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Vol. XVII, No. 27 05 December 2013
From the Curia
Novena of Prayers. Under the direction of Father Mark Rotsaert, a group of Jesuits studying in Rome is preparing a novena of prayers for use from the vigil of St. Ignatius to the commemoration of the Re-establishment of the Society of Jesus on August 7. All the Society's communities, dispersed throughout the world but united in prayer, will be able to use the same simple format, whose content focuses on thanksgiving and Ignatian spirituality. As soon as the prayers are available in early 2014 they will be sent to the Province offices for translation and distribution.
Father General has appointed:
- Father Francis Parmar, Provincial of Gujarat Province (GUJ), India. Father Parmar, at present Rector of Sneh Jyoti, the Jesuit Residence of the Gujarat Regional Seminary, was born in 1950, entered the Society of Jesus in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1979.
- Father Rolando López Alvarado, Provincial of the Centroamerica Province (CAM). Father Alvarado, at present member of the Residencia San Borja Community in Guatemala, was born in 1964, entered the Society of Jesus in 1983 and was ordained a priest in 1996.
From the Provinces
AFRICA: Engage Young People Against AIDS
In a message for World AIDS Day of December 1st, Fr Michael Lewis SJ, President of JESAM (Jesuit Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar) writes: "As the international community marks World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) has drawn attention to the vulnerability of adolescents to HIV infection. In 2012, there were 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV worldwide. The African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) strongly believes that value-based education is a pivotal element in controlling HIV among this vulnerable age group. AJAN coordinates the AIDS programmes run by Jesuits and their co-workers across sub-Saharan Africa, including many implemented in schools and educational centres run by the Jesuit order, which has a renowned pedagogical tradition. With their rich experience in education, the Jesuits are ideally placed to organize HIV prevention programmes for youth. However, we have realized that prevention campaigns alone are not enough, and sometimes actually put young people off, because they feel they are hearing the same old thing again and again. We have learned that we constantly need to be creative and to reach out in a youth-friendly way The successful programmes are those that encourage young people to think critically and equip them with the 'tools' to act: to make responsible choices, to respond with compassion to the needs around them, and to make a real difference".
ALASKA: The Return of the Bell
For decades, a Russian Orthodox bell had been missing from the community of Native American Orthodox Christians in Kodiak, Alaska. Now, thanks to an interfaith group, which includes Jesuit Fr Ray Bucko, the bell has been returned. Formerly under the care of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the bell has been repaired and will now be on display at the Russian Orthodox Holy Resurrection Cathedral on Kodiak Island. To coordinate the bell's safe return to Alaska, Fr Bucko drafted an academic paper about the bell. It will be published in the next issue of the Catholic Historian. This issue of the research journal will deal with relations between Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Not much is known about the bell's history, other than that it is of Russian or Alaskan origin. This can be ascertained from the method of its casting. Somehow, the bell found its way to California. Photos show the bell in California in the early 1930s. By some accounts, the bell may have been in California as early as the 1890s. It most likely arrived from Alaska in the mid-19th century, possibly to be repaired at a Los Angeles bell foundry, and then was never returned. It eventually came into the possession of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and was stored at the San Fernando Mission. Fr Bucko first became involved in the project when he read an article about the bell. It was written by the founder of the Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas, Matthew Namee: he argued that the bell should be returned. Fr Bucko volunteered his assistance and helped set up the process to get the bell returned to Alaska.
ASIA-PACIFIC: Flights for Forests
Aviation accounts for between 4 and 9 per cent of the climate change impact of human activity. With more and more people flying, air travel is set to become the world's largest single contributor to environmental damage and global warming. Recognizing that the Jesuit mission requires many members to fly frequently in order to work together for greater social justice in the world, the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific has created its own carbon offset scheme, Flights for Forests. This is a way of recognizing the impact which Jesuit travel and work have on the environment, and of helping rural communities which are most affected by global economic and climate change. And so, all Jesuits and partners within the Conference participate in this scheme by contributing US$5 for every flight they take. The contributions will go into a fund that will be used for forest renewal activities undertaken by youth groups in rural parts of Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. For more information and to participate, click here: http://sjapc.net/sites/default/files/flights_for_forests_july_2011.pdf.
