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Vol. XVII, No. 22 21 October 2013
Visit to the USA. From 29 September to 12 October Father General visited the USA. His trip began in Boston, where he visited the faculty members and Jesuits in formation at the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. He also visited the Campion Center and saw the members of the Province who had gathered to celebrate the Eucharist and a Final Vow ceremony. He then traveled to New York, where a moment of particular significance was the meeting with the Jesuits in formation. At a question-answer session Father General was able to express some of his ideas about the Church and the Society. When a scholastic asked what the "magis" might mean in a society where to be number one was paramount, Father Nicolás answered: "Magis is the magis of Christ, the magis of humility, self-forgetful service, and total dedication to God's will. Our focus is on the wide focus of the mission of God. So ours is not the route of competition, but of collaboration." In Saint Louis, he again spoke to the men in formation as well as the Jesuits of the city, before leaving for Chicago so that he could attend the meeting of the USA Jesuit Conference. Father General was able to meet the men in First Studies, a selected group of students from Loyola Academy, the Board Chairs, Presidents, and Provincials of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) before celebrating the Eucharist with Jesuits from the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Provinces.
From the Curia
Assembly of the Conference of European Provincials. This week the 19th Assembly of the Conference of European Provincials (CPE) is being held in Rome, at the General Curia. From 17 to 19 October, participants from the three Assistancies that constitute the Conference (Central and Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, and Western Europe) have met. Afterwards, from 20 to 23 October, the entire group (33 Superiors as well as some invited participants) is meeting in Assembly. Agenda topics are those which concern the whole Society at this time. Two examples: the renewal of the provincial structures, and the financial solidarity for the formation of young Jesuits. A full day of dialogue and reflection is reserved for a theme which stands at the frontiers of the CPE: "Interreligious Dialogue, in particular with Islam."
Meeting of the "Socii" of Asia Pacific Assistancy. The Socii of Asia Pacific Assistancy meet at the Curia in Rome from 21 to 24 October 2014. They come from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, Australia, and the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. During their meeting, they will reflect on their mission as Socius to the Major Superiors. Also on the agenda are administrative and canonical procedures, electronic record-keeping and archiving, and inter-Conference collaboration. The meeting in Rome will also be an opportunity for the Socii to encounter and dialogue with the different officials and offices in the Curia, with whom they do so much work in the service of their Provinces or Regions.
From the Provinces
CONGO (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC): A New Secondary School
In Lubumbashi, the economic capital of the DRC, a technical school of the Society of Jesus has opened its doors for the first time. This new initiative responds to the wishes, formulated a long time ago, of the then General of the Society of Jesus, Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach. It follows the discernment made by several groups of members of the Central Africa Province. The new school is the gift of Mr Moïse Katumbi. At the request of the donor, the school is called Technical College Mwapusukeni. In the Bemba language, this name refers to the biblical story of Moses, who was saved from the water, to give life to a multitude of people. A team of five Jesuits has been assigned to the school. It operates as a private school, the first of its kind among all the schools conducted by the Society of Jesus in Central Africa. The aim of the new school is to respond to the needs of a mining region, which needs a local labour force qualified for electrical, artisan, welding, and plumbing work. The school will do all it can to respond to these needs. On 9 September 2013, the first classes of the first year of secondary education started. The technical side will be more in evidence once the third year is reached, but these first classes will lay the foundations for the technical training. For more news, visit our new website at: http://www.jesuitesace.com/
EAST TIMOR: Working for the needy
The Jesuits in East Timor have established a new organization called Jesuit Social Services, to coordinate its work in a country still battling to establish itself following decades of occupation by Indonesia and centuries of colonization by the Portuguese. The organization is a natural successor of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), which was established in East Timor in 2006 following a period of intense internal conflict and displacement, and which has successfully addressed its mandate. "When we started the [JRS] program our objective was helping dislocated people and accompanying them in the camps and accompanying them home as well. We started in September 2007 and by 2009 all people had been re-located", says Isidoro Costa, former Director of JRS and incoming Director of Jesuit Social Services Timor Leste. The newly-established Jesuit Social Services Timor Leste will continue working on community organization and income-generating projects in several villages in the Dili region. It has already started rolling out an ecology program in Kasait near Dili where the Jesuit-run secondary school, Colégio de Santo Ignácio de Loyola, was recently opened. "We have really experienced JRS's help in the past five years, and we will always open our gates to the Jesuits, we will continue to welcome you", said village chief Antonio Soares Bekora. To support the work of the Jesuits in East Timor go to: www.jesuitmission.org.au.
