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Vol. XIII, N. 12 June 22, 2009
On the 18th of June Father General sent to all Major Superior a letter: 'Invitation to reflect on Priesthood in the Society of Jesus.' It draws on the Priestly Year announced by the Pope starting on the 19th of June in order to rediscover the beauty and importance of priesthood for the Church and inside the Church. This year, Fr. Nicolás writes, "is an opportunity for the whole Society to reflect on and deepen our conviction about something that touches the core of our vocation and charism," and he points three important topics: "The first is concerned with how ordained Jesuits are called to live the priesthood: how the ministerial priesthood relates to the pluriform apostolic activities of each Jesuit." The second "involves our understanding of the Society of Jesus as a <sacerdotal Society> ...The third centers around the vocation and life of the Jesuit Brother: How does the life and vocation of a Jesuit Brother relate to the <sacerdotal character> (Paul VI) of the Society". Then Fr. Nicolás asks Provincials and Major Superiors to "invite all Jesuits to take time for prayer, reflection and conversation about these important issues, in community or in small groups, as they find most helpful". And he adds: "to invite in a special way, our theologians and theological faculties to reflect on the issues mentioned above and to contribute to a clearer and deeper understanding of these matters". And finally he invites that the reports or the fruits of these processes to send to Rome by the end of next February. Towards the end of this year he wants to organize an International Study Week, to which he will "invite a small group of Jesuits including among them theologians and those with special competence in our Institute, to study the material [he has] received and to produce, if possible, a text that can help the Society today".
From the Curia
- Following shortly on the course given in Spanish for treasurers this past week, from the 21st to the 26th June coming from all over the world, 21 Jesuits and 2 lay collaborators will attend a course for new treasurers in English to be held at the General Curia. Given about 40% of the Society's province and regional treasurers have changed in the past two years, these two courses have taken on particular importance in helping treasurers understand their new role and the Society's norms as described in the Instruction for the Administration of Goods (IAG) that also presents revised accounting forms and procedures.
- From the 25th of June till the 1st of July the Masters of European Novices will have their biannual encounter at the General Curia in Rome. The topic of this year will be: "The Novitiate as a time of separation". Why and what kind of separation from previous life would be convenient? How to help novices to make this separation? Attending will be 14 Masters of Novices of European Provinces. The meeting will be also an occasion to exchange information on the different programs of the Novitiate.
Father General has appointed:
- Fr. Alfons Swinnen Provincial of North Belgium. Fr. Alfons was born on the 1st of March 1942, joined the Society on the 7th of September of 1962 and was ordained a priest on the 8th of July 1972. After years as a missionary in Africa he came back to his Province and until now he had the charge of the religious and pastoral assistance in the Northern Belgian schools of the Society.
- Fr. Joaquín Barrero Superior of the Community of the General Curia. He replaces Fr. Gregory Naik. "I am very grateful - Fr. Nicolás writes - as I think everybody of us is, for his availability and readiness to take on this mission, in addition to his other heavy responsibilities as Assistant for South Europe." The appointment will be effective from 15 September.
From the Provinces
LATIN AMERICA: Constitution of a network of Jesuit Radios
In 2005 the XIII General Assembly of the Latin American Association for Radio Education (ALER) launched a proposal to form a network of Jesuit Radio stations. Consonant with the inclination of both the Conference of Provincials of Latin America (CPAL) and Fr. Nicolás, the idea has been taken up again and Fr. Francisco Muguiro Ibarra has been appointed coordinator of this proposed network. Enhanced by the participation of 73 radio stations, 20 of which belong to the Society of Jesus, this year's ALER General Assembly developed various concrete action steps: to prepare a list of all Jesuit radio stations, to use the internet to exchange working experiences and points of view, to organize a mailing list of all the radio stations for quick communication, to organize training in the radio stations of the network, to define a common program of explicit evangelization to be spread through radio. Follow up on the project will be taken during the meeting of Jesuit communicators next August, also in view of a possible encounter to be held in November. For more information please contact Fr. Muguiro: firstname.lastname@example.org.
AUSTRALIA: A new service to the Church in Asia
Director for the past few months of Asian Catholic Agency Ucanews, Australian Jesuit Fr. Michael Kelly launched a week ago a new service: CathNews Asia. The service will offer daily news and articles on the Catholic Church of the Asian Continent. This is an enlargement of the services offered by Ucanews - Fr. Kelly said - and will take advantage of his network of more than 250 correspondents. "The major opportunities for the Church of the whole world are in Asia - Fr. Michael declared - and not only in terms of human needs of these countries, but also in terms of the encounter of many traditions, beliefs and cultures older than the same Christianity. The task of the media world is to reflect on this encounter and transmit it for the enrichment of the whole Church".
