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Vol. XIII, N. 16 September 21, 2009
- Trip to Croatia and Hungary. From the 4th to the 9th of September Father General visited Croatia and Hungary to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of these two Provinces.
In Croatia he visited Zagreb where he met young Jesuits in formation (in their new building blessed by Father General), the Jesuits who are sick and elderly, and the Jesuit professors of our Philosophical Faculty and those of our School of Economics and Business Administration. In addition, Father Nicolás met with mayor of Zagreb; he paid a visit to Cardinal Josip Bozanic and held a press conference with journalists and representatives of catholic media. The visit ended with a solemn Mass in Sacred Heart Church; during the Eucharist two Jesuits pronounced their vows. On September 6th Father General travelled to Budapest by car.
The visit to Hungary was centered in Budapest and Miskolc. Father General met the members of the Hungarian province as well as a number of Jesuits from Slovakia, Slovenia, Rumania and Croatia celebrating Mass with them in the church of the Sacred Heart with a large number of thefaithful participating. September 7th was devoted to a Province Assembly celebrating the anniversary of the province's foundation. The topics discussed included: the present reality of the province, its apostolic commitments and future commitments. Later, in the presence of Hungarian Jesuits, their collaborators and the representatives of the Ignatian Family, Father Nicolás spoke about the universal Society of Jesus after General Congregation 35. Following the Assembly, Father Nicolás traveled to the town of Miskolc in northern Hungary; it suffers a high rate unemployment rate due to the closure of several large factories following the collapse of the communist regime. In this city the Society opened a college in 1994 serving now more than 500 students. The purpose of the school is to offer students a high level education in a region that provides them little chance for advancement. Father General blessed a new College building. In addition to the college, the Jesuits administer a parish that focuses on ecumenical collaboration with the Greek Orthodox and Protestant Churches. The day ended with a visit to Saint Ignatius College. The final day of the visit he met with Cardinal Péter Erdö, President of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops' Conference and of the European Catholic Bishops' Conference; at the Bishops' Conference Meeting Father Nicolás gave a brief talk.
- Trip to Ireland. Father General visited the Irish Province from the 10th to the 14th of September. He arrived in Dublin in the afternoon and traveled to Shannon for a meeting with the Province Consultors. The following day was devoted to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick: visiting the school, meeting with the parents of the students, the board and senior pupils; holding a question & answer session following the speech of Father Nicolás. In the afternoon he met with the Jesuit Refugee Service and some refugees before returning to Dublin for an evening meeting with the "Strategic Committee" that is carrying on negotiations with Trinity College of Dublin about setting up an Institute of Catholic Theology within the state university. The schedule for the weekend, 12 and 13 September, was quite ambitious: a visit to Gonzaga College; a meeting with the "Ignatian family" and Jesuits at work in various apostolates; a visit to Milltown Institute of Philosophy and Theology, followed by a Mass and a meeting with novices, with those responsible for communication for the Irish Province and with families and friends of the Society in Gardiner Street. The afternoon of September 13th Father Nicolás left for Belfast, Northern Ireland to meet the local Jesuit community and an invited group from the University of Ulster. On September 14th he returned to Rome after a meeting with Cardinal Brady and the Jesuits of the Portadown community.
From the Curia
- The Meeting of the Presidents of Provincials' Conferences will be held from the 21st to the 24th of September at the Jesuit Curia in Rome. The aim of the gathering is threefold, as described in decree 21 n. 25 of General Congregation 34: "to heighten the Presidents sense of the universal character of the Society; to gain a better understanding of the global priorities of the Society; to work with Father General in overseeing and encouraging the further development of regional and global cooperation." This year's meeting will focus on: the role of the Presidents of Provincials' Conferences (theory and practice vis à vis the Provinces, the Conferences, the Assistants, Father General and the universal Society) and the changing face of the Church, in particular how we can consciously anticipate and form, in all regions of the Society, an international body that looks and acts differently than it did thirty years ago.
- The new website of Promotio Iustitiae, the journal of the Social Justice Secretariat, was launched on 15 July 2009: http://www.sjweb.info/sjs/pjnew/index.cfm?LangTop=1. It includes a search engine, RSS feed, and archive of past issues. You can read the full version as well as the single articles online ("Read online") or offline ("Download pdf"). Subscribe to the newsletter to receive all future issues by email.
Towards the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
SHANGHAI: Matteo Ricci and his time
Among the celebrations for the fourth centenary of the death of Matteo Ricci, the Shanghai Department of the Italian Cultural Institute, together with Chinese partners, organized a series of activities to commemorate the Italian missionary. Among them, a study day on the theme "Encounter between Western and Chinese", which took place on September 11th. Mr. Paolo Sabbatini, Director of Italian Culture Institute of Shanghai, summarized the life and the deeds of Matteo Ricci, and offered a preview of the program of exhibitions of great masterpieces from the Renaissance art masters, planned for 2010.
