to the Society. Finally, with the whole Church, let us pray in a special way for the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit, as a new Successor of Peter is sought and elected."
From the Curia
The last two years have seen the development within the Society of what we call the Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks (GIAN). The five existing networks are centred on Ecology, Right to Education, Management of Natural Resources and Minerals, Migration, and Peace and Human Rights. Promotio Iustitiae no.110 is completely dedicated to the Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks. Along with other articles, it includes the position documents of these networks, a summary of what they are currently doing, and their plans for the future. Please find here the link to the publication: http://www.sjweb.info/documents/sjs/pjnew/PJ110ENG.pdf
Assistant Treasurer for Development Resources. With the recent visit to Cuba from February 7 to 17, the Assistant Treasurer for Development Resources began supporting the second group of Provinces and Regions to establish their development offices. The Provinces and Regions in this group are Cuba, Zimbabwe, East Timor, Brazil-Amazon, Latvia and Lithuania. This support will continue until June 2014. With the first group of flagship projects begins the second phase of online support for twelve months. The Provinces and Regions in this group are the Philippines, Indonesia, Madhya Pradesh, Malta and Eastern Africa. These ten Provinces and Regions account for 8.8% of all Jesuits, 11.95% of the novices and 16.85% of the students (data from 2011).
From the Provinces
AFRICA: 30 Years of Conversion
How has the Catholic Church responded to HIV in the 30 years since the discovery of HIV? This was the question for a three-day conference, held at St Joseph's Theological Institute, Cedara, South Africa, 20-22 January 2013, and organized by AJAN (African Jesuit AIDS Network) in collaboration with the AIDS Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference. The response to AIDS worldwide and in Africa shows how the Church has learned to be embracing, her arms stretched wide in welcome. After some initial fear, these have been 30 years of conversion in discerning and discovering how to implement Gospel-inspired responses to the challenges of HIV/AIDS. During the South African conference several types of responses to the HIV/AIDS were identified: existing ministries typical of the Church (hospitals, clinics, schools, parishes) reached out and expanded, while new ministries were launched and developed. Responses have included documentation, research, theological reflection based on experience, developing spirituality and media outreach. In Africa, much of this production was furthered by AJAN since 2002, and the recent conference at St Joseph's is another important step in historical and theological research. Unlike many other helping organizations, the Church did not need to "come to help." Instead, God's people can gratefully testify, "The Church was already with us before AIDS. The Church is generously with us now during AIDS, and the Church will surely be with us after AIDS." For further details: www.jesuitaids.net
AUSTRALIA: New Urban Aboriginal School
At the end of January, an all-Aboriginal urban primary school, believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, has been opened in Redfern, Sydney. Redfern Jarjum College was the dream of Ailsa Gillett, who has been a volunteer and advocate with the Jesuits for the past 25 years. She runs free breakfast and outreach programs for indigenous children in the inner-Sydney suburb of Redfern. 'I could see all these wonderful, spirited, talented young kids in different areas who were missing their education for any number of reasons,' she said. The new school was originally sponsored by St Aloysius College, one of the Jesuit secondary colleges in Sydney where Ms Gillett works as an executive assistant. Redfern Jarjum College has also been made possible by support from the Catholic Block Grant Authority, the Sydney Archdiocese, and donations from the Jesuit community. The school building, which sits next to the St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Redfern and was once popular with squatters, has been refurbished at a cost of $2.8 million. The principal, Beatrice Sheen, who is Aboriginal, said it had been a "privilege and an honour" to help develop the school and its curriculum over the past two years.
CHINA: Jin Luxian's "Memoirs"
Jin Luxian is considered by many to be one of China's most controversial religious figures. Educated by the Jesuits, he joined the Society of Jesus and was ordained priest in 1945 before continuing his studies in Europe. In 1951 he made the dangerous decision to return to the newly established People's Republic of China. He became one of the many thousands of Roman Catholics who suffered persecution. Convicted of counter-revolutionary activities and treason, he was imprisoned for 27 years and only released in 1982. His subsequent decision to accept the government's invitation to resume his prior role as head of the Shanghai Seminary and then assume the title of Bishop of Shanghai without Vatican approval shocked many Catholics. Now, some thirty years later, still serving as Bishop and regarded as one of the leading figures in the Chinese Catholic Church, Jin recounts formative experiences that provide essential insight into the faith and morality that sustained him through the turbulent years of the late 20th Century. In his volume of memoirs (now published in English by the Hong Kong University Press: The Memoirs of Jin Luxian; volume one: Learning and Relearming (1916-1982), Jin recalls his childhood and education, his entry into the Society of Jesus and formation as a priest, his return to China, imprisonment and, finally, his release and return to Shanghai.
