Fr. General Arturo Sosa accompanies birth of new province in Namur (Belgium). Around the Feast of St. Ignatius 700 members of the Ignatian Family, included 300 Jesuits met in Namur (Belgium) to have baptized a new European Jesuit Province. The French speaking Jesuit Province of Western Europe (EOF) unites the former provinces France, Southern Belgium and Luxemburg, together with some communities from Greede and the islands Mauritius and Réunion. The new province counts 532 members, included 40 in formation, divided over 42 communities. Fr. General Arturo Sosa and new Provincial Fr. François Boëdec Fr. General appointed the Breton Fr. François Boëdec as the first Provincial of this new Province.  More information about the new province EOF     On the 31st of July 2017, the Feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the Dutch and the Northern Belgian Provinces of the Society of Jesus have merged to the new Regio of the European Low Countries (ELC). Fr. Johan Verschueren (picture right) who already was the provincial superior of both provinces has been appointed as Regional Superior. On August 26th this new Formation will be celebrated in Antwerp. On that occasion Fr. Ward Biemans and Br. Wiggert Molenaar will take final vows.
Italy - Malta - Albania form one new Jesuit Province. The celebration on the 1st of July clearly reflected the richness and complexity of the journey that’s about to start. “As with any birth, that of the newly born Euro-Mediterranean Province, brings with it both happiness and uncertainty”, Father General Arturo Sosa told the 520 Jesuits gathered at the Gesù church for the official ‘birth’ of the new province. The celebration, that was attended by lay collaborators and friends of the Society, started off with the proclamation of the decrees establishing the new Province and the nomination of Fr. Gianfranco Matarazzo as provincial. The diversity of languages used throughout incarnated the richness and complexity of the journey ahead: the liturgical prayer in Italian, the first reading in Maltese, the second in Albanian, the Gospel in English, the prayers of the faithful in all 4 languages, without forgetting the Holy Father and some other hymns in Latin. “Almighty God… may we always act in communion with your Son so that, impassioned with charity and united by the spirit of obedience, we may carry in our hearts the union of souls that is the fruit of your grace”: the collect of the special celebration for the “union of souls” revealed the importance of this historic moment for the Society of Jesus. “The complex and changing social realities of Albania, Malta and Italy challenge our ability to understand and discern”, shared Fr. Sosa in his homily. “The uncertainty linked to the unknown should also encourage us to put our faith in God, the same God who asked Abraham to leave his land at the age of 75”. “We share a beautiful history and feel we are called to pursue it with the creation of this new Province, which was not born out of bureaucratic or organizational needs”, said Fr. Matarazzo at the end of the celebration. “It is an answer to what we Jesuits experience as God’s calling, a calling everyone is invited to share in”. At the end of the Mass, Father General and the concelebrants headed in a procession to the altar of St. Ignatius to venerate his relics and present him a prayer for the Euro-Mediterranean Province. He then laid down flowers in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Way, patroness of the new reality, together with the Albanian martyrs. Festivities followed in the courtyard of the Gesù. The big group of Maltese present, almost 50 of them, were headed by Fr. Patrick Magro, the outgoing provincial of Malta. When asked how he was living this moment, he replied: “As Jesuits we become part of the Society of Jesus not of a Province, which is simply an administrative entity to help Father General govern the Society spread throughout the world. It’s also true that we enter the novitiate of a particular Province, which kind of gives us a sense belonging, a home”. When the previous Father General, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, visited Malta to announce the creation of a new Province, “he insisted that it had to be something new, not a sum of the two Provinces [that of Italy and Malta]. This is beneficial both to Italy as it opens up to this new reality and to us, given our small size and the need to be part of something bigger”. Are there any differences between the two? “Sure, culturally for example Malta used to be a British colony, we have our own education system, a British way of thinking, albeit our cultural ties to Italy are many. For years we’ve been following the same formation, so this union is not completely new. Moreover, the collaboration between Albania, Italy and Malta will enrich all of us: united by the same spirituality, we’ll help each other to live our mission better”. Fr. Magro also underlined the importance of apostolic planning: “When thinking of the Spiritual Exercises, we will not just think in terms of the Maltese reality, but that of a wider, Euro-Mediterranean Province. In our youth apostolate, the challenge will be to avoid thinking only about the Maltese youth, the chaplaincy of the University of Malta, and collaborate with Italy and Albania... with the chaplaincies of La Sapienza and the Università di Pisa, with Tirana and Scutari. Our collaboration has to extend to all our apostolates, including migration. The different JRSs have already worked together but more needs to be done”. What are the difficulties? “It is such an amazing project but for some Jesuits, especially those in old age, change is way more difficult. It will take us years of working together to create a new way of thinking. Change requires time: we Jesuits do a lot of spiritual exercises to have interior freedom, which is not something easy or to be taken for granted. We will need to pray more for us not to be so attached to our Province. At the end, we all form part of the same Society”.
