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Vol. XVII, No. 21 09 October 2013
From the Curia
Restructuring of Provinces. As previously notified in Digital Bulletin 18 on 3 September, the restructuring of the Provinces of the Society of Jesus was one of the issues considered by Father General and the Presidents of the Conferences of Provincials. This meeting was held in Rome from 16 to 19 September. Of the planned changes, two have already been put in place. Firstly, it has been confirmed that a single Province of Spain will be established on 21 July 2014. Secondly, the new Province of Central and Southern United States (UCS) will combine the Provinces of New Orleans and Missouri. Fr Ronald Mercier, of the New England Province, will be the first Provincial of this new Province. Fr Mercier is currently the Rector of the Bellarmine House of Studies in St Louis. He was born in 1953, entered the Society of Jesus in 1975, and he was ordained a priest in 1987.
Tempo forte. After the summer break, the work of the General Curia took off again in September. From 23 to 26 September, the so-called "Tempo Forte" ("intensive days") too place. These are days of more than usual intense reflection, study and prayer. During this time, Father General and his Assistants analyze a number of issues related to the mission and governance of the Society. On this occasion, the entire community of the Curia was also involved. In the light of the bicentennial of the Restoration of the Society next year, the community spent one day reflecting on Father General's letter of 1 January 2012. The subject of this letter was "Learning from the Past as one way to recognize our Place in Salvation History as Companions of Jesus." The reflections were led by Fr Miguel Coll, professor at the Faculty of Ecclesiastical History at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. There were many other issues on the "Tempo Forte" agenda: these included the restructuring of Provinces and Regions, how to encourage an ever greater and reciprocal collaboration, and the promotion of vocations. Special attention was given to Jesuits in formation, with reference to Father General's letter of 12 January 2013. This letter introduced the establishment of a fund for the formation of Jesuits, as a sign of special solidarity among Provinces and Regions. In summary, "Tempo Forte" centred on three themes: the spiritual revitalization of the Society, the formation of the Jesuits for the future, and the discernment and evaluation of our service to others.
Meeting of "Socii" of the Assistancy of Western Europe at the Curia from 7 to 11 October. Every Provincial is assisted by a "Socius" whose role is defined by the tasks which he is given, and by his capacity to listen and simply be present. At regular intervals, the various Assistancies organize meetings for their "socii". These meetings allow them to share their experiences and to update their practices. When these meetings are held at the General Curia they provide the opportunity to learn about the life of service "from the inside". "Socii" from England, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland and the Netherlands, as well as the President of the Conference of European Provincials, have come to Rome for their regular meeting. This time, only one could not make it. Workshops during their meeting will examine the administration of the Curia, some canonical procedures, the computerized management of data, and issues related to the General Treasury. Also on the agenda are sessions with the Communication Office, and visits to the Archives and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Excursions to La Storta and the "Camerette" of St. Ignatius at the Gesù will dip into the first days of the Society.
Father General has appointed:
- Fr Cristian Del Campo Simonetti, Provincial of Chile Province (CHL). Fr Cristian, at present vice-Superior of Casa Fernando Vives and chaplain of Un Techo para Chile, was born in 1970, entered the Society of Jesus in 1994, and was ordained a priest in 2005.
- Fr José Minaku Lukoli, Provincial of the Central African Province (ACE). Fr José Minaku, at present Rector of the Alfajiri College of Bukawu (Democratic Republic of Congo), was born in 1968, entered the Society of Jesus in 1987, and was ordained a priest in 2002.
- By decision of Father General Fr Benoît Malvaux (BML) will serve as the next Procurator General of the Society of Jesus. He will come to Rome in September 2014 and he will later take up his new duties. The details when he will formally assume the office will be decided and announced in due time.
From the Provinces
AFRICA: First Graduation of University Refugee Students
After years of planning and hard work in harsh conditions, the first group of 48 refugees sponsored by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) have just graduated from university. The refugee graduates have been participants in an innovative online Diploma in Liberal Studies managed by the JRS and Jesuit Commons Higher Education at the Margins. The first graduation ceremony took place in Kakuma camp, in Kenya, where 25 refugees received their diplomas accredited by Regis University in Denver, Colorado. The second ceremony took place in Dzaleka camp, in Malawi, when another 23 students were graduated. "This is an incredible moment for these refugees, their families and communities. After being forced to flee in search of safety, shelter, food and employment, the idea of university seemed unattainable. It is a journey from survival to rebirth, the transformation in the lives of refugees and their communities. In the midst of conflict and instability, education offers refugees the intellectual nourishment to rebuild their lives. Not only does this programme prepare participants professionally, it has an impact on whole communities. Higher education builds leaders, imbued with the values of social responsibility and justice. These graduation days are historic events," said Peter Balleis SJ, JRS International Director. The Jesuit initiative, Higher Education at the Margins, offers refugees opportunities to broaden their minds and help their communities. It combines the best of new technology with the Jesuit philosophy of Ignatian pedagogy which emphasizes learning through experience, reflection and evaluation, action, and service.
AUSTRALIA: Top Prize to a Jesuit Journal
Eureka Street, the online journal published by Jesuit Communications, was awarded the Australasian Catholic Press Association's top prize in recognition of its continuing excellence in the field of religious communications. The presentation ceremony took place in Melbourne, in September. It was the second year in a row that a Jesuit publication had won the award. The Australian Catholics magazine took out the prize in 2012. "We are thrilled with the outcome, particularly for the acknowledgement of issues raised in Eureka Street which clearly resonate with our peers and raise issues that many of the Catholic media feel constrained dealing with", said the chief executive officer of Jesuit Communications, Damien Nolan. The Australasian Catholic Press Association Conference was an opportunity for Catholic media professionals to discuss the role of the Catholic press in covering some of the main issues facing the Church at the current moment. Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ, addressed members about these issues. In an accompanying piece in Eureka Street, he noted that Pope Francis had given the Catholic media some guidance how it should approach its work - as a bridge to the public, rather than a barrier.
