The Father Piquer Formation Centre is located in the Ventilla neighbourhood, in the northern area of Madrid, at the foot of the big skyscrapers that make visible the differences between the north and south of our society and our cities. Fifty years after its creation, the Mission for which it was created remains the most important point of view: to serve each and every one of its students, regardless of their socioeconomic context, their origin, culture, religion, colour or gender. Father Piquer is a school that reflects the diversity of the world. More than 1,000 students from 37 nationalities and eight religions attend the course of ESO, Baccalaureate and Professional Training, demonstrating to the world every day the richness of intercultural and inter-religious diversity. Its multi-tasking cooperative classrooms, its reception rooms for students who do not know Spanish, as well as its projects and added values in Professional Training give its students the possibility to dream of a dignified future regardless of their social situation and context. Above and beyond the particularities that its context confers on it, the Father Piquer Formation Centre shares the objective of many other Jesuit educational centres: to ensure that its students become well-trained persons academically and in values, and at the service of others. To this end, it offers a comprehensive education, based on the principles of inclusive education and equal opportunities for all its students, with emphasis on personal attention and the continuous training of its teachers. At present it is a modern centre, with avant-garde educational projects and very sensitive to the European dimension of training. In recent years, Father Piquer has been recognized by a large number of institutions as one of the most relevant centres in Spain and the world for his projects of innovation and educational inclusion. The centre owes its name to the secular priest Francisco Piquer y Rudilla, founder of Monte de Piedad de Madrid (now MonteMadrid Foundation). His eagerness at the beginning of the 18th century to help so many people improve their situation is today a beautiful update in Madrid, when every morning Father Piquer's doors open.
It was a symbolic handshake, one of peace in the spirit of St. Ignatius, that kicked off a day-long encounter between us (eight scholastics in their philosophy cycle and one in his regency) and 3 Slovene scholastics (Marko Pavlič, Rok Bečan, and Egon Hriberšek). The event took place on Saturday 20th at the formation centre of Fratrovac. The initial mass was one of thanksgiving to the Lord for such a moment of grace. In his homily, Fr. Cindori shared a very meaningful message to any Jesuit: the world is our home and we must be willing to go where others do not. After mass, we headed to the Croatian Zagorje and visited Veliki Tabor, a castle very close to the Slovenian border. The castle is of particular interest to us Jesuits, as it was here that Fr. Nikola Ratkay, a 17th century Jesuit missionary in India, was born. Having had a good dose of history, it was time for lunch and friendly discussions at Grešna gorica, a local Croatian restaurant. We wrapped up the day by a visit to the Shrine of St. Mary in Marija Bistrica. The rector himself, Fr. Matošević, recounted the history of the shrine and was kind enough to invite us to the parish house, where he shared with us what is a usual day like on the site. By then, our fellow Slovene scholastics had to return home in preparation for Sunday’s apostolic work. Next time, it will be their turn to host us. We hope to meet them soon.
As from 6th January 2018, on the decree of Father General Arturo Sosa and with a ceremony held in Cluj,  Romania officially became a mission of the Euro-Mediterranean Province (EUM) . “This decision has been long coming and is supported by the fact that the scholastics of Italy, Malta and Romania have already received their formation together for many years,” explains the Provincial Father Gianfranco Matarazzo, “and the then Provinces of Italy and Malta had already sent Jesuits to Romania. It will be an opportunity to deepen our universality and Catholic identity, and this will  require  creativity, generosity and availability, in the care of the essential”. Here are some reflections from some Jesuits in formation, Alexander Duma and Eduard Martinas. “Forming part of a much larger reality gives consolation and gives rise to questions,” explain Martinas and Duma. “A few years ago we entered the Society, which has a universal dimension, through the Romanian Region, a concrete delimited territory.  Our formation with novices and scholastics of different nationalities, outside of our country, has helped us to experience the international dimension of the Society. It is a great treasure that allows us to stay in touch with our history and at the same time to relish the experience made by the first companions “. A look at our country’s situation: “We are young and we did not live during the period of communism, we only heard about it from parents, grandparents and school.” Romania is a reality that is gradually becoming secular, where Western ideals are catching on.  However, 42 years of communism, in which previous generations have lived, is a memory that cannot be easily erased and brings with it dramatic consequences at all levels. The ordinary people do not share choices and horizons and cannot give their opinion, protest and demonstrate on the street.  Corruption of values?   Yes. But at the same time, there is a desire and a search for authentic values   that can guide the existence of this society wounded by history. Romania is 87% Orthodox and 6% Catholic: “The great challenge of ecumenical dialogue is a field where Jesuits could give their precious contribution.  Among the current areas of commitment, Spiritual Formation, the support given to Refugees and to Young People and the commitment to the promotion of an authentic culture remain important. The related article and the video of the interview with Fr. Henryk Urban, former socius of the Regional Superior of Romania can be found on GESUITINEWS Picture: Fr. Michael Bugeja, delegate of the Romanion Mission.
