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    Vol. XV, n. 17 20 September 2011

    Father General


    Letter on ecology. On 16 September, Father General has sent a letter to the whole Society on the question of ecology. It encourages the Society to make a commitment to the sustainability of the planet and invites Jesuits to review personal, communal and institutional lifestyles and practices in accordance with this mission of reconciliation with creation. It also stresses the need for a change of heart, that manifests our gratitude to God, to acquire a consistent commitment to its care.  This letter makes reference to a document "Healing a Wounded World." This document was prepared in 2010 by a working group - Task Force - as it was called in English - formed by Jesuits and laity from all the Conferences. This group was convened by the Father General and was accompanied by Secretaries of Higher Education and Social Justice and Ecology.  It is a rigorous and thorough document that provides an overview of the situation of our land, noting the trends that mark the course of  climate change.  It also reflects on the sources that motivate our commitment in this field: the climatic challenges that many people suffer and the anguish of many whom the Society accompanies; the biblical roots and appeals of the Social Doctrine of the Church and of Ignatian spirituality; the request of the last General Congregation; the invitation to collaborate in this field launched by civic and ecclesial movements. The text closes with a section of recommendations directed to many: to our communities and institutions, spirituality centers, parishes and universities, to the communication media, formation and pastoral plans of Provinces and Conferences, offering possibilities and suggestions. The document has been edited by the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology as Promotio Iustitiae 106 and is available digitally at: http://www.sjweb.info/sjs/PJnew/index.cfm?LangTop=1

    From the Curia


    The Meeting of the Presidents of the Conferences of Provincials is taking place in the Curia from 19th to 22nd September. As in recent years, the meeting of Father General with the Presidents of the Conferences has three purposes: to provide input to Father General about important topics, to present an opportunity for mutual exchange of information among the Presidents, and to furnish information to the General Curia about the situation of the Society in each of the Conferences.  Among other topics this year, the Presidents will be assisting Father Nicolás by participating in discussion about the Society's response to ecological issues, the ongoing response of the Society to the decrees of GC 35, the intellectual apostolate, the preparation for the Congregation of Procurators, and the commemoration of the bicentenary of the Restoration of the Society.

    From the Provinces


    AFGHANISTAN: Working with youth

    In a country torn apart by terrorism and war, the Afghan youth (68%) of the population desire peace and security, while they dream of enjoying a regular training course of studies as the rest of the youth of the world. The Church has to help them realize this dream. This is the mission of the Jesuit Refugee Service - Afghanistan, of the Society of Jesus and of the JRS volunteers. So says Fr Stan Fernandes, the Indian Jesuit Director of JRS-Afghanistan affairs. "Out of 33 million Afghans, the rebels are only about ten thousand, but they capture the attention of the International community.  Our mission is to give a voice and hope to the 99.9% of the Afghan population, which struggle daily to go ahead in constructing a better tomorrow." The youth which have lived through war and exile has set in motion programmes in the field of learning. The JRA is present in Afghanistan since 2005. Today in the Technical High School of Herat, 600 students follow courses of Electricity, Electronics, Construction and Commerce. From 2006 we also teach English, Computer Science, Biology, and Physics to more than 3,000 University students of Herat, Bamiyan and Kabul.  Jesuits assist in other programmes directed to the exiles who return to Afghanistan in the city of Sohadat, 35 kms. From Herat, assuring them of food-aid, health services, and teaching in an elementary school for more than 200 children as also through a clinic which attends to 250 patients every week.  There are also formation and development programmes fo the development of women.


