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Vol. XIII, N. 18 20 October 2009
Trip to Malta. Father General will visit Malta 15 to 23 October. From the 15th through the 20th he participated in the meetings of the Conference of European Provincials at St. Joseph Retreat House in Mosta. The remaining days will be spent visiting houses and ministries of the Maltese Province. These include: the Pedro Arrupe Residence, the Justice and Peace Center, the Paulo Freire Institute in Zejtun and a visit to Hal Far Detention Centre for refugee and asylum seekers from Africa. At the University of Malta a Eucharistic celebration will be held and he will have the opportunity to meet Jesuits and students. In Naxxar, Father Nicolás will tour the province offices and spend time with the Jesuits in the province infirmary. In Birkirkara he will visit St. Aloysius College, (enrolment 1.600) meeting with teachers, lay collaborators and students as well as participate in a Province Consult. The tour includes courtesy visits to various bishops and civil authorities.
Trip to Spain. From the 29th October through the 2nd of November Father General will visit Madrid, Salamanca and Palencia. In Madrid he will meet with the Spanish Provincials and the alumna/e of Areneros College. In Salamanca, he will visit the infirmary and meet with Jesuits in formation. From Palencia he will travel to his hometown of Villamuriel to inaugurate the Pabellón Deportivo Adolfo Nicolás, a sports centre named in his honour built by the civil administration (see n. 12 of June 22 edition of our Electronic Bulletin).
From the Curia
Meeting on Higher Education. The International Committee on Jesuit Higher Education met in Rome 16-18 October. Its primary task was to prepare for an International Conference entitled "Networking Jesuit Higher Education for the Globalizing World" which will be held at the Iberoamericana Jesuit University in Mexico City, April 2010. Presidents, administrators and faculty will meet with Father General to discuss future directions and global networking in higher education and the intellectual apostolate as well as the challenges on the frontiers of society including ecology, theology and contemporary culture, markets and the inequitable distribution of wealth.
Jesuits at the Synod. In the previous edition of this Electronic Bulletin we printed a list of the Jesuits participating at the Special Assembly of Bishops on Africa Synod that is being held in Rome. One member of the Synod is Alexis Habiyambere, bishop of Nyundo, Rwanda. Bishop Habiyambere was born in 1939, joined the Society of Jesus in 1960 and was ordained a priest in 1976. John Paul II named him a bishop on 17 January 1997. The ordination took place on 22 March 1997.
From the Provinces
AFRICA: A Jesuit University?
In a letter to all Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar, dated 22 August 2009, Father Fratern Masawe, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM), addressed the question of a Jesuit university in Africa. He began with a "history lesson." The original idea was presented in 2005 during the meeting of major superiors at Loyola. "The proposal was received with much enthusiasm," and many Provincials "pledged their support for its realization." In July 2006 "a group of African Jesuits convened in Nairobi (Kenya) to explore higher education possibilities for Africa and Madagascar." An electronic survey was sent to African Jesuits asking them to give their opinions. "The response, especially from among the Jesuit scholastics and those in special and graduate studies, was inspiring. The data from the survey provided valuable information as to future possibilities and possible obstacles." A commission was appointed with members from each of the seven Provinces and three regions. In April 2007 Father Kolvenbach, as Superior General of the Society, asked Father Charles Beirne (New York Province), an expert in higher education in United States, Central America and Puerto Rico, to analyze the responses of the survey and develop relevant implementation models. This past April, at the meeting of JESAM, the decision was taken to dissolve the commission. Father Fratern writes, "It does not seem to us possible or appropriate at the present time to conceive of our response to this in terms of a Jesuit university but rather a policy for higher education... We consider that these existing institutions represent enormous creativity, courage and dedication by Jesuits within our Conference, and that they have already achieved a great deal." The decision to suspend work on a Jesuit university has been taken given the reality that the Society of Jesus in Africa is experiencing great difficulty in finding staff for the existing common institutions. In addition, some of these institutions are moving towards university status thanks to the support of their respective governments. Father Masawe writes that he is aware that this decision will come as a great disappointment to those who welcomed the idea with enthusiasm, but he holds out hope for the future and ends the letter by noting, "An African proverb says: No one can uproot the tree which God has planted. The tree has been planted. Someday it will blossom."
