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Vol. XVIII, No. 24 5 November 2014
In the ongoing process of changing membership of the Secretariat for Ecumenical Dialogue and Interreligious Relations, Father General has appointed:
- Father John B. Mundu (JAM) as Advisor for the relations with indigenous religions in India. Fr. Mundu, professor of systematic theology at the Regional Theologate of Arsande (Ranchi), was born in 1952, entered the Society of Jesus in 1973 and was ordained a priest in 1987.
- Father Marc Rastoin (GAL) as Advisor for the relations with Judaism. He is replacing Fr. Pierre Sonnet. Fr. Rastoin, professor of Sacred Scriptures at Centre Sèvres de Paris, was born in 1967, entered the Society of Jesus in 1988 and was ordained a priest in 1999.
FROM THE PROVINCES
AFRICA: Jesuits Social Centers Network (JASCNET)
From 15 to 19 October 2014, the JASCNET, in collaboration with the Arrupe Center for Research and Training, organized a seminar on "Corporate Social Responsibility" (CSR) in Africa. This seminar is the second organized under the theme "Governance of Natural Resources", one of the strategic emphases of the JASCNET program. The first seminar on this subject took place in June 2013 in Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). JASCNET had planned to hold the second in October 2014, again in Lubumbashi. But because of the turmoil caused by the fear of Ebola in the DRC, it was relocated, and took place in Nairobi, Kenya at the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations. In his opening remarks, the Director of JASCNET reminded participants that corporate social responsibility was core to the five emphases of the JASCNET program: human rights, leadership and governance, ecology, migration, and natural resources. The workshops set out, among other objectives, to train participants in international standards of corporate social responsibility, and how to organize for economic co-operation and development. It aimed to provide an understanding how important these standards are, as well as an overview of what is required for effective mining and environmental legislation. There was an emphasis, too, on how to develop a strategy of action to work towards effective advocacy for corporate social responsibility.
AUSTRALIA: Find God More Easily
Podcast interviews from prominent Catholics, such as Frs James Martin SJ and Richard Leonard SJ, are among the spirituality features on offer at Jesuit Communications' new website. The newly revamped pray.com.au offers a feast of spirituality resources, including daily Gospel reflections, weekly podcasts, and a blog on spirituality. The pray.com.au email will continue to provide subscribers with Gospel reflections each day, but people will now also be able to access the reflections through Facebook and Twitter. pray.com.au also posts images each day featuring quotes from the Gospel readings. People will be able to share these with their friends on social media. The PrayerBlog features reflections from Catholics about how they pray, where they find God, and what nourishes them in their faith. The PrayerPod podcast features interviews with a number of prominent religious and lay Catholics. They talk about their vocational journeys, and how they have come to know God in their lives. Ms Doherty says the newly revamped site hopes to give people a range of ways to connect with God in their day to day life, in formats they can use across various platforms. "God is always there in the background of people's lives. We hope that the pray.com.au site might help them find Him a bit more easily, no matter where they are."
CHINA: Forum on Teilhard de Chardin
On 19 October, at the Beijing Languages and Cultures University, about one hundred people took part in a forum on Teilhard and the Future of Humanity. A group of Chinese scholars, who are engaged in setting up an association of Friends of Teilhard in China, organized the forum. Frs Thierry Meynard, Nicolas Standaert, and Benoit Vermander attended the forum. The film "Teilhard and China", a forty five minute documentary directed by Benoit Vermander and Cerise Phiv, was screened at the forum, a first in China. There were contributions from Huang Huiwen (Teilhard and Chinese Geology), Wang Haiyan (The Thought of Teilhard: Upward and Forward), Thierry Meynard (Teilhard's Thought and Contemporary Chinese Culture), Li Tiangang (Teilhard and China), as well as from the Mongolian writer Yang Dorje and from Liu Feng, the creator of XLab in China. All this highlighted the interest that the thought of Teilhard is raising in intellectual circles in China today. Throughout the day, participants discussed the various topics raised, under the guidance of Alex Wang, a member of the Association of the Friends of Teilhard in France. The forum concluded with the decision to continue efforts to raise awareness in China about Teilhard's thinking, and resolved to organize a follow up in 2015, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the Jesuit thinker's death.
