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Vol. XV, No. 01 20 January, 2011
Trip to East Asia. From 20 to 28 January, 2010, Father General will visit various places in East Asia. His primary objective will be to participate in the regular meeting of the Major Superiors of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (of which he used to be President), to be held in Singapore from January 23 to 28. Taking advantage of the long trip from Rome to the East, Father General will also visit Bangkok, Thailand from January 20 to 21, to meet with Jesuits and our collaborators in the Dependent Region of Thailand. From January 21 to 22, he will make a brief visit to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he will meet with the Jesuit Community and our collaborators in Cambodia. While in Singapore, in addition to attending the sessions of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, and receiving the manifestations of the Major Superiors, Father General will also spend some time with the Jesuits and collaborators of the Dependent Region of Malaysia-Singapore. Visits with the Archbishop of Bangkok, the Bishop of Phnom Penh, and the Archbishop of Singapore are also included in Father General's full schedule.
Father General's Letter to JRS. On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of Jesuit Refugee Service's foundation by Father Arrupe, Father General wrote on November 14 a letter to JRS. The letter was made public at the end of December. Here are a few excerpts: "In the years since 1980 JRS has received many blessings, for which I join all those who have been part of the JRS family in thanking the Lord." Father General thanked the Lord and all those who for many years worked for refugees and he continues: "I am also glad to know that this 30th anniversary celebration has not just been a time to look back, but also to look forward. It is not my role to discern for you, but allow me to share some reflections for the journey of JRS in the next thirty years."
After a presentation of changes in the refugees' world in the past years, of the new forms of displacement and of the many new experiences of vulnerability and sufferings, Father Nicolás continues: "We want to respond to needs, certainly. But how can we build something more lasting, something which strengthens the humanity of those for whom we work? How can we help them experience and move towards reconciliation, the healing of deep wounds often connected with violent displacement, so that communities of peace can emerge? I also wonder how JRS can advocate and promote more actively the Gospel value of hospitality in today's world of closed borders and increased hostility to strangers. Hospitality is that deeply human and Christian value that recognises the claim that someone has, not because he or she is a member of my family or my community or my race or my faith, but simply because he or she is a human being who deserves welcome and respect. It is the virtue of the good Samaritan, who saw in the man by the roadside, not a member of another race, but a brother in need."
Father General ends the letter with these words: "As JRS looks back in gratitude, as it reflects on the lessons learned over the last three decades, and tries to listen to the new appeals of the Spirit of God speaking in our time, I offer my thanks, encouragement and prayers."
Change of Assistancy for Malta. Father General transferred the Province of Malta from the Assistancy of West Europe to the Assistancy of South Europe. The change will be effective from the 1st of March. The reason for this change is the geographical location of Malta, its cultural context and the forms of collaboration already existing with Provinces of South Europe.
From the Curia
Tempo Forte. The beginning of January (from 3 to 7) was marked by the Tempo Forte for Father General and his Council, a well known word for a special time in the curia calendar. The work this year focused especially on the implementation of some decisions of the General Congregation. The main topics were the study of changes to be introduced in the Formula of Congregations, a reflection on the structure of the Provinces, the updating of the central government and ecology. These are all topics the Congregation entrusted to Father General who proposed them to the Council after the preparation of material by various groups or working commissions. They were days of hard work, prayer and reflection to which the community of the Curia participated with shared prayer and nearness. The Tempo Forte started with a communal concelebrated Eucharist. The final evaluation of these days confirmed the importance of these consultations. The afternoon of January 7 Father General welcomed the members of the Roman Houses for the traditional Christmas reception. Then, the many national Nativity scenes located in different parts of the house which accompanied the Curia community during Christmas time began to be dismantled, reminding us that ordinary time is now started.
Father General has named:
- Father Michael Weiler new Provincial of California, U.S.A. Father Michael, who was superior in Culver City and master of novices, was born in 1954, entered the Society of Jesus in 1975 and was ordained a priest in 1988.
- Father Xavier Soreng new Provincial of Ranchi, India. Father Xavier was born in 1959, entered the Society of Jesus in 1980 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He is a lawyer engaged in human rights' issues and is currently Vice President of the Minorities' Commission for the State of Jharkhand.
- Father Mark Raper, president of the Jesuit Conference of Asia-Pacific, new Regional Superior of Myanmar.
From the Provinces
AUSTRALIA: The faces of Jesuit Mission
The Jesuit Mission Office of the Australian Province has recently re-launched its website, merging its enduring, much-loved brand with thoroughly modern technology. The fresh approach aims to showcase the work of Jesuits and their colleagues, as well as the countries in which Jesuit Mission works and the people it supports, within an easily navigable system. The new website includes video, photo galleries and a "Letters from the Field" section which contains writings from Jesuit missionaries working in countries as diverse as India, Cambodia and East Timor. Jesuit Mission is particularly interested in attracting younger web users, and believes the website will become an invaluable repository for students at Jesuit and other schools. Within a short time of the new site's launch, comments of support started pouring into the Jesuit Mission head office in Sydney. The Director of Jesuit Mission, Fr Phil Crotty SJ. said while it was important to retain the core of what Jesuit Mission stands for it was necessary to bring the organization's mission to website users in a readily understandable way.
INDIA: Jesuit wins Bengali literary award
Last December the government of West Bengal, represented by State Higher Education Minister, has conferred its highest literary award on Father Paul Detienne, a Belgian Jesuit missionary aged 86, who created a new literary style in the Bengali language. Chinmoy Guha, who heads the English department in Calcutta University, described the Jesuit priest as one of the most beautiful prose writers in Bengali. Snehasis Sur, a Bengali writer, said Father Detienne was a master, combining French and Bengali literary styles. Even native Bengali people cannot reach the Jesuit priest's literary standards, he said.