CANADA: Joining of Archives
As of the 23rd of September the two Jesuit Canadian Provinces of French Canada and English Canada, have a common archives, located on the lower level of Maison Bellarmin in Montréal. The entire basement was renovated to contain the archives, offices, library, research rooms, etc. "The archives of the Canadian Provinces of the Society of Jesus - wrote Céline Widmer, the archivist - witnesses to the activity of all the Jesuits who worked in Canada and its foreign missions since the arrival of the first companions in 1611. It recalls the memory of their living faith, of their efforts, of their spiritual values, and of their institutions." The idea of joining the archives emerged in 2006 and Montréal was selected given its accessibility and central location. Bringing this project of relocating the Provinces holdings to realization involved the expenditure of resources and careful logistical planning. The archivist continues, "A single centre in a country as large as Canada might at first seem to limit availability, but the centralization of the archives certainly offers the advantage of a collective vision and a more effective management of resources and collections. In addition, new technologies and the infinite possibilities of the internet now permit access well beyond geographic boundaries." For this reason the new archives has begun the process of digitalization which will facilitate more rapid and detailed searches making use of a computerized indexing system. It will be some time before this is completed, but the program is well under way.
CHINA: Tales and images
The Taipei Ricci Institute and Renlai monthly magazine recently launched a resource website (www.tale-image.com) collecting tales (stories) and images on places and peoples in the Chinese world, with special focus on cultural diversity, sustainable development and spiritual empowerment. Based on the extensive database of the Institute, the website, updated monthly, offers "ready to publish" stories and provides publication outlets with unique materials on villages, community leaders, spiritual experiences and creative social experiments in China, Taiwan and other parts of Asia. The website will be developed and enriched with the aim of becoming a world-wide resource center for a more narrative approach to developmental, cultural and spiritual issues. For more information email: email@example.com.
CHINA: New publications by the Taipei Ricci Institute
The Taipei Ricci Institute has published a twenty-six volume (15.000 pages) collection that contains previously unpublished texts from the Bibiothèque Nationale de France. The editors are Nicolas Standaert, S.J., Ad Dudink (Leuven University), and Nathalie Monnet (Bibiothèque Nationale de France). All the 190 texts reproduced in the collection were published or written before 1820, and are quite unique and very rare. They reflect the characteristics of Chinese publications on Western science and religion in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These publications cover a wide range of subjects such as anatomy, Aristotelian philosophy, geography, astronomy, a treatise on earthquakes, biographies of missionaries and converts, memorials and edicts. The history of the Chinese collection kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France spans more than three centuries. The four earliest specimens of Chinese printing entered the Royal Library in 1668, when it acquired half of the outstanding collection of the influential statesman and bibliophile Jules Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661).
EUROPE: Xavier Network and Mission Procurators
The Xavier Network, a European association of non-governmental organizations (NGO's) working in the field of international cooperation and closely tied to the Society of Jesus, met in Liverpool from the 1st to the 3rd of October. The meeting, the third for 2009, was held in conjunction with the meeting of European Mission Procurators. Marco Petrini, President of Magis (the Italian NGO) notes, "My immediate impressions about these two events are positive. The Xavier network is enhancing collaboration and exchange of information. In particular in Mozambique; the initial approach to come to know the local situation has become an operative collaboration on common or shared projects ... The guidelines of this commitment are consistent with the spirit that animates the Xavier Network; that is not to scatter forces among many micro-projects, but to unite the specialties of all the NGO's in a common broader and stronger initiative." The Liverpool meeting was also the occasion to examine the situation in the Amazon region, another place of common cooperation. This meeting marked a major turning point for the group with the approval of an agreement between the Xavier Network and Região Brasil Amazonia da Companhia de Jesus (BAM) which foresees four different types of collaboration between these two entities: exchange of information, exchange of people, advocacy, and financial support. This meeting offered time to continue to reflect on the topic of advocacy that was first attempted nine months ago during the Nuremberg meeting and furthered during the Ignatian Advocacy Workshop, held in Madrid. For more information on the Xavier Network: www.netxavier.org
PERU: Colegio San Ignacio in Piura at the International School Meeting
Four representatives of the staff of Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola in Piura attended the International School Meeting (CENIT 2009) that took place in Lima from the 5th to the 9th of October. The meeting is organized every year by Colegio Santa Margarita as part of the CENIT program to encourage student participation which is sponsored by the Peruvian Ministry of external affaires, the Convention Andrés Bello, Santiago University in Cali, Simón Bolívar Andean University and Piura University. The theme of this year's congress was, "Leadership and participation begins with the school". Students who participate in CENIT and assisted by their teachers, prepare reports and conduct debates in order to arrive at conclusions that are later placed at the disposal of the authorities of the participating countries. The group from the Jesuit college submitted a report entitled, "school journalism, stimulus to leadership, participation and constructive criticism." The representatives of the student council, in collaboration with representatives of Colegio San Ignacio in Medellín, Colombia, and Colegio Javier in Guayaquil, Ecuador, prepared a second report on the significance of being "men for others", a motto of the collages of the Society of Jesus.
