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Four becomes one: On 27 April the previous Jesuit provinces Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Lithuania-Latvia became the new Central European Province (ECE), which also includes locations in Sweden and Chicago/USA. It will be led by Fr Bernhard Bürgler SJ. As Provincial he is responsible for 36 locations with a total of 419 Jesuits. With its cultural and linguistic diversity, the new Province ties in directly with the original charism of the Order's founder Ignatius of Loyola, emphasises Fr General Arturo Sosa SJ, who already appointed the new Provincial on 31 July 2020. "Europe, the world and the Church still need people who are capable of contributing to reconciliation in conflict, people who are capable of creating unity in diversity," the General said in his greeting. "We are founding a new Province across linguistic and national borders not only because we Jesuits are becoming fewer, but because times have changed and continue to change so that we can better carry out our mission," underlines the new Provincial. "For this we need even more cooperation across borders and for this we need to use synergies." Fr Bernhard Bürgler SJ had been Provincial of the Austrian Province of the Jesuits since 2014 and had been intensively involved in preparing the merger for the last few years. On the feast of St. Peter Canisius The new Province was founded on the feast of St. Peter Canisius, who is the patron saint of the "Jesuits in Central Europe". This year is his 500th birthday. On the eve of the feast of St. Peter Canisius, there was a solemn bishop's mass in the cathedral of Fribourg in Switzerland with the Nuncio, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the UN authorities, the Bishop of Innsbruck Hermann Glettler and the new Provincial Bernhard Bürgler SJ. During this ceremony, relics of St. Peter Canisius were transferred from the previous burial place in the Colleg St. Michel to a new reliquary in the cathedral. Bernhard Bürgler SJ: "The example of St. Peter Canisius motivates us. His pair of shoes, worn out from so much walking and kept in his hometown of Nijmegen, are for me something like a symbol of his tireless readiness, in a turbulent time of upheaval, to let himself be called into service again and again for the message of the Gospel and to translate it clearly and comprehensibly into the respective time and culture. In this way he literally travelled through Europe - probably 2,000 kilometres a year on average! - and in this way became a bridge builder between the increasingly divergent intellectual, cultural and religious worlds." Prayer novena All Jesuits prepared for the foundation of the new Central European Province with a prayer novena prepared by Stefan Kiechle SJ and Fabian Loudwin SJ (both Francfort) with impulse texts by Father General on the Universal Apostolic Preferences. A series of solemn masses and a film As no big celebration could take place due to the corona-restrictions, the foundation of the new province was celebrated with solemn masses in various places, to which staff and friends were also invited. A film was shown, which has since also been seen on social media channels and has been widely distributed. Provincial Fr Bernhard Bürgler SJ and Press Officer Pia Dyckmans therefore take a personal tour of the Province with short portraits from areas of life and work of the Order as well as impressive pilgrimage sequences on the Canisius Way from Vilnius to Fribourg. The highlight of the 45-minute film is a message by Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, the Jesuit Superior General. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbzpv_QGXz4&t=424s)  Virtual meeting with Fr. General On the first day of the new province, the new Provincial invited all the Jesuits to a Zoom-meeting, which was also attended by Fr. General Arturo Sosa SJ and Fr. Franck Janin SJ, the President of the Conference of European Provincials. Fr. General stressed that the new Province was just a beginning, which would be followed by further changes. Like a newborn baby, the new Province must be well nourished and grow. Everyone shares the responsibility for this, and a conversion of hearts is still necessary. During the Zoom-meeting the members of the province prayed together and also in silence, pleaded for the Holy Spirit and remembered their vows.  Revised homepage The foundation of the new Province is also the starting point of a revised homepage with news, stories and reflections from all regions of our Province. A new feature is a members' page with portraits of (almost) all Jesuits. The homepage is currently trilingual with a German, Lithuanian and French version and is maintained by a joint editorial team. Have fun discovering and browsing: https://www.jesuiten.org/
