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    Vol. XVII, No. 14 4 June 2013

    Father General


    Visit to Austria. From 7 to 9 June, the Austrian Province of the Society will celebrate the 450th anniversary of its foundation in 1563.  The first Jesuits came to Vienna even earlier: in 1542 Nicolás Bobadilla arrived with the army of the emperor, and Peter Canisius went there in 1552 with a group of Jesuits.  Indeed, Canisius spent several years in Vienna.  He was busy revitalising Catholic life during a very critical period of its history there.  He involved himself in a number of pastoral ministries.  He was preacher, visitor to the sick and prisoners, and even vicar general for one year.  He began to write his catechism in Vienna.  Claude Jay was the first Superior in the Austrian capital, the town in which he died.  Today, Austria's Jesuits have prepared a three day programme to mark the celebration with their friends.  The theme of the celebration is: "450 Years of Jesuit Presence in Austria: Companions of Jesus Collaborating for the Good of All."  Father General will participate in some of the festivities. These will include workshops, conferences, and meetings.  The various apostolic initiatives of the Province will be highlighted.  There will be an evening of vigil prayer for groups of young people.  A cultural evening will be held in the auditorium of a theatre which used to belong to the old Society, and which has just been renovated by the State.  Father General, in the presence of Jesuits, friends and collaborators, guests and representatives from University, Church and State, will preside at a solemn Mass in St Stephen's cathedral.  The theme of the festival celebrates both the past and future apostolic direction of the Province: Companions of Jesus collaborating for the good of all.


    From the Curia


    The International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education (ICAJE) met in Rome from 29 to 31 May.  The annual meeting presents an opportunity for the six regional delegates, the Secretary for Secondary and Pre-secondary Education, and his assistant, to come together and share about the state of Jesuit Education.  The Commission's members discuss the projects of the secretariat and those initiatives which can support the Jesuit School network.  Important topics covered in this meeting included: the evaluation of the International Colloquium of Jesuit Secondary Education (ICJSE) held in Boston last year, as well as the ways schools and regions are responding to the vision statement adopted by participants in the Colloquium.  The Commission also discussed an action plan for a new document on Jesuit Education which will deal with mission and identity.  This document will continue to update statements which were previously issued by the Commission. Two other important projects were also previewed: the upcoming International Seminar on Jesuit Pedagogy and Spirituality in Manresa, Spain (SIPEI), and the Jesuit Education Network Project.  This latter aims to create an online community for Jesuit Secondary and Pre-secondary Schools throughout the world.  At its meeting, the Commission responds to its main purpose, which is to renew the Apostolate of Jesuit Education worldwide.


    The annual meeting of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) regional directors was held in the Curia in the last week of May, addressing the theme of "Thinking and Acting as a Global Organization".  The directors focused on a number of important issues that are central to JRS' recent Strategic Framework 2012-2015, such as accompaniment, urban refugees, quality education, the financial sustainability of JRS offices, security for our teams, and the need for Jesuits in JRS.  As always, major crises areas, such as the Middle East, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic, provided a poignant backdrop for the group's discussion. Throughout the week-long meeting, the sessions were organized to develop the important role of the ten regional directors and the international director who serve as the "senior  management team" of JRS, jointly guiding JRS into the future in its service to refugees and displaced people.


    From the Provinces

    AFRICA: Pope Francis' Park

    On Saturday 4 May, the Jesuit Institute of Theology (ITCJ) in Abidjan dedicated a park to the first Jesuit pope, Pope Francis, and launched this year's Trees Week.  In the early days of the Institute, eucalyptus globulus were planted, but these have been found to be not all that environmentally useful.  And so, it has been decided to replace the eucalyptus with the terminalia mantaly tree, a tropical species which grows tall and spreads out its branches in a fan-like shape: this is why, in some countries, it is called an umbrella, or a floor tree.  After Mass on the Saturday morning, everyone proceeded to Pope Francis' park!  They left their theological discourses behind for a time, and found the earth, fresh, rich and generous!  The gardener showed everyone how to correctly plant a tree.  Within the hour, nearly a hundred terminalia were given new life in the earth.


    GERMANY: A Film on Pope Francis

    When film producer Christian Peschken watched Pope Francis appear on the balcony in Rome on the day of his election, he thought: "This will make a great scene for the end of a movie about Bertoglio, up to that point in his life when he became Pope."  In a matter of days, Peschken began turning the thought into reality.  He is already deep into the project.  Its working title is Friend of the Poor: The Pope Francis Story.  Peschken envisages a motion picture, and is already recruiting some prominent people in the industry to help him with the project.  A European investment group has pledged a $25-million budget for the film.  Christian Peschken, who was born in Germany, is a professional cameraman, producer and director for film, television and radio.  He worked as a producer in Hollywood, and was chairman of the Social Awareness Committee of the Producers Guild of America.  Things changed when he became a Catholic.  He shifted gear, and a number of his independent productions have been shown on EWTN, a Global Catholic Television Network.  Peschken has started assembling a team for his movie project on Pope Francis.  Included in the group is the Italian Vatican insider, Andrea Tornielli, author of several books on the popes.  The film won't be a strict biopic.  "We want to make a movie about a person who followed God's call and then became a shepherd of people, a man with a mission and a man with a destination.  We want to be authentic and truthful about the life of Jorge Bergoglio/Pope Francis.  We want to portray him as the person he really is: someone who constantly points to Jesus and the message of Jesus, to love, to responsibility for one's neighbor, a person who puts Jesus first and everything else second."


