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    Vol. XIX, No. 02 05 February 2015


    CHAD: Provision of Quality Education

    The provision of quality education in 26 rural schools is the challenge Fe y Alegría Chad has embarked on and is tackling. In the academic year 2013-2014, Fe y Alegría Chad began to implement its nine year strategic plan (2013-2022). The plan is divided into three phases of three years each. The first phase has three main objectives: 1) the construction of three model centers of preschool education; 2) improving the quality of secondary education centers, and 3) the creation of a Fe y Alegría technical and vocational training center. In the first year of Phase I, Fe y Alegría Chad preschool centers increased from 17 to 26. These are among the more than 2000 preschools (for children aged 3 to 5 years) across the country. In addition, Fe y Alegría is preparing two model centers of preschool education in Bokyo and Biga. Meanwhile in October 2014, 53 pioneering students graduated from the Fe y Alegría technical and vocational training center in five disciplines: automobile mechanics, electronics, electricity, information technology, and the hospitality industry. The center envisages an enrolment of 70 students in the second group, with tailoring and metallurgy added to the disciplines.


    INDIA: A Literacy Movement

    Trevor Miranda shares the following experience: "It all began with an idea, a dream. It was born out of an experience of close encounter with the poor tribals during my regency. I was in a far away rural area 100 kms from Nashik. At that time it was still very primitive. We did not even have toilets! What struck me was that while I was looking after hundred boys in the boarding, there were still hundreds of children out of school and just wandering in the jungles (forests). That experience had a lasting impression on me. I made resolution then that I would dedicate my life to the education of underprivileged children. For the last 18 years of my 28 years as a priest I have been doing that. In fact, I started REAP (Rural Education Action Programme) in 1981 as a programme to support tribal children in their education. After ordination I was assigned to the Procurator's office. Being in the city, in 1987, I expanded its scope to include street children. As REAP's 'footpath university' began to grow the need for trained teachers also grew. We needed to train grass root teachers from the area itself and so decided to set up our own teacher training centres. This investment in our teachers is really the success behind our literacy movement. One thing that was very clear for me from the beginning was that this literacy must result in social transformation. And women are the best to bring about change. Today REAP's 200 plus Self Help Groups support women rights and focus on developing women to be agents of social change in their communities. From being penniless, women have become managers of money and economically empowered. The seed that was planted years ago has grown into a mighty oak tree giving shelter to so many children and women. Change is happening." For more information: www.sjweb.info/sjs/   


    ITALY: The Friendship Between Macerata and Shanghai

    The Matteo Ricci Foundation of Macerata and the Xuhui Cultural Bureau of Shanghai have decided to strengthen their friendship through the exchange of bronze busts of two great personalities of their respective cities: Matteo Ricci, the great Jesuit missionary who opened the doors to evangelization and cultural exchanges with China, and Paul Xu Guangqi, a mandarin at the imperial court in Beijing, a man of science and a disciple of Ricci. The bust of Xu Guangqi, carved by the artist Yang Dongbai, was donated to Macerata on January 24. Its destination has not yet been decided, but many would like it to be placed in the garden in front of the headquarters of the Matteo Ricci Foundation, which is also the home of a missionary seminary. The bust of Matteo Ricci, carved by the artist Emanuele Barsanti, was delivered on November 7, 2014 and was placed in the garden-tomb of Xu Guangqi, a few hundred meters from Shanghai's Cathedral of St Ignatius. Meanwhile, the cause for the beatification of Matteo Ricci is on course. On November 14, 2014 the diocesan phase of the process was completed and the documents were delivered to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. There have been numerous calls both in China and many other parts of the world for the beatification of Matteo Ricci, along with his disciple Paul Xu Guangqi who is considered by many as the founder of the Christian community of Shanghai.