INDIA: Available even after death
He is the second Calcutta Jesuit to pledge his body for medical research. The idea came to Belgian Father Gerard Beckers, who had mooted the idea of donating organs for medical research, and both of them had decided to offer their eyes and body to be used for medical research and to provide organs for transplant. When Father Beckers died in 2006, his body was handed over to the medical college. Recently Father Ruy Joseph Cordeiro also died. Within two hours of his passing, an eye bank removed his eyes and later Jesuit Brother Chintamoni Das, who is in charge of the Jesuit infirmary at St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, handed over the priest's body to Nil Ratan Sarkar Hospital and Medical College in the city. Jesuit Father Albert Huart, who handles records on organ donation in Calcutta province, said 17 other Jesuits have already pledged their eyes and 14 have agreed to donate their bodies. "We get very few bodies, and the need is a lot more," said Umesh Mallick, a staff at the medical school's anatomy department, who expressed "pleasant surprise" to see sanyasi (Religious) donating their bodies for research
MALAYSIA: Paul Tan New Bishop's Conference Chief
Since January 1st Jesuit Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing is the new president of the Bishops' Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Catholics in Malaysia are hoping he will take a more active role in social and religious issues during his term by virtue of his "training and temperament." However, Church officials say that people misunderstand the role of the Bishops' Conference which does not supersede an individual bishop's authority over his own diocese, but it is a platform for bishops to collaborate. Anyhow, there is the possibility of the 70-year-old prelate's action "if a certain issue needs a response." As a priest, Bishop Tan was often outspoken on Christian community and inter-religious dialogue, and in 1983 he was a founder of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.
SOUTH AFRICA: Jesuit Refugee Service wins five awards
A public service announcement created for JRS South Africa by a student's team from the University of Pretoria has won five awards in M-NET Vuka! national competition. The prestigious social responsibility film competition (Vuka! means 'Wake up!' in the Nguni languages) provides a platform for talented media students and professionals to create public service announcements for charities of their choice. The Jesuit Refugee Service announcement, which was praised for its special animation, explained what a refugee is, using a unique perspective, that of the refugee himself, and focused on remembering his humanity. The announcement won the newcomer category, took awards for best editing, best sound design, best script, and shared the accolade of best animation. Winners will have their public service announcements broadcast on television, at no charge, into over one million homes in South Africa. In this way it will contribute in breaking down negative stereotypes of foreign nationals in South Africa.
SPAIN: "Eat Healthy, Eat Fair"
Jesuits in Valladolid are taking part in a cooperative called Come Sano Come Justo ("Eat Healthy Eat Fair"), which has just celebrated its first anniversary. The cooperative gathers over 100 members whose shared values include sustainability of the planet, promotion of responsible consumption, support of fair trade networks, social integration and employment of people with disabilities, and unconditional support for those in need. The cooperative runs a store that sells organic and fair-trade products. http://www.comesanocomejusto.com/
SUDAN: After the referendum
On the 9th of January the referendum on the political future of the country took place in the whole of Sudan. The results are not yet known but everything points to provide a victory for the yes, that is South-Sudan (mostly Christian and animist) declaring independence from the Northern part, mostly Muslim. The turnout for the elections was massive and enthusiastic. We are waiting for the results, in case of "Yes" South Sudan will declare independence, if the "No" wins Sudan will continue to be one single country. The Society of Jesus is present in the North of the country with a community in Khartoum, where they take care of a center for Ignatian spirituality, and in the South with two communities in Rumbek and Wau. In this city it has opened recently the Loyola High School in the same building that was occupied by the army for many years. In Juba, the Southern capital, two Jesuits are working in the Catholic University and in the major seminary. In a letter sent to all Jesuits of Eastern Africa on December 20, the Provincial, Father Orobator, pointed out the tensions existing regarding the referendum and mentioned that many international organizations left the country for fear of riots. Then he wrote: "After reflection and consultation on this point, I informed our brethren living and working in Sudan about my desire that they remain in the country and continue their work before, during and after the referendum. I am convinced that this option is part of our call to testify the mission received by the Lord and of our dedication to the people of God in southern Sudan." So the works goes on with the hope that everything goes well.
U.S.A. Company ended its publication
After 27 years of service Company, the quarterly review of the American Jesuits, has ended its publication. The idea of the review came during the 32nd General Congregation (1974-75), says Jesuit Father Daniel Flaherty, former Chicago Provincial and Company editor from 1994 to 2009. "We were worried about the fact that our relatives and friends, and Jesuits also, were receiving news about us through reviews which were not offering the Society's point of view," he says in an article appeared in the last number. The first director was Father Edward Mattimoe (Detroit) with Father Edward W. Schmidt as assistant-director. They chose the name of the review, which was born in Chicago inside the offices of Loyola Press. For those interested in receiving news about the Society in the USA and elsewhere the magazine suggests to read the blog National Jesuit News, or to visit www.nationaljesuitnews.com, and to subscribe to National Jesuit eNews, the information bulletin published online twice a week.
New in SJWEB
- A podcast with Father Jorge Eduardo Serrano-Ordoñez (51°) from Columbia Province. He has worked for 40 years in pastoral and social work, in various regions of his country. In meanwhile he has obtained a Master in Development. In 2010 he accepted Father General's invitation to work at the General Curia of Rome as Assistant to the General Treasurer, for Development Resources (ATDR). Some humour - or a little bit of theatre - he is convinced that no one is so poor as to be incapable of helping someone. Click on "Jesuit Voices".