Thinking Faith, the online journal of the Jesuits in Britain, celebrates its tenth anniversary this week. Since 2008, Thinking Faith has been publishing articles that offer a faith-based perspective on contemporary issues and resources about the Catholic tradition In January 2008 Pope Benedict XVI was the head of the Catholic Church; Gordon Brown led a Labour government; Donald J. Trump was a registered Democrat; and a teenager called Adele released her first album.  Frances Murphy, who started work with Thinking Faith’s founder Fr Peter Scally SJ in July 2008 as Deputy Editor, observes “If you consider the different positions in which each of those people now finds themselves you realise what a rollercoaster of a decade it has been-  ecclesiastically, politically, economically, culturally. It has been our task at  Thinking Faith to chronicle the changes that we have witnessed in Britain and internationally.” For Frances the highlight of the decade was the publication of an interview with Pope Francis six months after his election, in collaboration with other Jesuit cultural reviews.  “Unsurprisingly,” she recalls, “the days following the publication of the interview were the busiest days that Thinking Faith has ever had in terms of traffic to our website. In the interview, which was reported on the BBC News at Ten and in national newspapers, the pope discussed his vision for the Church and put forward ideas that have become hallmarks of his papacy, such as the way he considers the Church to be like a field hospital after battle. ‘It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.’” Other highlights from the decade include the 2010 visit of Pope Benedict XVI, which offered the chance to look closely at the situation of the Church in Britain. Frances explains “Some of our most exciting content has come about through our taking creative approaches to a familiar text or set of ideas, such as Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus or the Seven Deadly Sins. A series that explored how we might use films to help children to think about the meaning of the Beatitudes is another example of this approach. The archive of articles that we have built up on Pope Francis and on scripture, in particular, are perennially well-read, but a visit to thinkingfaith.org will not just reward you with articles about typically ‘churchy’ subjects – you’ll also find us tackling poetry and Harry Potter, economics and education, and plenty more besides!” Some words from Thinking Faith readers sum up its importance and unique role: ‘there are very few UK sites which are stimulating intellectually and dealing with contemporary culture from a Christian, let alone Catholic, perspective.’ Here’s to the next ten years!