CHINA: The Second Life of the "Grand Ricci"
Beijing Commercial Press, or Shangwu, is one of the biggest publishing houses in China, and owner of the Xinhua Dictionary, the world's most popular reference work. At the end of August 2014, it published a volume of more than 2,000 pages: the Ricci-Shangwu Chinese-French Dictionary. This is a revised and abbreviated edition of the Grand Ricci, the seven volume dictionary published in 2001 by the Ricci Institutes of Taipei and Paris. Fifteen years have elapsed since the first contact between the two Ricci Institutes and the Beijing Commercial Press . . . but it was worth the wait. Shangwu has published an exceptional production. It has enhanced the work of the Jesuits and Sinologists in the preceding decades, and ensured that this volume will remain a reference work for a long time. Lexicographical choices and corrections have been scrupulously made, and contemporary Chinese expressions have been included without weakening the strong base of the Ricci in the history of Chinese thought, culture, and classical language. The team involved in this work over fifteen years has been surprisingly stable and steady. Esteem and trust has continued to grow among all the participants involved in the project. The origins of the Grand Ricci take one back to the "Bureau of Sinological Studies" established by the Zikawei Jesuits in the 1880's, and to the work of Frs Leon Wieger and Seraphin Couvreur in Hebei Province around the same time. After 1949, Frs Eugen Zsamar, Yves Raguin, Jean Lefeuvre and Claude Larre, among others, resumed the work, and included in this group is Fr Yves Camus, who is presently based at the Ricci Institute in Macao. The time had come for this emblematic work of Jesuit Sinology to return to Mainland China, and to do so under the auspices of the best Chinese lexicographical institution. The publication of the Shangwu-Ricci Dictionary is more than an editorial event: its long history holds a sign of continued friendship, faithfulness, and hope.
INDIA: 50 Years of the North Gujarat Mission
In October, the North Gujarat Mission celebrated its golden jubilee as an "inculturated" mission. It did so at the Uteshwari Mata Mandir shrine, dedicated to Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Camels. She is lovingly venerated as kulmata, the ancestral mother of local Christians who follow Jesus as Isupanthis. On 19 June 1964, the vegetarian Spanish missionary, Fr Manuel Diaz Garriz SJ, came to this region as its apostle. He still moves with the same vigor and enthusiasm to communicate the love of God in both word and deed. On this happy occasion, Fr Garriz, the local bishop, Stanislaus Fernandes SJ, the Jesuit Provincial, other priests and sisters, the people of God, and others of goodwill, gathered as a single religious and social community to thank Jesus and Mary for the many graces and blessings received. Fr Girish Santiago SJ, another missionary in the area, spoke of the great faith which the celebration signified. He was pleased to declare: "We have good reason to be happy and to celebrate, especially because of the growth of our mission at this frontier, and for the way it is developing from what was an exclusive approach to an ever more inclusive accompaniment." Read more and watch the video through the link: http://vijaymacwan.blogspot.in/2014/10/golden-jubilee-celebration-of-north_4.html
PARAGUAY: The "Misa Guaraní Pyahu"
As part of the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society (1814 - 2014), the Jesuits in Paraguay launched the Misa Guaraní Pyahu (the New Guaraní Mass). This is a significant contribution to the apostolate to young people because it synthesizes different modes of expression: those of popular culture with the guariní language. Fr Alberto Luna, the Paraguay Provincial, first conceived the idea of a Misa Guaraní Pyahu. The Mass consists of modern idioms sung in the guaraní language. Fr Casimiro Irala SJ directed a group of young musicians to develop the Mass, which came to fruition in January 2013. It was a novel, innovative experiment. The Mass consists of fifteen sections, with the lyrics in the guaraní language, but with contemporary rhythms: pop, rock, latin, reggae, and blues. On Thursday, 25 September, the project was launched with a tour which began at the Christ the King parish in Asunción. It travelled to a number of other parishes, and ended on 28 September in the St Joseph the Worker parish in Ciudad del Este. The people received the presentations enthusiastically. Hundreds of the faithful prayed, sang and danced during the Masses. Twelve talented musicians comprised the group, as well as a troupe of dancers from Jesuit schools. Fr Luna and Sr Ada Romero, a member of the Compañía de María, accompanied a group of altar servers. The guaraní language is traditionally associated with folk music in Paraguay. Guaraní has been declared of "special linguistic interest" by the Secretariat for Linguistic Policies of Paraguay.
