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Vol. XIV, N. 14 5 July 2010
Visit to Russia. From the 4th to the 10th of July Father General will visit the Russian Region. He will be accompanied by Father Adam Zak, regional assistant. The visit will begin in Novosibirsk where he will participate in a meeting of Jesuits working in the Region. The theme of the meeting is: "Apostolic and Communal Life in the Russian Region: a challenge/call to live Unity of Minds and Hearts." The gathering is scheduled for three days and will be an occasion for Father Nicolás to learn first-hand the opportunities and challenges facing the Region, and to offer reflections regarding the future. This is a very important gathering, as it is the first of the Region since its establishment and after the painful events of October 2008, when Fathers Otto Messmer and Victor Betancourt were killed. From Novosibirsk Father General will travel to Moscow where, on the morning of the 9th of July, he will meet with representatives of the Department of External Relations of Orthodox Russian Church. That afternoon there will be a reception at the St. Thomas Institute, the theology, philosophy and history faculty run by the Jesuits in the Russian capital, and the visit with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini. The next day, Father General will "play tourist" visiting Red Square and other places of interest in Moscow; he will also pay a visit to Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of Moscow. Later that evening Father General will return to Rome.
Angola: From Portugal to Central Africa. Father General transferred the Mission of Angola from the Province of Portugal to the Province of Central Africa with a decree issued on the 29th of June. The decree comes into force on the 2nd of August, feast of Blessed Peter Faber. In the letter accompanying the decree, Father Nicolás expressed his gratitude to the province of Portugal, "for having maintained the visibility of the Society of Jesus in Angola through the apostolates of evangelization and Spiritual Exercises during these difficult years in the history of the country." In addition, "I wholeheartedly thank the Province of Central Africa which has welcomed the responsibility for the mission of Angola and is already taking measures, and making decisions to promote an harmonious integration. This is an eloquent testimony of interprovincial collaboration for Africa and for the Society of Jesus that will not go unnoticed as we attempt to make more effective our governmental structures through reorganization." The Provincials of Portugal and Central Africa, wrote a letter to the Jesuits of their provinces announcing the transfer, recalling the history of Angola Mission throughout the centuries and presenting the reasons for the transfer.
On the 22nd of June the Council of the German Bishop Conference appointed Father Stefan Dartmann, former Provincial of Germany, executive Director of Renovabis for the next five years. Renovabis is the commission of the German Episcopal Conference for the assistance of Eastern European countries. Father General was consulted regarding the appointment.
Father General appointed:
- Father Tamás Forrai new Provincial of Hungary. Fr. Tamás was born in 1964, entered the Society of Jesus in 1990 and was ordained a priest in 1998. Fino ad ora era direttore della scuola di Miskolc.
- Father Francisco Javier Álvarez de los Mozos, Loyola Province, Secretary of the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology replacing Father Fernando Fernández Franco; the appointment takes effect at the end of this year. Father Javier was born in 1967, joined the Society of Jesus in 1991 and was ordained a priest in 2000. Presently he is coordinator of the Formation program in his Province and co-director of Alboan, the Jesuit non-governmental organization working on cooperation with developing countries and promoting solidarity among peoples.
From the Provinces
CAMERUN: Looking for New Talent
A new three-year project (2010-2012) for "New Talent" will offer students with academic capability from isolated rural areas and from poor families in urban areas, the chance to change their future by attending high school classes. The project is promoted by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Management (FSSG) of the Catholic University of Central Africa (UCAC); it is financed by the Italian Episcopal Conference and administered by the Jesuits, and Magis, the Italian Jesuit non-governmental organization. "We know of no better way to break the vicious circle of poverty that often poor families cannot leave. It is a proven fact that it is sufficient for one member of the family to be educated in order to open the way for others." explains Father Ludovic Lado, S.J., FSSG assistant Dean. About 200 students will be selected in the first year. "We will confirm the sincerity of each student's motivation to reduce the risk of failure, a distant prospect given the rigor of the selection process and the sacrifices being asked of the families," he added. They will take a series of formation courses to prepare for the High School and University competitive entrance examinations. Once the entrance examinations are successfully completed, the students will continue to receive help; they will benefit from a fund that offers partial support during the years of study.
