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    Vol. XIII, N. 17 October 5, 2009

    Father General

    In a letter dated October 3, feast of Saint Francis Borgia, Father General erected the new Province of Argentine-Uruguay (ARU), combining the two provinces of Argentina and Uruguay. The union will take place on January 30, 2010 and the new Provincial will be Father Alfonso José Gomez, the present Provincial of Argentina. Father Gomez was born in 1960, joined the Society of Jesus in 1979 and was ordained a priest in 1991.

    Father Nicolás writes, "The present provinces of Argentina and Uruguay have had a long  history of collaboration. The Province of Paraguay was born in 1604, and the Provincial Curia was located in Córdoba. It comprised the territories of the present provinces of Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and South Brazil. In these countries the Society developed some of its most exciting projects realized during this period of its history which were suddenly interrupted by its expulsion in 1767.  In 1836 the Jesuits returned to the region, and a first community was established in Buenos Aires.  Later other communities developed in Córdoba, San Juan and Catamarca".  The letter of Father General continues tracing a brief history of the Society of Jesus in the region, the different types of apostolates developed during the centuries, and outlined the reasons the decision was taken to unite the two Provinces. He underlined that in recent years "an explicit desire has emerged for an increased collaboration among the two provinces to better respond to apostolic challenges and to open a way for possible changes in provincial governance. Since 2001 the two provinces have common first formation and increased collaboration and coordination among various apostolic endeavors."  This project was encouraged by the 35th General Congregation which foresaw the need to reorganize provinces keeping in mind "numerical and geographical size, age distribution, availability of effective leadership for governance and formation, financial viability and capacity for developing a comprehensive apostolic plan which meets local, regional and universal needs."  Thanking all for the cooperation received during this process, Father Nicolás closes the letter with these words: "I hope that this step will be for the greater glory of God, the salvation of souls and that it will develop a larger and more lasting capacity to answer present and future apostolic needs."


    From the Curia

    Jesuit presence at the Synod. The second special Assembly of Bishops on Africa Synod is taking place in Rome.  Several Jesuits are participating as "experts", the Adiutores Secretarii Specialis". They are: Father Paul Béré, professor of Sacred Scripture at the Catholic University of West Africa in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and at Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya; Father Michael F. Czerny, director of AJAN (African Jesuit AIDS Network); Father Samir Khalil Samir, professor of the History of Arab culture and of Islamic studies at the Université St. Joseph in Beirut, Lebanon. Father Peter Henriot, of Zambia-Malawi Province, director of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, is participating as consultor of Association of Episcopal Conferences of East Africa (AMECEA). Other Jesuits have been invited as consultors to individual bishops from the Africa.


    From the Provinces

    GERMANY: Spiritual Exercises for Evangelical Pastors

    "The Spiritual Exercises for Evangelical pastors - wrote Filippo Rizzi, a journalist of the catholic daily newspaper Avvenire - in 1991 were the spring that encouraged German Jesuit Father Andreas Falkner to look for a meeting point with the evangelical community of Nuremberg. This inspiration met the requests of German evangelical communities and put into practice an old saying of theologian Karl Rahner of finding a common field of devotion between Catholics and Protestants." The program continues to this day. Father Falkner notes, "We offer, directed and personalized spiritual retreats for male and female pastors of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Bavaria. With this project we annually reach about 200 people."  The initiative is finding success in other German cities too. Father Falkner continues, "Actually we offer a course, lasting one and a half years that includes 38 days of classroom time. It is taught in a process-oriented way with the view of assisting participants to develop the ability to direct their fellow parishioners."  He adds, "I see in this contact between Protestants and Catholics a valuable form of practical ecumenism. I am deeply grateful to our brothers and sisters of the evangelical church for having prepared the ground for it and for the confidence given to their Catholic ."

