An initiative from the Jesuit universities and faculties in Europe and the Near East. Europe and its values – that’s a key theme in recent years. It’s also the theme of a new Jesuit program called “Higher Education for Social Transformation” (HEST). It involves a unique collaboration between the Jesuit higher education institutions across Europe and the Near East and the Jesuit social centres. With this program the institutions aim to help our societies to discover core values, reflect on them in depth, and find ways to incarnate and apply them to make the lives of the poor more humane and just.  The Steering Committee met for the first time in Brussels on the 18th of November 2016. The aim was to plan how to move forward the 7 programme areas: Ecology and Environmental Challenges Economy, Poverty and Ethics Christian-Muslim Relations Dialogue Science and Religion Ignatian Studies Anthropology Migrations and Refugees Several experts in these areas working at Jesuit higher education institutions across Europe form each cluster.  Focusing academic research on real social challenges of European Society is the main goal of HEST. Dr. Dominique Lambert, international expert on Dialogue Science and Religion said: “There are already many good existing academic papers on these topics, we need a new perspective to respond to the real needs of the society, that is why the focus on social transformation is key”. In the meeting, there were 2 representatives from each cluster as well as José Ignacio Garcia, the social delegate of the CEP. He helps to link the academic research done in the universities and faculties with what is happening in the Social Centres. During the morning, the group listened to presentations from Dani Izuzquiza SJ, representative of the Cultural Reviews network in Europe; José Ignacio García SJ,; as well as two representatives of the European Commission, who gave participants tips on how to advocate in the European Institutions and how they saw the future of Europe. In the afternoon, cluster representatives were encouraged to start organising the first group meeting These will take place in the first half of 2017.  : “There was an great response from the cluster representatives: said John Dardis, CEP President. All of them came with ideas and the commitment to move things forward”. All the clusters ended up with a date for the meeting, a place to gather their group and several ideas of what the group can offer to help achieve the goal of the program. One of the experts on the issue of Economics and Poverty summarized his feelings: “with all the bad news we are receiving lately about the future of Europe, like Brexit or the growth of extremist rhetoric in the political scenery, I am grateful to see an initiative like this one take shape, it gives me hope for the future!” The meeting was hosted by the President of the Conference of European Provincials, Father John Dardis SJ, by the HEST Coordinator, Checa Romero, and the CEP Planning Advisor, Diego Losada, See also:    Universities Meeting News article Faculties Meeting in Uppsala article  
An Interview with Marie Thérèse Michel. French educator, Marie Thérèse Michel, has been the Director of the European Jesuit educational Network (JECSE) for the past six years. She steps down at the end of this month. She shares her reflections here.  Marie Thérèse, tell us about the main activities of JECSE. There are 164 schools in Europe and my activity was, first of all, to have a team to work with so that we could think and reflect together.  Another activity was to build up a body of Delegates with a real trust and knowledge of each other. We worked together on a vision for JECSE and ended up with four priorities, agreed across Europe. The first one is about Faith and Ignatian identity; the second focusses on social justice; thirdly we stress peace and reconciliation and the sense of Europe; the last one is about change: how can schools adapt and help students adapt to this fast changing world especially with all the new technology. Looking back at the last six years what are you proudest of?  I am very proud of the fact that people from all over Europe could meet and exchange together during the seminars we organised. When people wanted to come back and expected the next event it made me feel very happy. An example is the seminar we run for formators - the people in charge of formation of teachers. While this, of course, is not a big group - it is around 30 people – they do forward to coming back and to work together. This seminar has been on for years, now, and is really good. I also enjoyed when people realised during a conference, that they belonged to a larger network of Jesuit schools. What one place did you most enjoy visiting, that opened your eyes; that excited you; that was new and different. I really enjoyed visiting Lithuania and working with the teachers there.  I stayed there for three days just at the start of the school year and it was very interesting and very different.  I also enjoyed visiting Albania; they were building the new school and that was a very good memory.  But most of the places I have been to were interesting. …really, it is impossible to choose. What can Jesuit education bring to Europe and the Middle East today?   I would say that Jesuit education can offer mainly the sense of interiority which is almost absent in our world,. Developing this sense with the students – even the youngest ones -  is so important. There are some very good experiences in France, now and it is very important to develop this, also for the teachers. It’s a key part of Ignatian pedagogy. What are your feelings as you finish?   A bit of everything – difficult to say at the moment, but I am very happy about where this network is right now.  We wish you well and many blessings for the future. Thank you very much. Photos: José de Pablo SJ. Interview: John Dardis SJ >>> Read also: JECSE Delegates Meeting 
Fundação Gonçalo da Silveira, an NGDO of the Portuguese Province of the Society of Jesus, and the Associação Casa Velha – Ecologia e Espiritualidade promoted the 1st “Global Citizenship and Integral Ecology” Meeting which took place on November 10th at CUPAV - Centro Universitário Padre António Vieira, in Lisbon. The aim of the meeting, which was held as part of the Ca(u)sa Comum project, was to gather different civil society organizations to reflect on various possible paths and cooperative work to join Global Citizenship Education and Integral Ecology. The meeting was attended by 21 participants from 12 different institutions with relevant work in both areas. Throughout the day it was possible to get to know the project, learn about the different institutions attending, - i.e., their mission and concrete action – as well as to share ideas and visions. Ecology is one of the greatest challenges of our times, a point of discussion and a concern for both political and civil society leaders. With this project, Uma Ca(u)sa Comum – Educar para a Cidadania Global pela Ecologia Integral, both entities which are linked to the Portuguese Jesuits, are committed to the dialogue between civil society organizations so that – together – we can look at ecological matters and the world as a common cause (and a common home (casa)) and understand and reflect on ecology as one of the structural causes at the source of situations of poverty, social injustice, and inequality on a global scale. Over two years, the Ca(u)sa Comum project will work in Portugal with Civil Society Organizations, educators, students, informal groups and public sector (in the areas of Cooperation, Environment and Education). Two additional meetings are planned, in addition to several other activities such as the production of educational resources, training of facilitators and implementation of training at two Schools, as well as a Seminar and, in the advocacy area, the development of recommendations for key stakeholders.   This is an initiative of Fundação Gonçalo da Silveira and Associação Casa Velha – Ecologia e Espiritualidade, co-funded by Camões – Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, I.P. 