From the Provinces
CASTELGANDOLFO: The Pope visit to the new offices of the Vatican Observatory
Pope Benedict XVI visited the new headquarters of the Vatican Observatory at Castelgandolfo on September 16th. Fr. General and the Observatory staff were there to welcome the Pope, who was accompanied by Cardinal Lajolo and other Vatican officials. His Holiness blessed the new offices and Jesuit residence which the Vatican recently renovated for the Observatory in the papal gardens of Castelgandolfo, replacing its offices which were previously located in the papal palace.
BRAZIL: Book on Father Gabriel Malagrida
At the end of August, Father Ilario Covoni, who has spent many years studying the life and work of Father Gabriel Malagrida (1689-1761), launched his new book on this larger-than-life and sometimes controversial Italian missionary to Brazil. Fr. Malagrida joined the Society of Jesus in 1711 and was sent to the Marañón missions. Apart from his work as a theology teacher he endured numerous hardships in the evangelization of the natives peoples. He opened orphanages for boys and girls and promoted the spiritual renewal through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. His reputation for apostolic fervor spread throughout Brazil and Portugal. However, when he returned to Portugal in 1754 he was accused of participating in a plot to assassinate the king, but the accusation that was never proven. In 1759 the Jesuits were expelled from Portugal. Father Malagrida was condemned, as "false prophet and heretic"; on 20 September 1761, he was executed by strangulation and his body burned in the Lisbon public square. The public reacted to the news of the execution with a loud protest and even Voltaire condemned it. The Historical Dictionary of the Society of Jesus notes, "the excess of ridiculous and absurd joined the excess of horror."
CHILE: Fr. Hurtado, an example of holiness for priests
The Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, told the priests of his diocese at the end of August: "God calls us to be the first on the path to holiness", an attitude that was 'essential' to Father Alberto Hurtado, the 20th century Chilean Jesuit who was canonized by Pope John Paul II. The occasion was Eucharistic Adoration before the tomb of the saint, organized for the "Year for Priest". The cardinal invited priests to seek "a deep encounter with Jesus Christ, who is the source of our vocation, of the mystery of the love of God for us. May the people notice that the one who is preaching, is a disciple of Christ."
COLOMBIA: Meeting of Jesuit communicators of Latin America
The Fourth Assembly of the provincial coordinators for communication of Latin America and Caribbean was held in Bogotá, Colombia, 3 - 8 August. Father José Martínez de Toda, coordinator for the Jesuit communication section of Latin America, wrote: "We were 33 participants from various provinces, including a group of lay men and women. The participation of young Jesuits has brought new insights and has given an impulse for renewal." The organization of the meeting was in the hands of the communication section of Colombian province, under the direction of Father Gabriel Jaime Perez, vice-rector of Javeriana University in Cali. The principal aim of the Assembly was the analysis of the instructions given in 2007 at the third Assembly, in light the 35th General Congregation's affirmation of the importance of communication and in the light of the document of the Episcopal Conference of Latin America (CELAM) Assembly in Aparecida in 2007. Three major points of emphasis with concrete lines of future action were developed. They are: 1) the communication formation of Jesuits and our collaborators; 2) communication for the service of faith and the promotion of justice, as required by recent General Congregations, especially the last one which "urges Jesuit institutions to put these new technologies at the service of those at the margins" (Dec. 3, n. 29); 3) to increase, renew and improve our internal and external communication. The meeting concluded with a message to the Society of Jesus of Latin America and Caribbean on the theme "A fire that kindles other fires", and with a message of solidarity to Radio Progreso of Honduras, given its difficulties with the army. "All this has been possible", Father Martínez de Toda notes, "thanks to the economic, academic and logistical help of the Province of Colombia, the Pontifical Javeriana University of Bogotà and Cali and the Esclavas de Cristo Rey, the Spirituality Center 'Father Pedro Legaria'" that hosted the participants to the meeting. For further information see: www.cpalsj.org/comunicacion.
GREAT BRITAIN: Glasgow College celebrates 150th anniversary
St. Aloysius' College in Glasgow began a year of celebrations with a Mass in honour of its 150th anniversary. Main celebrant was Right Reverend Peter Moran, Bishop of Aberdeen and former pupils of St. Aloysius' College. He was joined by the British Jesuit Provincial, Father Michael Holman. Many past and present students and parents attended the liturgy, during which the college choir gave the first performance of Serenity, the anthem written especially for the anniversary by the world renowned composer James MacMillan. In his homily Bishop Moran spoke about the history of the college and mentioned its motto "I am born for greater things," remarking that a Jesuit education focuses on the whole human person, and instills values for life, developing talents to be used for the common good. For education challenge still remains to form men and women of faith, "especially nowadays that the present pupils have to face challenges and risks we never had to face." In his address to the congregation Father Holman thanked Bishop Moran and underlined the particular attention given by the college to the formation of men and women of faith who are men and women for others. During the year a prayer book for use in school and by families and individuals will be published. It will consist of a selection of scripture readings, prayers, reflections and poetry/prose passages.
