8 days ESDAC training/retreat in April in Rome. We were 24 participants + a team of 4 facilitators, from 19 countries.  11 Jesuits, 17 women whose 2 from the Lutheran denomination (both of Ignatian spirituality, one is a priest). "Learning by doing" was the motto.  Personal prayer, sharing in small groups and in plenum.  One participant said : "I thought it would be a training... I made a retreat".  As we did not live or work together, we had no communal decision to take, but we developed a way to become a "corporate person".  We received tools to empower the groups, teams, couples, communities we belong to. During the session we had a presentation by John Dardis about the importance of communal discernment in the Society of Jesus. ESDAC is an international team of facilitators leading communal discernment retreats and organizing trainings in communal discernment.  If you are interested, have a look at www.esdac.net.
A new and dynamic relationship. Sunshine, music, prayer, reflection, laughter. These are the words summarising this year’s meeting of the high level group that promotes collaboration between African and European Jesuits. This year’s meeting took place in Kigali, Rwanda. Memorial shrine to the 17 people killed in 1994 at Jesuit Centre Christus. “As I write this report I can hear music and singing from a Mass which is being celebrated just outside my room” said John Dardis, CEP President.  “Rwanda is a society that has come through a genocide in 1994, has picked itself up and is moving through the challenging and painful process of reconciliaion. Faith is playing a key role in that reconciliation. In Africa, faith is never far from people’s minds and hearts. Europe can learn a great deal from this wonderful continent.” The Commissio Mixta was set up to develop, deepen and promote mutuality between African and European Jesuits and our mission partners.   It comprises the two Presidents, the head of the Xavier NGO and mission office network, three provincials from JESAM and three from CEP. When the meeting is in Europe, three Provincials from Europe attend; when it is in Africa, three provincials from JESAM attend. “Mutuality is our guiding principle” said John Dardis “In the past, Africa was receiving from Europe and Europe was giving.  That is changing; the relationship is becoming one of mutual benefit.  Africa has so much to give in terms of ideas and relationships.  There is so much richness of vision”. This year’s meeting included an update from the Conference Presidents on new events in the two Conferences. We also shared about our Solidarity in Formation Programmes. We reviewed the visit of some of the CEP Provincials last year to Kenya, Rwanda and Congo and discussed possible future visits by European Provincials to Africa and by African Provincials to Europe. The meeting acknowledged the financial aid given by CEP to the Historical Institute in Nairobi to fund its work. We reviewed the joint project in Madrid where a scholastic from Zimbabwe-Mozambique and a scholastic from South Poland are working side by side in a project for migrants at La Ventilla. It is a small but significant symbol of the desire in both Conferences to reach out to migrants and refugees and of a commitment to tackle this crucial issue of our time. “We are working together to challenge stereotypes from the past and to build a new understanding” said John Dardis. “Things are moving, many changes are afoot, the mission is going forward, watch this space!” The Commissio Mixta meeting was on 27th April in Kigali, Rwanda. The next meeting will take place on October 13th 2017 in Ludwigshafen Germany, just before the annual assembly of CEP Provincials. Picture slider: Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator (JESAM President), John Dardis (CEP President), José Minaku (Provincial Central Africa), Klaus Väthröder (Xavier network), Michel Istas (Socius JESAM), Chiedza Chimhanda (Zimbabwe-Mozabique), Chukwuyenum Afiawari (North West Africa). 
