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Vol. XVII, No. 24 05 November 2013
The Year of Faith. On October 31st Father General wrote a letter to the whole Society. "The Year of Faith", he writes, "inaugurated by Benedict XVI on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council will conclude on the 24th of November, Feast of Christ the King. During this year Christians throughout the world have had the opportunity to reflect on this great gift that guides God´s people on their pilgrim way. The Society of Jesus has accepted the invitation to be united with the whole Church in considering how we proclaim and give witness to our faith in the plurality and variety of situations where Jesuits serve Christ´s mission. The ex officio letters of this year, written by Jesuits and by some of our lay colleagues, have been a rich source of reflection for me and my counselors, as we move forward in our commitment to the mission that the Society has in the Church and for the world." After having given thanks "for the light of faith that guides us on our search to encountering God", Father General emphasizes the theme of "faith as experience of people on a journey" underlining the great challenges of humanity, the tensions and "what can be called an interior weakness". Then he mentions "Three dimensions of the life of faith": 1. Faith is primarily a gift; 2. Faith as an approach to life; 3. Faith and mission. And he concludes: "I wish to emphasize the general feeling of gratitude among all of us for the great spiritual freedom Pope Francis inspires in us through his words and gestures. His encyclical Lumen Fidei can be a great help in illuminating the reflection already started this year in the ex officio letters. We pray with the Holy Father that our faith may be deepened and that the joy it brings to our hearts be communicated to all those we encounter in our ministries."
From the Curia
Meeting Jesuits and Lay Scholars to Assist Fr. General in the Renewal of the Intellectual Apostolate. When General Congregation 35 dealt with the intellectual apostolate in the Society, it called for "a strengthening and renewal of this apostolate as a privileged means for the Society to respond adequately to the important intellectual contribution to which the Church calls us" (Decree 3, #39.3). As a step in this process, Father General has invited two groups of Jesuit Scholars and Lay Colleagues to participate in a three day meeting with him. The first group met from October 31 to November 2; the second will meet from December 12 to 14. The first group includes: Fr. Xavier Arockiasamy (MDU), Fr. Matthew Carnes (CFN), Fr. Eric Charmetant (GAL), Fr. Ludovic Lado Tonlieu (AOC), Fr. Arturo Reynoso Bolaños (MEX), Fr. Enrique Gimenez-Rico (CAS), Dr. Yanuar Nugroho from Indonesia, and Dr. Gerlinde Verbist from Belgium. The meeting was coordinated by Fr. Antoine Kerhuel SJ, General Counsellor and Regional Assistant, Fr. Gerald Blaszczak, SJ, Secretary for Service of Faith, and Fr. Michael Garanzini, SJ, Secretary for Higher Education. Fr. General expects that the groups' discussions and recommendations will direct and enrich his own deliberations and will help him and his Council in their responsibility to renew and strengthen the intellectual apostolate in the Society.
Meeting of Socii of Central and Eastern Europe Assistancy. The meeting of Provincial Socii of the Central and Eastern Europe Assistancy (ECO) takes place at the General Curia (Rome) from 4 to 9 November. The group last met at the Curia in 2009. The Regional Assistant and secretaries have devised an agenda in the light of developing issues and circumstances. They will be introduced to the new Practica Quaedam (the 2013 edition), as well as to information on canonical procedures and changes. On the agenda are meetings with the Curia community, with Fr Marc Rotsaert, the Superior of the Pontifical Gregorian University and the former long-serving Provincial and President of CEP (the Conference of European Provincials), and with Fr Federico Lombardi. These will respond to the questions and issues raised by the Socii. There will be a visit to the Generals' tombs at the Gesù Church. A Mass in the Camerette of St Ignatius will conclude the meeting. These meetings always provide a good formation opportunity in our way of proceeding. We hope that they help the mission of Provincials for the execution of their responsibilities.