    POLAND: Piotr Skarga Towards Beatification

    Piotr Skarga, S.J., is a widely recognizable figure of Polish history. The preacher was born in 1536 in Grojec, near Warsaw. He was ordained in 1564. Five years later he began the Jesuit novitiate and went on to do graduate studies in Rome. Then he moved back to Poland and worked in several Polish (or formerly Polish) cities, including Lviv and Vilnius, where he became the first Vilnius Academy Rector. His work in Kraków began in 1584. He was known for great charitable works, like a popular interest-free loan system or St. Nicholas' Fund for maids whose families weren't able to pay dowries. Skarga was a model Polish patriot and a brilliant preacher, providing his service to Sigismund III Vasa, the king of Poland. Due to his oratorical gifts, he has been called "the Polish Bossuet". He was also a prolific writer, and his book Zywoty swietych ("Lives of the Saints") was for several centuries one of the most popular books in the Polish language. Skarga died on September 27, 1612 and he was buried in the Saints Peter and Paul Church in Krakow. On 8 December 2014 his beatification process was inaugurated by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow and former secretary of St. John Paul II, with these words: "In the name of God we begin the beatification and canonization process of an excellent friar and a great priest. (...) He's a powerful example of a person living real consecrated life, being a gift of the Holy Church and to the society."


    ROME: Jesuits and the Film Silence

    Brian Mac Cuarta (HIB) and the staff of the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu are cooperating closely with the production team at Paramount Pictures to provide a key artifact for Martin Scorsese's upcoming film, Silence.  The adaptation of Shusako Endo's novel about Catholicism in 17th century Japan will star Liam Neesan, who played the role of a Jesuit in The Mission. Other members of the cast include Adam Driver, Tadanobu Asano and Spider Man star, Andrew Garfield. Filming of Silence began on January 19, 2015. Meanwhile, other Jesuit experts collaborated in pre-production research. Among them, Emilio Zanetti (ITA) will accompany the production team for the on location shoot in Taiwan. Set in the late 1500s to early 1600s, Shusako Endo's novel chronicles the violent persecution of Christians by Shogun (General) Hideyoshi and Shogun Tokugawa. The persecution saw a large number of faithful and many missionary and local priests die as martyrs, often as a result of severe torture. The protagonist in the in the novel is a Portuguese Jesuit missionary, Cristovão Ferreira, who is subjected to torture in an effort to make him renounce his faith. In the harrowing tale of Ferreira, Endo evokes the struggle that Catholicism and Christianity in general still face to this day in Japan. Silence will be released later this year.


    SPAIN: Work in Progress at the Cave of Manresa

    The Cave of Manresa is the place where one of the most profound spiritual experiences occurred in the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This was the experience that would determine his work and beliefs, and the substance of the Spiritual Exercises. The year 2022, will mark 500 years since the arrival of Ignatius at the Cave. After a long period of study and discernment, Father General Adolfo Nicolás approved renovation and restoration works at the Cave as part of preparations for the Fifth Centennial Anniversary. Key works to be done include removal of the 1900s marble covering the right wall and thus exposing the original rock and stone of the Cave. This should give visitors to the Cave an atmosphere and conditions as close enough as possible to what Ignatius experienced. The marble will be moved to a different location. Additionally, the entrance to the aisle leading to the Cave will have a glass window to enhance an atmosphere of prayer.


    UNITED KINGDOM: Father Brown

    A London-based Jesuit has acted as religious adviser in the third series of BBC Drama, Father Brown, which began airing on BBC1 in January. Father Tony Nye SJ, of Farm Street Jesuit Church, was invited to vet the scripts and attend recordings of the TV series based on the character created by G.K. Chesterton, to ensure authenticity and accuracy in the portrayal of a Catholic priest in the days before the Second Vatican Council. Father Brown is a fictional character inspired by Fr John O'Connor who was born in 1870 and died in 1952. He was a parish priest in Bradford who was involved in the conversion of novelist Chesterton to Catholicism in 1922. Father Brown went on to feature in 51 detective short stories by G.K. Chesterton, which have been adapted into productions for television, film and radio. Actors who have played the "short, stumpy Roman Catholic Church priest, with shapeless clothes and a large umbrella", have included Sir Alec Guinness, Kenneth More and Andrew Sachs. In the current BBC adaptation, the role is taken by Mark Williams. In the second series of Father Brown broadcast in 2014, its audience reach was almost 25% of the afternoon TV viewing audience (1.9m). "The success of this second series has proved that viewers have really taken Mark Williams as Father Brown to their hearts," executive producer Will Trotter says. "We are delighted that we can continue to bring such a well-loved character to life."