The Conference Communicators met once again, for the second year online for five two-hour sessions. In this meeting, the communicators addressed several actual topics in the Society of Jesus namely the Apostolic Preferences, the Ignatian Year and Vocation Promotion. The Roman Curia Communications Office (4 Jesuits and 5 lay co-workers) organized and moderated the meeting. All six conferences were represented: Africa, Latin America, North America, South Asia, Asia Pacific and Europe. For the JCEP Philip Debruyne s.J. and Rafael Silva attended the sittings. Fr. Marc Ravizza, Fr. General’s Delegate for formation made a warm appeal to use all means of communication for vocations promotion throughout the world, including the new site vocations.jesuits.global. During the meeting, the Roman Jesuit Curia Office shared the fruits of their work: A brand new image, video and documents database “Brandfolder” is being developed and several videos and templates have been created. The director of the project “One Gospel Step at a time” Mikołai Cempla announced that  this year 40 one minute videos have been published already. This can represent a tremendous opportunity for each conference (and provinces) to improve the quality of their communications and to improve the time efficiency of their work. There was also a time to share each conference’s experiences and learn from the other. It was extremely enriching to understand how different each Conference’s reality is. It is clear that the future is digital, but it is even more clear that unity and cooperation are the key words for the years to come. In the end, we all have the same mission: to spread God’s word to the World.
A new vocation awareness campaign by the Society of Jesus. The Superior General of the Society of Jesus this week launches a digital project on Jesuit Vocations with a special call to future candidates. In an April 12th letter to all Jesuits Fr Sosa announces a new vocations website and a new social media video campaign. “We need people with a passion for the Gospel and a love of Jesus, a flexibility to go anywhere, an interior freedom like that of St Ignatius and of St Francis Xavier” said Jesuit superior General, Arturo Sosa. “Our world is crying out for healing – a healing that can only come about in lasting ways through Christ. We want to share His message of healing and of reconciliation. That is why we exist as the Society of Jesus”. Jesuits work in places as far apart as Afghanistan and Venezuela, Sri Lanka and Sweden, Angola and Vietnam. Work includes parishes, schools, social advocacy, universities, spirituality. And so, a feature of the campaign is a sense of universality. The site is already translated into four languages; the video is aimed at social media and can easily be modified across cultures. “All around the Society, I have seen inspiring passion for the Gospel and great creativity especially during this lockdown period” said project organiser Fr Mark Ravizza. “The faces of the people in the film clip and on the new site speak of love shown more in deeds than words. We want to make sure that the Society of Jesus is known beyond any myths or stereotypes, and beyond anything that it does. We want to be known for our love of Jesus and our desire to serve and follow Him.” In recent years the Jesuit mission has coalesced around four main compass points: Showing the way to God. Walking with the marginalised and the excluded. Journeying with youth for a hope filled future. Collaborating in the care of the common home. “Our work is varied across different parts of the world but our focus is always Jesus” said Father Sosa. “He is the one who calls us. He is still calling young men from different cultures and peoples. We put our trust in Him believing always in His faithfulness”. The project organiser is General counsellor Mark Ravizza along with the team at General Curia Communications. The short video and website were produced by freelance filmmaker and designer Mikoɫaj Cempla of Human Stories Studio https://humanstories.studio/ Further details can be obtained from Fr Ravizza formation@sjcuria.org or from the General Curia communications webmaster webmaster@sjcuria.org The site is accessed at https://vocations.jesuits.global/ where you can also see the video. The desire to serve Jesus "But at the heart of the campaign is the desire to share the inspiration and reason: to follow Jesus, his call and the desire to serve him in the world, as contemplatives in action," explains Fr John Dardis SJ, General Councellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning and Head of the Curia's Communications Office.“Young people have great and good desires. We have over 2 million students in the world. I have been a university chaplain. I have so many times witnessed their generosity. But they too must be able to hear a call. I myself was thinking of becoming a doctor. Three months before the end of school, a Jesuit asked me what my plans would be. He then suggested that I think about the possibility of religious life.Therefore, I started to consider this hypothesis too, until I gradually decided to enter the Society. Without that priest, perhaps, I would be someone else today.”  
