From Ignatius to Ribadeneira. The Ignatian Spirituality Group, composed of six Spanish and Italian Jesuit professors of theology, just published Essential writings of the first Jesuits. From Ignacio to Ribadeneira (Manresa Collection). Their first work, Dictionary of Ignatian Spirituality (2007), was the result of years of studies of Ignatian spirituality. This new title is the fruit of six years of collaboration on the sources of the Ignatian charism: from the testimonies of early Jesuits to texts from the first three general congregations. Fr. José García de Castro SJ was heading  a team made up of J. Carlos Coupeau SJ, Pascual Cebollada SJ, Javier Melloni SJ, Diego M. Molina SJ and Secondo Bongiovanni SJ. The anthology gathers the experience, doctrine and spiritual praxis of Ignatius of Loyola and his first companions. The editors wanted to introduce testimonies of the first ten companions of Paris and other important figures to the origins of the Society of Jesus, as Francisco de Borja, Jerónimo Nadal, Juan de Polanco and Pedro de Ribadeneira himself. This great work has a pedagogical presentation with keywords and a rich index of subjects to make it easier to find your way through the 900 pages. The book is a great help for those wanting to know more about the origins of Ignatian spirituality and or are involved in spreading this charism through retreats, conferences, seminars and, of course, the spiritual exercises.
On the afternoon of 9 and 10 October, the Atë Pjetër Meshkalla high school gymnasium in Scutari hosted a training seminar: Designing and evaluating by competence. It was the third seminar for school teachers organized by the CeFAEGI (Training Center for Jesuit Educational Activities, Euro-Mediterranean Province), following the two proposed last year. It started off with the presentation by Fr. Vitangelo Denora SJ and Fr. Teresio Gianuzzi SJ of some excerpts from the Guidelines for Schools of the Jesuit Education Network. They touched upon topics such as the profile of the Ignatian student articulated in terms of personal, social and methodological competences; the formative values of subjects; and the evaluation of the outcomes and the pupil's growth process. Afterwards, Prof. Piero Cattaneo actively involved participants in the revision of the outcome of the group’s discussions on the elaboration of educational and didactic courses based on real life tasks from the previous seminar. On the second afternoon, teachers discussed the educational values of subjects and the evaluation of learning according to the Ignatian pedagogy with Fr. Denora and Fr. Gianuzzi. Professor Cattaneo went on to offer some feedback on the group work of the teachers, who were previously tasked to elaborate a real life task as part of the daily didactic path. The second part of the afternoon focused on how teachers can evaluate the pupil’s competence-based learning processes and outcomes in their daily work. It was also an opportunity to present some tools that might come in handy in the further implementation of such learning methods. At the end of the seminar, the teaching staff thanked the CeFAEGI team, pointing out the relevance of the themes and methods proposed in the implementation of the new curriculum, as proposed by the directives of the Albanian Ministry of Education.
Task Force Meeting in Rome. How to foster and improve the collaboration in the Society of Jesus? It is one of the calls expressed in decree 2 of last year’s General Congregation 36. To deepen this question and develop some solution a Task Force Meeting has been organized at our Curia in Rome from October 3rd till 6th. Cecilia Vanneste from Belgium was one of the participants. I was invited to the curia to represent the European Conference, together with 5 delegates of the other conferences: John Gladstone (Canada and USA), Etienne Mborong SJ (Africa and Madagascar), Indon Oh SJ (Asia Pacific), M.K. George SJ (South Asia), Claudio Solis (Latin America). The questions we should answer after these three days, were: Given the call for collaboration and networking in Decree 2 of GC36, does it make sense to have some kind of support structure for collaboration in the Curia and in each Conference (similar to the structures for Higher Education, Secondary and popular education, and Justice and Ecology)? What would the structure look like? What would be the primary responsibility(ies) of the Secretariat? Ed Fassett  SJ (Curia) was leading the process. An overview of “collaboration” in the conferences The first day each representative presented “collaboration” from the context of his/her experience and gave some reflections about collaboration in his/her conference. Since I knew I was expected in Rome for this meeting I wrote the socii of the several provinces of the European Conference and asked them some questions about collaboration in their provinces: Which kind of collaboration exists in your province? Which collaboration goes very well? Which goes difficult and what could be the reason? Do you/we need more collaboration? How could it be organized? The enthusiastic answers flowed in, the stories I read were very diverse.  