In these days Father General and his Council are at the retreat house of Galloro, not far from Rome, for their annual Spiritual Exercises (May 29-June 5). These will be followed by four days of "Tempo Forte" (June 6-9): which are days of intense reflection and prayer that take place three times a year. The main topics on the agenda are: the study of 2011 ex-officio letters on the youth apostolate; ecology and the Society's way of proceeding; the examination of restructuration of Provinces as required by GC35; the implementation of the restructuring of the secretariats as announced a few months ago.
From the Curia
- From June 13 to 25, the Colloquium for Spanish Speaking Major Superiors appointed during the past year will be held at the General Curia. The purpose of the meeting is to provide group reflection, with the participation of Father General, on important issues of the Provincial government, such as the statement of conscience and the personal accompaniment, the communitarian animation, the insertion into the reality of the local Church, the mission to the frontiers and the interprovincial and international collaboration. The colloquium is useful also to illustrate to the new superiors the various offices and services of the General Curia and to have a personal contact with the staff of Father General in the government of the universal Society. The colloquium has always an international character. This time the participants are 10 major superiors from Latin America, Spain and Germany. At the end of the colloquium the Provincials will visit and celebrate the Eucharist in the Rooms of St. Ignatius, as a sign of real commitment to the charism and mission of the Society.
- From June 14 to 21, the Third Pan-African meeting of the Apostleship of Prayer and the Eucharistic Youth Movement (E.Y.M.), the youth branch of the Apostleship of Prayer will be held in Kinshasa (Congo Democratic Republic). The first was in Lagos (Nigeria), in 2002, the second in Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), in 2009. This time, about 25 delegates, including Jesuits, religious sisters and lay collaborators, from 15 African countries, will meet for a week under the theme Towards the re-creation of the Apostleship of Prayer and the and the E.Y.M. in the Church of Africa today. The meeting will be an important boost to the promotion of this spiritual way that helps millions around the world, and especially for the Youth branch, very lively and widespread in Africa.
During the upcoming World Youth Day in Madrid (Spain), the Eucharistic Youth Movement will have a privileged moment during what is called the "Youth Festival". On Wednesday August 17th they will share with all those interested the richness and joy of their Eucharistic-grounded and Ignatian inspired formation program for children and young people. The Movement is today very much alive in nearly 50 countries in the world.
Father General has appointed:
- Father John Lee Hua Provincial of China. Father John, currently Delegate for Mainland China, was born in 1966, entered the Society of Jesus in 1992 and was ordained a priest in 2002.
- Father Jeyaraj Veluswamy Provincial of Calcutta (India). Fr. Jeyaraj, up to now Novice Master of the same Province, was born in 1961, entered the Society of Jesus in 1983 and was ordained a priest in 1994.
- Father Adelson Araújo dos Santos Regional Superior of Amazzonia (Brasil). Father Adelson Araújo, up to now Spiritual Director of the Philosophate of Belo Horizonte, was born in 1964, entered the Society of Jesus in 1986 and was ordained a priest in 1997.
From the Provinces
BRAZIL: Mendes de Almeida towards Beatification
The process for the beatification of Jesuit Mgr. Luciano Mendes de Almeida who died on August 27, 2006, will begin next August o behalf of the Archdiocese of Mariana, Brazil. It was announced to the Bishops gathered for the 49th general assembly of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference by its president, Msgr. Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, who asked them to sign the petition to be presented to the Holy See. Msgr. Mendes de Almeida was archbishop of Mariana for 18 years, from 1988 to 2006, and for two consecutive terms he was both secretary and president of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference. Much loved by the people and the Brazilian episcopate, he became known especially for his love for the poor and marginalized people and his commitment to human rights.
PHILIPPINES: Jesuit backs mining
Mining can contribute to create wealth so that Filipinos do not have to leave their families behind in order to find jobs abroad. Father Emeterio J. Barcelon, SJ, of Milamdec Microfinance Foundation Inc. and of Xavier University Ateneo de Cagayan said that the mining industry could well lead to the country's economic salvation. Father Barcelon said he supports open pit mining in South Cotabato, and he explained: "We should take care of what God has provided us, but being against mining is illogical. The Philippines is rich in minerals, including gold. Leave them idle in the mountains does not benefit anybody, they can be extracted so that it will help people live a decent life," he said. And regarding international groups who are against mining he continued: "Many are opposing mining but even those who are not connected with the industry use materials that result from mining in their day-to-day activities. The policy to preserve the natural resources for future generations has no sense. Why should we preserve our minerals for the future generations when we need these for the present generation," said Fr. Barcelon.
