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Vol. XV, n. 14 6 July 2011
From the Provinces
AFRICA: Youth Movies Against AIDS
Last year, the AJAN-sponsored contest Youth Movies for Life and Love Against HIV/AIDS was opened to young people in Jesuit institutions across the continent. Through this contest AJAN (the African Jesuit AIDS Network) hoped to offer the young generation in these centres of learning a chance to understand and express what the epidemic means to them in their everyday lives and for their friends, families and communities. It also gave them the chance to inform others, throughout Africa and beyond, about the need to protect themselves from HIV infection and to support those who are most directly affected. Fifty-five entries were received from a total of nine countries. The judges, who were impressed by the high overall quality of the submissions, selected twenty winners. The winning stories will be prepared to be made into short films by Loyola Productions, a Jesuit apostolate in Lusaka, Zambia. AJAN House staff have already translated the French scripts into English to facilitate this process. Nevertheless, the French language will be well-represented: once the screenplays are ready for production, the plan is to produce half the films in English and the other half in French. The final versions will all be dubbed or subtitled in English, French and Portuguese.
BRAZIL: Meeting of Brothers
The first meeting of Jesuit Brothers of Latin America and the Caribbean will be held 16-29 July at the Santa Fe Pastoral centre in São Paulo. It is organized by the National Commission of Brazilian Jesuit Brothers, with the support of Brazilian Provincials and CPAL (The Conference of Latin American Provincials). About 80 Brothers from all over the Latin American continent will participate, and it will be focused on the identity of the vocation of the Brother in the priestly body of the Society of Jesus. The meeting refers to the last national seminar of Brazilian Brothers, held in Salvador de Bahia in January 2009, which expressed "the need for a major organization, an exchange of experiences and an intense period of cohabitation between Latin American Brothers." "The overall objective, says Fr. Orlando Torres, Father General's Advisor of Father General for formation, is to offer a Latin American space to share experiences and dreams and to discuss new proposals for brotherly formation inside the Society with reference to the mission in Latin America keeping in mind, at the same time, the universality of our vocation and mission, following the invitation of Father General on the occasion of the Priestly Year, to reflect on the life of the Brothers in the priestly body of the Society of Jesus." And in the letter of invitation by the National Commission of Brazilian Jesuit Brothers we read: "The theme of the seminar will be a reflection on the reasons of our vocation and on the option we have chosen as consecrated. We have divided the theme in three parts: 1) historical context (Fr. Victor Codina); 2) theological context (Fr. João Batista Libanio); 3) apostolic context (Fr. Ernesto Cavassa). At the end of the study days there will be a Triduum accompanied by Fr. Orlando Torres."
CAMBODIA: Sustainable Wood Carving
For the past 15 years, Chum Som On has been working in Banteay Prieb, a training facility administered by Jesuits for people with disabilities from all around the country and located outside Phnom Penh, in Cambodia. Som On started the carving program of Banteay Prieb, which offers a two-year sculpture course in wood, and now includes stone. They produce many kinds of sculptures, from small key chains to large religious statues for the different church parishes. The wood is very important to Som On. He is used to working with the red and fine-grained wood of thnung. The hardness of these forest trees is valued, as it makes for a better carving. However, these forest species are becoming more and more difficult to find, given the over exploitation and extensive cutting and clearing in Cambodia. As an alternative, Som On is now focusing on the use of another set of trees that originally came from Papua New Guinea and North Australia. The seeds of these species are easy to find, the woods are good and water resistant. So he plans to continue to gather the seeds and get everyone he knows to plant them, especially in the Jesuit institutions in Cambodia, so he would have a supply of wood for his students in the future.
CANADA: "Help to Preserve our Language"
As Canada's Jesuits remembered their first steps on North American soil 400 years ago and the welcome they received from Mi'kmaq people, the Mi'kmaq asked for a favor. "Maybe it's time for the Mi'kmaq to ask for your help in preserving our language," Grand Keptin Antle Denny told three dozen Canadian Jesuits and about 100 guests who had gathered on May 22nd to mark the 1611 landing of two Jesuits at Port Royal in what is now Nova Scotia. Denny said about 70 percent of Mi'kmaq aboriginal people speak English and very few younger members are comfortable in their own language. Linguists have told Denny the language will be extinct in 20 years. "We want to be with them in spirit," said the Jesuits' English Canadian Provincial, Father Jim Webb. "We would be happy to cooperate," but it's rather difficult to say what practical steps today's Jesuits could take to help preserve the language. However he noted that work on languages has been part of Jesuit history in Canada. Canadian Jesuits translated Ojibwa stories into English and the Bible into Ojibwa in central Canada. A Canadian Missionary to Nepal was responsible for translating the liturgy into Nepali.