COLOMBIA: Centre for Intercultural Studies
The Centre for Intercultural Studies of the Javeriana University in Cali, received the first place in the Award for Research and Innovation for Interculturality delivered by the Intercultural Chair "Córdoba, Ciudad de Encuentro" of Cordoba University in Spain. The event aims to stimulate reflection on intercultural oriented work that is being developed by public and private institutions around the world. This time 15 finalists were selected from Italy, Spain, Colombia and Morocco. The first place in the category of innovation, the core category of the prize, was awarded, ex-aequo, to two Colombian realities: the intercultural mediation work realized by the Centre for Intercultural Studies of the Pontifical Javeriana University in Cali, and the degree in Education of Mother Earth presented by the University of Antioquia. During the introduction to the awards it was underlined that "both experiences contribute to the understanding of social groups that make up the Colombian society, to the advancement of social peace and the development of an alternative academic model, assigning a key role to the culture of indigenous peoples of the interested areas, offering a innovative model of intercultural intervention for the whole international community." The experience of the Centre for Intercultural Studies was particularly highlighted for his work of intercultural mediation in a contest of social conflicts and violence such as that in Colombia.
TAIWAN: Training for Bishops
In January, Kuangchi Program Service (KPS), run by Jesuits of the Chinese Province in Taipei, responded to an invitation from Taiwan's Chinese Regional Bishops Conference to conduct a three-day training workshop on "How to Deal with the Media." The workshop, held at the new Bishops' Conference building in Taipei, was attended by the bishops and their diocesan representatives as well as the Secretary of the Conference, a total of about 15 participants. The goals of the workshop were to enable Taiwan's bishops to make more effective use of the secular media and to provide them with essential skills and procedures to be used when crisis arise in their dioceses. This workshop was similar to the workshop that KPS conducted in 2012 for the Hualien Diocese, but this time the focus was primarily on the role of the Bishop. The bishops were encouraged to follow the late Cardinal Paul Shan's urging that such workshops be held regularly. It was also proposed that the bishops and other church leaders take advantage of professional organizations which offers scholarships to church personnel, in order to improve their communication and presentation skills.
EAST TIMOR: The Realization of a Dream
After years of discussions and discernment, the construction process for the Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiola was set in motion with the ground-breaking ceremony on 14 July 2012. At every meeting with the architect, constructors and consultants, Australian Jesuit Fr Quyen Vu was there pressing the point: 'We need the building by 7 January 2013!' He pointed out to them the planned opening on 15 January, for the beginning of the school-year. There were the usual hiccups, but early in the morning on 14 January, the Jesuits went to take delivery of the first building. The Jesuits and the teachers arrived early on 15 January. The Mass was scheduled for 8.30am, but many of the students were there at 7.30am. For the Jesuits in East Timor, the day marked the realization of a ten-year dream of having an education apostolate in their country to serve the needs of the people. East Timor has insufficient schools and a shortage of trained teachers. After the Mass, the students were told what the school was going to be for them."This school will prepare youth to become people that the Church and the country needs. To prepare people who care for the country, we have to provide the best quality of education that we can offer," said Fr Plinio do Rosario Gusmao dos Reis Martins SJ, who is the school's director. Australian Jesuit schools and parishes are major supporters of the Instituto de Educação Jesuíta project, which will eventually consist of the Colégio Santo Inácio de Loiola high school and a teacher training college, the Colégio de São João de Brito. For more information visit: www.educacao-jesuita.tl.