Catholic schools’ headmasters from Ukraine, Albania, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Syria and the Czech Republic in Warsaw. 20 years ago no one expected that the just established Pedro Arrupe Centre for the Formation of Leaders and Educators would reach multiple European, Middle East and Asian countries. On these days, the Centre completed an international course for 28 Catholic schools’ headmasters from Ukraine, Albania, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Syria and the Czech Republic. The two-week classes lasted from 8 July and were the next stage of professional formation launched last summer. Between these two summer courses (2016-2017), fr. Wojciech Żmudziński SJ - Arrupe Center director, along with management specialists, teaching and learning methodologies, visited Catholic schools in Ukraine, Latvia, Croatia and Albania, training teachers and motivating local organizations to create more schools, whose agenda would be based on the Christian vision of the world. Another Catholic school in Ukraine will be set up next year, and four public schools have declared their willingness to become Catholic schools. In Syria, the founded Catholic schools are called ”private schools” (instead of ”Catholic Schools”), because the local law does not permit their official existence. However, they gain more and more prestige. This year, advocacy and training activities are planned in Albania and Ukraine and next year in Croatia and Syria.
The last formal visit of the current President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials to Centro Astalli in Palermo “What keeps me hopeful and energised is seeing those who have been assisted in the past, offer help to those who have just arrived” says Vidjaya, a Dutch volunteer in Centro Astalli Palermo. She continued to explain how one of the services they provide in Centro Astalli is a shower where migrants can go for free and wash themselves everyday. One day they were working until very late and had a lot of work to do, amongst many things they had to clean the showers but there were several migrants who still had to shower. Instead of just making use of the service, several of them offered to clean the showers themselves after they used it. Vidjaya, an anthropologist student, was offering this example as something that gets her and the rest of the team optimistic and motivated about the work being done at the Centre. And we need to understand that the work with refugees and migrants it is not always easy. There are many barriers to overcome like language, cultural differences, lack of resources to cover all their needs, etc. But at Centro Astalli in Palermo they work unceasingly to reduce these barriers in many creative ways like involving the migrants in the volunteering work. This July, Father John Dardis SJ the current president of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials until the 28th of August went to visit Centro Astalli in Palermo to get a glimpse of the challenges and needs that migrants and refugees deal with in the South of Europe. He was greeted by Simone (the Vice President of the Centre) and Alessandro (a worker in the Centre), both of them showed him around the centre and all the services they provide there like: breakfast, legal help, showers, Italian classes, sewing and needlework, handcraft centre, and many more. That being said, probably the most important service that they offer at Centro Astalli is a place for people to feel minded, well treated, and where they feel they matter. Father Dardis saw this in first person when he met with three migrants who were there to just to speak to other people and if possible give a helping hand to the volunteers. One of the three, an 18-year-old boy from Burkina Faso told Father Dardis about all of his hopes for the future. A very moving experience all together. There is a clear need for further support in this project, financially and in terms of human resources but the team managing this project is doing an excellent job. Therefore, if you think you can contribute in any way, please visit the website http://www.centroastallipalermo.it/ for more information.
ALEPPO The JRS team in Aleppo continues with its unstinted support to the affected people in the area, despite many obstacles. On March 1st , 800 families in Al-Fardous eastern Aleppo, were given essential items like hygiene kits & equipment, gas cooker, woollen socks and underwear. This was followed by more than 100 families in Jibreen (also in eastern Aleppo) being provided with gas cylinders. Jabal Badro is a new distribution point in eastern Aleppo, which provides hot cooked and nutritious meals for almost 900 affected families daily. Of late there is a relative calm in Aleppo (sounds of violence can be heard occasionally though). The residents feel a bit relieved because the electricity supply has now improved (two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening). There is also hope that there will be a further improvement in the days to come. With the overall security situation having become much better one of the returnees says, “thank God we are more secure now, we are now able to face the many other challenges that lie ahead!”. HOMS The JRS Team in Homs continued uninterruptedly with its activities inspite of some recent explosions in neighbourhoods in the vicinity. The recent highlights included: The ‘end of the school year’ celebration for the children was a great occasion for the children to show their parents, other family members and friends all that they had imbibed over the year. They sang songs of peace, danced for joy with their beautiful smiles which lit up their angelic faces. In doing so, they enkindled the flame of hope and peace in all those gathered. There was a graduation party for the women who participated in literacy and handcraft Workshops. These workshops have had a positive impact on their lives and have opened them to newer horizons. “I used to feel bad because I could not read a letter, now I can recognize and read the names of my medicines and I need no one’s help for that. I now have self-confidence and feel very satisfied”, says Omaya Harah a woman who participated in the literacy workshop at the Al-Kafroun centre. DAMASCUS Damascus was rudely awakened in the early hours of Sunday 2nd July with bombings which took place in Tahreer square, Al-Baitara circle and near the Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. Several people lost their lives in these attacks. Besides there have been some other sporadic attacks/explosions recently. Notwithstanding all this, the common people show a tremendous amount of resilience to get on with their lives and to live in a more peaceful environment. The JRS team in Damascus continues accompanying the affected people through a host of activities and programmes. Among those held recently were: An enjoyable four-day programme in the last week of May at the Ibrahim Khalil Monastery in Keshkul for the children who come to the JRS Centres. It was truly ‘end of the school year’ celebration for the children. They radiated joy throughout .Some children came with their mothers and proudly demonstrated to them what they have learnt coming to the JRS centres. It was a memorable and happy event not only for the children, but also for their parents and for the animators. Summer activities for the children are in full swing at the JRS Centres. The children are provided opportunities for joyful learning, improve their talents and engage in a hobby. Shahed Shbeib, a girl from the JRS Damascus centre, sums her experience beautifully, “This summer was different for me... Being in JRS centre with friends, brothers and sisters gave me another feeling, another hope, a different meaning! I do love everything here, the playing, the activities, the drawing... Every day brings new hope to me”. Through these many activities JRS is truly opening doors for the children.