«The social apostolate can´t be a mere matter of study, of advocacy of the deprivileged ones: it must be rooted in an effective sharing of the realities of poverty. To feel oneself what it is like to be without voice, the exclusion, the frailty». This was the challenge raised by José Frazão Correia, Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Portugal, to the Ignatian Social Assembly that gathered for two days in the Almada seminary. Quoting Pope Francis priorities, as well the strategic guidelines of the Apostolic Plan for the Portuguese Province, he once again reaffirmed that to be present in the areas where exclusion is more serious is “a desire” that the Society of Jesus has for Portugal. «To not protect yourself, not to defend oneself, but to take chances, to think from the outside, with others, with different habits of living and reading the reality», he said, in a video-message recorded to set the tone to two days of hard labor. More than 80 participants, cooperators, leaders, voluntaries and Jesuits from 26 institutions or movements belonging to the social apostolate of the Society of Jesus, gathered for reflection, formation and sharing  experience. In an environment of informality and closeness, it was possible to go deeper in our sense of «body», to grow in companionship between the participants and their mission and institutions, from the «Leigos para o Desenvolvimento» (Lay people for development) to «Serviço Jesuíta aos Refugiados» (JRS), and to the work realized in parishes and in our schools. The mission of every christian Besides the interventions of cooperators of our various institutions of Ignatian inspiration, the Assembly could also listen to Manuela Silva, former president of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a person deeply involved with and knowing the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. She reminded us that it is «the mission of every Christian and the communities that he has to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel. From this reaching out to the peripheries comes the joy of knowing that the Revelation is reaching the poor and the little ones». Well acquainted with the dramatic reality of the poorest, she told the assembly that «peripheries are born of our strong or weak aversion to inequality», and quoted recent statistics indicating that in Portugal inequality did not generated a social uproar. «We must be more aware of the demands that sprung from solidarity and fair income distribution. While we can’t denounce the gap between the pay of the modest worker and the CEO, we will not get far in inequality solving matters». During this encounter, there was time for personal prayer and reflection, for getting to meet each other and for a intercultural dinner, where we were introduced to several typical foods from other countries.
Between the 24th and the 26th March, the Jesuit residence in Prague, hosted a meeting of organizers of the upcoming international meeting of young adults Magis Central Europe 2017. About 30 participants took part, including the main team, the leaders of the Ignatian experiments, national coordinators and other Jesuits and volunteers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. The weekend was an opportunity to learn more about the Magis CE 2017 program and discover the places of its final meeting. It was also a time to get to know each other better, to pray together and discuss important issues. The main day of the meeting, Saturday, followed the structure of a typical Magis day with morning prayers on the focus of the day, various activities (presentations of different aspects of the meeting and of all its 17 experiments), the Eucharist and sharing in small international Magis circles. Magis Central Europe 2017 will be held from the 14th to the 23rd July in several countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The main part of the meeting (14th to 20th July) will consist of various Ignatian experiments (a pilgrimage and workshops on the arts, culture, social service, ecology etc.) The culmination will be a wrap-up meeting in Prague (20th to 23rd July), which will include lectures, workshops and a possibility to get to know better the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Czech capital. The theme of Magis CE 2017 is Contemplative in Action.
This year was no different from the previous ones, as Jesuits from France, Belgium and Luxembourg engaged in the youth apostolate,  met for a weekend of exchange, sharing and reflection. In all, some 60 companions gathered in La Pareille between the 17th and the 19th March. Before moving on to serious things, we took the time to savour the joy of finding each other again. Saturday, kicked off with three presentations that were a good opportunity to get to know better and share the joys and difficulties of our various missions. The first was a presentation of the work of the JECSE (Jesuit European Committee Primary for & Secondary Education) by Olivier Barreau and Bernard Peeters, followed by a presentation by Sylvain Carriou-Charto of the targets to be reached in view of the ten-point roadmap for youth apostolate. Finally, it was Christophe Renders’ turn to give us  a presentation on the Belgian Ignatian Youth Network. We wrapped up the session with a time of prayer and personal evaluation, followed by a sharing in small groups about the consolations and desolations experienced by participants in their work with young people. The afternoon saw the group split into two reflection teams: one on work in schools and the other on work with university students. The first group considered the place of Jesuits in educational institutions; the challenges of collaboration; as well as the four Cs which characterize human excellence today : Conscience, Competence, Compassion and Commitment. The second group, assessed our participation at last year’s JMJ in Krakow, both as part of the Magis project and in that of the dioceses. The day continued with the presentation of two projects in the Ile-de-France region: the MAGIS House in rue d'Assas and the Teilhard de Chardin Center in Saclay. After a very intellectually stimulating day,  the group headed to downtown Namur to celebrate the Eucharist at the university chapel and share the evening meal with the local Jesuit community. We then had to pleasure to meet Mrs Annick Sartenaer, the president of the university’s General Assembly, who gave us an overview of the challenges facing the university, as well as its links to the Society of Jesus. The group then gathered at the CRU (University Religious Center) for a short presentation of the university chaplaincy and the religious sciences courses on offer at UNamur. We ended this long day in high spirits thanks  to some local beer tasting and a time of prayer in the CRU chapel. On Sunday morning, the discussion centered around the October 2018 Synod  - “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”. Guiding us in our exchange were the preparatory document (the lineamenta) and the attached questionnaire. We ended off the session with the  Eucharist. As the weekend draw to an end, we had  the usual sharing of news and the presentation of various projects. Here, let me take the opportunity to promote the ‘Clamours’ webseries (www.clameurs-lawebserie.fr), an original and youth-inspired way to discover the Laudato Si Encyclical’s themes. Next year’s meeting will be held at the beginning of March in Lyon. A la prochaine!
