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Vol. XVII, No. 13 21 May 2013
From the Curia
Board of the Assistant for Development. From 12 to 16 May, a team to assist the Board of the Assistant for Development Resources of the General Treasurer met in Madrid, Spain. It worked on the criteria which apply to the Society of Jesus in accepting donations both for mission and for the preservation of the apostolic body. The team worked on a basic text. It collected and collated criteria and policies which currently apply in a number of provinces. These take into account the Instruction on the Administration of Goods, the Complementary Norms, and the Constitutions. The team consists of Lluis Magriñà SJ, Edwina MacArthur, Jenny Cafiso, Ignacio Eguizabal and Jack Paquete.
Father General has appointed:
- Fr Timothy P Kesicki, Provincial of Chicago-Detroit, as the next President of the Jesuit Conference USA. Fr Timothy was born in 1962, entered the Society in 1984, and was ordained a priest in 1994.
From the Provinces
CUBA: Assembly of CPAL
From 7 to 11 May, CPAL (the Conference of Latin American Provincials) met in Havana, Cuba. The superiors of Haiti, Guyana, Jamaica and Belize were present as guests of the meeting. For a day and a half, the meeting reviewed and reflected on its apostolic plan in the light of the service of faith. This reflection was led by the three secretaries who joined the meeting from the General Curia in Rome: the secretaries for the Promotion of Faith, for Collaboration with Others, and for Social Justice and Ecology. There was also an extended conversation with Card Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana, and his auxiliary, Msgr Juan de Dios Hernandez. Significantly, the participants in the meeting visited the old and former Jesuit Colegio de Belém. Today, it is an institute for military technology. This was the first time in more than fifty years that Jesuits were able to visit their old college. Other topics on the agenda included an evaluation of the three inter-provincial centers of theology (the rectors of these centers joined the meeting for this discussion), and the restructuring of Provinces, according to the guidelines which Father General has recently issued.
EAST TIMOR: The Prison Apostolate
The prison apostolate, especially for young prisoners, is one of the special ministries of the Jesuit community in Dili, the capital city of East Timor. According to the Catholic news agency Fides, Jesuits celebrate the Eucharist in the Becora prison in Dili on every second Sunday of the month. Many cooperate to assist in activities for the detainees. Service to prisoners gained new impetus and great encouragement after the Mass which Pope Francis celebrated in a youth prison on Holy Thursday. 75% of East Timor's population is under 30 years of age. The prison is full of young people. Br Noel Oliver, one of the Jesuits engaged in this ministry, notes that the "prisoners welcome us with a smile." With the assistance of four sisters, they participate in the Mass with active and lively devotion. "They read the scripture, and form the choir: they do so with great feeling and professionalism." The row of prisoners waiting for confession is impressive. Another Jesuit, Fr Quyen, says that prisoners are eager to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, to open their hearts to grace and to the mercy of God. The Philippines and East Timor are the only two Asian nations with a high proportion of Catholics. The local church is eager to contribute to the growth and development of the country. The Jesuits in East Timor also work with refugees, and in the field of education. Others are involved in the parish apostolate.
INDIA: Sanskrit Grammar Published
Jesuit missionary, Fr Johann Ernst Hanxleden, was a grammarian, lexicographer and philologist. He was popularly known as Arnos Padre, and wrote a Sanskrit grammar. This was published in Belgium in April this year. This work is over 300 years old, and it is considered one of the earliest missionary grammars in Sanskrit. Jesuit, Fr Roy Thottathil, is the Director of Arnos Padre Academy in Thrissur (India). Prof Christophe Vielle and Prof Toon Van Hal of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, edited the grammar, and informed Fr Roy that it was published. Grammatica Grandonica is a manuscript of 88 pages. It had been missing for over three centuries. It was found last year by Hal in the library of a Carmelite monastery in Montecompatri (Rome). Fr Hanxleden was born in Ostercappeln, near Osnabruck in Hanover, Germany. He arrived in India on 13 December 1700. In 1712, he built the church of St Francis Xavier at Velur, and he spent his remaining days there. In January last year, the two Professors visited the church, as well as a number of other places related to the activities of the Jesuit missionary. In 1994, the church and associated buildings were declared protected monuments by the Kerala government. Fr Hanxleden was proficient in German, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Latin, Syriac, Portuguese and Tamil. He also compiled Malayalam-Portuguese and Sanskrit-Portuguese dictionaries. He mastered Sanskrit at a time when learning that language was taboo for non-Brahmins. He wrote several latin essays based on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata epic poems. Fr Hanxleden strove to spread awareness among European academics about India's cultural heritage, and the importance of Sanskrit. He died of a snake bite in March 1732.