CANADA: 400 years Since the Arrival of the Society of Jesus
The Provincial of English Canada has announced the celebration, in 2012, of the 400th anniversary of the Jesuit arrival in Canada. On the agenda will be a provincial congress, the third of this kind, that will take place from the 27th to the 31st of July 2011 with the participation of Father General. The organizer of the congress is Father Peter Bisson, who wrote a letter to his brother Jesuits in which he notes, "In 1611, the first Jesuits arrived in Canada. Father General Claudio Acquaviva sent Fathers Pierre Biard and Ennemond Massé to the French and Mi'kmaq around Port Royal, Acadia, in what is now Nova Scotia, a mission that lasted only two years. A second mission was attempted from 1625 to 1629 on the banks of the St. Lawrence in the area around what is now Québec. Finally, a more permanent Jesuit foothold began in Québec in 1632. Two years later, under the leadership of Father Jean de Brébeuf, Jesuits were sent from Québec to the Hurons, in the region around what is now Midland, Ontario. Four hundred years later, we are still here, and active throughout Canada."
CANADA: Exposition of Precious Documents
Few have probably heard the name of Father Nicolas Point, the employees of Canadian Jesuit Archives, however, know him well because this Jesuit missionary documented, with his writings and drawings, the life of Canadian and United States Amerindians in the middle of the 19th century. The Fondo Father Nicolas Point in the Province Archives is of an incomparable richness, both from the aesthetic and document point of view. Unfortunately, very little has been written on his work, and it deserves to be promoted. His string writings, his small paintings hidden inside other works, make them difficult to display and highlight. So begins an initiative to make this material known. "We have the idea", says the équipe (team) of the Archives, "to reproduce and enlarge the drawings and paintings of this artist and to show them to the public. The entrance hall of Maison Bellarmin in Montréal will host an exhibition this summer on the life of this incredible person. There will be displayed stories of his travels, pictures, official documents, items which belonged to his brother Pierre Point, also a Jesuit. Other reproductions, original pieces and more documents can be viewed in the study room and in the display windows."
CANADA: Teaching According to Jesuits
Of great significance for the Jesuits in Québec, a judge has ruled that the government showed "Inquisition-like intolerance and violated religious freedom. In this age of the respect of fundamental rights, of tolerance, reasonable accommodation and multiculturalism, the attitude adopted by the education minister is surprising," judge Gérard Dugré said. On Loyola High School, a private school run by Jesuits, was imposed the obligation to teach the ethics and religious culture course in a "secular" fashion. The decision sparked another round of discussion regarding the place religion in Québec which faces an increasing number of immigrant and how far the Government of Québec can go in imposing a secular curriculum on the schools. After the verdict which recognized Loyola High School's right to keep teaching its ethics course from a Roman Catholic perspective, Premier Jean Charest announced that his government would appeal. A press statement from the school on 18 June stated, "We are pleased with the judgment rendered by the Court but would caution against seeing it as a Loyola High School victory or a government defeat. As a member of the academic community in Montréal since 1896, Loyola is proud to work every day alongside the government in promoting excellence for the students of Québec. A full understanding of the background of this case is important."
CHILE: Jesuit Banks of Hope
The earthquake that struck Chile at the end of February caused massive destruction in one of the poorest areas of the country. Twenty poverty relief centres run by the Jesuit organization Hogar de Cristo, Chile's largest non-profit organization founded in 1944 by Jesuit Father Alberto Hurtado, were completely destroyed. "Since we were working there already, we immediately started a campaign to collect food, clothing, blankets," said the director, Father Agustín Moreira. With almost 4,000 employees, 8,000 volunteers, and 60,000 people who receive assistance everyday, Hogar de Cristo was able to make use of its extensive contacts in the distribution of aid. With the Chilean government now taking care of the situation, Hogar de Cristo has launched the second phase of its rebuilding and outreach campaign, which will cost an estimated US$ 20 million. "People receive micro-credit and they organize into groups of approximately eight to ten people. If they repay the money they are loaned, they will receive another loan, and so on. In this way, they gradually overcome poverty. We are the only organization of its size in Chile that makes loans to poor people." For further information go to: www.hogardecristo.cl
INDIA: Jesuits Against Big Dam Projects
The construction on several dams projects in the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh will force tens of thousands of tribal people from their lands. In reaction to this, Jesuits are providing social and legal aid to those affected. "The construction of these large dams will push indigenous people to the periphery by grabbing their homes and lands," says, Father Cedric Prakash, S.J., a human rights activist who directs a non-governmental organization in Ahmedabad. The government says dams will provide water for irrigation for use in these regions, but according to Jesuits it would be sufficient to build small reservoirs and check dams that will allow tribal peoples to remain on their lands. More than 30,000 tribal people have already been displaced and the construction of more dams would lead to further displacement.
