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    Vol. XVI, No. 6 4 April 2012

    From the Curia


    Jesuits in Syria need help. The situation in Syria, especially in Homs, continues to be very difficult. Our Jesuit Fathers remain in the City, and are working to bring humanitarian aid to the families that find themselves in difficulty because of the  widespread violence. At present, there is need of repairing our house damaged by the bombing of the past weeks, but as Fr Victor Assouad, the Provincial, writes: "Just now I feel the most urgent and necessary task is to help those families who are suffering in the present state of the country - those who are homeless, families without the bare necessities of life, lacking all medicines and care."  Any house or community, or work, or anyone that is ready to help, can send their monetary help to the Treasurer General  at the General's Curia  at Rome specifying: "Near East Province, Humanitarian Aid in Syria."


    On March 28, the renovated domestic chapel on the third floor of the Curia was officially blessed.  On the back wall behind the altar is a large mosaic depicting the Annunciation, the work of Fr Marko Ivan Rupnik and his team.  The windows have also been restored.  The renovations were possible thanks to the generosity of some benefactors, who offered funds specifically for this project.


    Meeting between the General Council and CLC.  On Tuesday, 27 March 2012, Father General and his Council met with some members of the Executive Council of Christian Life Community (CLC).  The purpose of this meeting was to explore how the Society and CLC could continue their close collaboration.  The CLC members expressed gratitude to the Society for its constant support.  They gave an overview of CLC as a Lay Apostolic Body based on the three pillars of Spirituality, Community and Mission.  Also spelled out were the different dimensions of mission as lived out by lay persons - daily life, apostolic involvement and responsibility for institutional works.  The specific lay character of CLC enables its members to carry the Ignatian charism into all areas of their lives.  The CLC programme of formation was presented as a possible model for the formation of other lay groups.  Finally, mention was made of an important Jubilee in 2013 - the celebration of 450 years of lay Ignatian communities.  This Jubilee will present a wonderful opportunity for apostolic collaboration and reflection on the lay vocation today.  Father General and members of the General Council expressed their appreciation to CLC and offered suggestions for its further growth. 


    Office of Development Resources. The first meeting of the advisory committee of the Office of Development Resources (ATDR) will be held from 10 to13 April at the General Curia in Rome. The goal of this first meeting will be to examine the impact of the pilot projects (Flagship Project) which constitute the program.  The meeting will analyze data about those development offices which have joined the program, and will try to measure and quantify their effectiveness.  Members of the committee are: Jenny Cafiso (Canada), Edwina MacArthur (Australia), Jack Paquette (United States), and Ignacio Eguizabal and Fr Lluis Magriñà (Spain). On April 11, Father General will meet the committee, and they will lunch together.  On the next day, April 12, they will celebrate Mass in the "Camerette" of St Ignatius at the Gesù.




    Father General has appointed:


    - Father JohanVerschueren Provincial of the Northern Belgian Province and of the Netherlands Province.  Father Johan, at present principal of the Xaveriuscollege of Antwerpen, was born in 1960, entered the Society of Jesus in 1985, and was ordained a priest in 1995.


    - Father Jose Vadassery Provincial of Patna Province (India).  Father Jose, at present assistant director of Seva Sadan of Ratanpurwa, was born in 1951, entered the Society of Jesus in 1970 and was ordained a priest in 1985.


    From the Provinces


    FRANCE:  Jesuits in 'six clicks'

    The website of the French Jesuits has managed to define what it means to be a Jesuit in 'six clicks'.  The website highlights six phrases, each of which can be 'clicked' to throw light on aspects of the Jesuit vocation.  The 'six clicks' are all traditional Jesuit phrases.  They are: to go to different places as the Gospel demands; to help souls, especially through giving the Spiritual Exercises; to make outreach to children and the poor a focus of Jesuit work; to have a right sense of the Church which will help resolve the tension between receiving missions from the Pope and working at the boundaries of the Church; the tie of obedience that holds together the wide range of places and ways of working asked of Jesuits; and friends in the Lord, the friendship founded on a common calling which expresses itself in the sharing food, in reflection on  the movements of the heart, and in prayer and tasks together.  The website is designed for people interested in knowing more about Jesuit life.  The text is in French.  www.jesuites.com/2012/01/six-clics  


