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Vol. XIV, N. 6 22 March 2010
From the Curia
March 23-26: a group of five experts from different countries will meet with Father General and Father Mercieca, director of the Secretariat of Ignatian Spirituality, to reflect on the priestly character of the Apostolic body of the Society, as indicated in a September 2009 letter of Father General. The agenda consists of three themes: 1) how the priestly apostolate is lived in the various apostolic activities of each Jesuit; 2) The Society of Jesus as a "priestly body"; 3) vocation and life of the Jesuit Brother and the priestly character of the Society. The group of experts will study the documents received from the whole Society on these themes in order to assist Father General in the preparation of a final document.
From the Provinces
AFGHANISTAN: Jesuit Commitment to Education
Education in Afghanistan received a boost in recent years thanks to the efforts of the Indian Jesuits, particularly members of the Calcutta Province, who oversaw the formation of students and teachers. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, where a Jesuit has been appointed adviser for technical education, several Jesuits worked on a program for students aimed at teaching technical subjects and English; they also developed a plan to train 1,000 trained technical teachers in the next five years. In May 2002 the Jesuits first attempted to improve education in Afghanistan but the project was abandoned given the lack of security. These efforts resumed in 2005 at Heart University when two Jesuits taught technical subjects to a group of 65 students. That number has soared to 400 students at three universities. The efforts of the Jesuits have resulted in the formation of the National Institute of Management in Kabul with another centre, the National Institute of Computer Technology likely to open in the near future in Kabul. "Education in Afghanistan has suffered because the country has experienced numerous wars and ongoing internal strife; there is a shortage of trained teachers, a gap that the Jesuits are trying to fill," said Father George Pattery, Provincial of Calcutta.
BANGLADESH: Jesuit Presence
In 2006, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a man and a bank in Bangladesh. This man devised of way to eradicate poverty in Bangladesh and with this, the hope for a poverty-free world. In spite of the heavy drag of poverty and illiteracy, cyclones and floods, and poor governance, Bangladesh is a land of rising aspirations, with two million women from rural areas and the lower strata of society who have earned the largest amount of foreign exchange for the country through their labour in the ready-made, garment sector. The first community of the Society of Jesus in Bangladesh was opened by two Calcutta Jesuits in 1994. Today there are twelve Jesuits in the country, plus ten in formation outside the country; three more will come in the near future. Jesuits are scattered across four of the six Dioceses and involved in a variety of activities. "We provide pastoral care in traditional Catholic settings and in new pastures; we teach in schools with a majority Muslim population as well as tribal children; we are building scores of houses for cyclone victims and a large centre to provide formation for human and spiritual growth; we contribute to the formation of future priests and religious and also of youth and adults. The spectrum of engagement is therefore not only across time and space but also across a diversity of peoples and situations," says Father Aelred Gomes, Superior of the Jesuit residence in Dhaka.
BRAZIL: Course of Continuing Formation
The XXIV Course of Continuing Formation for Latin American and Spanish Jesuits (CURFOPAL) began on the 22nd of February in São Leopoldo, Brazil. The course will end on the 28th of May and is directed by Father Javier Osuna, S.J.. The participants are 13 priests and 3 brothers from Spain and various Latin American countries. Several professors will offer in-depth courses on Faith and it's challenges today, Biblical Theology, Christology, Ecclesiology, Social Teaching of the Church, Theological Ethics, Ignatian Spirituality and other topics. Time will be set aside for reading, reflection, and group meetings. The course culminates with an eight-day Spiritual Exercises retreat directed by Father Osuna. The aim of this three-month program is to enhance the spiritual and apostolic life, in order to return to the sources and "to taste and feel" our vocation again. The experience has been labeled as a true "school of the heart," like the one proposed by St. Ignatius for Tertianship, and it offers the participants the opportunity to return to their missions with renewed zeal and fire. A pilgrimage to the Jesuit Reductiones in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina has been organized for Easter Week; participants will have the opportunity to assist in Easter celebrations at some well-known parishes.
CHAD: Solar Cookers
As part of the ongoing work of improving the living conditions of women, a project to build solar cookers began in 2004 in two towns: Sarh in the south and Mongo in the north of Chad, by Jesuit Brother Pietro Rusconi. The cooker has a metal frame in the shape of a parabola that holds polished concave metal sheets. The sheets reflect and concentrate the sun's rays at the parabola's focal point where a saucepan is placed to heat water or oil. The unit can be tilted in order to optimize its ability to capture the rays of the sun. In the beginning, all equipment was supplied by German companies; now the metal frames are locally produced with a notable cut in price. The cookers are sold at a price most families can afford. The intention is to reduce the use of wood for cooking thereby reducing the amount of time women forage for it. That, in turn, will decrease desertification and give women more time to care for their children.