INDONESIA: Fostering dialogue through film
A year after its maiden full-length film, Soegjia (a film based on the life of Monsignor Albertus Magnus Soegijapranata SJ, premiered to widespread acclaim in Indonesia, cf. Our Bulletin no. 13, 13 September 2012 ), Puskat Pictures (the Jesuit Audio-Visual Studio based in Jogyakarta) is busy with its second film: Di Tepian Sungai Elo ("At the edge of the River Elo"). The new film is about the boarding school run by Franciscan nuns in Mendut, Magelang, Indonesia from 1908 to 1943, and the impact of its alumnae, many of who become prominent figures and played important roles in the Church and nation. "People have forgotten them, so we want to invite the people to learn their own history, as we did with Soegjia," said Fr Y Iswarahadi SJ, director of Studio Audio Visual Puskat (also known as Puskat Pictures). He hopes the new film will encourage a spirit of national identity and greater inter-religious understanding among the people of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. He also wants to highlight the importance of education and the role of women in Indonesian society. Fr Iswarahadi says that they already have a script. Now they need to raise enough money to produce the film, which will be directed by Fr Murti Hadi Wijayanto SJ, who wrote the script.
PERU: Peace Prize 2013 to Fr Frederick Green
Jesuit Fr Frederick J Green Fernández was the winner of the 2013 Peace Prize. This prize was established by the Peruvian Ministry for Women and Vulnerable Populations. Fr Fernández is not a Peruvian. He was born in Hawaii (United States), was an American aviation pilot during the Second World War, and arrived in Peru in 1959. Fr Fernández won the prize in the civil society category, under the sub-category of Natural Person. Since his arrival in Peru, Fr Fernández has devoted himself to the social apostolate, mainly in the field of formation, always focussing on the less fortunate. He is the founder of two colleges in Tacna (Cristo Rey and Miguel Pro). He developed a program of voluntary summer camps, aimed at supporting groups which are financially disadvantaged. He also developed various aid programs for students who had limited means. Fr Fernández is considered by many generations of students not only as a teacher and a friend, but also as a true guide who has accompanied them along the way to adulthood. Today, as spiritual director at the Miguel Pro College in Tacna, the 91 years old Jesuit continues with his spiritual and ecumenical commitments.
ROME: Course in Cyber-theology
In the 2013-2014 academic year, the program of studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University (the ecclesiastical university of the Society of Jesus in Rome) presents a new course that has not gone unnoticed. Among the courses for the Licence in Fundamental Theology, there is one dedicated to Cyber-theology: this course reflects on Christianity in this era of the network. Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ, a cyber-theologian and the editor of the well known magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, will teach the course. The course is described as follows: "The internet and the culture of cyberspace pose new challenges to our ability to formulate and listen to symbolic language. These challenges center on the very possibility and signs of transcendence in our lives. And so, the time has perhaps come to consider the possibility of a cyber-theology. This considers the intelligibility of faith in the era of the electronic network. What would be the benefit for faith which flows from a consideration of the logic of the network? This network now marks the way we think, learn, communicate and live." This new course in theology is based on a book which Fr Spadaro has written. The issues that will be covered during the course include: "The Internet: Between Theology and Technology", "Decoded Man and the Search for God", "The Mystical and Virtual Body", "Hacker Ethics and the Christian Vision", "Liturgy, Sacraments and Virtual Presence", and "Theological Challenges to Collective Intelligence".
SYRIA: Prize to the Jesuits in Homs
At the end of September Fr Ziad Hilal received the Stephanus-Preis in Frankfurt. The prize was awarded in recognition of the efforts the Jesuits have made towards peace and reconciliation in Homs and surrounding areas. Fr Ziad is the director of Centre Éducatif Saint-Sauveur as well as ten other schools. These serve some 2,400 children who come from both the Christian and Sunni and Alawites Muslim communities. Fr Ziad spoke at the award. Among other matters he noted: "It is a pleasure to be with you today to receive this award from the Stephanus Foundation, a Foundation dedicated to help humanitarian efforts which are directed to each person. I would love to have had Fr Frans with me here, my Jesuit companion, my superior and my friend in this crisis. Our spiritual and humanitarian mission flows from the body of Him who called us to follow His path, a path which guides us to His Father, our God... I come from my country Syria with empty hands. Clearly, we live amidst chaos and destruction. At home, peace is seen only in children's drawings. The sheets I brought with me were drawn by children who dream of a future of peace and security. They are the only ones who dream now, because adults, who are lost in their nightmares, no longer dream... Our humanitarian mission today has an impact on every Syrian citizen all over the country, whatever their faith. Firstly, consider our work, as Jesuits, with children in the three major cities of Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. Our goal is to build peace for children, to protect them from violence and hatred so that they can grow in peace and security. Secondly, our humanitarian mission is to serve the displaced, the refugees. We distribute food, medicine, help them to find shelter, and respond to their other needs. Our aim is solely to relieve every person who suffers because of this crisis. Today, the Jesuit presence among the people of Syria is crucial. Christ did not abandon his people. To live with and for them is a sign that the Church always remains close to every person."