ITALY: The Jesuit Schools Meet the Pope
Jesuit Institutes in Messina, Milan, Naples, Rome, Palermo, Turin and Scutari will soon take part in an historic event. On 7 June, for the first time, Jesuit schools will be received in a special audience by the Pope. The audience with Pope Francis, the first pontiff to ever belong to the Society of Jesus, will take place in the Paul VI hall in the Vatican. About seven thousand participants are expected to attend from all over Italy and Albania. Present will be students, teachers, non-teaching staff, families, alumni, young people belonging to Ignatian movements, as well as collaborators of various youth and educational works of the Society of Jesus. "The election of Pope Francis was a moment of great joy," said Fr Vitangelo Denora, the Delegate for Education for Italy and Albania. "I saw great enthusiasm in the eyes of our students at the time of the election. This gives us new strength and a greater confidence for the future. This applies especially to the children who are entrusted to us for their education and formation." Fr Denora then spoke about the dream of Card Carlo Maria Martini: "He saw a church which was willing to speak to today's world, and especially to young people with the simple words of the Gospel." In this vision and dream, Jesuit schools play an important role. "The challenges which await us - says Fr. Denora - are difficult, but exciting: it is for us to form students who are well prepared for, and open to the world, students who are able to understand reality and its changes with a critical mind, and who are ready to commit themselves to build a world that is both more human and more just."
JAPAN: Sophia University Centenary
This year, 2013, Sophia University, the Jesuit University in Tokyo marks the hundredth anniversary of its foundation. In 1913, at the urging of Pope St. Pius X and only five years after the Society's return to Japan, Sophia opened as a small college with 19 male students. Dramatic growth came after the War, with Sophia's opening to coeducation in 1957 and its welcoming of foreign students. But this growth was largely due to the efforts of more than 100 Jesuits who came to Japan from over 20 countries. Sophia now has 12,300 students in 8 faculties and 12 graduate schools: 1,500 are from overseas. 30 Jesuits, mainly Japanese, work in the university. Sophia is regarded as one of the top 13 international universities in Japan. A variety of cultural events manifesting the Catholic and international character of the university will be held in connection with this year's centennial celebration. This year, an opera focusing on the faith of the 17th century Japanese martyr Gratia Hosokawa will be staged in three Japanese cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto). A joint symposium with Georgetown University will be held in Washington DC September 9-10, another with the Universities of Köln and Luxemburg in Köln on September 27, and an international symposium on Jesuit universities in East Asia in Tokyo on December 7. In March next year there will be a joint symposium in Rome with the Gregorian University.
MYANMAR: Ordination of the First Jesuit
On 1 May, amidst much celebration, Wilbert Mireh was ordained priest in Loikaw Cathedral, together with two diocesan deacons. At least twenty Jesuits were present, including Fr Wardi, Wilbert's novice master. Wilbert's brother, Benedict Tireh, and about one hundred diocesan priests graced the occasion. Wilbert is the first Myanmar-born Jesuit to be ordained since the Society was approved 473 years ago! Apparently Francis Xavier had written to Ignatius to ask him to send Jesuits to the Kingdom of Pegu, which is part of the territory of present-day Myanmar. Indeed in the 17th century, Portuguese Jesuits were for a time present in Mandalay: they were forced to leave, but Christians remain in that area to this day. Another Jesuit mission was established in the 1950s and early 1960s by the Maryland Province, until the socialist government forced foreigners to leave. The Maryland Jesuits ran the diocesan major seminary, three of whose students are bishops today. These include Bp Sotero of Loikaw and Archbp Matthias U Shwe of Taunggyi, both of whom facilitated the return of the Society to Myanmar in the late 1990s. Wilbert entered the Taunggyi novitiate in 2000. Following his ordination, he will continue with extended pastoral experience in the Loikaw diocese, while remaining a member of the Phyaphyu community.