In January 2021 Portugal entered a second lockdown in an attempt to cope with the consequences of Covid. The first lockdown happened between March and May 2020; and this second one, starting mid-January, is still effective as of today. For the last 12 months, Portugal was under lockdown for roughly 5 months. For Brotéria, a brand-new cultural center the Jesuits opened in downtown Lisbon in January 2020, the succession of lockdowns was both an extreme nuisance and a challenge readily accepted by a team eager to work. With all its hardships, this was a most fruitful time in terms of exhibitions, conferences, and new partnerships. In particular, the last couple of months allowed for Brotéria to experiment with new online models. Starting in January, three online courses were offered under the titles “The Enigma of Evil”, “Discernment in a Time of Pandemic”, “Architecture, Transcendence, and the Liturgical Space” and “Christian Philosophers”. All four courses were offered by Jesuits, with three sessions each running between 9pm and 10:30pm, Tuesday through Thursday. The response was strong: the first course counted roughly 90 participants; the second one 863 (!); the third 101 and the fourth 65. Not giving in to tiredness and boredom too quickly, but keeping an attitude of curiosity and intellectual rigor towards the world: that was the purpose of these courses and the reason why they were so well accepted. Brotéria was born out of the intuition that in order to remain relevant, Catholic faith has to be able to connect and engage in a permanent dialogue with our contemporary urban cultures. Proximity is key for that. Our work with contemporary artists, or with political, social, or economic agents, can only be successful as long as the Church engages in a process that asks questions and that actually seeks dialogically for the most appropriate answers. We walk alongside those who share similar concerns to ours, regardless of their vantage point.
The European Jesuit Spirituality Centres is a new group which met only once in person - in Manresa in November 2018. The progress of the pandemic has meant that those concerned with spirituality centres in Europe have met online only since then. An online meeting on Thursday 8 April 2021 was the third such meeting. Over 50 participants from many centres across Europe,  responded to the invitation to join a meeting in preparation for the Ignatian anniversaries.  With the historical events of 500 years ago in mind, the steering committee had invited Barton Geger of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies in Boston to describe the emergence of key ideas in Ignatius thinking. Having previously circulated a number of documents for reading and reflection, Barton offered some reflection on key Ignatian ideas before inviting those online to discuss them in small groups. Barton described how Ignatius’ insights differed from the prevailing spirituality of his time, developing an apostolic understanding that was confirmed on the banks of the Cardoner and elaborated as he offered the Exercises and helped the meaning of ’the more universal good’ to be understood embodied in the emerging Society of Jesus. When back together in the plenary, everyone have a chance to vote on screen as  compared our judgements to those of Ignatius. Participants took time to express their appreciation of the helpful content offered and for the opportunity to meet one another online.  A further Zoom meeting is planned for Wednesday 6 October 2021 and  it is hoped this will be possible for centre directors to meet in Malta in May 2022.
Alberto Ares SJ, from the Province of Spain, has been appointed as the new Director of JRS Europe. Alberto will take over his new position in September 2021, succeeding José Ignacio García SJ, who holds that office since the beginning of 2017. Alberto was born in a small village in the north of Spain, Veguellina de Órbigo. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1997, was ordained in 2007 and took final vows in 2014. He has a Ph.D. in International Migration and Development Cooperation from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas. He studied and obtained degrees in Social Ethics at Boston College, Theology in Comillas and Economics and Business Administration at the University of Valladolid. Much of his time as a Jesuit has been spent accompanying and studying migration and migrants. His work has taken him all over the world, from the United States to Brazil, Mexico to Morocco, Spain to India and El Salvador to Albania. He has been also the Social Apostolate Delegate for the Jesuits in Spain. He is currently the Director of the University Institute for Migration Studies at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas and Deputy Coordinator of the Jesuit Migrant Service in Spain, until September 2021. Alberto is also passionate about Ignatian spirituality and pastoral work with migrant communities and young people. He collaborates in two of the parishes that the Jesuits serve in Ventilla neighborhood, Madrid; and as part of that collaboration, he accompanies the Ecuadorian community "La Virgen del Quinche". He has been living in a community of hospitality. In his Jesuit community, they welcome and share life with young migrants and refugees in their process of autonomy. At the same time, the community tries to be a place of welcome for collaborators in the mission or for those who are in the process of vocational discernment. José Ignacio García SJ, whom Alberto Ares will replace, will be from September the new director of the Cristianisme i Justícia study center (Barcelona): https://www.cristianismeijusticia.net/es  

UPCOMING EVENTS

16-17
Sun - Mon
May 2021

Leadership and DICAP Online meeting Leadership and DICAP (Discernment and Apostolic Planning) READ MORE
18
Tue
May 2021

JECSE GA Online General Assembly of JECSE (Jesuit European Committee for Primary and Secondary Education)) READ MORE
20
Thu
May 2021

Opening Ignatian Year Worldwide opening of the Ignatian Year READ MORE
22
Sat
May 2021

Consult JCEP Online Consult of the president of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials READ MORE