BOLIVIA: Public Recognition to a Jesuit
Bolivia's National Legislative Assembly conferred the "Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz" Medal on Jesuit Fr Mauricio Bacardit Busquet for his contribution to, and work for democracy throughout his entire professional life. In part, the citation reads: "Fr Mauricio Bacardit Busquet has carried out his work for the benefit of society. He is aware of the problems and needs of the most humble people. He has contributed to strengthening social and participatory democracy. He has devoted great care to the education of children and young people. He has encouraged a knowledge which transmits those values and principles which lead to life and progress. He has been part of the struggle for inclusion. He has held positions in Catholic institutions whose main focus was the study and collaboration of the campesino world. He provided education through study programs, and he helped in the struggle against illiteracy in our country. We acknowledge the help he provided, and the cooperation he built up among the disadvantaged sectors of our society. By offering relief and fighting poverty, exclusion and discrimination, he instilled the ideals of democracy. In this way, he set up processes which allowed the most disadvantaged to participate in issues which directly affected their lives. In national and international meetings, he was an advocate for the poor and disadvantaged, and for those who faced social exclusion. He offered temporary accommodation for the desperate, and provided basic health services."
BRAZIL: Congress on Inclusive Education
The directors and leaders of Fe y Alegría institutions from the twenty countries where this movement of popular education operates, gathered for one week to share their experiences, to renew their commitments, and to take on new ones. This year, the 44th conference of Fe y Alegría was held in São Paulo, Brazil. The congress focused on analyzing and discussing inclusive education in the mission of Fe y Alegría. The fruits of the seeds sown by Father José María Vélaz, the founder of Fe y Alegría, 58 years ago, have expressed themselves in a great variety of ways in Africa, Latin America and Europe: these were considered by the participants during the meeting. They confirmed the resolution that the Movement continue to concentrate on environments and contexts where poverty and exclusion are most evident. The congress also served to highlight the challenge of making of every center, school, and place where Fe y Alegría is found, a location that is truly inclusive, one that goes beyond a simple model of educational integration.
CANADA: The Pope From the New World
On 24 November, a new documentary on the life and thought of Pope Francis, the man who has fascinated the world since stepping onto the international stage earlier this year, was released in Canada. It was produced by the Knights of Columbus. This new documentary delves into the life story and thought of Pope Francis. He is the first Pope from the Americas, the first Pope who is a Jesuit, and the first to take the name Francis. The hour-long program features interviews from around the world. The Pope's close friends, his fellow priests and co-workers, his biographer, and the poor of Buenos Aires spoke about the man they had come to know. Most of the interviews and much of the film were shot on location in Argentina. "This documentary arrives as the world realizes that a very special man has assumed the leadership of the Catholic Church. It begins - but does not end - with his gestures of humility and care for everyone," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, one of the documentary's executive producers. "Many details of Pope Francis' life, the work he has done, and the ways in which he has defended the voiceless and Catholic principles still remain largely unknown to the public. This documentary delves into those stories." A trailer for the documentary, as well as further information, can be viewed at http://www.popefrancisdocumentary.com/
ITALY: "A Train Goes to Moscow"
From its very beginnings, the Society of Jesus always had a mission of evangelizing culture and cultures. This involves embodying the ethos of our times, so that the Gospel can be accepted and spread wide. We need only remember how the cultural and spiritual climate of the day influenced Gian Lorenzo Bernini or Peter Paul Rubens, great artists who were very close to the Society of Jesus. The Fondazione Culturale San Fedele in Milan, has taken up this dialogue between art and faith. In a co-production with Kiné-Vezfilm, with contributions from Fondazione Cariplo as well as a number of other companies, it has produced a movie: The train goes to Moscow. The move was directed by Federico Ferrone and Michele Minzolini. It was selected for competition in the 31st Turin Film Festival, in the category restricted to young filmmakers: to win it is very prestigious. The film was produced in the context of the San Fedele Prize, with which the Fondazione Culturale San Fedele promotes the production of original works which elaborate and reflect on issues which are of particular interest for people today. The award is part of a larger project which comprises art and music as well. The train goes to Moscow won the San Fedele Award for young filmmakers. The award presentation will be made in the Auditorium San Fedele sometime during December.
ITALY: Ancient Library Catalogue
Several years of effort by the Italian Province of the Society of Jesus and the support of various public and private institutions made possible the realization of the project: Recovering and Improving the Ancient Library Catalogue of the Italian Jesuits. The results of this project were presented on two occasions: the first took place at the Aloisianum in Gallarate (Varese) on 9 November, and the second at the Luigi Gonzaga Institute in Palermo on 23 November. A number of experts in the field took part in these seminars. The project involved the recovery of over 75,000 books from 275 libraries in Jesuit houses all over Italy. The end result is a large library, which is mainly located in three different cities (Gallarate, Naples and Palermo). The library is coordinated and unified by a single digital catalogue. The project included the renovation of the rooms used to store the books, the dis-infection of volumes which had been attacked by parasites, and the preparation of a catalogue of all books printed before 1830. As a result of digitalization, a number of texts will also be available online. The Ancient Library Catalogue predominantly includes books on theology, devotion, and the history of religions and philosophy. But there are also a number of volumes on general history, law, travel, the natural sciences, geography, customs and traditions, and the classics of Greek and Latin literature.