2017 is the second year the Jesuits in Britain have run a friend-raising campaign in July called 31 Days of St Ignatius. Friends and supporters sign up to receive a daily email during July.  The email drives traffic to the websites and services of the different Jesuit works and offers prayer and other resources to the reader.  In 2016 the province communications office focussed each day on a different apostolic work of the Jesuits in Britain: each of our parishes, social justice, volunteering and spirituality works had a day.  “We interviewed people whose lives had been impacted by the work in question, to create an emotional connection rather than just “who we are and what we do” which would have become dull for the reader,” explained Jane Hellings, Director of Development & Communication at the provincial office.  “Alongside the stories about the Works we included prayers and profiles other  related material from our we resources.” The 2016 campaign gained over 4,300 subscribers, over double the predicted number.  This was achieved by asking all the works to invite everyone on their mailing lists to subscribe.  Leaflets were put in parishes.  “We were really delighted with the response in 2016” said Grey Msonthi, Campaigns Manager, “especially as we finished with the number we started with, showing that there was little drop off and people stayed with the campaign.”  You can still find the 2016 campaign on the British province website http://www.jesuit.org.uk/31-days-st-ignatius The team undertook a survey of the subscribers at the end of the campaign to find out more about what they liked best and if a repeat campaign would be welcome in 2017.  “The results were very encouraging” said Grey.  “The feedback showed that people were most appreciative of the prayer content so in 2017 we decided to focus on Ignatian spirituality and make the tone more reflective”. In 2017 the campaign is hosted on the Jesuits in Britain spirituality website https://www.pathwaystogod.org/31-days-st-ignatius    “The theme for 2017 has been “My Ignatian Formation” Jane explained. “We invited 31 people in our networks to write a short piece on what their Ignatian formation – whether  in a school, parish, chaplaincy or retreat centre – meant to them and how it had influenced their life path.  We wanted to get a range of voices – young and old, male and female, Jesuits, co-workers, and others. People have responded very generously with their beautiful stories.”  “The 2017 campaign worked more within our network of eleven schools to recruit subscribers with the result we have exceeded last year’s number,” Grey explained.  “In fact the number of subscribers is continuing to grow with new people joining – we now have 4,864!” So many people who come into contact with the Jesuits know only about the one school or parish with which they have a connection.  “With these campaigns we have been able to show the breadth and depth of the work we do and the wider influence we have.  It has been very useful in introducing people to our online ministries which have a much bigger audience,”  commented Ruth Morris, Digital Communications Manager.  “The spirituality website has had 22,000 visits during July so far, and 2,500 of these came directly from the email in the first week of the campaign.” The aim of the campaign has been raise awareness rather than to raise money.  Nevertheless a “soft ask” was made in 2016 at the end of the campaign and a few hundred pounds was raised.  Grey added  “this year we have asked for donations once per week and so far £2000 has been raised.  A more direct ask will be made on the Feast Day so we hope to double that.” Sign up to receive bi-weekly emails from Jesuits in Britain with news and prayer resources; http://eepurl.com/2S8wn

UPCOMING EVENTS

1-24
Tue - Thu
Aug 2017
BEIRUT LEBANON
EJIF Meeting of European Jesuits in Formation READ MORE
26
Sat
Aug 2017
ANTWERPEN
Belgium
Final Vows Ward Biemans and Wiggert Molenaar (ELC) will take final vows during the celebration of the New Regio European Low Countries in the Church of St. Charles Borromeo at 11 a.m. READ MORE
3
Sun
Sep 2017
MISKOLZ
Hungary
Ordination László Petrovics will be ordained priest by the archbishop of Eger (Hungary) Csaba Ternyák, in our parish Church. READ MORE
9
Sat
Sep 2017
HEVERLEE-LEUVEN
Belgium
Ordination Wouter Blesgraaf (ELC) will be ordained priest by Jozef Cardinal De Kesel in the Saint John Berchmanschurch at 10.30 a.m.  READ MORE