One answer was uni sono: we need more formation. I tried to make a compilation of all this answers, not so easy because of the diverse answers. A definition  of collaboration The second day we reflected: Can we define what we mean by “collaboration”? Can we imagine some way of animating collaboration throughout the Society? What might entail a “Secretariat for Collaboration”? For this reflection we started from the decrees of the General Congregations 34 (1995), 35 (2008) and 36 (2016). At that moment I realized that I was the only person among this group of delegates that had experience as coordinator between several apostolic works, even works from different ministries. The other delegates worked in one specific work of the Jesuits and so they were telling from this viewpoint  about collaboration between Jesuits, between Jesuits and lay, between provinces,… From the experience I have in Flanders (BSE) since 2007, Flanders (BSE) and the Netherlands (NER) since 2013 and the European Lower Countries (ELC) since 2017, a lot of proposals in the group could be tested in practice. In Flanders the Ignatian Apostolic Network (IgnAN) started in 2007 when the provincial invited the directors of all apostolic works to a meeting. There the conversations about collaboration started. Quite soon we concluded that a secretary/delegate for collaboration at the curia makes no sense if there isn’t a secretary/delegate (or IgnAN-coordinator?) on the level of the provinces and the conferences. A jobdescription We made a first version of jobdescription for a secretary/delegate on the three levels. And honestly, the jobdescription we made for the provincial level, is very similar to the jobdescription the IgnAN steering committee made in 2013 for the job of IgnAN-coordinator. We also made a schedule for correspondence of Father General to the Provincials, with the suggestion to write these letters about collaboration only when the provincials started to answer and work with his previous letters about discernment. This Friday we were lucky at lunch: it was the birthday of the minister of the curia, Fr. Giuseppe Belucci, and at birthdays of Jesuits Father General is going around with a bottle of limoncello a la casa. First exchange with Fr. General In the afternoon we presented our work to father general. Father Victor Assouad SJ, assistant of father general for Western Europe and Middle East, was also present. Father general was happy with our work, and we started a conversation with him. He added Christian Life Community (CLC) also should join the network of collaboration. I think he’s right: In the European Lower Countries CLC is since the beginning of IgnAN a member of IgnAN. Father general also liked to see fundraising in the job description of the secretary/delegate. After a fascinating conversation we ended our three days sharing and work with a holy mass in the rooms of Saint-Ignatius, in the knowledge it was there it all started… To celebrate the friendship between seven persons with a totally different culture, we had dinner in a real Italian restaurant, and of course we ended our evening with…limoncello. Top photo: From left to right: Ed Fasset sj (mentor of the process), Indon Oh sj (Cambodja), Johan Gladstone (VSA), father-general, Etienne Mborong sj (Guinée Conakry), Cecilia Vanneste (ELC), MK George sj (India), Claudio Solis (Guatemala
One of the six study-intensive courses organized for the Scholastics in Munich during the semester breaks by the moderator of the Formation Center, Fr. Rüdiger Funiok (GER), is dedicated to the challenges of globalization. What are the consequences for our Jesuit identity, for our commitment for political solutions, for our pastoral care? As three years ago, this course took place together with the Jesuit scholastics studying philosophy at the Ignatianum in Krakow. This time they came to Munich: 14 Scholastics (9 Poles, 2 Czechs, 2 Slovaks, one from the Russian region) - the 2nd and 3rd year of studies. From the Munich Formation Centre 8 scholastics participated (2 Germans, 2 Indians and one Swiss, Czech, Hungarian, Lithuanian). During the three-day course (from 27 to 29 September) there were a couple of workshops. One half day each was planned by Fr. Marcin Baran (PME) and Fr. Szczepan Urbaniak (PME). Two members of the Centre for Global Questions in Munich participated: Fr. Andreas Gösele (GER) and Ms. Karin Hutflötz; also Br. Michael Hainz (GER). All the participants visited also the Frans van der Lugt Project – the social work of JRS (Br. Dieter Müller, GER) in an asylum seekers' accommodation. Some 15 Syrians joined us and gave uns concrete experience of companionship with muslim refugees.