MADAGASCAR: Books From France
Following the re-organization of the Jesuit libraries of the Ile-de-France (Centre Sèvres, rue de Grenelle) in Paris, the French Province has donated a large number of books and magazines to the scholasticate of Tsaramasoandro, Madagascar. These mostly deal with philosophy and theology. Almost all the books are in French, and the most recent date from 2010. The gift is a real treasure not only for Jesuit institutions, but also for other centers and local houses of formation. The gift comprises about 22.000 volumes, as well as about a hundred sets of journals. The association Aide au Tiers Monde took care of the shipping. The Jesuit Province of Madagascar paid all expenses related to the dispatch of the books, from their original packing to their arrival in Madagascar. The scholasticate at Tsaramasoandro is preparing to receive the trove. It hopes that the books will contribute to the vitality of formation within the Province, in line with the directives of its apostolic plan. The Province of Madagascar is very grateful for this generous donation of the French Province, and well as to all those who in one way or another worked day and night to coordinate the dispatch of the books.
SIRIA : From Front Lines
Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit currently in the besieged Syrian city of Homs, recently wrote a letter detailing the extreme circumstances which face those who still live in the city. The Syrians in Homs are challenged by shortages of food and fuel: according to Fr van der Lugt, even abandoned homes have no food left. "Disease has taken hold of some of us, and is knocking on the door of others. No food has entered our besieged region for over 15 months. For a number of months, we were able to rely on local warehouses, but these are now empty," writes Fr van der Lugt. He describes lack of supplies in Syria in bleakly precise terms. "We are surviving on what little food remains in our homes. But we will soon be reduced to only bulgur wheat, and then that will not last long either. We thank God that each and everyone one of us still gets one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of flour a week, but we do not know how long this supply will remain available." Although conditions in Homs appear grim, Fr van der Lugt also wrote about the hope that residents are drawing upon even in the midst of their struggles. "There is an atmosphere of love, openness and interaction. Those of us who remain feel that we are a single community," he said. The Syrians in Homs have made the best of the few blessings they have in order to make it through the crisis - one of the blessings is the presence of each other. "Each one of us needs to do more and more to help each other," said Fr van der Lugt.
ZIMBABWE: A Catholic Radio Station
The Archbishop of Harare, Robert Christopher Ndlovu, has announced an initiative to establish a Catholic community radio station. It will start broadcasting once it receives a license from the government. The archbishop noted this in a circular to all parish priests, heads of religious congregations and Catholic institutions in the Archdiocese. He says that the Catholic community radio station, Radio Chiedza, is being set up in preparation for the day when community radio stations will be licensed. "The initiative is being led by Fr Nigel Johnson SJ along with the Director of Jesuit Communications, Mr Gift Mambipiri. For the past ten years, both Fr Johnson and Mr Mambipiri have had wide experience of community radio initiatives in Zimbabwe. So far, not one of these community radio stations has been licensed to broadcast in this country, but our neighbouring countries have numerous such stations up and running. It therefore seems inevitable that Zimbabwe will, at some time, catch up; so we in the Catholic Church need to be prepared for that day", writes the Archbishop. In its list of objectives, Radio Chiedza promises to amplify the message of the Church, especially on social justice issues. It will also aim to nurture people who believe that Christianity is a practical and viable way of life, to be a platform for the evangelization of the political, social, cultural and economic dimensions of life, and also to deal with the social issues of our time. These would include HIV/AIDS, justice and peace, and the parameters and challenges of modern family life.
Exceptional Discovery. Rudj Gorian, who is responsible for the ancient collection in the Venetian (Italy) seminary library of the Fondazione Studium Generale Marcianum, has made a valuable discovery. Into his hands fell some bibliographical gold dust: a pocket-size manual for Jesuit use containing the Industriae pro Superioribus by Father General Claudio Acquaviva. It was published in 1670 in Valvasone, in the province of Pordenone (North-East Italy). "This modest and sober book - explained the scholar - collects a number of "firsts": apart from its being an unknown edition of the Acquaviva text to date, it is the only copy known of the only book printed in Western Friuli before the fall of the Venetian Republic. It is also the only known edition published in Friuli from the sixteenth to the mid-eighteenth century, and not published in Udine, as was usual."