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Vol. XVIII, No. 28 19 December 2014
A New Conference. On December 3, the feast of St. Francis Xavier, Father General approved the establishment of a new Conference that includes the Provincials of Canada and the USA. It will be called "The Jesuit Conference of Canada and USA". Father Timothy Kesicki will be the first President.
Zimbabwe-Mozambique. On December 6, the Region of Mozambique, dependent upon Portugal, was suppressed and its members, communities and works became part of the Province of Zimbabwe, now called the Province of Zimbabwe-Mozambique (ZIM).
Pope Francis appointed :
- Fr. Pietro Bovati (ITA), secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
FROM THE PROVINCES
COLOMBIA: Young Peacebuilders
A group of young "Constructores de Paz" ("Peacebuilders") who are part of the prevention sector for the transformation of violent dynamics of JRS-Colombia dedicated to the support of children, youth and adolescents in the region of Magdalena Medio, visited the community of Puente Sogamoso, municipality of Puerto Wilches (Santander) in view to open a discussion with it. Walking through the district, the "peacebuilders" approached pedestrians and sellers to ask questions such as: When was the year of foundation of the village? How old is it? How was the village in the beginnings? What are the typical meals? What the sources of employment? Thanks to the responses received from the community, the "peacebuilders" identified the presence in the past of various armed groups that affected the village. At the same time, they realized that the local economy refers to regional dynamics of informal employment for the daily maintenance of the families. During the interviews, some neighbors, motivated by curiosity, approached the group providing comments and anecdotes. Among laughter, life stories, myths of ghosts, witches and memories of celebrations the goal of the workshop was achieved, offering the "peacebuilders" the opportunity to learn the history and customs of the inhabitants of Puente Sogamoso.
MYANMAR: 500 Years of Christianity
A multitude from the remotest edges of Myanmar converged on Yangon to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the country. According to Fr Chinnappan Amalraj SJ, Delegate for the Jesuit Myanmar Mission, they occupied all the empty spaces in and around the churches, halls, even Hindu temples. Fr Joseph Aik Maung SJ, who was ordained in May, led one group of the Kachins who came from the northernmost dioceses. Fr Aik Maung is one of only three Myanmar priests in the Society of Jesus. "Neither the war nor displacement deterred the Kachins from undertaking this long journey - crossing rivers and mountains and a journey that took nearly two full days. There is a riot of colors in the streets of Yangon," said Fr Amalraj, adding, "In a commendable show of Christian fellowship, the Yangon Catholics are feeding these thousands." As the three-day Jubilee celebration began on November 21, Fr Amalraj reflected on Jesuit footsteps through the country's history and what the Jubilee means for the Jesuits there. Although Jesuit interest in Myanmar dates back to St Francis Xavier, contemporary Jesuit history in the country only began in the 1950s and early 1960s when Jesuits from the Jesuit Maryland Province were tasked to staff a new national seminary. However, they were forced to leave five years later when the socialist dictatorship closed the country down to foreign contacts. In the 1990s, several bishops, former students of the Maryland Jesuits, personally appealed to then Fr General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach for a return of the Society of Jesus to the country. The Jesuits returned in 1998 and have since established several apostolic endeavors, including a novitiate. There are 32 Myanmar Jesuits; most of them are scholastics engaged in apostolic works in various parts of the country or abroad studying.
ROME: Pozzo and the Corridor of St. Ignatius
Many are the pilgrims who during their stay in Rome are visiting the "Camerette" of St. Ignatius, next to the Church of Gesù, in the ancient Jesuit Professed House where St. Ignatius lived the last years of his life. However, few are those who stop to observe and appreciate the corridor in front of the rooms, painted by Jesuit Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709). A book presented in Rome in early December, edited by Professor Lydia Salviucci Insolera and published by Editore Artemide, has highlighted this masterpiece. It is a richly illustrated volume that highlights the pictorial art of Pozzo in which "the artifice, the visual illusion, the wonder is achieved through a sophisticated technical competence." "What most fascinates the corridor, writes Lydia Salviucci Insolera, is the ingenious ability of Pozzo to be able to organize an optical illusion that unfolds in a series of trompe-l'oeil that deceive the visitor's eye without interruption: this last does not remain a mere observer but, admiring the frescoes remains involved profoundly." For more information: www.artemide-edizioni.it (Architettura e Urbanistica).