    USA: Award to Jesuit Researchers

    Jesuit Father John W.O'Malley and the Institute of Jesuit Sources (IJS) have been honored by the American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA). Fr. O'Malley received the John Gilmary Shea Prize for his book Trent: What Happened at the Council, and the IJS received the Distinguished Service Award. Jesuit Father John Padberg, former director of the IJS, accepted the award on behalf of the Institute. The American Catholic Historical Association, founded in 1919 to further scholarly research in the field of Catholic history, recognizes scholars for their published research by awarding three book prizes in the fields of Catholic history and biography and acknowledges the contributions of scholars, teachers and institutions through its annual awards. The John Gilmary Shea Prize is given to a book that has made the most original and distinguished contribution to knowledge of the history of the Catholic Church. "This is the highest honor that the Association presents annually," said Father Bentley Anderson, SJ, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the ACHA. Fr. O'Malley's book covers the history of the Council of Trent, which was held in Italy from 1545 to 1563. "With a clarity and grace that make it a joy to read and a scholarly precision and richness that make it useful to experts, O'Malley's 'Trent' provides the first one-volume overview in English and, in fact, the best in any language, of one of the most complicated and crucial events in Catholic religious history," said the ACHA.


    VIETNAM: Jesuits Mark 400 Years

    More than 3,000 people joined 210 Jesuits in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday 18th January for the climax of yearlong celebrations marking the arrival of the first Jesuits in Vietnam 400 years ago. Bishop Cosmas Hoang van Dat, the Jesuit bishop of Bac Ninh diocese, near Hanoi, in Vietnam's North, celebrated the Mass at the main Jesuit compound in Thu Duc, a suburb of Ho Chi Minh City. Fifteen bishops and Jesuits from Vietnam joined a congregation from across Asia and from Europe, including the Superior-General of the Jesuits, Fr Adolfo Nicolás. The gatherings and events focused on the missionary experiences and strategies of the early Jesuits from their arrival - by an Italian and two Portuguese - in 1615 in the company of Japanese Christians who went to Cua Han, near Da Nang, to escape the persecution of Christians in Japan. While initially coming to serve the Japanese, the first Jesuits soon turned their attention to the Vietnamese people who were split into two kingdoms - Tonkin in the North and Cochinchina in the South. The Jesuit arrival in Vietnam came shortly after the death of Matteo Ricci in Beijing in 1610 and followed his approach to missionary work. The most famous early Jesuit was a Frenchman, Alexandre de Rhodes (1591-1660), whose work led to the adoption of Romanized script for the Vietnamese language which is still used today. Some 158 years after arriving in Vietnam, the Jesuits were suppressed by the Pope and disappeared from the country until their return in 1957 at the invitation of the South Vietnamese government to help develop universities. That was followed by requests from bishops in Vietnam to assist in training local clergy. That all changed in 1975 when the Vietnam War ended with victory for communist North Vietnam. Forty-one foreign Jesuits were expelled, leaving twenty-six Vietnamese Jesuits, half of whom went to jail almost immediately. The others were drafted into the army or put to work on state farms. Today there are 210 Jesuits in Vietnam with as many as 140 of them in training.



    Historical Curiosity. Fr John O'Malley in The First Jesuits opens a window on the ingenuity of early Jesuit missionaries. When the 16th century Jesuits evangelized Brazil, the bishop of Brazil, Pedro Sardinha, was outwardly supportive of them, but he did not like all that they did, in particular their approach to hearing confessions. They often did not know the language of the penitent, so their practical solution was to train boys to act as interpreters. The penitent told his sins to the boy, who in turn related them to the priest, and then related what the Jesuit said back to the penitent. The bishop expostulated that it was not customary in the church. The Jesuits protested that it worked well. Officials in Rome voiced no objection, insisting only that the secrecy of what was confessed be carefully guarded. So the bishop allowed that an interpreter might be used when necessity demanded it, but insisted that it be "an upright and prudent man". He would have been shocked had he known that the Jesuits occasionally brought in Brazilian women for this task. In 1552 a Jesuit commended one of them: "I think she is a better confessor than I am". Poor bishop Sardinha was recalled to Portugal four years later, but was shipwrecked on the way, killed and eaten by his murderers (Jesuit Irish News).