     

    JAPAN: New Catholic Encyclopedia

    During the Wednesday, 23 September Papal Audience, the New Japanese Catholic Encyclopedia was presented to the Pope. It consists of four volumes each 1,500 pages in length. The editorial work began in 1981 and has taken almost 30 years to complete. Father  Shunichi Takayanagi, editor writes, "Between 1940 and 1960 the Jesuits published a  five volume Catholic Encyclopedia. We may call it the oldest Catholic Encyclopedia in Japanese.  To be sure it was a magnificent piece of work. But it is out-of-date given that more than a half-century of rapid changes that have occurred since its completion, first in the evolution of the Japanese language and orthography, and more importantly, in the Church since the Second Vatican Council.  In order to respond to these changes the administration of Sophia University (the Jesuit university in Tokyo) decided, with its Board director, Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, to produce an entirely new Catholic Encyclopedia for the Japanese reader".  The majority of contributors to the new encyclopedia are Japanese or foreigner scholars who have lived for many years in Japan. In the spirit of dialogue and ecumenism, it has included items and articles on Protestantism, and solicited important articles from other Christian as well as non-Christian scholars.   

     

    INDIA: Radio Sarang in Mangalore

    After a period of testing, lasting from June to September,  Radio Sarang, the new radio station of the Saint Aloysius College has begun regular broadcasts. It is operated by the Jesuits of Mangalore, Karnataka State in South India. The name, sa-rang, means "beautiful arrangements of colors" and symbolizes the diversity of Mangalore's social, religious and linguistic communities who desire to live together in peace and harmony.  In various Indian languages the word also refers to an Indian musical instrument, a spotted deer and most importantly, St Aloysius Radio, Mangalore. Father Richie Rego, Director notes, "We broadcast in several languages, Konkani and Tulu, local languages, Kannada, the Karnataka state language, and English.  In addition, some programs are transmitted in Malayalam, the Kerala language spoken by a large number of people, especially students, and Beary, the mother tongue of the local Muslims community."  A wide range of topics are offered: agricultural, health and hygiene, legal assistance, local life and folk issues, human rights, ethical, moral and human values, entertainment.  "All programs", Father Richie continues, "are locally produced (in-house and field recordings).  We received a very good response and we hope to expand both the hours of transmissions and our audience."

     

    INDIA: Green energy at St. Xavier's College in Kolkata

    St. Xavier's College in Kolkata has taken the lead in developing "in-house" technology to harness "green energy" for the institution's various needs. Father Felix Raj, principal of the college, says "green energy is the answer to overcoming severe power shortages affecting the city." So the college has developed an independent solar power system.  At the moment the system is used to operate the computer laboratory but gradually it will be expanded to operate all electrical appliances. Father Xavier Savarimuthu, professor of environmental science at the college, explains, "green energy is available throughout the year and the new power system provides an uninterrupted electrical supply with no recurrent costs, and gives us the opportunity to help preserve nature." St. Xavier's College is the first educational institution in the city to develop this technology without support from solar-power firms, thanks to Professor Pradeep Kumar Chakraborty, who developed the system. The example of St. Xavier's College is closely studied by other institutions; the archdiocesan Seva Kendra social center is imitating it having started the production of solar lamps to distribute in villages that have yet no electricity.

     

    MEXICO: DVD on Father Pro

    The Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus has re-released a film on Father Miguel Agustín Pro in DVD format.  The DVD will inspire contemporary Christians and will encourage a better knowledge of the life of this Jesuit, executed on the 23rd of November 1927, during a period of religious persecution.  The film, launched in 2007 on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of Father Pro's death, is based on documentary sources and the testimony of eye witnesses, and presents the life of Father Pro who has been one of the most important persons in the life of the 20th century Mexican Church.  The film was shown at the Cine Tercer Milenio festival held in Guadalajara, where it received a positive judgment from the jury and was big hit with the public. Father Pro was beatified in 1988.  For his canonization one miracle is necessary, according to the postulator, Father José Camarena, who said: "He was a priest totally dedicated to the love of Mary and to the service to the poor; he was full of joy.  That joy came from the heart, from God's service and from complete dedication to his mission."