ITALY: International Cardinal Martini Award
On February 15, anniversary of the birth of the late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the diocese of Milan announced the establishment of an international award to honour his memory. Cardinal Angelo Scola, present archbishop of Milan, explained the reasons for this initiative: "We are called to safeguard the heritage of faith of the man who was archbishop of our Church: he struggled for not losing anyone and anything (cfr. John 6, 39). He who lived eucharistically his faith in resurrection, always looked for embracing the whole of man and all men. He could do it because he was rooted in an unshakeable certainty that Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection, is perpetually offered to the freedom of everyone. For this reason the archdiocese of Milan establish the first edition of the International Martini Award: so that the memory of our beloved bishop be not reduced to partial memories, but will be always welcome and lived in all its worth: an extraordinary testimony of the risen Christ, eternal Word of the Father." The award is divided into two sections: the study and the knowledge of the thought and the figure of Cardinal Martini; and, the development of the fruitful relationship between Bible and culture, in its various fields: art, literature, philosophy, science, economics, politics, religions, entertainment, etc. For more details, rules and forms to participate in the competition see: www.martiniaward.it
USA: International Ecology Project
The International Ecology Project (IJEP) is a three-year collaborative project between Loyola University Chicago faculty and scholars from Jesuit institutions around the world to create an online Living Textbook that addresses select environmental science challenges from an integrated scientific, moral, and spiritual perspective. This Living Textbook will be a curricular resource in environmental science for teachers and students in Jesuit institutions of higher education and secondary schools worldwide. The IJEP emerged as a response of the Higher Education Secretariat to the challenge of Father General Adolfo Nicolás to the Society of Jesus to redouble its commitment to environmental stewardship in gratitude to God for the gift of the natural world, contained in his 16 September 2011 letter to Jesuits around the world and where he referred to the document Healing a Broken World (HBW). In light of today's serious environmental challenges, HBW's 'recommendation four' asked Jesuit institutions of higher education to "engage students in transformative education." The recommendation's third section specifically called for development of "curricula that address sustainability issues and impart a certain level of environmental literacy." For more information: www.luc.edu/ijep
USA: Saving the Earth as a New Frontier
Jesuit Father John Surette, of the New England Province, has a dream for the Society of Jesus. Responding to Father General Adolfo Nicolás's call for Jesuits to explore the "frontiers, those geographical and spiritual places where others do not reach or find difficult to reach," Fr. Surette looks to a frontier very close to home: planet Earth. "Forests are shrinking, water tables are falling, soils are eroding, fisheries are collapsing, rivers are running dry, glaciers and ice caps are melting, coral reefs are bleaching, the ocean is becoming more acidic, the atmosphere is warming, plant and animal species are going into extinction at a greater rate and the children of all species are increasingly being born sick. In all of this and much more we are reaching the limits of what life on Earth can tolerate," Fr. Surette writes. A member of the Society of Jesus for 55 years, Fr. Surette has spent the last 22 years giving retreats and workshops on eco-spirituality. He sees the state of the Earth as one of the most important issues today: "What is happening to Earth belongs to an order of magnitude beyond any other into which we Jesuits have poured out our apostolic energies in the past. It is of greater magnitude than any of the present day social justice issues." Fr. Surette believes that Jesuits are called to make a religious response to Earth's fate. "This appears to be the most challenging role that we Jesuits have ever been asked to assume," he writes. "It will require that we move beyond any denial and paralysis and that we move into the future with hope, courage and intention" Surette concludes.
ZIMBABWE: Arrupe College Opens to the Laity
Arrupe College, the Jesuit school of Philosophy and Humanities in Harare (Zimbabwe), has for the first time opened its doors for the lay Catholics who wish to have basic appreciation of theology and literature. The classes that started running on January 19 will continue every Saturday for the next 9 weeks. "We did a community assessment and found out what people needed and this is our way of responding to their wishes," says Fr Daka SJ., the Dean of Arrupe. So far the courses on offer are Friendship and English Literature. The Friendship course touches on various modules like introduction to theology and Mariology. There has been a good response from parishioners around Harare and the college is also gathering more information on what people are searching for and they will respond accordingly. An almost similar initiative is being run by Holy Trinity College at Wadzanai Trainining Centre (Nazareth House) in Harare. The programme at Wadzanai is already in its second phase after the first group graduated last year. Arrupe and Holy Trinity colleges have been commended for opening their doors to people who are thirsting about theology in an era in which people are exposed to all sorts of false doctrines through the internet and other media outlets.