Interview with JRS-E Director. Jean-Marie Carrière, SJ arrived to Brussels in 2013 to become Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service - Europe. He came from Paris where he was Bible Professor at the Centre Sèvres. JRS was not new for him as he had been country director of JRS France between 2006 and 2012. Now at the end of his mandate in Brussels he offers some reflections and experience in leading projects for refugees and forced migrants in Europe. You came to Brussels after being Director in JRS-France. Which differences did you find when you arrive to JRS-Europe? In the French Province, it was the beginning of JRS, everything was possible, imagination had the power, I had to adapt projects to the reality of refugees in France. Hence the Welcome project, and the reflexion on hospitality. At the level of JRS Europe, the history was already long, and common European projects were implemented: the conversion has been from imagination (as in Ignatius permanent attitude) to something more like management. With Michael Schöpf, I learned a lot about the European level, from the position of a country director; and so, some intuition of the European challenge was already in my mind, which had then to be realistically confronted at the level of the network of the JRSs. What are the main challenges you have had to deal with in JRS-Europe? We have had the chance – and I say: a chance – to see a great number of refugees arriving at the shores of Europe, and moving fast through national spaces to reach a place and a country they dream of. These movements push JRS in Europe to adapt to a humanitarian emergency attitude, which was not our usual type of services. But more, to adapt also to the rapid change of situations and conditions: now, no more emergency, but people stranded or numerous refugees in the process of integration.  At the level of JRS Europe one challenge I appreciate: how to think and act in a European way, together as country offices, to accompany, serve and advocate refugees and forcibly displaced persons. And for the regional office, how to offer an effective service to the country directors (projects, funding, initiatives).  What are the main achievements that JRS-Europe has done in the last years? Dedicated to the accompaniment of refugees as an apostolic work of the Society, we are in fact more mobilised to respond to the challenges and the projects to build and implement.  The concerned JRSs in Europe have given an excellent response to the movements of refugees, with the help of a good Skype coordination. JRS in Greece, in Macedonia, in Hungary are on the way to be effective and work really well. More, the booklet Journeys of Hope (available at JRS Europe website in 5 languages) has let hear the voices of refugees.  The turn from emergency to integration challenges is now on the way, especially with the interesting 15 education projects all over the country offices, in line with the Global Education Initiative at the level of JRS worldwide. And with the relocation process between Greece and Portugal, which is a model for all country offices in Europe.  Looking to the future, how the situation of Refugees in Europe will evolve in next years? How is JRS-Europe helping to change it for better? As I already said, the future of refugees and forcibly displaced people is in the integration process, which will last long. JRS Europe helps for this process through different services, but especially with education projects.  Policy-makers and medias put a strong accent on resistant public opinion, which is only 20% of the polls – and this means that the great majority of the national populations are opened to welcoming refugees, as we see it in Germany, France, Portugal … and through many civil society interesting initiatives. JRS in Europe supports this spirit through the « Best Practices » project.  In terms of advocacy, JRS Europe concerns are, first, the legal and secure access to protection in Europe, an issue that the common European project « Protection at external borders » is dealing with. And, second, the reform of the Common European Asylum System, which presents good points together with unacceptable restrictions. Please note that advocacy is not the task of only the regional office in Brussels, but also the pressure on national governments in the countries.  Displacement is now a worldwide and large reality, to which we, in Europe, are not yet accustomed: JRS Europe should link more with other JRS regions also confronted with the same phenomena as well as with Jesuit apostolic works also concerned in the Provinces of the European conference. 