SUDAN: Cuts in educational budget
During the last three years, the Government of Southern Sudan has slashed its education budget by more than 25 percent, from US$134 million to US$100 million. This is particularly disappointing given the remarkable improvements in enrolment rates since the 2005 peace agreement. Budget cuts of this magnitude are likely to adversely affect the quality of education services. With literacy rates at 20 percent overall, and 10 percent among women, much remains to be done. Recently, on the occasion of the International Literacy Day, Jesuit Refugee Service/Eastern Africa (JRS/EA) highlighted the importance of education in Southern Sudan and encouraged the local government to allocate sufficient resources to protect and improve upon the achievements to date. JRS/EA also urged donors and the international community to provide sufficient assistance. According to a UNICEF report last year, school attendance rates in Southern Sudan have tripled in the last four years. Since 2005, they have increased from 343,000 - then the lowest in the world - to more than 1.3 million. Despite this improvement, attendance rates for girls remain much lower than those for boys. Economic hardship, in addition to socio-cultural values and practices, such as early marriage, continues to prevent girls from attending school. More needs to be done to convince parents and communities of the value of education, especially for girls. Shortages of trained and paid teachers pose another major challenge to education.
ZIMBABWE: 50 years of Sinoia Mission
On the 19th of September, all roads led to Chinhoyi Diocesan Pastoral Centre to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Jesuit Sinoia Mission. On September 8th 1959 Father General entrusted Sinoia/Chinhoyi Mission to the East German Province of the Society of Jesus. Later, it was integrated into the Zimbabwe Province and over the years Jesuits from the region and from a number of provinces have joined efforts to evangelize this portion of northern Zimbabwe. It started as a the pioneering effort by a band of mostly young, dynamic Jesuits under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Salisbury; it grew into a separate Apostolic Prefecture in 1974 and became a diocese in 1985 under the leadership of Bishop Helmut Reckter S.J. Now, under the guidance of Bishop Dieter Scholtz S.J., it boasts 26 local diocesan priests and 18 parishes, as well as a number of hospitals and schools. Ranging from Kutama, to Kariba to Marymount beyond Mount Darwin, it covers most of the north of the country. The 19th of September celebrations were capped off with a comical play presented by the youth of the diocese portraying how the Jesuits came to establish the mission, on donkeys; a far cry from today's Toyota Landcruisers! Live donkeys were featured in the play which spotlighted some of the first works established in the diocese. A pictorial exhibition of the history of the diocese also helped many to appreciate the journey thus far and to look forward with faith and hope.
Towards the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
Initiatives of Ricci Institute of Paris
Bark to cure bite
Jesuit bark (or Pulvis Patrum) is the archaic name for the medicine, quinine, the most celebrated remedy for malaria. Extracted from the cinchona tree, it was discovered by the native peoples of Peru who noted its ability to reduce fever. Jesuits working in Peru brought it to Europe. Based on their recommendation, the wife of the Spanish viceroy in Lima, Peru, was cured of malaria in 1630, and this success greatly increased the renown of the remedy.