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Jesuits Around the World
Vol. XIII, N. 2, January 30, 2009
THE CENTENARY OF THE CALIFORNIA PROVINCE
With Father General, Adolfo Nicolás in attendance, the California Province will begin to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its foundation. Italian Jesuits (from the Province of Turin) arrived in California from Oregon during the 1849 "Gold Rush". After becoming independent from the Turin Province in 1909, the California Province quickly developed a distinct American identity and mission geared towards the needs of people living in the western United States. Today California Province serves an area comprised of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah. In 1996 the Jesuits of California adopted four major apostolic goals which continue to guide them and their lay partners. These are: fostering partnership in our Ignatian mission; strengthening solidarity with the poor; responding to the diversity of our Province, and evangelizing contemporary culture.
During this centenary year, the Jesuits of California have underlined two apostolic priorities for the years ahead. The first is the improvement of the Jesuit Retreat Center of the Sierra in Applegate; it presently offers individuals and groups a special place to reflect, pray, learn and relax in a beautiful and tranquil setting. The center is committed to serving the spiritual needs of people of modest means who might not otherwise be able to go on retreat. The idea is to improve the services for groups, families and the young, in an atmosphere of simplicity and friendship. The second priority is the launch of Kino Border Initiative (KBI) along the Mexican border; it is the land the beloved "Padre on Horseback", the Italian Jesuit Missionary Francisco Kino rode from 1687 to 1711, when no border between the United States and Mexico existed. The KBI is based on Nogales-Arizona, USA and Nogales-Sonora, Mexico, two cities which are the region's major ports of trade, entrance and deportation.
On January 18th a new community was established; the four members are Jesuits belonging to the California, Mexico and New England Provinces. They will work in close partnership with Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the diocesan clergy of Tucson and Hermosillo dioceses, as well as the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, to offer basic help to migrants deported from USA. "By making a concrete and visible commitment to the KBI", noted Fr. John P. McGarry, Provincial of California, "the Society of Jesus is making a public and prophetic commitment to stand, with one foot on each side of the border, in a context of suffering, misunderstanding, humility and hope. Through the KBI the Province seeks to serve the Church by creating opportunities for pastoral formation, providing faith-based social analysis, and advocating for the protection of human rights and the common good."
FROM THE PROVINCES
CHINA: Predictions for Chinese New Year
On January 26 the Chinese people celebrated New Year. In a video-editorial of Renlai published on the web, Fr. Benoît Vermander, director of Ricci Institute in Taipei, declared that while it is always difficult to make predictions, he would venture three regarding China for the year of the Ox. They are: "Social conflicts in China will noticeably increase, due not only to unemployment but also to land-use and environmental issues; the relationships between China and Taiwan will continue to improve for the first half of the year, but accrued Chinese requests might cause renewed tensions later on; on a more optimistic note, the US and Europe might be able to engage China and encourage the reform of world governance, especially of financial markets. The Chinese leaders will take advantage of China's clout in international affairs for securing more political space for themselves and, possibly, diffuse part of its social tension."
BRAZIL: Meeting of Brothers
The Sixth National Seminar of Jesuit Brothers was held in Salvador, Bahia, January 25-31. On the agenda was the recent 35th General Congregation. A number of Jesuits presented and analyzed the various decrees in the context of the Jesuits and civil society in Brazil. Fr. Acrizio Vale Sales, Provincial of North-Eastern Brazil (BNE) introduced the study-week with a panoramic description of Jesuit identity and mission as well as with the presentation of lay collaboration related to the vocation of the Jesuit brother. Br. Raimundo Oliveira Barros, one of the brothers who participated in GC35, submitted a report on the reflections and recommendations made during General Congregation about the vocation of the Brother. Fr. Orlando Torres, Fr. General's Counsellor for Formation, introduced the decree on obedience. Consideration also has been given to the proposal of a "Alphonso Month", in order to help brothers to reflect on their vocation of service to the Church in the Society of Jesus. There were more than 30 participants, including brothers from neighbouring countries; their presence is a welcomed norm at these meetings.