    AFRICA: The Society of Jesus and AIDS

    Father Thuadi, a Jesuit of Central Africa, found that AJAN (the African Jesuits AIDS network) has a deep Jesuit identity, and follows directly the footsteps of St. Ignatius. "Caring for the sick was an integral part of the apostolate of the first companions in Rome, and of the Society of Jesus from the start.  They took care of the sick of the plague."  In addition, Fr. Thuadi underlines that AJAN wants to address problems connected with AIDS through education and training, according to the pedagogical tradition of the Society.  "Right here I see, he says, the value of our actions and their scope, without ignoring the challenges lying ahead."  Adam, a novice, he also look at the Jesuit history and reflects on his experience at the AJAN Center in Nairobi, and says: "In 1646 Athanasius Kircher represented the Society's mission in the world as a great tree with many branches and hundreds of leaves, each of which representing a community. This design, the Horoscopum Catholicum Societatis Jesu, reminds me the Church's response to HIV/AIDS. I realized that the work of the Jesuits and their collaborators is a small but important part of a more broaden answer, one of the many branches of this great tree."


    ASIA-PACIFIC: Flights for Forests

    The Jesuits in the Asia Pacific region have initiated a carbon-offset scheme to reduce the impact of air travel on the environment. Flights for Forests was presented and approved at the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) assembly in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, in July. "Air travel is a major contributor to global warming, and since our collaboration in the Jesuit mission requires many of us to fly frequently, we seek to mitigate the damage our trips cause to the environment," said Fr Mark Raper SJ, JCAP President. 'It's an important initiative to extend our care for the environment that has both symbolic and practical value', says Australian Provincial Fr Steve Curtin SJ. Flights for Forests is not limited to Jesuits and collaborators, but  "is open to anyone anywhere who wants to join us in this effort to reconcile with creation," said Fr Mark. Flights for Forests will be managed by Environmental Science for Social Change, a Jesuit research institute that promotes environmental sustainability and social justice, in conjunction with JCAP.  Fr Pedro Walpole SJ is the project leader. Participants will be required to commit US$5 for each flight taken. The contributions will go into a fund that will be used for forest renewal activities undertaken by youth groups in rural parts of Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Details of Flights for Forests and how to participate can be found here: http://sjapc.net/sites/default/files/flights_for_forests_july_2011.pdf.


    COLOMBIA: Father Provincial among the Ten Leaders

    Liderazgo y Democracia Foundation and the magazine Semana, sponsored by Telefónica, awarded on August 25 the ten best leaders of the country for 2011. Father Francisco de Roux, Provincial of the Jesuits of Colombia, was also part of this group.  The purpose of this recognition was to contribute to improve the culture of public leadership in Colombia, as an essential tool for the enhancement of society.  In the mid 1990s, Father Francisco de Roux decided to leave the intellectual world in which he lived in Bogotá, and move to build a workshop of development and peace in the Magdalena Medio.  He could not imagine that he was inventing a methodology that was then repeated in the rest of the country.  His new project lured many European governments willing to help Colombia to overcome his humanitarian crisis.  From concrete experience he showed to the world that one cannot speak about peace without talking of development and overcoming poverty at the same time. For more than fifteen years he built, with the peasants of Barrancabermeja, Yondó, Cimitarra and other municipalities of the region, a project to strengthen the rural economy and the leadership of the communities beset by armed groups. "You, Father Francisco - said the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos -promoted, not only productive projects in the Magdalena Medio, but you sowed peace and hope with educational programs of coexistence and conflicts resolution.  And you did it in the midst of constant threat by violent people, whom you always faced with dignity and without lowering your head.  Your courageous and hard work for Colombian peasants is an example for the whole country of commitment to a worthy cause in order to transform the lives of the weakest."


    EUROPE: Draghi and the Jesuits

    The Italian Mario Draghi is the new president of the European Central Bank. Perhaps few people know that Draghi received part of his formation at the Roman Institute Massimiliano Massimo, directed by the Society of Jesus. More than once, in declarations and interviews, he acknowledged that the education received by the Jesuits gave him "cultural depth, balance and consistency of thought."  Draghi played an important role in the last decade, especially during the partial consolidation of public finances, the entrance of Italy into the Euro, and in the process of privatization that changed the Italian culture of the market. In an article in il Corriere della Sera (the most read Italian newspaper) the day after his appointment to the European Bank, was underlined the particular benefit that the formation received at the Istituto Massimo had on his human and professional growth, excellent basis for his prestigious career. In a souvenir on the same newspaper by his classmate Luigi Abete, President of BNL (Banca Nazionale del Lavoro), emerges some of his qualities: diligent, studious, clever, very athletic. Abete describes the Massimo of the fifties as a "school with a strong identity... We were taught that if you belong to the lucky society you must also think about the others."   