SPAIN: Meeting of Jesuit Editors
The first international meeting of the heads of Jesuit publishing houses was held in Spain at the beginning of October. The participants did not represent all the editors of the Society of Jesus, but only those who share comparable approaches to their work. In all, 25 representatives came from Belgium, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United States, Mexico, and Venezuela. The meeting was organized by the "Loyola Communication Group", the new publishing entity of the Spanish Jesuits. This Group brought together the Sal Terrae and Mensajero publishing houses, as well as the sjdigital production centre. The topic of the discussion was: "The Publishing Apostolate in a Global World." Reflections were inspired by the words of the last General Congregation: "As far as the universal mission is concerned, we hold the conviction that today cooperation among Provinces and Regions to realise the apostolic mission of the Society is an undeniable necessity" (D 5, n 17). The meeting was not meant to lead to specific conclusions. It served mainly as an initial opportunity to get to know each other, and to hear what is taking place in different countries. At its conclusion, it was decided to continue the meetings. Other publishers will be invited to future meetings, at which common interests will be raised and carefully studied.
UNITED KINGDOM: An Advent Pilgrimage
Fr Paul Nicholson SJ has written a book of spiritual exercises for the four weeks leading up to Christmas, entitled An Advent Pilgrimage. "Each year at Advent we are invited to revisit the stories of those who looked forward over the centuries to the coming of Christ,' says Paul. 'Travelling through the days and weeks, we recall the trials they faced and the goals they eventually reached. An Advent Pilgrimage offers for each day of the season of preparation for Christmas suggestions of a gift to pray for, a reflection for the journey, a couple of verses of scripture that could be memorized and recalled throughout the day, and a brief concluding prayer. We are invited to reflect upon our own personal journey towards God in the course of our lives, and review our progress as the year draws to an end." An Advent Pilgrimage draws, in part, upon Father Paul's own experience of pilgrimage, both in walking himself and in sending Jesuit novices out on the road: he is at present the Jesuits' Director of Novices. "This Advent I invite you to set out on a pilgrimage,' he says, 'a journey towards a renewed and deeper encounter with God - something active, not simply read about, so there will be things to do each day. Let us set out together and may God be with us on the road." An Advent Pilgrimage is published by Kevin Mayhew, price £8.99. More details can be found, and the book ordered, on: www.kevinmayhew.com/info/contributors/paul-nicholson/an-advent-pilgrimage.html.
USA: An Encyclopedia of the Society
Fr Thomas W Worcester, professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., is editor of two best-sellers. This has made him one of the most successful authors in his field. In 2004, he was asked by the prestigious Cambridge University Press to edit a volume in the Cambridge Companions to Religion series. "The Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits" is a collection of 18 essays examining the religious and cultural significance of the Society of Jesus. In 2008, soon after completing the "Companion," Fr Worcester approached Cambridge University Press with his own proposal on "The Papacy in the Modern World," a collection of essays exploring the evolution of the Papacy in the last 500 years - from the Pope as an Italian Renaissance prince and patron, to the Pope as universal pastor. The resulting book was "The Papacy Since 1500: From Italian Prince to Universal Pastor." It was co-edited with Jesuit Fr James Corkery, and published in 2010. For several months, alongside the "Companion", it stood at the top of the press' best-seller list in the church history category. Fr Worcester's newest project is The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Jesuits. This will be a one-volume, 500,000-word tome. It will contain approximately 600 entries on every conceivable topic about the Society, from its founding in 1540 to today. Included in the Encyclopedia will be significant people, Jesuit concepts, places and institutions. Because of the vast amount of material involved, he will work with 150 contributors. In 2014, Jesuits will celebrate the bicentennial of their restoration as an Order. This major anniversary will generate conferences, publications and events. Fr Worcester predicts that his Encyclopedia will be published in 2016, at the earliest.