BRAZIL: Meeting of the "Mobile Teams"
The border area between three countries - Brazil, Colombia, and Peru - was chosen by Equipe Itinerante ("Mobile Teams") for the annual meeting of its members and the heads of their respective institutions. Equipe Itinerante sends out missionaries in the pan-amazon region to work with indigenous and coastal peoples, as well as with the urban marginalized. The meeting was held in Tabatinga, the Brazilian town which borders the Colombian city of Letícia: it is separated from Peruvian city of Santa Rosa by the Rio Amazonas. This region is served by the diocese of Alto Solimões, whose bishop, Dom Alcimar Caldas Magalhães, participated in some sessions of the meeting. He welcomed the participants, stressing the importance of the work of the members of Equipe Itinerante. Their importance consists not only in the tasks they do, but also in the expression of the Church which they give by their presence. The meeting lasted for ten days, and was divided into several stages. The final section dealt with inter-institutional issues, and it brought together about 40 people. "Five members of the Society of Jesus were present", noted Fr Adelson A Santos SJ, the Superior of the Amazon Region. "This was a concrete sign of the interest of Jesuits to continue to contribute to the innovative and prophetic work of the Equipe Itinerante. The Society desires to continue to grow in the service and fraternal experience of those who are more difficult to reach because they are placed at the forgotten and marginalized borders of the society."
BURMA: Caring for Refugees in Mae Sot
It was his experience as a member of an ethnic minority in Thailand that prompted JRS Asia Pacific staff member, Sanan, to devote his life to helping Burmese refugees and migrants. They had fled their homeland and had come to settle across the border in the town of Mae Sot. As a member of the Thai-Karen group, Sanan knows what it's like to be marginalized: the equal rights he shares with his compatriots haven't always been fully respected in practice. "Maybe as a Thai person it seems as though I have equal rights, but in a practical way, I don't. We have a different culture, a different way of life. That is why I want to help the refugees and migrants to be accepted by the majority, by the powerful groups." Sanan joined JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) in Mae Sot over seven years ago. Before that, he worked in the town's refugee camps with the Dutch NGO ZOA (Zuidoost-Azië). During his time as a caseworker with JRS, Sanan discovered that two-thirds of Burmese refugees and migrants were living undocumented lives outside of the regulated refugee camps. Many of them had no livelihood, and so JRS started providing emergency financial assistance, as well as food supplies and blankets. "The way I'm working is not only for myself, but it also helps and gives meaning to the refugees. I choose to work to solve this problem of the suffering of these innocent people," he says. For more on the work of JRS in South East Asia visit www.jrsap.org
EAST TIMOR: Education Project Expands
The Jesuits in Timor Leste have moved one step closer to realizing their vision for the Instituto de Educação Jesuíta (Cf. our Digital News Service no 4, 19 February 2013). They have acquired a 6.7 hectare piece of land adjacent to the school's plot. The Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmão, announced the land transfer at the Timor Leste Council of Ministers on 13 August (Cf. our Digital News Service no 4, 19 February 2013). Formerly, it was the site of an Indonesian School. The newly acquired land will be the site of the Jesuits' planned teacher training college, and the integrated technical and vocational secondary school. "It is great news for what we can offer to the children and country of Timor Leste. It helps us to meet more accurately what all identify as a major need of the country", said Fr Mark Raper SJ, Regional Superior of the Independent Jesuit Region of Timor Leste. The curriculum and construction of the integrated technical and vocational secondary school are still in the development phase, and over the next year they will be incorporated into the school's master plan. Fr Raper is confident about the direction of the project but states, "It will demand a lot of planning and will succeed only if we can draw on many resources of support'."
KENYA: Against Violence and Terrorism
On Saturday, 21 September 2013, shortly before midday, more than ten gunmen stormed and took siege of the Westgate Mall in Westlands, Nairobi. The gang opened fire, killing and injuring innocent men, women and children of all nationalities and ages. On 23 September, Fr A E Oriobator, Provincial of East Africa, the province on which Kenya depends, issued a statement Among other matters it reads: "As Jesuits of Eastern Africa Province, we highly condemn these heinous and cowardly acts by the attackers, believed to be part of the al-Shabaab militant group. We stand firmly with the Kenyan government and support their efforts in ending this ordeal and the wider menace of terror. Our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families, survivors of the attacks and the hostages still trapped within the mall. It is terrors like these, in Kenya and around the world, that undermine the very values and way of life that we try to promote. They reinforce the need for us to continue advocating for peace and justice. We therefore strongly reiterate our commitment to peace and a faith that does justice and that the security of all Kenyans is paramount. We ask that our brothers and sisters around the world keep the people of this great nation in their prayers."
SENEGAL: Jesuits in Dakar
In the month of September, the first Jesuit community in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, will be established in the district of Mbour. The news was made public by the Archbishop of Dakar, Cardinal Théodore Adrien Sarr, who initiated the project in 2001. To begin with, there will be only two Jesuits, because the building which will house the entire community is still under construction. These two will be mainly involved in formation, reflecting the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council and the social teachings of the Church. However, Jesuits in Senegal are not new. From 1973 to 1983, at the request of the Bishop of Ziguinchor, Mons Augustin Sanga, a group of six Jesuits ran the St Charles Lwanga College. Later, the Society of Jesus moved to the Tambacounda region, in the east of the country, to work with the very poor people there. Jesuits took charge of a parish and founded the cultural centre of St Peter Claver, which also includes a large library.