PANAMA: Social Services for Detained Migrants
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Panama is taking action to provide legal assistance and social services to people who are detained in "migration shelters" in the country. People of many nationalities are in these centers: these include Colombians, Dominicans, Nicaraguans, Somalis, Pakistanis, Hindus, Bangladeshis, and Haitians. They all endure harsh living conditions, suffering from heat and overcrowding. Furthermore, they do not receive any information on the length of their detention. This uncertainty about their future leads to severely negative psychological and physical complications. Through its presence, JRS aims to ensure that all detainees are treated humanely, that their fundamental rights are respected, and that the possibility of applying for refugee status, for those who want to do so, is made available.
PERU: 15 Years on the Web
In late 1977, major Peruvian institutions were taking their first steps towards using the web. At that time, Rafael Fernández Hart SJ, was the vocation director in the Province. He had the idea of creating a website which would provide information about the Jesuits in Peru. At first, it was rather experimental, but two years later, with the encouragement fellow vocation director, Miguel Cruzado SJ, a website was set up with its own domain name, www.jesuitasperu.org That site was directed to the promotion of vocation. Its homepage presented the IHS monogram with the image Machu Picchu in the background. In 2002, it was replaced by a more comprehensive website, set up by Dani Villanueva SJ, who had come from Spain expressly for the purpose. The website was transferred to the Development Office - Procura - which took care of its administration and management for a number of years. In 2012, all the Province's digital media was assumed by the newly-established Office of Communication. It finally adopted the current domain name, www.jesuitas.pe which presents information in five categories: press/news, liturgy, Jesuitica, in memoriam, and Jesuits.
Ireland: Jesuit Lana's Flying Boat. Fr Francesco Lana de Terzi was the Father of Aeronautics. He was an Italian Jesuit, the professor of physics and mathematics at Brescia. Histories of flight refer to his work Prodromo dell'Arte Maestra (1670) as the "the first publication to establish a theory of aerial navigation verified by mathematical accuracy and clarity of conception." Previous descriptions of flight were usually myths and vague fantasies, whereas Lana's bold project was based on mathematical calculations and the principles of physics. His work was translated by the physicist Robert Hooke in 1690, and was discussed by scientists throughout Europe for a century. It is no exaggeration to say that Lana's ideas lay behind the development of the balloon, and led to the successful flight of the Montgolfier brothers in 1783. Lana's other inventions included a sewing machine, a reading device for the blind, a language for the deaf and dumb, long distance communication by cannon, a heavier-than-air "flying chariot", and finally his lighter-than-air "aerial ship". Lana proposed using the principle of the vacuum (up to then, abhorred by nature) which would make his apparatus lighter than air: it would then float in the atmosphere. Unlike later balloonists, who usually put something into the balloon, Lana advocated taking all air out. Although his device proved impractical, his principles were sound. From these principles, Lana concluded that one could construct a vessel which would weigh less than the air within it, and so when the air had been pumped out, the whole would float in the atmosphere. In fact, if the vessel was large enough, it could support the weight of a ship with passengers. After calculating the weights and volumes involved, he proposed a vessel consisting of four large 25-foot spheres made of thin sheet copper bound together and supporting a basket for the riders with a sail and rudder for steering. Lana never built the airship he described. Read the full story in: www.jesuit.ie (Irish Jesuit News).