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Vol. XVII, No. 20 20 September 2013
Father General has appointed:
- Father Frédéric Fornos, 45, from the French Province, as Director General Delegate of the Apostleship of Prayer and the Eucharistic Youth Movement. He will replace Father Claudio Barriga. Father Frédéric was born in 1968, entered the Society of Jesus in 1994, and was ordained a priest in 2004. He will begin his new mission in 2014.
From the Provinces
AFRICA: Leadership Development Colloquium
The JESAM Conference of Major Superiors has just ended a Leadership Development Colloquium for thirty Jesuits and twelve lay partners. They came from every Region and Province of the Assistancy of Africa and Madagascar. The Colloquium was designed by a team of facilitators, led by Fr Fernando Franco SJ. The ten members of this team came from Africa, India, and United States of America. The Colloquium consists of three disparate weeks of intense work. There are two six month periods between each of the weeks. During these intervening periods, there will be collaborative peer mentoring, and skills learnt from each other during the Colloquium will be put into practice. Participants came from all over the continent, and met at the Institut de Théologie de la Compagnie de Jésus in Abidjan. There they were welcomed by the community. Fr Ferdinand Muhigirwa led the introductory sessions and prepared the meeting for the intense days that followed. Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator led reflections on Leaders in Africa, Mr Chris Lowney spoke on Ignatian Leadership, and Frs Jimmy Dhabi and David McCallum explored Self, Social and Organisational Awareness. Fr Fernando Franco lent his expertise in considerations on Strategic Planning. At the end of the six days of hard work, participants left the Colloquium tired but enthused. They are looking forward to the next week in Nairobi in March 2014, and to the final week in Manresa in September 2014. The mix of lay and Jesuit Ignatian leaders continues to be a blessing for all.
AUSTRALIA: Statement on Refugees and Asylum Seekers
On 25 August, the Australian Jesuit Provincial Fr Steve Curtin SJ published a statement on refugees and asylum seekers. Among other matters, he noted: "Australians need to stop being indifferent to the plight of asylum seekers and start seeing them as human beings like us, in dire need of our help. Before he went to Brazil for World Youth Day, Pope Francis visited a detention centre on Lampedusa, in Italy, an island to which people from North Africa come, seeking a home in Europe. Many die on the sea journey. The Pope asked: Who has grieved for the death of these brothers and sisters . . . In this globalised world, we have fallen into globalised indifference. The Pope's words speak directly to us as we await an election in which the main political parties compete with each other in devising harsh asylum seeker policies. We are making the same basic mistake made in the story of Adam and Eve, who were persuaded that they could be like God and be the final arbiters of what is right and wrong. We live in a world of bloody persecution and crushing poverty, where millions of people are on the move. The majority of Australians have been persuaded that we must be the absolute masters in our own land, and that we must pay any price to stop the boats. We are told we have to be tough. To be tough we have to become more indifferent. Actually we do not have mastery over life and death, and others do have rights that we may not simply ignore. God is Lord of creation and the master of our lives too. The people we bundle together as faceless asylum seekers each have faces like ours, lives like ours. They bleed like us, laugh like us, and grieve like us. They are given to us by God as brothers and sisters." For the full statement: www.jesuit.org.au
BRAZIL: Pope Francis, the Environment, and Indigenous Peoples
At the recent World Youth Day in Río de Janeiro, Brazil, Pope Francis conveyed a number of important messages not only to the Catholic community but also to humanity at large. Among them, there was one issue with special significance. Pope Francis called for a "respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, so that it not be exploited indiscriminately, but rather made into a garden." Pope Francis drew attention to a 2007 document issued by the Latin American and Caribbean bishops. He led in drafting this statement. This document underscored the dangers facing the Amazonian environment and its native peoples. The document points out that "practically, traditional communities have been excluded from decisions about the wealth of biodiversity and nature in the region. Nature has been, and continues to be, assaulted." These words were delivered in the presence of a number of Indigenous Peoples from the Amazon region. They hoped that the Pope would help them to protect lands designated by governments as indigenous reserves. Farmers and ranchers illegally invade these lands to despoil it of timber and to graze cattle. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a specialized agency of the United Nations, there are about 370 million self-identified Indigenous Peoples in some 70 countries around the world. Indigenous Peoples constitute about 5% of the world's population, and yet account for around 15% of the world's poor. Apart from Pope Francis' encouraging words, we have to understand that Indigenous Peoples play a key role in our common survival.
COLOMBIA: Water to Finance Social and Educational Works
Colombian Jesuits have set up a new initiative, the commercial distribution of bottled drinking water, Amar y Servir. This was recently established by the Fundación Amar y Servir of the Faculty of Basic Sciences at the Pontifical Javeriana University. About 1,500 students, teachers and collaborators of the Javeriana community can now enjoy the water, and become familiar with the project. The aim of the initiative is to support the social and educational work of the Society of Jesus in Colombia. The production, bottling and distribution of this new water brand will be in the hands of a company known for the high quality of its products. The water will be sold in 600 ml plastic bottles. Profits from the sale of the water will be used for projects to support families that have been displaced by the guerrillas, for training farmers, and for providing educational programs for the poor.