BRAZIL-AMAZONIA: World Social Forum (WSF)
From January 27 to February 1 Belém do Pará (Brazil), one of the most important towns of Amazonia, will host the Ninth edition of the World Social Forum (WSF). For WSF it is a return to the country that was a founding contributor to the birth of this meeting and which hosted the first gathering in Porto Alegre. During these years WSF, both its world conferences and those at the local level, have offered the opportunity for social movements, development agencies, NGO, religious organizations and civil societies to meet, to confront and to share information and actions inspired to present an alternative economic model to neo-liberalism. This spirit is summarized in the WSF motto: Another world is possible.
As in the past, Jesuits were active participants in the WSF. In fact, Jesuits of the Brazil-Amazonia Region have organized a meeting called Fé'namazônia pré-forum on the theme Religious Faiths and defense of life in Amazonia. The meeting, held from January 24 to 27, examined the specific contribution that faith offers to social and political engagement both at individual and at group levels. The participants - Jesuits, colleagues, other religious, lay men and women from all over the world, have been helped in their reflections by the presentation of some striking experiences from Latin America, India and Africa, and from the speeches of three important speakers, Frei Betto, P. José Comblin and Marina Silva. The proposals produced by this meeting were presented at a seminar held during the WSF. The agenda included two other seminars organized by groups connected with the Society of Jesus, Fe y Alegría- Brazil, and SAPI - South Asian Peoples' Initiative.
Finally, on January 30, groups and individuals connected with the Society of Jesus came together for the Ignatian Day, a day of exchange and discernment on the theme of Reconciliation with Creation (CG 35a, Decree 3, nos. 31 ss.).
For further information: http://preforumfenamazonia.wordpress.com
ROME: Red Javier Meeting
The meeting of Red Javier was held in Rome, January 12-13. On the agenda was the preparation of the calendar of activities for this year and to review the accomplishments to date. Red Javier is the European network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) working in the field of international cooperation connected with the Society of Jesus. "It is an interprovincial collaboration", says Dr. Marco Petrini, President of Magis, "born in 2002 from the desire to better operate at world level, to improve competences and peculiarities of everybody to work together and give new pulse to intercultural and interreligious dialogue." Members of the network are: Magis (Italy), Alboan and Entreculturas Foundations (Spain), Leigos para o Desenvolvimento Association and Gonçalo da Silveira Foundation (Portugal), Jesuitenmission, and the Jesuit Mission Secretariate (Germany). These organizations are characterized by the unity of professional and voluntary engagement, the collaboration between lay and Jesuits and the promotion of intercultural and interreligious dialogue. For more information: www.magisitalia.org
THAILAND: New Director Union of Catholic Asian News (Ucanews)
Fr. Michael Kelly, an Australian Jesuit, is the new director of Ucanews (Union of Catholic Asian News), the Asian Catholic News Agency which has its chief bureau in Bangkok, Thailand. He succeeds Fr. Robert Astorino, an American Maryknoll missionary and founder of the Agency. When Ucanews began in Hong Kong in 1979, it was staffed by three journalists and was able to send a few weekly reports in English; it has become one of the most important catholic news agencies in the world, with a permanent staff of forty professional journalists, 250 correspondents throughout Asia and national bureaus in many countries. There are editions in several Asian languages, including Cebuan (a language spoken in the Philippines), Indonesian and Vietnamese. Clearly the Internet has contributed to this expansion since the agency has invested heavily in recent years in this crucial resource. The appointment of Father Kelly signals the wish to continue in this direction, improving the multi-media character of the agency so as to be able to reach a larger audience, particularly the more remote areas of the Asian continent and to reach young people who are more attuned to these new technologies. A professional journalist and a long time contributor to Ucanews, Father Kelly for the past ten years, has been the executive director of resources management for the Church in Australia, position he will retain for the moment, along with his commitments to the Australian Province.
SPAIN: Charges Against the Alleged Murderers of El Salvador Jesuits and Colleagues
The Jesuits of the Province of Castille in Spain have issued a statement on the possible reopening of the trial against those who may have committed murder on November 16, 1989 at the Central America University (UCA) in San Salvador (ref. Electronic Service n. 12, November 21, 2008). The Spanish Jesuits say that, in agreement with the Jesuits of El Salvador, it is better that justice occur inside the country and not outside. The declaration states: "We are not in favour of the reopening of the case in Spain. Nevertheless, if the families of the victims (five of which were of Spanish origins) have the intention to start the trial at the Madrid tribunal, we note their legitimate right and in this case we are ready to offer necessary assistance." At the Central America University in San Salvador six Jesuits, the cook and her young daughter of 15 years old were shot to death.