INDIA: The Novitiate's Greening
In India, Sacred Groves are forest fragments of varying sizes, which are communally protected and which usually have a significant religious connotation for the protecting community. Hunting and logging are strictly prohibited within these zones. Sacred Groves are considered ecologically important concentrations of biodiversity. Whereas other Indian regions like e.g. Himachal Pradesh possess over more than 5,000 such Sacred Groves, the state of Meghalaya has only about 50, and these struggling to survive. It was in this context that the Jesuits developed the idea of converting their novitiate in Shillong, the capital of the state of Meghalaya, into a Sacred Grove dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity. The Jesuit property covers an area of 80 acres; it has a sheer drop of a thousand feet on one side and meandering meadows on the other side. Sholas and pine trees characterize the precincts; a gurgling stream passes through to the reservoir at the bottom of the campus. Jesuits Yan and Richard Jarain formed a persistent partnership in following up their dreams. Twenty-two novices formed a team to construct lanes and paths crisscrossing the pine forest. In addition, the officials of the Forest department were eager to lend a helping hand to plant indigenous trees in the campus. The novices formed teams to execute a joint action plan for 2011.
INDIA: Jesuits to fight corruption
"We are living in a society where social evils and corruption have become the order of the day. Jesuits should play a new role in fighting them," Justice Cyriac Joseph, Supreme Court judge, told during a gathering marking the end of year-long golden jubilee celebrations for Kerala Jesuit Province. Justice Joseph, the product of a Jesuit education, lauded Jesuit contributions to youth formation and for providing quality education to the poor. "I am a beneficiary of Jesuit formation," Justice Joseph said, and continued: "In fact, Jesuit priests guided me and influenced me in my faith formation. Thousands of people have benefited from the Jesuits' vision and mission for the Church." He was speaking at the Loyola College auditorium in Sreekaryam, near Thiruvananthapuram, the Kerala state capital. Archbishop Maria Callist Soosapakiam of Trivandrum, who presided over the gathering, thanked the Jesuits for establishing educational institutions in coastal areas and conducting studies to identify basic problems in Kerala's poorer areas. Jesuits have helped Kerala's fishing communities to advance socially, educationally and spiritually, he said.
MEXICO: 300 years after the death of Fr. Kino
Until June 30 the Library "Francisco Xavier Clavijero" of the Iberoamericana University (UIA) in Mexico City houses the exhibition: Mind bold Missionary, adventurous heart and indomitable spirit. The exhibition is organized by the Iberoamericana University and wants to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the death of Fr. Eusebio Francisco Kino. On display there are more than 100 documents, including manuscripts, letters, books, maps and objects, owned by the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus, by the Iberoamericana University, individuals and governments of the States of Sonora and Baja California who kindly bestowed them for the occasion. Father Kino, also known as the Father of "Pimería Alta," a region comprised today among the State of Sonora and South Arizona, is considered one of the most important evangelists of the Society of Jesus in America. In 1975 a statue in his honor was placed in the National Statuary Hall of the Capitol in Washington.
ROME: Efficacy of Jesuit Chinese Mission
The strategies used by Jesuit missionaries in China present a relevant and efficient way to spread the Gospel message, says Father Klaus Schatz during a conference given recently at the Pontifical Gregorian University, as part of a series of talks on "Conversion. A change of God? Experiences and Reflections on the Interreligious Dialogue," organized by the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies of Religion and Culture of the Gregorian University. Father Schatz, who is presently based at the Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Sankt Georgen of Frankfurt, referred to the example of Father Matteo Ricci, and reflected on the missionary's strategy, beginning with winning over the elite ruling class in an effort to gain the trust of the emperor and his court, the official interpreters of religion in that country. In order to reach out to the political and cultural leaders, the missionaries used Western sciences and technology such as astronomy. The novelty that they presented, Father Schatz noted, was that in Christianity every person could have a direct and immediate relationship with God. This was a rare concept in China at that time, when the emperor was believed to be the only one who could offer sacrifices to heaven.
UGANDA: Refugees learn skills in arts and crafts
As part of a new initiative to help urban refugees become more self-reliant, JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) has started a new course training refugees in the production of arts and handicrafts in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. A pilot group of five refugees participated in the first training and learned how to produce earrings, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, belts, cards, bags and how to embroider, using simple and easily available local materials such as paper, wooden beads and fibers. "This is a great opportunity for us. Instead of providing us with fish, we were taught how to catch the fish and we were provided with the fishing rods. Now I am ready to go fishing myself", said Anastase, a Rwandan refugee who participated in the course. This arts and crafts course was introduced following a needs assessment in 2010, during which refugees had expressed a desire for such training. "As refugees we require training in skills that can be utilised in the situation we are in. To learn how to produce arts and crafts is one kind of training from which we can benefit", one refugee said. Other courses offered by programme include catering, hairdressing and tailoring.
Conversion of a nazi criminal. In 1947 Nazi Rudolf Hoess, former commandant of Auschwitz Concentration camp (not to be confused with Rudolf Hess, Hitler's Deputy Führer) was in solitary confinement in Krakow, awaiting execution for his war crimes. When he heard the bells of the local Carmel, he was reminded of the faith he had embraced as a child but had long since rejected. He called for a German-speaking priest. The local Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Ladislav Lohn, went to the convent of Sister Faustina and asked the Sisters to pray earnestly while he went to hear the prisoner's confession. In the end Hoess was reconciled with the Church and received Holy Communion. Later Hoess wrote his wife and five children, expressed sorrow for his crimes, and begged forgiveness of the people of Poland. He was executed April 16, 1947.