INDIA: Catholic Missionaries Attacked
A Jesuit priest and two nuns working with Santal tribals in a Catholic mission in Karon (Jharkhand), were assaulted, insulted and beaten by about 150 people. The attack took place on 18 August. The group was angered by the death of a 7 year old boy, who had been staying in the hostel run by the Religious of the mission. However, the Jesuits of Dumka-Raiganj Province - who run the mission - suspect that Hindu fundamentalist groups took advantage of the situation by instigating the parents. On 2 August, the child began to experience severe stomach pains. He was immediately taken to the local hospital, where, sadly, he died. The body of the student was carried to his village near Chittaranjanm in West Bengal. It was accompanied by a nun and Fr Panimegam SJ, the director of the mission. Father Panimegam reported: "Initially, the villagers were angry about what had happened, and they detained us Catholics. Then they let us go. But on 18 August, about 150 people, including the child's parents, came to mission centre. Shortly after beginning a conversation, the boy's father came up and struck me. Then the others started to break windows and destroy furniture. About 60 women in the group attacked Sr Sahaya, the principal of the mission school. They also assaulted another sister." When the police intervened, most of the people dispersed. "I forgive my attackers," said Fr Panimegam. "By the grace of God and his Spirit, Jesuits will continue to serve this Santal community through the mission of education."
ITALY: Cardinal Martini Foundation
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the death of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the Italian Province of the Society of Jesus, in collaboration with the archdiocese of Milan, established the Carlo Maria Martini Foundation. On 30 August, the Foundation was presented to Pope Francis during a private audience. Pope Francis declared: "To remember one's ancestors is an act of piety, and Martini was a father for the whole Church." The Pope recalled the memory of the cardinal with great gratitude, affection and esteem. He described him as "a prophet, a man of discernment and peace." The Foundation's website notes that its aim is to remember Cardinal Martini by "promoting the knowledge and study of his life and works, and by keeping alive the spirit which animated his efforts. The Foundation hopes to encourage the experience of the Word of God in the contemporary cultural context." Particular attention will be given to "ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, which includes dialogue with civil society and non-believers, together with a strengthening of the indissoluble link between faith, justice and culture." The Foundation also aims to promote "the study of Sacred Scripture in the light of other disciplines, such as the social sciences and spirituality." The Foundation hopes to collaborate "in educational and pastoral projects which foster Ignatian pedagogy, especially for young people," and to support "the deepening of the meaning of the Spiritual Exercises and the spread of their practice." For more information: www.fondazionecarlomariamartini.it
LATIN AMERICA: Meeting on Communication
From 26 to 30 August, the Communication Units of CPAL (the Conference of Latin American Jesuit Provincials) held its sixth meeting of the Provincial delegates for communication. Ten delegates gathered, together with the president of CPAL and a representative from the Spanish editorial staff of Vatican Radio. They discussed how the sector could better serve the mission of the Society in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the conclusion of its meeting, participants spoke of the main foci and guidelines for their work. "First, the importance of information and communication in our societies should be noted. New information and communication technologies are continually being developed. With viable criteria of discernment, we need to learn how to use these means for the service of the mission of the universal Society. Secondly, we are committed to strengthening the communication offices of our Provinces and Regions . . . As a start to this, we need to coordinate the sector, so that there will be a more effective flow of information within and outside of Provinces. Thirdly, there will be an emphasis on networking. Developing apostolic and communications networks will make more apparent the lives, needs and dreams of those we wish to serve, in faith and justice. With greater coordinated networks, our impact on major social, political and economic problems will be clearer."
ROME: Pope's Visit to Centro Astalli
In the afternoon of 10 September, Pope Francis visited Centro Astalli, the Italian headquarters of the Jesuit Refugee Service. This Centre was established in 1981 in response to a request of the then General, Fr Arrupe, to tackle issues affecting refugees. Pope Francis arrived while more than 400 refugees and asylum seekers were in line waiting to receive a hot lunch. The encounter between them was poignant and intense. The Pope greeted the refugees with affection and simplicity. He then entered the dining room, and met with and greeted other refugees. He asked them about their lives, spending a moment with each one of them. Later, he entered the Gesù Church where 350 refugees were waiting for him. With them were 300 volunteers associated the various centres which Centro Astalli runs in Rome, and with the services it provides. Fr Giovanni La Manna SJ, director of the Centre, welcomed the Pope in the name of all present. Then the testimony of two refugees followed. Carol, from Syria, said: "I'm a teacher. For many years now, young people and children have been my reason for living. I always thought that teaching and education were a way to peace. But today, in my country, every road to peace and freedom seems to have been erased forever." And then Adam, a Sudanese from Darfur, spoke: "The journey we face to seek asylum in Europe is a crime against humanity. There were 170 people on the boat that took us from Libya to Italy. Each of us paid $1200 to face the sea. Many of us paid only to meet death. Holy Father, your voice is loud. Everybody listen to it. Help us. Stop this massacre. To seek asylum must not be a tragic way to lose your life." The Pope gave an intense and passionate speech which focussed on the three words which summarize the mission of the Jesuit Refugee Service: "to accompany, to serve, and to defend." He dwelt on these three words, explained them, and made them live with that practical power which characterizes his utterances. He ended with an admonition to the Church, to his Church: "Dear men and women religious, empty convents are useless to the Church if they are transformed into hotels to earn money. Empty convents do not belong to us; they are for the bodies of Christ, for refugees. The Lord calls us to live with generosity and courage, and to offer hospitality in our empty convents. Of course, this is not an easy task. We need to approach this with discernment and responsibility, but also with courage".