    GERMANY: Finding God in Film

    The 3rd Iñigo Film Festival was launched in Madrid in August 16, at the height of the World Youth Day celebrations. Sponsored by the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, the festival included select short films from all over the world. Like the previous festivals, this year's focused on young filmmakers grappling with the spiritual dimensions of life. It honored films which reflect the spiritual yearnings and experiences of young people today by indicating the presence and/or absence of God in our modern secularized world or by taking into account the twin dimensions of faith and justice. The program includes 18 international films, selected from more than one hundred submissions. The three best short films received "Iñigo Awards"; there were two additional Awards: one to a film chosen by the audience, "Audience Award" (non-monetary), and the "Fidel Goetz Emerging Film Maker Award", which includes top-of-the-line professional editing software (FCP Studio Pro) and a travel stipend for the festival. Each prize is accompanied by an additional professional software bundle by Showbiz (Hollywood). The winner was Smolarze (Poland), by Piotr Zlotorowicz. Second prize went to 5 Minutes Each (Canada/Serbia/Montenegro) by Vojin Vasovic. Third prize went to The Song of Wandering Eamonn (Ireland/UK) by Conor Heffernan. The "Fidel Goetz Emerging Film Maker Award" went to a Sri Lankan film Regrets by Shalini Tharmalingam. The Audience Award went to The Moment, an Irish film by Paddy Slattery (www.tiffestival.org).


    INDONESIA: Film on a Jesuit Bishop

    A film is under production on Mons. A. Soegijapranata, S.J., who in 1940 was appointed the first Indonesian native Catholic bishop. The film will present his life during the revolution that followed the independence of the country. The bishop engaged himself into the struggle to defend conquered freedom against a second foreign occupation. When the central government moved from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, he also moved his office in order to fight at the side of the local leaders - the then President Sukarno and the Vice-President M. Hatta - in the struggle to preserve the sovereignty of the newly-born republic. "Behind the idea of the film there is a group of courageous people who believe that in this world of intolerance and religious zealotry, Indonesia is hungry for pluralistic spirit and loving figures. Mons. Soegijapranata is one of those characters and one of the many unsung heroes of the Indonesian struggle for independence," said Fr. Greg Soetomo, S.J., director of HIDUP, the national catholic magazine Jakarta based.  The filming should begin in these weeks and should be finished by Christmas.


    ITALY: Missiology and Theology of Religions

    Depth and openness, combined with a personalized program of study deepening the most important issues of Missiology and Theology of Religions: this is the initiative of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where students coming from 125 different countries are currently studying and where the Faculty of Missiology decided to promote a renewed pedagogy. In an increasingly globalized and pluralistic world the idea is to give to the students the opportunity to develop a capacity of demanding reflection combining depth and openness. The Faculty of Missiology comprises both Missiology, that teaches the students to reflect critically on the nature and methods of missionary activity, and the Theology of Religions, that deepens the study of other religions and cultures, enriching them with the knowledge of the catholic tradition. The Theology of Religions in turn has three branches: Religions and Mediterranean Cultures, which explores this area rich of cultures which are fundamental for international relations and the common search for peace and justice; Islamic Studies, which aims to acquire solid bases in the history and religious thinking of Islam, as well as a clear and competent Christian perspective on Islam; and Religions and cultures of Asia, for a study of the history and intellectual traditions of the cultures and religions of this continent.