Meeting of the Xavier Network in Madrid. The Directors of the Xavier Network - European Jesuits Mission Procures and Ong’s - met this September in the shadows of the grand palace at El Escorial near Madrid. Casting a different, yet pleasing, shadow over the meeting was GC 36 with a vision that places “faith, justice and solidarity with the poor and the excluded as central elements of the mission for reconciliation.” In recent meetings, the Directors have been wrestling with strategic questions about how we can create greater coherence within our work, where we can complement the Church’s mission, and how we can have a greater impact. Three key topics were discussed at the meeting: first, advocacy. GC 35 recognised advocacy as “a fundamental tool for the development of the mission of the Society of Jesus.” We heard from Fr Xavier Jeyaraj from the Social Justice Secretariat in Rome that Fr General has also affirmed the importance of advocacy to the Society of Jesus. With this in mind, we confirmed that advocacy is indeed a key part of the Network’s mission.  Xavier helped us discern how best the Network can work with the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN) promoting greater synergies between the different GIAN groups.  We also analysed a survey by all member organizations which identified the themes, capacities and strategies to help us take forward advocacy. We described the kind of advocacy we do as “bare-foot advocacy” i.e. bringing the voice of marginalised communities to people in the North.  As Jesuit organisations based in the North, we have the capacity to bring people from the North and the South together.  We also share a desire to build the capacity of Jesuit partners in the South to do advocacy in their countries. Finally, we developed the concept of the Xavier Network being a “catalysing” and “facilitating” influence on others.  The emphasis here is not on doing advocacy for our partners but on assisting and empowering them to do so themselves. Our second topic was the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable adults.  We recognised that this touchstone issue is one that demands our attention and, as GC 36 states, is a key issue.  The Xavier Network is committed to ensuring minimum standards are established and adhered to in our own organisations and in the partnerships we have around the world.  Earlier in the year, the Network conducted an audit of our partners to find out what policies and capacity they have in place in regard to Safeguarding practice.  The results of the Survey were shared with Fr Danny Huang at the Curia in Rome. He expressed his support for the Network’s approach and encouraged us to continue to assist partners to take up this most important of justice issues. Our third topic was responding to Humanitarian Emergencies. For the final session of our meeting, we adjourned from the splendour of El Escorial to the different but equally splendid office of Entreculturas.  Here we were joined by many staff from Entreculturas  and others working on the front line in recent emergencies: Fr Pau Vidal from South Sudan; Fr Marcos Recolons from Haiti; and Fr Roy Sebastian from Nepal to name three.  We were profoundly encouraged to hear about the ways in which Jesuit partners are responding to recent humanitarian crises, but also challenged to look for ever more effective ways of collaborating. The meeting concluded with a renewed energy and determination to continue our efforts. Whilst working together within any network requires patience, persistence and vision, there is no doubt that the Xavier Network is an increasingly effective Jesuit response to some of the most pressing problems of our age.  Our mission is not to duplicate what others are doing but to bring our own resources – human, financial, intellectual and organisational – to bear on what Jesuits and their lay collaborators are doing in every corner of the earth.
Two words that may summarize the mission of the Chapel for Europe in Brussels – an ecumenical chapel for civil servants of the European institutions and all interested in the European project – are “mixing people.” Mixing people of different cultures, nationalities, confessions. Mixing in order not to generate uniformity, but a unity respecting diversity of every person’s and every tradition’s best part. As Europe is much bigger than only one country, we acknowledge that the Church is much bigger than one parish. Returning from the summer, September saw our annual Ecumenical Inauguration Prayer. We marked the beginning of a new working year as Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic celebrants came and prayer together. Reading and reflecting on Jesus’s miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish, our chosen theme was “sharing bread,” and at the end of the celebration we shared real bread. While this bread was not the Eucharist, it represented that we are on our way to unity, walking together and supporting each other. Apart from being a space of prayer, the Chapel is also a place of reflection and exchange on different important European topics. The current European challenges are manifold: the unresolved challenges of a common migration policy, increased social inequality, Brexit, nationalism and EU-scepticism. Some of the questions aired and discussed in the Chapel revolve around these issues: are there lessons to be learnt? How can we strengthen the European integration process? How can today’s Christian churches also make a significant contribution to give a new spirit and life to Europe? In October, among many other events, we hosted a conference “Europe in Troubled Waters: Reformation and Reform in Europe Today.“ This was inspired by the commemoration of 500 years since the Reformation, and we focused on European renewal. In November, we will develop further the reflection with another conference: "Reflecting on a Vision of Europe: The Contribution of the Christian Churches”, inspired this time by the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, which contributed to the creation of the European Community. This conference asks, can the vision of the founders of Europe, including their Christian inspirations, still be the reference point today in a time of crisis in Europe? The President and Vice-President of the European Parliament will help us in this reflection as keynote speakers, and also the representatives of different Christian Churches as panels speakers. As always, we are hoping for an inspiring exchange and a lively audience. So, we continue praying, reflecting, and mixing people.


Mon - Thu
Nov 2017
Leadership worldwide Meeting of leadership program responsibles of the Jesuit conferences. READ MORE
Dec 2017
Final vows Benoit Coppeaux will take final vows. READ MORE
Dec 2017
Vocation promoters Meeting steering group READ MORE
Dec 2017
I get you - Final Converence Final conference of I Get You for our report launch and policy proposals for the social inclusion of refugees in Europe. Refugees & Citizens Together Against Racism and Xenophobia  READ MORE