    JORDAN: Can Jesuits Return to Iraq?

    Jesuit Fr Michael Linden, superior of the Jesuits in Jordan, has a challenging job.  Living at the Jesuit Centre in Jordan, he is responsible for exploring ways for the "restoration" of the Society of Jesus in Iraq.  Jesuits arrived in Bagdad in 1932 to establish and run Baghdad College, which was staffed entirely by Jesuits from the New England Province.  In 1959, the Jesuits established a second school there, Al Hikma University.  However, Fr Linden explains that "American Jesuits were given very short notice to leave on two separate occasions, in 1968 and 1969.  Both schools eventually were incorporated into the state school system, and the US Jesuits and the few Iraqi Jesuits drifted into other parts of the Near East, or were repatriated to the US."  If the Jesuits do return to Iraq, Fr Linden says it's hard to predict what will be the nature of the Jesuit presence there.  According to Fr Linden, Jesuits in Amman have learned that faith formation and service to migrant workers is important, as is close collaboration in the pastoral goals of the local bishops.  "This can probably be replicated in Iraq," he says.  Fr Linden also believes that Iraq has the potential for vocations.  "Iraqi Christians are a generous people, and there will be Jesuit vocations from Iraq.  These Iraqi Jesuits will eventually make the major discernment about their identity and work; perhaps it will include schools, perhaps not."  For the full interview see: http://www.sjnen.org/document.doc?id=501


    UNITED KINGDOM: Cycling from London to Paris

    The Ignatian Charity Cycle Team is comprised of three members of staff, one parent and six students from St Ignatius College in Enfield (United Kingdom).  At the end of May, they went cycling from London to Paris to raise funds for their sister school in Tanzania.  "We are raising funds for our sister school, St Ignatius Prep & Primary School in Dodoma, Tanzania," says Declan Linnane from St Ignatius College, "to allow AIDS orphans to attend school and continue with their education.  It's a tough challenge but I have no doubt that all will be overcome, and the Ignatian team will come back as heroes."  St Ignatius Prep and Primary is a recent school, established in 2003 by the Jesuits of the East African Province.  The school serves the local community and offers excellent education opportunities to those fortunate enough to attend it.  The government of Tanzania has been so impressed by the quality of Jesuit education that they have donated a very large tract of land to the Jesuits to enable them to expand their work and develop a secondary school, as well as colleges for training teachers and nurses.  Over the past few years, the school communities of Dodoma and Enfield have learnt more about each other.  Former students of the North London College (known as Ignatians) have volunteered in Dodoma; students have visited the school in East Africa; and Jesuits and staff from Dodoma have received a warm welcome at St Ignatius College.  St Ignatius College was founded by the Jesuits in 1894 and has been on the Enfield site since 1968.   Read the full story at www.jesuit.org.uk/latest/130523.htm


    VATICAN: International Prize "Economy and Society"

    On 24 May in Rome, the Foundation Centesimus Annus-Pro Pontifice, awarded the International Prize, "Economy and Society", to Fr Julius Martinez SJ.  Fr Martinez is the rector of the Pontifical University of Comillas in Madrid.  He is also professor of moral theology and social and political philosophy at the university's Faculty of Theology, and "visiting professor" at the University of El Salvador in Argentina.  He was director of the Department of Bioethics of the Institute for Migration Studies, as well as of the Department of Moral Theology of the Pontifical University of Comillas.  Fr Martinez is the author and co-author of a number of publications on politics and ethics, which he approaches from the philosophical and theological point of view.  On the same occasion, Stefano Zamagni was also honoured.  He is the professor of political economy at the University of Bologna, and assistant professor of International Political Economy at John Hopkins University in the same city.  The headquarters of the Foundation, which awarded the prizes, are in Vatican City.  The Foundation promotes the knowledge of the Church's social doctrine in the world of economics.



    Nonni.  There has only been one Icelandic Jesuit, Jón Sveinsson (1857-1944).  He was so famous as a writer of children's stories that his childhood home has been turned into a Nonni museum.  He was born just a few degrees south of the polar circle, close to the Eyjafjord.  His mother gave the Christian name Jón to her fourth child; he was also popularly known as Nonni. At the age of twelve he moved to Denmark and France.  He received a scholarship to study in France from a French aristocrat, a lover of Iceland.  But his journey to France was delayed because of the French-German War in 1870.  He waited in the residence of the Catholic Bishop of Copenhagen, and became a Catholic at the age of thirteen.  He attended the Jesuit School in Amiens and, at the age of 21 he entered the Society of Jesus.  He was ordained in 1890 and taught French, Norse, sport, and drawing at the Andreas College in Denmark.  It was serious gout that forced him to give up teaching and turn to writing at the age of 55.  He had a wonderful gift for story-telling, and a longing to see the wide world.  His twelve books about growing up in Northern Iceland have had huge sales for about a century, mostly in German.  His first book, Nonni, the experiences of a young Icelander, told about himself, has sold one million copies and has been translated into forty languages.  His portrait became known throughout the world. Crystal-clear, light blue eyes shone from a bright, contented face, framed by white hair with a white pointed beard.  He answered personal enquiries with great simplicity: "My mother taught me to pray each evening: Dear God, let me once see the world!  That I did faithfully, and since then I have actually travelled through the whole world.  Soon I will make a journey again . . . into eternity." (Irish Jesuit News).