    INDIA:  Lost Sanskrit Grammar Found

    Toon Van Hal, a Belgian scholar and professor, found in the Convento di San Silvestro, a Carmelite monastery in Montecompatri, not far from Rome, the Grammatica Grandonica, a lost Sanskrit grammar manuscript.  It was written three centuries ago by Fr Johann Ernst Hanxleden, the Jesuit missionary in India who was popularly known as Arnos Pathiri (priest).  It is considered one of the earliest missionary grammars in Sanskrit, and had been lost for over two centuries.  Christopher Vielle, a Luxembourg scholar who is conducting a study on Pathiri's manuscripts, said Grammatica Grandonica bore a considerable influence on Sidharubam, the first Sanskrit grammar ever printed in Europe (1790).  Born at Ostercappeln, near Osnabrück in Hanover, Germany, the Jesuit missionary arrived in India on December 13, 1700.  He built the St Francis Xavier Church, Velur, near Thrissur, Kerala, in 1712, and he spent most of his remaining years there.  In 1995, the Kerala government declared the church and associated building as protected monuments.  Pathiri is remembered for his efforts to integrate the culture of the East with the West.  He tried to assimilate the essence of Indian culture and literature with that of the West.  Proficient in German, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Latin, Syriac, Portuguese and Tamil, Pathiri compiled Malayalam-Portuguese and Sanskrit-Portuguese dictionaries.  He was known as a grammarian, lexicographer and philologist.


    IRELAND:  Photo Album of Titanic

    To mark the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic (15 April 1912), a book of remarkable photographs of the ship, taken by a Jesuit priest, is being re-released to commemorate the tragic event.  As the story goes, Jesuit Fr Frank Browne boarded the Titanic in Southampton, England.  Several days later, he was ordered off the boat in Cobh, County Cork in Ireland, by his Jesuit Provincial.  While on board, he took numerous photographs of the ship.  An American couple offered to pay his fare to America, but unbeknownst to Fr Browne, when his superior ordered that he return to Dublin, his life was saved.  Years later, in a Jesuit community basement, another Jesuit stumbled across more than 40,000 negatives belonging to the late Fr Browne.  What was included in these negatives?  This invaluable collection of photographs and mementos featured unique images of the Titanic, before it departed on its first and final voyage.  When the value of the discovery was realized, a collection of the images was published in 1997 as Father Browne's Titanic Album.  As the 100th anniversary of the boat's sinking approaches in April, many of the photographs in the book have been digitally re-mastered and new photographs have been added for the centenary edition of the book.


    LATIN AMERICA:  Bicentennial of Independence

    A number of Latin American countries celebrate the bicentennial of their independence between 2010 and 2014.  This has prompted six Jesuit Universities to reflect on the past two centuries, and to consider the role of this in their curriculum.  Their reflections were published in the monograph Bicentenarios de Independencia en América Latina: construir el presente y el future.  It was launched in February at the Pontifical University of Comillas in Madrid.  Two hundred years of South American history provide an ideal framework within which to evaluate the achievements in the development of Latin American societies, and to identify the challenges which remain in order to build ever more inclusive communities.  The purpose of this monograph is to learn from the successes and failures of the past, to take the best of each country, and to put this knowledge at the service of the ever greater integration of the Latin American community.  The monograph summarizes the researches of scholars from six Jesuit Universities: Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Universidad Alberto Hurtado of Santiago de Chile, Universidad Católica of Cordoba, Universidad Católica of Uruguay, Universidad Pontificia Comillas of Madrid and Fundación para la Superación de la Pobreza in Chile.  The monograph deals with the five key issues which have emerged from these bicentenary considerations: the development of collective national identities; the participation in democratic processes and civil liberties; economic and social development and the public policies that guarantee it; political decentralization and its impact on social policies; and migration, its influence on and relationship with development.