ENGLAND: Bells returned to Chile
The Parish Church Council of All Saints Church, Oystermouth in Swansea, has agreed to return to Chile three bells presently displayed in their porch. The bells, of Spanish origin and dating from 1753, were shipped to south Wales after a massive fire swept through the Jesuit Church de la Campana in Santiago on December 8, 1863. The church had a strong devotion to the Immaculate Conception and during a solemn celebration was lit by hundreds of candles and paraffin lamps and decorated with tapestries and drapes. The fire started at the High Altar and quickly spread all over the church, razing it to the ground and killing an estimated 2.500 people. In Oystermouth, the bells were hung in the church tower until 1964 and then displayed in the porch. Recently, the Government of Chile asked that the bells be returned to form part of a new memorial to the 1863 disaster.
INDIA: Jesuit economists to guide development
Jesuit economists in India say development must be given a "human face" if it is to reach the majority of the country's poor. Most of the country's most vulnerable are missing out on the benefits of aid programs, said Fr. Dominic Savio, SJ, who organized the first national seminar of the Jesuit Economics Association of India (JEAI) in Kolkata on February 28. The 14 Jesuits attending vowed to continue the work, engaging their colleagues around the country. Fr. John Felix Raj, S.J., the association's convener, said that the Jesuits have already made a notable contribution in education for development. The new association should aim to influence policy makers.
ITALY: Cardinal Martini Honored
Each month Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini responds to questions submitted by the readers of Corriere della Sera, one of the most popular newspapers in Italy. His thoughtful and insightful replies touch on a range of topics including: social and moral questions, families not able to balance the many challenges they face, the search for success, money, and pleasure in today's society, Church - State relations, Bioethics as well as questions that "keep the theological pot boiling." His commitment to this monthly column is the reason he was among the winners of this year's Premiolino award, one of the oldest journalism award in Italy. Cardinal Martini's name was inscribed in the Premiolino gold book and he joins other well-known journalistic and cultural figures including: Oriana Fallaci, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Camilla Cederna, Indro Montanelli and others. The awards ceremony took place in Milan on the 2nd of March.
UNITED STATES: Documentary on Pedro Arrupe
A five-part documentary film on Pedro Arrupe, the former superior general of the Society of Jesus, is now available online at: http://www.youtube.com/user/JesuitChannel#p/u/7/Qgmk2YGU4BU, a Jesuit Channel, which is sponsored by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. The film, Pedro Arrupe: His Life and Legacy, was produced in 2008 by Georgetown University and features rare footage of Fr. Arrupe and interviews with his closest advisers.
The 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
The restoration of Matteo Ricci's grave. On the 13th of March, at the Vittoria Theatre in Sarnano, near Macerata (birthplace of Matteo Ricci), a group of Chinese students, guests of the Antiche Torri Association, attended an evening performance dedicated to celebrating friendship as part of the "Marco Polo" project. The evening was sponsored by the cultural association of Sarnano, under the aegis of the Committee for Ricci's celebrations and others. During the evening, the president of the committee, Adriano Ciaffi, a lawyer, announced the restoration of Matteo Ricci's grave in Beijing thanks to the efforts of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. Attending the event was Carlo Birrozzi, an architect for the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities Institute for Conservation and Restoration, who will direct the project. In the following weeks documents will be submitted to the Chinese authorities for the necessary permits in order to begin the work.
A course on Arabic Language. The Centre de Recherches et d'Etudes Arabes (CREA), founded by André d'Alverny s.j., in 1945 in Lebanon, pursues its teaching activities of Arabic to non-Arabic speakers within the framework of Université Saint-Joseph (USJ). Classical Arabic and Lebanese Colloquial classes are given based on material designed by USJ researchers. Two intensive sessions have been scheduled from June 4th, 2010 to July 9th, 2010 and from July 12th, 2010 to August 3rd, 2010. The session costs USD 680. For more information, kindly e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Voltaire and the Jesuits. Even though he was an inveterate opponent of the Catholic Church, to the end of his days Voltaire felt deep gratitude to the Jesuits who had educated him. He never stopped insisting that the Church was the enemy of progress and sought to "keep people as ignorant and submissive as children"; and yet he waxed lyrical about the profound and expansive education in the classics, theatre, rhetoric, philosophy, and natural science which he received at the Collège Louis-le-Grand (1704-11). This is what he had to say about the Jesuit teachers he had there: "I was educated for seven years by men who took unrewarded and indefatigable pains to form the minds and morals of youth. Is it credible that anyone should fail to have some feeling of gratitude toward such teachers?"