From the Provinces
AFRICA: A Billion Reasons to Believe in Africa
Fr Agbonkhianmeghe E Orobator SJ, Provincial of the East African Jesuit Province, delivered the 2013 "Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture" in London. He took as his theme, A billion reasons to believe in Africa. He was elaborating on the Coca Cola's advertising slogan, and used it to explore signs of hope on the continent. "The future of Christianity rests on Africa," he told the audience at the Greenwood Theatre, referring to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's description of the continent as the "lung" of the Church. "But religion cannot be universally seen as a force for good" in Africa, he said. He cited the Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi as an expression of religious extremism. Nonetheless, Fr Orobator stressed that traditional African religions act as "a bulwark against extremism". In his lecture, Fr Orobator frequently referred to the 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio, "On the Development of Peoples." In this encyclical, Pope Paul VI said that the economy of the world should serve mankind as a whole, and not just the privileged few. Fr Orobator used the encyclical to explore four principles which, he said, needed to underpin the West's attitude to development and aid: solidarity, subsidiarity, mutuality and relationality. He recognized that Coca Cola's description of Africa was commercially motivated, but he also praised the company for promoting a more positive image of the continent than is presented in the commonly cited stereotypes.
ASIA-PACIFIC: Building Houses for the Poor
Xavier University undergraduate, Mary Joy Conquilla, never dreamt that she would ever build a house as a gift. But recently she did just that through a Jesuit education program whose aim is to encourage students to apply Ignatian pedagogy in their everyday lives. "I never thought that in my whole existence, I would be doing things like mixing cement, painting, cutting steel bars, putting cement on walls, and those kinds of things for a family that I did not know well . . . The construction experience was the best experience for me. I was like another person doing that heavy work just for the Casungcad family. I had a desire for them to live comfortably. It was not easy though. My body complained constantly, but my will was still so strong so I never gave up," she said. Mary Joy was one of 33 students and seven faculty members from nine Jesuit institutions who participated in this year's Service Learning Program (SLP). The housing building project was its main service activity. "Love for the Poor", the theme of this year's SLP, was chosen to mark the 40th anniversary of Father Pedro Arrupe SJ's "Men for others" speech which enumerated the goal of Jesuit education. The SLP program is an initiative of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities Asia-Pacific (AJCU-AP). This year it was hosted by the Ateneo de Naga University (Philippines). To find out more about the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities Asia Pacific (AJCU-AP), visit www.ajcu-eao.org
GERMANY: The History of the German Jesuits
A long-running major project has just been completed successfully. After more than ten years' research and work, Fr Klaus Schatz SJ, a church historian and professor in St Georgen in Frankfurt, has finished a comprehensive history of the German Jesuits. The history covers the years from 1814 to 1983. The five volumes have more than 400 pages each. They cover all major aspects of the Order in the German-speaking world. Mission areas are included, if these were associated with one of the German Provinces. One volume, with a detailed index, provides a quick reference guide, as well as a very helpful overview of names, houses and works. Fr Schatz's work, which is linked to Duhr's standard work on the history of the Order, is published by Aschendorf. It can be ordered at Inigo Medien <www.inigomedien.org> in Munich.
ITALY: "Dominus Vobiscum"
Thursday, 24 October, was the opening night of an extraordinary liturgical performance in the Basilica of St Mark in Venice. Professor Elisabetta Brusa, from the University of Ca' Foscari, re-created a liturgy as it would have been performed in Jesuit circles in China in the 1700's. Its title was Dominus Vobiscum. Fifty people were involved in this re-creation. They were mostly drama students from the university, as well as a number of Chinese students from the Consortium of Venetian Conservatories. They explored the cultural methods which the Jesuits used in the evangelization of China. For generations of Chinese, the ritual Catholic liturgy was their first western cultural experience. These liturgies were prepared by the faithful, including catechumens, under the direction of Jesuit missionaries. The Dominus Vobiscum liturgy was performed during a Congress sponsored by the Patriarchate of Venice, entitled The Churches between Worship and Culture. The Congress was devoted to exploring the interplay between cultures and religions in the contemporary church. The project revisited the methods used by the missionaries in the 1700's, to get in touch with a world completely different from the West. Their performance was based on some of the letters which Jesuits in China had sent to Europe at the time. Jesuits had been fascinated by the depth and elegance of Chinese culture. They managed, with great sensitivity and respect, to combine the Gospel with the cultural realities which confronted them. They used music as a typical medium to bridge the gap between the Gospel and culture.