The General Congregation has finished, the Delegates have all gone home, the papers have been shredded, the lights have been turned off in the Aula and ‘normal service’ is resuming  in the Society of Jesus. Or is it? ‘Normal service’ - the message of encouragement you sometimes see when there has been a bus breakdown, or an electricity problem or a  train delay. It says: “Don’t worry. Things will get back to where they were”.  ‘Normal service’- what does it mean for us in the Society of Jesus? ‘Service’ – well, we all understand that, we do it every day. It is helping people; serving people; loving people; being part of Christ’s mission.  But ‘normal’?   There is nothing normal about our service.  In fact it is quite extraordinary what Jesuits do around the world.  Even the most seemingly ordinary tasks, such as teaching mathematics in a High School…or doing fundraising ….or writing a paper on economic or political analysis –we are doing this from the point of view of the gospel, we are uniting ourselves to Christ,  we are linking in with what the Trinity is hoping for for the world . When you think about this, our service is quite extraordinary.  There is nothing ‘normal’ about that at all. And the decrees of the Congregation – they are not about ‘normal service’. They call us back to our roots…and forward to an in-depth way of living. They are not full of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’. But they do issue a call. The Decree “Companions in a mission of Reconciliation and Justice” call us to work towards a better integration of our life and our mission.  The image it uses is from when the First Companions gathered in Venice. They were trying to go to the Holy Land. While waiting, they preached in poverty; they met together for prayer and for personal support; they were really a community for mission. It was an integrated whole. It all added up. Personal bonds were powerful; the bond with Christ was supreme; the service was the expression of love. When it became obvious that that desire for the Holy Land was going to be frustrated they decided to go to Rome to place themselves at the service of the Roman pontiff.   The seminal call from this document is for us, too, to live an integrated life.  Life and mission are joined together, not something separate.  The depth of our lives as Jesuits flows into our mission; our mission reinforces the depth of our personal and community life.  From the decree, each of us can hear again the call to find consolation in trust and in simplicity of life; to evangelise with vigour and compassion; to support each other as companions. In our meeting with the Holy Father, some of us were expecting a concrete mission.  Pope Paul VI had given us a message to combat atheism.  What would Pope Francis do?  In the end he asked us to pray for consolation, to seek compassion with Christ, to practise discernment. They are the three elements which will renew our Jesuit lives.The message was: “Trust your Ignatian charism, immerse yourselves in your heritage”.  In this time of Advent, we can take time to pray for those Graces.  In the first week of Advent, we can pray for the gift of consolation. In the second week, pray to feel compassion with Christ and for his suffering people.  In the third week of Advent we can ask for the grace of discernment, to discern better where the Good Spirit is leading us and be able to avoid being led by the bad Spirit. Then, in the fourth week, as Christmas approaches, we can that we pray for an ever deeper love of Christ made man for me.   Wishing you many blessings in this time of Advent and in this post-Congregation period. John Dardis SJ CEP President
JRS-Germany criticizes asylum regulations  in Germany. Berlin - The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has sharply criticized the asylum regulations of recent months in Germany. They obstruct the commitment of hundreds of thousands of helpers who fought for the integration of refugees, said Fr. Frido Pflüger SJ, the JRS Director for Germany, at a press-conference in Berlin. He pointed out that this was particularly fatal for many of the Syrian refugees. "This is a tragedy for the affected families, pushing people into the arms of smugglers and harming integration," emphasized Pflüger Br. Dieter Müller SJ, JRS refugee expert from Munich, informed, that the Jesuits now also provide social counseling for refugees. It will be offered in a local accommodation of 180 asylum seekers in the outskirts of Munich. The Munich School of Philosophy accompanies the project voluntarily and scientifically. According to Dieter Müller, the JRS also helps around 90 refugees, who are in the so called “church asylum” in Bavaria, and provides pastoral care for deportation detainees.   The JRS also supports Syrian refugees during commemorative walks for Fr. Frans van der Lugt SJ, who was murdered in 2014 in the city of Homs. Those walks had a total of 300 participants this year in Berlin and Dresden.   Photo: The Syrian organizers of the commemorative walk for Father van der Lugt © JRS / Christian Ender


Wed - Sat
Sep - Dec 2016
Announcements A Retreat inspired by Sieger Köder - Communal discernment - Programs for Jesuits in the Holy Land   Christ our Morning Star - A Retreat in Malta inspired by the art of Sieger Köder More information   Training workshop on how to accompany groups when they want to engage in a communal discernment.  The workshop will be given by ESDAC in English and Spanish and will take place in Rome in 2017, during the week after Easter. This type of formation lends itself to rich encounters and relationships with the other participants and collaborators. You could be personally interested in this training session.  In any case, we would ask that, after you have read and reflected on the information that you will find on the link, you take another 4 minutes to pray and think of other persons you know who would be interested in this type of formation.  Then try to send it on to at least three people.  We want to get the word out to those who would benefit from and truly appreciate this type of formation. we thank you in advance! In communion, The team of ESDAC (Exercises for Spiritual Discernment, on Apostolate, in Common) Link in Spanish : Link in English : Michel Bacq   Programs for Jesuits in the Holy Land in 2017 More information     READ MORE
Sun - Sat
Dec 2016
Ignatian Leadership Programme - Module 3 READ MORE
Dec 2016
Final Vows Dariusz Dańkowski (PME) and Marcin Pietrasina (PME), will take final vows at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at 18 pm READ MORE
Thu - Fri
Dec 2016
JesWeb and Promoters Vocation - Steering Groups Meeting READ MORE