Young Jesuits from Albania, Italy and Malta (EUM Province) have started a news blog www.project22.eu  and publish twice a week an article in English and Italian. A European version of the US Jesuits Post? It’s never unreasonable to ask yourself why you should want to write something with the intention of sharing it. This is all the more true when you decide to launch a website such as this one. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, was convinced that it’s possible to seek and find God in all things, especially in daily life. Knowing that God manifests himself in our experience, he would recommend to all Jesuits that they practice a particular exercise twice a day: calling to mind all that had happened during that day to become more deeply aware of the way in which God was making himself present in their lives. This practice, called the examination of conscience, or daily examen, is still a very central point of a Jesuit’s day. We are convinced that God is at work in the world today, in the news we hear as well as in the culture, in politics as in the complexity of modern, post-modern, post-human, or whatever-other-name-you-feel-fits society. This website is born from the desire to share: we want to propose, as Christians and Jesuits, a point of view on the world, on faith, on life. In this way we hope to create a space for encounter, for confrontation and for dialogue, to walk together with whosoever desires to be a companion on our journey. Many times Pope Francis has underlined the greater opportunities of solidarity and encounter afforded by the web, defining it as a gift of God. We would like to try and accept his invitation not to be afraid of becoming citizens of the digital environment. But how to do this? Writing in Italian and English might help us reach a greater number of people. Yet how, though, do we choose a name that is easily understood in both languages and which manages to convey our intentions well? In the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius – a method of prayer thought out to help us discover God’s action in our lives – paragraph 22 holds both an invitation and a challenge: “let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbour’s proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself.” In Jesuit speak this paragraph is known as the praesupponendum, a presupposition to be applied not only during the period of the Spiritual Exercises, but also in daily life. It’s an invitation to free ourselves of the prejudices which lead to quick conclusions and thoughtless condemnations, enabling us to see our neighbor and reality with eyes capable of penetrating through the surface, over and above appearances. This isn’t a way of being that is easily improvised, but is the fruit of a journey made up both of successes and inevitable failures. Not bad so far for our project’s manifesto, an online project where fake news, hate speech, cyberbullying and more seem to be the order of the day. Yet we are convinced that the challenge given to us by Saint Ignatius, however difficult it may appear to be at first glance, is a challenge worth taking up. This is why the name “Project 22” describes well the way in which our proposal is to be translated into our lives. Not as a finished product, as something complete, but as a project which is, in and of itself, incomplete. A project which needs to confront itself with reality and, sometimes, allow itself to be refashioned when a confrontation with the facts show it to be inadequate. That said, planning means hoping. And hope has the power to transform lives.
The Jesuits are supporting a group of young Catholics to create a new community in the former international Jesuit students’ residence in Wimbledon. With the closure of Heythrop College in October 2018, the community houses in London which supported Jesuit scholastics from round the world are being re-purposed as the province considers and plans for a new and different future ministry in the intellectual apostolate. Faith and Politics Internship Two former participants in what is now called the ‘Faith and Politics Internship’ run by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have approached Jesuits in Britain  about using one of the houses for a community of young Catholics. Edward de Quay was an intern in 2013-14.  He now works for Caritas as a development worker.  His role is to work with parishes to explore and then find ways to meet local community needs, for example homelessness or isolation. “As I talk to parish groups around the country,” Ed explains, “one issue keeps coming up and that is the lack of younger adults engaged in parishes.” Ed learned that the Jesuit community house might soon be empty and proposed an innovative new use. “The idea is to set a up community of young Catholic professionals aged 22 to 35 who commit to a community ethos and a formation which involves sharing our prayer life, household chores such as cooking, and being active in the local parish for at least two hours a week.” Parish welcomes initiative The local parish is Sacred Heart Edge Hill, served by the Jesuits until 2013.  The parish pastoral council has welcomed the initiative. Fr Frank Turner SJ agreed that “this seems an excellent use for a large residential building for which the Jesuits do not have immediate need, and we hope it will prove to be a real blessing for both the local Catholic community and the residents themselves”. Clare Purtill was a faith and politics intern during 2016-17 and now works in Whitehall as a civil servant. “We will ask the parish to suggest a wish list and then try to match up the skills and interests of the community members to meet as many needs as possible, anything from catechesis and youth groups, to music or helping with the website,” she explains. The scheme is already proving popular.  Three young people are already resident, and five will move in in the new year.  There are a few more places available. “Having been active in the chaplaincy at Durham University [where she studied Theology], and then being involved with the spiritual inputs and social side of the Catholic interns programme, I found I was missing that sense of community and shared faith life,” Clare observes, “so we have been really happy to pursue this idea and have been delighted with the support we have had from both the Jesuits and the parish.” Catholics aged 22-35 who actively practise their faith through prayer and service, and who might be interested in such a residential option, are welcome to contact Ed for further details: edwarddequay@hotmail.com The faith and politics internship scheme is welcoming applications for 2018.

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