SOUTH ASIA: Contribution to Education
Father Felix Raj SJ, Principal of St. Francis Xavier College in Kolkata (India), in a recent interview recollected the pivotal contribution by Jesuits to education and the common good of all nations in South Asia. "Through education and research, the Jesuits still give a crucial contribution to the building of the character of Asian nations: their vision and mission have formed men and women, leaders, philosophers, thinkers, educators and politicians, who have given life for the common good of the nations to which they belong," said Father Raj. The Dean recalled that the first educational institution of the Jesuits in the world was started in South Asia, with the founding of St. Paul's College in Goa, India in 1544. Nowadays the Jesuit educational network in South Asia has 387 primary and secondary schools, 16 high schools and 50 colleges. "Education is the main tool for the integral development of the human family. For this reason educational apostolate is central to the mission of the Society of Jesus since its inception and is essential for the Jesuits in Asia," the priest explained. "The Jesuits in South Asia were pioneers and vanguards in offering education to the rural poor, dalits and tribals. Opening the doors of their institutions to all, irrespective of caste, creed, language and sex, the Jesuits have had a healthy and harmonious influence with regards to the countries of South Asia," he continued.
SOUTH SUDAN: Hope Despites Floods
In recent weeks the region of Mabank, South Sudan, where some Jesuits are at work, was affected by severe floods that caused serious damage to plantations and infrastructures. A circumstance which adds to the difficulties that have to be overcome by the over 127,000 refugees living in camps in this area of the country of Upper Nile, such as the outbreak of violence occurred last August that forced the evacuation of humanitarian workers. In spite of all the mess, humanitarian organizations, which were already able to restart they activities, are hopeful, especially about the return to school for most of the children, which helps to spread a sense of normality in the camp. "After three failed peace agreements in recent months, writes Fr. Paul Vidal, SJ, leaders of East Africa continue to press for an agreement on a lasting peace. Those who will suffer most are civilians and refugees caught in a senseless violence. Unless a compromise is reached between armed groups and political leaders, innocents will continue to live in a precarious state. People live hand-to-mouth, knowing that violence, as well as floods and famine may be just around the corner. People invest the little hope and energy they have left to live each day, grabbing hold of their joys and sorrows."
SPAIN: 75 Years of the Faculty of Theology of Granada
On December 3, feast of St. Francis Xavier, the Faculty of Theology of Granada, Ecclesiastical University Institution entrusted to the Society of Jesus, celebrated its 75 years of canonical status with a mass of thanksgiving to God. The celebration are going on since several months. From April 10 to July 14, there was an exhibition on "La huella de los jesuitas". On November 8, the University celebrated the Day of Consecrated Life. On December 2, the catalogue was introduced in the auditorium of the Faculty of Law, former seat of Colegio San Pablo of the Society of Jesus. In addition, a commemorative issue of the magazine Proyección is under way. Furthermore, in June next year the faculty will host the meeting of deans of theology and philosophy of Jesuit Universities in Europe. Members of different congregations, dioceses and lay people compose the faculty. In communion with the whole Church and in dialogue with society, especially the Andalusian, its central task is the reflection on faith lighting from the Gospel the search for answers to the great challenges of our world. Today it is the only theological institution with academic status of canonical faculty in Southern Spain. It performs its task in three areas: research (in the field of theological sciences and in dialogue with other scientific competences), teaching (for those preparing for the priesthood, women and men religious and the laity in general) and extension activities (by which it is present in different areas of society and culture).