MEXICO: Congress on Liberation Theology
The first International Congress on Liberation Theology was held from the 24th to 26th of August in Mexico City. It was devoted to the writings of Father Ignacio Ellacuría, the Jesuit killed exactly 20 years ago in El Salvador in 1989. Participants to the meeting were major Latin American experts of this theological stream and of the themes connected to it. Father Ellacuría joined the Society of Jesus in his home country of Spain in 1947. He was sent to El Salvador in 1948, and lived there until his death. The primary goal of Liberation theology is the liberation of the oppressed so they may "reach human wholeness". The political implications of his thinking found strong opposition in some religious circles and in Salvadorian political forces leading to his slaying in 1989. The murder was perpetrated at the Jesuit Residence of the Central American University (UCA) in San Salvador, by military forces who also killed, in addition to Father Ellacuría, five other Jesuits and two lay employees. That assassination was the turning point of the civil war in El Salvador: from one side it increased the pressure of the international community on the local government to sign peace agreement with the guerrillas; from the other side it helped to spread across the world the thoughts of Father Ellacuría, until then known only in Latin America, Spain and some other limited circles.
NEPAL: Homage to a Great Educator
"He has been my teacher and my icon", said Ranjeet Baral, one of the first students to speak about Father James Donnelly. Father Donnelly recently died in Nepal at age 80, 40 of which spent at the foot of Himalayan mountains. Another student added: "Now that he left us I hope to be able to transmit to my children what I have learned from him." The funeral was held at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Kathmandu on August 17th; the church was filled with alumni, friends and brother Jesuits. Father Augustine Thomas, himself a Jesuit and a teacher, said: "I have lost a great friend who made Nepal his home and took the Nepalese people as his folk. He contributed greatly to education in the country and his students will always remember him as an astounding teacher and a devoted friend". According to AsiaNews, Father Donnelly is remembered by his students with gratitude and devotion. He was born in Cincinnati in 1929 and went to Nepal as a young priest shortly after ordination. In addition to teaching English to young Nepalese students in the Jesuit run schools in Godavari and Jawalakhel, he also contributed to the country's 1970 National Education System Plan.
PARAGUAY: A Mission of the ancient "Reductions" brought to life again
Thanks to Ettore Piras, a Genovese architect, the Mission of Trinidad has returned to life. The mission was built by the Jesuits of the "Reductions" and made famous thanks to the Roland Joffé's film Mission. The inauguration took place on August 20th in the presence of the President of Paraguay and government representatives, representatives of other Latin American countries, Jesuits and, of course, Ettore Piras. This is how he described his work, "What we have done in the Mission of Trinidad in Parana, is a special architectural recovery which took three years of work. We wanted to bring to life again a place full of history and piety, that is also a symbol of the long battle for emancipation of South America. The Mission was abandoned ages ago, and there were only overgrown ruins. Our intention was to bring again to life the spirit of the Jesuit Fathers without any radical surgery and we managed to do it by creating something really unique." "Without the use of cement, without building walls or creating historical facades, wrote Genoese daily Il Secolo XIX, the Mission that was burnt three centuries ago by the Spaniards has today become a unique monument and legacy for Paraguay." The project was called Luz y Sonido ("Sounds and Lights"), because these are two essential elements of the new Mission of Trinidad: "What has been inaugurated on August 20th" - Ettore Piras added - "is a cultural trail that tells the life of the Guaraní, the local inhabitants, of the Jesuits who worked here and the encounter of two civilizations both bearers of great truths. The Mission will be open with a multimedia guided tour: not a spectacle, but a cultural method for the understanding of the time of the Guaraní and for absorbing the magic energy of the missions."
TANZANIA: Experience with disabled children
A group of 13 students from St. Ignatius College in Enfield, England, traveled this summer to Africa in order to visit some schools the college is supporting. Among them there were St. Ignatius Prep and Primary School and Cheshire Home in Dodoma, Tanzania, a boarding school for disabled children. The visit, according to the report written by one of the Enfield students, was the occasion for seeing at first hand how much the support received by St. Ignatius College is important for the students in Dodoma. A moving experience was the visit to the disabled children of Cheshire Home, where the English students could see the difficulties that have to be faced every day to make all the work possible. Lack of funding and lack of fully trained staff are the main snag. The students noticed especially the differences between England and Tanzania in the way how it works in this field: while in England there is abundance of staff, fully trained and experienced in dealing with disabilities, and numerous teachers take care of little groups of children, in Tanzania this job is not well paid and there is little incentive. So a very limited number of few specialized persons take care of large groups of children. However, says the report, Cheshire Home is a nice place to be, with playgrounds, all the staff are very friendly and the sister who runs the place is great with the children. In all, a very positive experience, to keep in minds and hearts for the years to come.