CHILE: A Roof for my Country
Un techo para mi país (A Roof for my Country) is a social work born in Chile in 1997 by an intuition of a group of university students supported by Jesuit Father Felice Berríos willing to denounce the situation of extreme poverty in which millions of people live in precarious situations. The efforts of the organization are geared primarily to satisfy the need for a home thanks to the provision of emergency shelters prefabricated in wood built on pillars on high ground which protect the house from moisture and floating. In this way the building is ready in two days and contributes to establish the first bonds of trust between families, community leaders and the organization. The next step is to try to decrease the level of vulnerability and social exclusion of people experiencing extreme hardship through programs of job formation, health programs, legal support and microcredit projects. Regular meetings with communities and institutions involved help to examine the problems of the community to see how to overcome them. This is the third phase of the project, which involves many professionals. Un techo para mi país in about 14 years expanded from Chile to nineteen other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
EAST TIMOR: Jesuit Education
The Society of Jesus has administered Colégio de São José (CSJ) at the request of the Bishop of Dili since 1993. Since its beginning CSJ is a school of the Diocese of Dili. The ten years commitment by the Society had expired in 2003 and in August 2010 the Diocese indicated its intention to resume direct responsibility for it by the end of 2011. The CSJ will retain its name and continue in operation as a diocesan school through the St Paul Foundation, the body responsible for education in the Dili Diocese. "The Society is proud of and grateful - writes Fr. Mark Raper, acting Regional Superior for the East Timor Jesuit Region and President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific - for its long association with Colégio de São José and of the many teachers, parents, alumni and alumnae who remain our friends and who have made significant contributions to the country and to the community. We have built up and now hand back an important institution through which the Church can continue its service to the people of Dili. During times of conflict, CSJ has been one of the few institutions that remained functioning and was a source of social stability for the city and the country (...). The Society remains committed to education and is currently exploring how to make an effective contribution that will serve the needs of the whole country, especially the poorest."
PORTUGAL: European Year of the Voluntary Work
2011 is the European Year of the Voluntary Work , considered by Brussels as "one of the fundamental dimensions of active citizenship and democracy." The aim of this initiative is to encourage and to support the voluntary sector, particularly through the exchange of experiences and best practices. In this spirit six European Jesuits NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) of the Rete Xavier (MAGIS Foundation, the Spanish Foundations Alboan and Entreculturas, Portugal organizations Leigos and Fundaçao Gonçalo da Silveira and the German prosecutor Jesuitenmission) launched at the end of May in Lisbon a seminar on voluntary work. During the seminar the themes discussed in particular were the issues concerning the formation of volunteers to be sent abroad and the criteria for selection of the volunteers themselves. About the formation, the six NGOs agreed on a principle: the volunteer is a man or woman who feels to be called to the service and not to the sole project. In other words, he marries a way of life, not an initiative or the fight of a single country.
SPAIN: Congress on the History of the Society
The meeting "The Jesuits: Religion, Politics and Formation (XVI-XVIII)" was held in Madrid June 20-22 at the Comillas University with the participation of about one hundred international scholars. His goal was to analyze the history of the Society of Jesus from the XVI to the XVIII century. Organized by the Pontifical University of Comillas together with the Autonomous University of Madrid and King Juan Carlos, the region of Madrid and the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the conference was aimed at promoting the knowledge and diffusion of the work carried out by the Society of Jesus during the period from its foundation until XVIII century, including its suppression. The participants came from 60 different universities, research centers and academic institutions in Europe, America and Japan and presented about one hundred texts and addresses. In its nearly 500 years of life the Society of Jesus aroused mixed feelings. The appeal of his founder, the effectiveness of the actions of its members, its universality together with its pedagogical teaching, and the influence on the governments of monarchies and Church are the reasons explaining the interest that the Society inspires still today. The work focused on the work of the Jesuits in the European courts, the Jesuit literature and the theatre, the position of the Society between discrepancy and obedience, the spread of its religious model in America and Asia, its educational model, the expulsion and its religious ideology.
It's me. When the French Jesuits brought the Gospel to Canada, their stories were relayed back to Europe in reports called the Jesuit Relations. In 1642 the brethren in France read of the capture, torture and enslavement of Isaac Jogues by the Mohawk Iroquois. They did not know that friendly Dutch Calvinists from Manhattan had persuaded Jogues to escape, and transported him to a Brittany beach. Clothed in rags, and hiding his mutilated hands, burned and with several fingers missing - eaten by the Iroquois - Isaac walked to the Jesuit college in Rennes. When the rector learned that this tramp had been in Canada, he asked: "Did you know Father Jogues? "Very well indeed," was the answer. "Have they murdered him?" "No, Father, he is alive and free - c'est moi!" It was a moment to savour, but within a year he was back with the Iroquois to face his martyrdom (AMDG Express).
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A podcast (in French) with Father Anicet N'Teba (born in DR Congo in 1965). Fr. Anicet's youth was marked by the presence of the Jesuit missionaries and he desired to become a missionary. As a doctor of History of the Church, Fr. General has invited him to collaborate with the new Historical Institute of the Society of Jesus of Africa and Madagascar in Nairobi, while remaining professor at the Institute of Theology of the Society in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) which will soon resume the courses after the violence of the recent civil war. Click on "Jesuit Voices".