CASTELGANDOLFO: The Specola Vaticana Moves
After residing more than seventy years within the Papal Palace itself, the headquarters of the Specola Vaticana (Vatican Observatory) has been recently moved to a new location in the Papal Gardens at Castelgandolfo. The move was occasioned by increased demands for space within the Palace, and the growing needs of the Observatory. Until few weeks ago, the observatory offices were located on the top floor of Papal Palace, the Pope's summer home located in the Alban Hills, 25 kilometers southeast of Rome. Its extensive astronomical library is scattered over four rooms on the top two floors of the Palace, while the valuable meteorite collection and laboratory, the historic vault of photographic observations made at the Observatory from 1895 to 1979, and the classroom where the biennial Vatican Observatory Summer Schools are conducted, are located on the ground floor of the Palace. Meanwhile, the living quarters of the Jesuits is divided between rooms on the second and top floors. With the prospect of half a dozen younger Jesuits joining the staff over the next five years, the issue of both residence and office space was becoming acute.
"Moving the Specola collections and libraries has been a logistical challenge," noted Fr. José Funes SJ, the Argentinean Jesuit, director of the observatory. "But the new site will allow us to address a growing need for space and order." The new quarters, located in the remodelled monastery built by the Basilian monks within one of the most beautiful gardens in the Italian peninsula, should provide a far more peaceful and comfortable setting. The Vatican Observatory traces its history to the reform of the calendar by Pope Gregory XIII in 1583. It was re-organized by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, "so that everyone might see clearly that the Church and her Pastors are not opposed to true and solid science, whether human or divine, but that they embrace it, encourage it, and promote it with the fullest possible devotion."
ROME: Hope for refugee women
The demand for daycare centers in Rome is growing. The Casa di Giorgia is a place where oppressed women when they have fled from their countries of origin look for asylum, political refuge or international protection. It is linked to the Jesuit Centro Astalli, and can give hospitality up to 36 women, 28 of whom are supported by the Roman Municipality. In 2008 the majority of women came from Africa. Recently, there are women from Birmania, Tibet and Bangladesh, because of the worsening of the political and social situation in those Asian Countries. "We have many women with no husband and children- says Fr. Giovanni La Manna, director of the Center - who luckily after six months, having received residence permits, make themselves autonomous. Then there are women who arrive with very harsh experiences. Because she carries visible wounds, a woman who has experienced torture takes time to heal. But sometimes it even takes longer to heal those who have suffered interior wounds. For these we have to develop a program of emotional and psychological support and, in some cases, this requires an even longer period of stay and guidance in the Center to enable the person to stand on their own feet."
SPAIN: Sport Palace named to Fr. Nicolás
The sport palace built by the Palencia administration in Villamuriel de Cerrado (Palencia), hometown of Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, will be dedicated to our Father General. The proposal was made from the Provincial administration to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus who accepted and said: "It is an honor I do not deserve, but anyhow I accept it with pleasure, especially because it deals with an infrastructure that will be at the service of the inhabitants of the town". The building will host not only sport events but it will be a meeting point for cultural, social and fun events. Enrique Martín, president of the Provincial administration of Palencia, said that the decision is "a recognition to a person born in town, simple, open to dialogue and a symbol for others," and he added: "Fr. Nicolás is a distinguished person, and an example in all forms."
UNITED STATES: A website on Ignatian spirituality
Loyola Press of Chicago has just launched a new website (http://ignatianspirituality.com) to offer ideas for Ignatian prayer, retreats and spiritual direction. The presentation of the website says: "Ignatian spirituality is a way to pray, an approach to making decisions, a point of view about God, and a practical guide to everyday life. St. Ignatius of Loyola was a layperson when he composed the Spiritual Exercises. His optimistic and practical spirituality is particularly suited to the needs and desires of 21st-century seekers. Ignatian spirituality sees God as actively involved in the world and intimately involved with us in every moment and place. Explore Ignatian Spirituality.com to learn what this spiritual approach can mean for your life."
SOUTH AFRICA: To enlarge horizons
"To enlarge the horizons of hope" this is the motto of The Jesuit Institute of South Africa. It lies close to Holy Trinity Church, in the business district of Braamfontein, in Johannesburg, only a half mile from downtown. It is well placed to help reflection and to promote dialogue with political, administrative, socio-economic, cultural and, naturally, religious world, along the spirit of the social doctrine of the Church and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius for the service of the faith and the promotion of justice. Its present activity includes conferences, seminars, personal guidance, spiritual exercises and publications. The present staff is composed by four Jesuits, among them Fr. David Smolira, Regional Superior of South Africa. For info: www.jesuitinstitute.org.za
HUNGARY: Meeting of European cultural reviews
From the 5th to the 8th of June the annual meeting of the representatives of the Jesuit cultural reviews has taken place in Dobogokö, not far from Budapest. The aim was to exchange views on the problems of every review: subscriptions, contents, use of internet, situation of Jesuit personnel, etc. But this has been also an occasion to reinforce collaboration among the reviews through the exchange of articles and ideas. The participants were 15 Jesuits of 14 European countries; there were also a representative of Chilean review Mensaje. The first day Professor László Csaba, of Central European University and member of the Hungarian National Academy of Science spoke on "New Europe in the new millennium". His speech was followed by an interesting debate. Noteworthy also the meeting with Card. Peter Erdö, archbishop of Budapest-Esztergom and president of the European Episcopal Conferences, who talked about the problems of Christianity in the countries of East Europe and the "cultural and moral wild void," as he labeled it, that came out after the fall of communism.