SPAIN: "Living Stones" in Santiago de Compostela
Each year, more than 300,000 pilgrims arrive at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Spain. The pilgrimage is most popular in summer. Many of the pilgrims are young people in search of God, in search of a new life. In recent years, the Camino de Santiago has become the most crowded and post-modern of European highways. This year, the pilgrims who entered the Cathedral between 18 July and 18 August, were met with young volunteers in green t-shirts with the expressive logo: Living Stones. Living Stones is the name of a network of Ignatian youth groups. In more than twelve European cities, they inform sightseeing with spiritual significance. In Santiago, Living Stones explained to the pilgrims the history and symbols of the place they had reached, and the places they had passed. As a result, pilgrims were able to better "embrace the apostle" and venerate his relics. With more awareness, they were able to appreciate the meaning of the communion of saints and the sanctity of the body. Pilgrims were also able to admire the famous "Porch of Glory" with greater understanding, having the wherewithal to decipher this "liturgy made of stone." But above all, the volunteers of Living Stones invited the pilgrims to remain in silence for an hour, to "recollect" their pilgrimage. A brief "Ignatian" introduction prompted the pilgrim to ask himself: "What is the Lord saying to me through this pilgrimage?" After the hour of silent reflection and prayer, groups of pilgrims, divided into language groups, shared with each other the spiritual significance of their journey. For those who were interested, it was possible to stay for another two days in silence in the Jesuit university residence of Santiago (Colegio Mayor San Agustín). Its director, Fr Jorge Vazquez SJ, had transformed this into a "summer retreat house". The fifty volunteers who comprised Living Stones - Jesuits and young lay people - came from seven different countries. This initiative is a form of the "new evangelization". See: http://pietrevive.wordpress.com
UNITED KINGDOM: Explore Jesuit Life
Following their success last year, Jesuits are holding three more Explore Jesuit Life events this autumn. In addition to being a general introduction to the history of the Society of Jesus, the days are aimed to encourage men to consider whether they might have a vocation to join the Jesuits. The first event will take place over the last weekend of September at Loyola Hall on Merseyside. During the three days, participants will be given an introduction to the life of St Ignatius Loyola and will be invited to look at the characteristic Jesuit ways of proceeding that arise out of his life and experience. There will also be the opportunity for praying through imaginative contemplation. They will be introduced to the examen, together with some reflections on the particular mission of the Jesuits in the Church today. "This weekend will offer both a wealth of information and, more importantly, a feel for what the Jesuits have inherited through the life of St Ignatius," says Fr Matthew Power SJ, Vocations Promoter for the Jesuits in Britain. "Whether you are just curious about Jesuit life and want to find out more, or you're beginning to wonder whether or not you might have a vocation to the Jesuits, this will explore what life is like within the order and will discuss what Jesuits seek to contribute to the life of the Church and to the world." There will be two further one-day events, in London on 2 November, and in Edinburgh on 23 November. Read the full story at: www.jesuit.org.uk/latest/130703a.htm
ZAMBIA: Jesuit Parish Supports People with AIDS
A home-based care program in Zambia has become the first recipient of an annual award for excellence. The program, in Chikuni Jesuit parish, has been recognized for the work it does in supporting people with HIV and AIDS to be self-reliant. The award was launched earlier this year by the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) and the Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM). Its purpose is to identify, reward and share best practices among AIDS projects led or supported by Jesuits. The result of the award was announced by the President of JESAM, Fr Mike Lewis SJ. He offered his congratulations and thanks to the Director of Chikuni HBC (Home-Based Care), Fr Kelly Michelo SJ, who - he said - has worked tirelessly to promote self-reliance among people with HIV and for the programme itself. The Chikuni Parish Home-Based Care (HBC) programme in southern Zambia was entered in the category 'Caring for people with HIV and their families'. In total, seven applications were submitted for this year's award. The projects covered a wide range of services of HIV/AIDS care and prevention. "All of the projects were characterized by commitment, creativity, professionalism and perseverance," said Fr Lewis. Jesuits have long been responding to the challenges thrown up by HIV/AIDS in Africa. But it was only in 2002 that the continental Jesuit leadership (JESAM) identified AIDS as a shared priority, and created AJAN (African Jesuit AIDS Network) to coordinate its struggle against the pandemic. For more information about AJAN see: www.ajanweb.org