    JAPAN: Asian colleges meet in Tokyo

    The 19th conference of the Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASEACCU) was held August 25 - 27 at the Jesuit-run Sophia University in Tokyo. Some 135 students and instructors from Catholic colleges and universities came from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand to participate. The ASEACCU conference's location and theme changes each year. Two years ago, it was held in Sydney and covered bioethics and life issues while last year's conference in Thailand addressed other Catholic perspectives on educational challenges. This year's meeting, entitled Caring for God's Creation, focused on Asian perspectives on human stewardship of the Earth. Among other highlights of the event were student presentations on environmental problems. On the last day of the conference, attendees were invited to a Tokyo hotel, where students performed traditional songs and dances in their native garb. Satomi Sugimoto, from Seisen University in Tokyo, said: "We were able to interact with people from all over Asia. It was very significant." Recalling the hardships of this year's disaster, she added, "Holding the conference in Japan also had a lot of meaning, I think. We were able to show everyone how strong Japan is, that it is overcoming the earthquake."


    SPAIN: Ignatian Way

    Welcome! Please join us in an exciting, new pilgrim journey. With the blessing of the Society of Jesus, we are a small group of men and women, lay and Jesuit, who are re-creating a pilgrim route commemorating the famous 1522 journey made by Ignatius of Loyola from his home in Spain's Basque country to Montserrat and Manresa. Our goal is to revitalize a living tradition of 21st century route. In the website is a guide to what we have christened the Camino Ignaciano, that is, the Ignatian "road" or the Ignatian "way." Our route begins at the birthplace of Ignatius Loyola in Spain's Basque country, in a village near the small town of Azpeitia. From there, the route proceeds for hundreds of kilometers, through picturesque mountains, deserts, and verdant plains, before ending in the town of Manresa (near Barcelona); Ignatius rested in this town for some months after his journey through Spain, and Manresa was a place of profound spiritual enlightenment for him. Here he composed the essence of his spiritual masterpiece, the Spiritual Exercises. Pilgrims along the Camino Ignaciano will walk virtually the same route that Ignatius did, pass through many towns that he did, pray at churches where he worshipped, and marvel at the same natural wonders that he saw.  This "way" can be realized at any time of the year or at any age of life, exactly as the Way of Santiago. See: http://caminoignaciano.org/?lang=en


    TANZANIA: Transforming Lives through Education

    Jesuit Father Martin Connell, a member of the Chicago-Detroit Province, currently serves in Dodoma, Tanzania, where he is provincial assistant for education of the Eastern Africa Province and headmaster of the new Our Lady Queen of Peace Educational Centre and its St. Peter Claver High School. While teaching at Loyola Marymount University, Fr. Connell was asked if he'd be willing to leave his post to open a new high school in Tanzania. "Absolutely" was his answer. The high school, which opened in January 2011, serves 140 boys and girls and includes a four-story dormitory with two wings that can house 640 students each. As a boarding school, it puts girls on equal footing with boys; otherwise, the girls would be expected to perform domestic duties upon returning home each day. "It is no surprise to those who know the Jesuits that the Society believes in the transformative power of education-as a link between learning and a better future for students," said Connell. "But education also empowers individuals to improve the lives of their fellow citizens. Here in Tanzania, we believe it will not only help improve our students' and their community's quality of life, but that it will support a more informed democracy and help Tanzanians diminish the poverty that many face every day."


    New in SJWEB


    The homepage of SJWeb (www.sjweb.info) has slightly been refurbished.  From now on the Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus are mentioned on the day of their feasts. The series of daily changing pictures has been replaced. Till the end of this year, every day a picture from Magis 2011 in Spain is projected.
    In the News section there is a link to a Flickr page with pictures (and videos) of Fr. General's visit to the Province of Loyola in September 2011. The inaugural speech of Fr. General at the Celebration of 125 years of the Deusto University can be found here:  http://www.sjweb.info/documents/ansj/110909_125%20anniv.%20Deusto_Lectio%20repartida.pdf (in Spanish).