INDIA: To Spread the Good News with Manga
Manga (whimsical pictures) is a style of Japanese comics. In Japan, comics are considered an art form similar to fine literature, having a cultural and economic impact. Recently manga was the theme of a workshop organized by Kolkata Jesuits at the Chitrabani Communication Centre. During the workshop it was underlined that this Japanese art form is an excellent tool for evangelization among uneducated native peoples as it can easily communicate ideas where words fail. The workshop lasted six days and it was the first of its kind in India. The response was overwhelming, more than 50 participants came to the sessions working quietly, riveted the entire time to their seats.
TAIWAN: Cardinal Awarded Honorary Doctorate as "Teacher-of-life"
Paul Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi, who is suffering from lung cancer, received an honorary doctorate for promoting a culture of life. The National Kaohsiung Normal University conferred the honour on the 87-year-old retired bishop of Kaohsiung during a graduation ceremony on 12 June. "Cardinal Shan is a humble elderly gentleman with great wisdom and an inspiring teacher of life itself. In spite of his incurable illness, the Jesuit prelate insists on giving talks on the meaning of life across Taiwan," said Kaohsiung county mayor Yang Chiu-hsing during the event. Since being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006, Cardinal Shan has given more than 100 talks on living, illness and death to different religious and social groups across in Taiwan. "Each talk attracts an average of 1,000 people, less than 10 % of whom are Christians. The cardinal has promoted a positive outlook of living inspiring cancer patients and their families ," said Hsiao Chih-Chi, Cardinal Shan's secretary for eight years.
UNITED STATES: Jesuits and the Liturgy
For the fifth time since 2002, the International Jungmann Society will meet, this occasion in Tampa, Florida, 21 - 26 June. The International Jungmann Society, is an network of Jesuits from all over the world interested in liturgy, both in Jesuit communities and in pastoral ministry. There have been 48 participants in all from across the globe: Asia (2), Oceania (3), USA/Canada (22), Europe (5), Africa (5) and Latin America (7), plus four guests. The theme, Jesuits, Liturgy and the Arts, has been discussed from a variety of perspectives. Here is a list of papers to be presented with the author(s) noted in parentheses: Jesuits and liturgical arts: mystery, participation and ars celebrandi (P. Faure), Liturgical participation and music (V. Dufka), Liturgical participation and media (R. Leonard), Liturgical architecture and participation (G. Sunghera), Liturgical participation and movement (R. VerEcke and J-G. Murray). Reflections, exchange of ideas and promotion of common projects with be held in language groups. The daily celebrations have been prepared by members of the group.
The 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
Vatican stamps. On the 22nd of June the Vatican Post Office issued two stamps to commemorate the fourth centenary of Matteo Ricci's death. The first one, for 3,30 €, reproduces the classical painting of the missionary, while the other, for 0,05 €, reproduces Ricci together with his friend and disciple Paul Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), a well-educated Chinese who converted to Christianity and his close collaborator. It is quite conceivable that in the next few years they may be together proposed for beatification.
Brazil. This past April the Philosophical and Theological Faculty in Belo Horizonte, one of the Jesuit Interprovincial Formation Centers in Latin America, promoted two conferences by Dr. Roberto Mesquita Ribeiro, director of The Beijing Centre (the Society of Jesus's Chinese Study Centre in Bejing). The first conference, addressed to the students, focused on, "My friend is my other self: the theological foundation of Matteo Ricci's strategy," while the second, open to the public, was on the theme: "Intercultural dialogue in Today's China." Both conferences were enhanced by an exhibition of pictures drawn by Roberto Mesquita Ribeiro.
Hong Kong. A group of lay-people and religious launched the Hong Kong Ricci Heritage Society on June 15 at Ricci Hall, Hong Kong University, Pokfulam, to mark the 400th anniversary of Father Matteo Ricci's death. The society also held its first talk on the relevance of Ricci's life and work to mainland China and Hong Kong, by Beijing-based Jesuit Father Stephan Rothlin, secretary general of the Centre for International Business Ethics. Following the lecture, Father Alfred Deignan, superior of the Jesuits in Hong Kong and chairperson of the society, explained to the Chinese-language Kung Kao Po that "the aim of the society is to promote knowledge of Father Ricci's life, work and impact on east-west cultural exchange."