USA: Frontier Mission in "Sin-City"
What should a Jesuit be doing in "Sin-City"? This is an epithet given to Las Vegas (USA), where people from all over the world go for gambling, entertainment, and excellent shopping. Max Oliva SJ, who has an MBA degree from the University of California at Berkeley, talks to business people and to men and women in the legal profession about Ignatian spirituality and ethics in the market place. Oliva is an author of six books. His book, Beatitudes for the Workplace, published in 2009, considers eight virtues and their transformative effect on the personal and professional lives of men and women. They are wisdom, integrity, honesty, compassion, justice, forgiveness, generosity, and courage. While working previously in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, he led business people in what he calls "Commuter Retreats." This kind of retreat is described fully in the first chapter of the Beatitude book. Oliva also gives talks to those who have spent some time in prison, particularly for crimes related to drug or alcohol abuse and stealing. His talk on honesty and integrity is so inspiring to them that some have decided to change their lives and call themselves 'companions for mission,' reaching out to those in Las Vegas who are homeless and struggle with addictions of various kinds as they have. Oliva writes a monthly on-line newsletter called, "Spirituality and Ethics." For further information: www.ethicsinthemarketplace.com
1814-2014 RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SOCIETY
Slovenia: Symposium on 200 years of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. The Slovenian Province has organized on November 20 a scientific symposium at the occasion of the two hundred years since the restoration of the Society of Jesus: From the suppression to the Pope. A good number of people attended the event and it triggered much interest from the media too. What attracted the attention of all was the choice of experts who covered an interesting array of topics. Fr. Provincial Ivan Bresciani greeted the participants and guests and introduced the theme. A very fine illustration of the reasons for suppression: The Society of Jesus in the Midst of the Storms of the Enlightenment. What followed was a very interesting presentation of the life and work of Gabriel Gruber, the Superior General of the Society, who lived and worked in Ljubljana during the suppression: Gruber and his Teachers. The third presentation developed the process of the return of the Jesuits to the territory of Slovenia after the Restitution. The afternoon focused on the activities and mission of the restored Society in Slovenia and beyond after their return - the Bengal Mission, Slovenian Jesuits and the Ignatian Lay movements, the story of St. Joseph in Ljubljana, Slovenian Jesuits and the apostolate of the Exercises. Another topic that could not be avoided was the experience of persecution of the Jesuits in Slovenia after the Second World War. A short cultural programme, the reading of Jesuit poetry and a Mass. concluded the symposium.
St Ignatius the Fundraiser. For nearly 500 years, the work of the Jesuits at the frontiers of the church has been powered by gifts and bequests from faithful, generous and visionary people. These supporters are an integral part of the Jesuits' long history of service to the church. St Ignatius was a skilled fundraiser who honored the donors who enabled the Society of Jesus to grow and thrive so quickly in his lifetime. His only trip to Britain was in search of funds, and he rejoiced to find great generosity here. St Ignatius is famous as the most prolific correspondent of the sixteenth century. Over 800 of his surviving letters are about finances, fundraising and appeals. He insisted that Jesuits write to him regularly so that he in turn could share these letters with the Society's supporters. St Ignatius learned a lot from entrepreneurs. While he disapproved of those who labored only for financial reward, he grew increasingly to admire their hard work, single-mindedness, and skill in managing products, markets and finance to maximize returns and avoid wasting hard-earned resource. He understood that donors need to know their gifts are used wisely. He wanted his Jesuits to adopt these methods both of management and of communications, and sometimes chastised them with the example set by hardworking tradespeople. St Ignatius truly honored and respected those who supported him. He would make great efforts to return the kindness of his friends and allies whenever it was in his power. His correspondence is full of instructions to Jesuits to this end. Finally, St Ignatius was punctilious about expressing gratitude, not just to God through the daily examen prayer, but to all benefactors and supporters. (Jesuits in Britain, 03/12/14).
We wish all our friends and readers a Merry Christmas
and a New Year filled with joy and peace.
The Press and Information Office notes that the next Electronic Bulletin
will appear around the middle of January 2015.
In February, it will resume its regular Bulletins.