    MACAU:  450 Years of Presence

    Although Fr Melchior Nunes Barreto, an emissary to Japan, was the first Jesuit to pass through Macau on 20 November 1555, Frs Luís Fróis and Giovanni Battista Del Monte arrived on 24 August 1562, the year of Xu Guangqi's (the disciple of Matteo Ricci in China) birth.  They were the first Jesuits to actually set up a residence and start apostolic work in Macau.  They helped the two diocesan priests who were ministering to the 5,000 inhabitants of Macau, among whom were 600 Portuguese.  They had arrived with Diogo Pereira, a successful merchant, who had been appointed Portuguese envoy to the court of Beijing.  They were provided lodgings first in the residence of Guilherme Pereira, brother of Diogo and benefactor of Francis Xavier.  Later, they were also welcomed by Pedro Quintero, and it was he who would offer funds for the construction of the first Jesuit house in Macau.  The Jesuits awaited instructions regarding the embassy to Beijing until late in 1565, when they received word from the Jesuit Provincial, António de Quadros, to erect a permanent residence of the Society in Macau.  They began to build at the end of December 1565. The first bishop of Macau (1568-1581) was the Portuguese Jesuit Melchior M Carneiro, who founded a leprosarium and the "Santa Casa da Misericordia".


    UNITED KINGDOM: Film About Mgr Romero

    At the end of March, the Lauriston Jesuit Centre in Edinburgh played host to a screening of a new film about Archbishop Oscar Romero, to coincide with the anniversary of his murder.  The film was introduced by Julian Filochowski, the Director of the Romero Trust.  Monseñor: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero is an 87 minute documentary on Oscar Romero.  He was Archbishop of San Salvador and assassinated on 24 March 1980, while celebrating Mass.  His murder took place one day after a sermon in which he had called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God's higher order and to stop carrying out the government's repression and violations of basic human rights.  It is believed that Romero's assassins were members of a death squad led by former Major Roberto D'Aubuisson.  Julian Filochowski, who knew Archbishop Romero personally, says the aim of the film is, as far as possible, to have Romero tell his own story by using his own words.  "There are delightful interviews with priests and lay activists, human rights lawyers, politicians and former guerrillas - some who worked closely with him and others simply inspired by his evangelical courage and commitment," says Julian.  See: www.lauriston.org.uk


    USA:  Exploring Pop Culture

    Young Jesuits from North America have begun a new blog The Jesuit Post focusing on the issues of the day, particularly as they are reflected in pop culture.  The Jesuit Post publishes the reflections of American Jesuits, many of whom are involved in university studies. They bring a liveliness of touch and a close familiarity with popular culture to the reflections on their past experience.  They also show a commendable respect for older Jesuits who are welcomed to the pages.  The breadth of interest displayed by the writers can be seen in the titles of some of the recent contributions to the blog.  As the topics suggest, the blog is both serious and light-hearted in its reflection.  The writers do not take themselves too seriously, but they are serious in trying to find God in unexpected places.  Visit: http://www.facebook.com/TheJesuitPost   




    Education's Impact. Four Jesuit alumni are having a remarkably significant impact on the European Union.  Mario Monti has made such an impression as Italy's Prime Minister that he is being compared to Cincinnatus, the saviour of ancient Rome.  This is partly due to the support of Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council.  Meanwhile Mariano Rajoy feels strong enough as Prime  Minister of Spain to defy the bureaucrats in Brussels on the issue of the budget deficit.  We could hardly imagine a stronger endorsement of Jesuit education than we are witnessing.  For all their regional differences, Jesuit schools can still produce what Quintillian defined as vir bonus dicendi peritus: good people who can communicate well.  It all began with a pragmatic decision: in 1548, the citizens of Messina in Italy begged the local Jesuits to extend their teaching beyond the Jesuit trainees, and to include other boys of the city.  Ignatius shrewdly sent some of his brightest to staff a new school.  The enterprise never looked back: Jesuit schools multiplied.  They were free schools, sponsored either by rich patrons or by a municipality.  So, they provided a unique setting where the sons of plumbers sat beside the offspring of dukes.  Within fifty years they had systematized the curriculum into the Ratio Studiorum.  Again for pragmatic reasons, this has been adapted to meet the changing circumstances of time and place, but not before we had won a treasured blessing from Francis Bacon in The Advancement of Learning: "For education, consult the schools of the Jesuits.  Nothing hitherto in practice surpasses this." (Irish Jesuit News).


    New in SJWEB


    There are two new podcasts on the sjweb. Fr David Nazar SJ (Russia) speaks of the transformation of faith expressions in Ukraine. Fr Joseph Christie, SJ (Madurai) comments on Jesuit Business Schools and highlights the African initiatives of IAJBS (The International Association of Jesuit Business Schools).  Click on: "Jesuit Voices".