     

    NIGERIA: Success for a book

    A book written by Father Uwem Akpan, a young Nigerian Jesuit working at Christ the King Parish in Lagos and published in Italy by Mondadori has been successfully promoted in the United States and in other parts of the world. The title of the book is Say you are one of them, and it contains five stories, set in different parts of Africa, and narrated by children.  Through these stories, taken from real situations, we have portraits of some of the pain and the problems affecting the African continent today.  The stories describe families, friendships, betrayal and redemption, through which Father Akpan underlines the determination and perseverance of the young protagonists.  The book was published one year ago in America and was recently chosen by Oprah Winfrey for the "Book Club" segment of her very popular daily television talk show in the United States.   "I was born under a palm tree in Ikot Akpan Eda, in Nigeria. I studied Philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga Universities, in the United States, and Theology at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi," says Father Akpan, talking about himself. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1990 and was ordained a priest in 2003. He adds: "It is a joy for me to celebrate the sacraments with my people."

     

    ROME: Congress on Brother Andrea Pozzo

    A long list of initiatives are planned for the 300th anniversary of the death of Brother Andrea Pozzo.  A full week of celebrations is on calendar in Wien, the city where he worked for many years and where he died.  In Rome, the Pontifical Gregorian University will hold an International Study Congress from the 18th to the 20th of November. The Congress will focus on this renowned artist and his multi-faceted productions (painting, architecture, backdrops of sacred scenes, etc.).  It has been organized thanks to the joint initiative of two other prestigious Roman institutions: the Austrian Historical Institute and the Hertz Library (Max-Planck Institute).  The three days congress will be held at the Gregorian University and at the Austrian Historical Institute. The participants will include some of the most important experts of baroque art and culture pertaining to Andrea Pozzo as an artistic figure coming from a number of renowned national and international academic institutions. They will analyze the corpus of his artistic work and will offer new insights and reflections for research and critical study. The altar of St. Ignatius, the altar of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga and the painted "faux" dome in Saint Ignatius Church are among the most renowned masterpieces of the Jesuit artist in Rome.  Brother Pozzo is considered one of the most extraordinary artist of the European baroque, especially concerning the use of perspective, and he was the founder of artistic academy at the Roman College, the original name of the Pontifical Gregorian University.  Thanks to the encouragement of Father Vitale Savio, administrative vice-rector of the Gregorian University, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta has issued a memorial stamp with a self portrait of the artist. The original resides in the Gesù Church in Rome.


    Towards the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death

    Matteo Ricci at the International Cinema Festival of Venice. Last month a "docu-film" on Matteo Ricci entitled Matteo Ricci a Jesuit in the Reign of the Dragoon by Gjon Kolndrekaj,  was shown during the International Cinema Festival of Venice thanks to the help of the Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo.  In attendance at the exhibition was the Bishop of Macerata, Claudio Giuliodori and the patriarch of Venice, Angelo Cardinal Scola. Cardinal Scola noted, "As I focused on Ricci what impressed me was his use of friendship as method of inculturation.  That is, inculturation is not a strategy; rather it builds community and begins with sharing and conversation."  For his part, Bishop Giuliodori underlined humility as the high point of the Jesuit missionary. A characteristic "necessary for everyone who wants to be present to dialogue", he noted. Cultural dialogue is "the essential requirement to also face the major challenges of globalization in today's world."

     

    A present for schools. On the occasion of the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death, Claudio Giuliodori, bishop of Macerata has sent to all the schools of the diocese materials on this favorite son.  It is a set of teaching materials of various types including a CD with four different PowerPoint presentations.  It was prepared during the 2008-2009 school year by the Five A and Five B classes at "A. Frank" elementary school of Pollenza, under the direction of doctor Nazzarena Lambertucci. The works was the idea of a teacher, Elisabetta Nardi, and has come to fruition through the collaboration of four other teachers, Gigliola Andreani, Laura Cannara, Paola Ceci and Alessandro Rinaldi. The PowerPoint lessons present the life of Ricci, his reflections on friendship and the reasons for his strong positive reputation in China. The last PowerPoint lesson contains prayers dedicated by the children to this "servant of God" in the hope to see him soon elevated. All the illustrations, drawn by children, demonstrate a significant understanding of Chinese customs. In fact the students have drawn their pictures after a careful study of the Chinese world, through readings, photographs and drawings of the life in China during the Ming Dynasty.