PERU: Matteo Ricci in Ayacucho
On 7 October, the Matteo Ricci SJ House in Huamanga, Ayacucho, celebrated its third birthday. The House is a cultural centre which brings together the various elements of ayacuchan society. It is "a space for dialogue and encounter between cultural diversity and social responsibility. The House offers both human and Christian formation." It provides facilities which allow young people in Ayacucho to develop personally and socially. The centre puts a number of resources at their disposal: these include working spaces, the library of Centro Loyola, an auditorium, and a computer room. The centre also sponsors a variety of activities, including prayer meetings, art workshops, conferences, art exhibitions, and the Friday movie days. "The principles which guide us are justice, freedom, equity, and a preferential commitment for the poor and the excluded. We provide a formation that is Christian, cultural, academic, and rooted in the region." Matteo Ricci SJ House is a work of the Jesuits' Apostolic Platform of Ayacucho.
ROME: Alberto Hurtado at the Gregorian University
"The Legacy of St Alberto Hurtado and its Projection into the Universal Society" was the theme of a seminar held in October in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University. It was jointly sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the Chilean Embassy, and the Gregorian University itself. The aim of the seminar was to remember the figure of this eminent Chilean Jesuit eight years after his canonization, which took place in 2005. Fr Hurtado was born in 1901, and he died at the early age of 51. His renown has spread all over the world. He dedicated his life to the apostolate, to the education of young people, and to the help of the needy, the poor, the elderly, the defenceless. "His social action, it was said, was inspired by the Christian concept of human dignity. He strove to establish a society which promoted human development on the principles of justice, charity and equity. In an age of relativism, Fr Hurtado recognized how important it was that society be established on the ideals of the common good and justice, and that all the other structures - the family, state, economy, business associations and trade unions, the Church - support these pillars of society." Today Fr Hurtado's name remains linked with the Hogar de Cristo, a centre for marginalized people which he founded.
SPAIN: PhD to Fr Rupnik
On 18 October, the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria (Madrid) conferred an honorary degree on Fr Marko Rupnik SJ. The citation reads that the honour was bestowed "for his long and brilliant career as an artist, teacher and writer. In his vocation as a Jesuit artist, Fr Rupnik is able to combine faith and culture in his work. Particularly in his work with icons, he is able to express the mystery which lies at the base and core of every person's spiritual life." The degree acknowledges not only the very wide dissemination of his work - it is found in more than one hundred churches and chapels in every continent - but it also recognizes the teaching dimension of his ministry, his ability to forge a new path in communicating his methods. José Ángel Agejas Esteban, a member of the University's Faculty of Communication, was the sponsor of the award. He read the commendation, or laudatio. José Ángel Agejas recalled that "when he was a child, Rupnik loved colour. In the village of his native Slovenia, where his father was a farmer, he learned the art of life. He developed a respect for substance, and felt the call to collaborate with God in the spiritual transformation of the world. Fr Rupnik invites us to contemplate Mystery through his art and publications. The movement in his mosaics draws forth our experience of being drawn to the Spirit. In them merge a prayerful dialogue between the power of colour, concrete substance, and the inspiration of Eastern tradition. Fr Rupnik's mosaics convert a physical space into a liturgical holy ground. The face of the Risen Lord, who with his redemption has made all things anew, stands revealed in his work."
This is the new address of the Independent Region of Rumania of the Society of Jesus: Aleea Zânelor, 9A - 040438 Bucuresti, România; tel. +40.318.045.236; fax: +40.364.102.369; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org