ROME: The Challenge of Migration
The migrant phenomenon is universally recognized as one of our era's great "signs of the times". From its very start, the pontificate of Pope Francis has been characterized by concern for these modern pilgrims in need. "Because our natures are weak - recalls the Holy Father in his 2014 Message for the World Migrants and Refugees Day - we are tempted to be the type of Christian who keeps the Lord's wounds at arm's length. The courage that comes from faith, hope and love enables us to reduce the distances that separate us from the misery and suffering of other human beings. Jesus Christ is always waiting to be recognized in migrants and refugees, in people who are displaced and exiled." An international conference, The Cultural Challenge of Migration: Risks and Opportunities, took place in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University on 27 and 28 October. The conference aimed to reflect with Christian realism on the meaning and consequences of the migrant phenomenon. The university's Faculty of Social Sciences, and the standing committee, "Giuseppe Vedovato," of Ethics in International Relations coordinated the conference.
SOUTH ASIA: Jesuits Review their Faith-Justice Mission
In October, some 95 Jesuits, engaged in social action in South Asia, concluded a three-day convention in Bhopal. They reviewed their work against the needs of the poor in the region, and against the mandate given by their Congregation. The starting point was the mission centered on faith and justice of Decree 4 of the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus. This Decree noted: "The Society should commit itself to work for the promotion of justice". The convention also marked the 40th anniversary of that Congregation, which added: "The mission of the Society of Jesus today is the service of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement." Each day, the convention deliberated on a number of themes. These included: Tracing the Past and Remembering Landmarks; Discerning the Present and Deepening Our Commitment; and the Way Forward. The Provincial of South Asia Fr Edward, opened the convention. Participants from outside of India also took part in the meeting. Panel discussions evaluated if the Society of Jesus in South Asia had responded adequately to the mandate to serve in faith and justice. They acknowledged their successes and failures, and took note of the challenges. Participants concluded the convention by stressing that the faith-justice mission defined their identity as Jesuits, and that prophetic engagements should have priority over institutional ministries.
SPAIN: A Cross to Commemorate Ignacio Azevedo
Since 10 October, a cross at the southern end of the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, commemorates the murder of Jesuit Ignacio Azevedo and his companions on 15 July 1570. During the dedication ceremony Anselmo Pestana, the President of the Island, praised the spirit and conviction with which those men were able to give their lives. He called for a spirit of humanity that would respect peaceful coexistence and cooperation among people of different faiths. Fr Caniço, the vice postulator of Azevedo's canonization cause, offered some information on the Jesuit's life, and on the events that led to his, and his companions' deaths on the shores of the island. The cross is made of basalt stone, and faces the sea from a point near the Fuencaliente lighthouse. For the past fifteen years, forty other crosses have rested on the seabed, two hundred meters from the coast. Ignacio Azevedo and his companions continue to be remembered on the island. The Jesuit and his thirty nine brothers were murdered by Huguenot pirates on the coast of La Palma while on their way to Brazil. They have been beatified, and, both on the island and in Portugal, the country from which they sailed, there is a growing devotion to the heroism shown by these martyrs.