To be a delegate for formation is to be in charge of the formation of our scholastics, but also to be formed ourselves. And this is exactly what we had the occasion to do during these days. That’s what the European delegates for formation had in mind during their annual meeting in Taanayel, Lebanon, from the 2nd till 6th of April, 2017. Organization of Jesuit Formation First we talked about how Jesuit formation is organized across the Provinces, and how it should be organized, both structurally and in terms of content. A survey on the quality of our formation centers was discussed. We discussed how to advise our Provincials about the English speaking formation after the closure of Heythrop. We also touched the question on how to integrate Child Protection into our programs. We as delegates were in Lebanon – at some 15 kms of the Syrian border to be exact -, and therefore we could not but address the burning issues which are right at the borders of Europe: the place of Islam in our societies and the tragedy of the refugees.  We felt we were a little bit at the frontiers of which Paul VI spoke at GC32. Two days were spent on these subjects, during which we received a realistic yet hopeful idea of the challenges Europe is facing. What image do we have of Islam? On Monday 3rd, for example, the results were presented of a survey the delegates conducted amongst scholastics: what image do they have of Islam? It was expected to be critical but there was also the desire to look, in an Ignatian way, for the (many) good elements in what Islam and Muslim culture can offer. In the afternoon we went to visit Saint Joseph’s University in Beirut, – indeed, the only Jesuit University in an environment dominated by the Muslim culture. There the rector, prof. Salim Daccache SJ, talked about the historical role of the University in Lebanon. Afterwards, we had an interesting encounter with the Provincial of the Near East Province (PRO), Danny Younes. Appropriately he called his Province – running from Morocco to Turkey, mind you – ‘a Province for the Arab world’. Many possibilities are offered for scholastics to spend a time of service - some months or regency or longer still - in the Near and Middle East, also for those who do not master the Arab language. The next day, April 4th, we met M. Mahmoud Youness (Lebanon), who gave us a brief overview of the history of Islam theology. For centuries the central question for Muslim theologians was how to relate human responsibility and freedom to divine transcendence. It did remind us of traditional debates in Christian theology about nature and grace, or on the place of good merits and justification through faith. Later that day Fr. Salah Boujaoudé SJ (PRO) gave us a realistic insight in political Islam and the ideological sources of terrorism and Muslim extremism (Muslim brotherhood, Salafists, Shiites, Jihadists, etc.). Despair and pessimism - Light and hope Especially the latter could have given rise to despair and a deep pessimism on our side. However, in the afternoon, we also discovered rays of light and hope. Mr. Melhem Khalaf (Lebanon) told the story of association which organizes interreligious youth camps, an initiative which was started at the height of the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1991. Another source of hope were the retreats ‘Points of Light’, inspired by the Spiritual Exercises. It proved that spirituality can play a positive role in interreligious dialogue. These retreats are open to Muslims and Christians, and the texts which are used for the retreat, are drawn from several traditions, including the Qur’an. The most impressive moment for many of us was the visit of a camp for Syrian refugees. We could see how they accommodated themselves in difficult circumstances after 6 years of conflict. JRS helps to set up small schools and formation centers. After all this time many tents have made way for small wooden houses, with a little gas stove. Live goes on as good or bad as it can. It is more survival than life, so it seems. Most refugees depend on chance seasonal work for their livelihood. One cannot but wonder what all those lives could have been, what the future of the children will be. Indeed our time in Lebanon was to form Ours and to be formed ourselves. Many thanks to Nader Michel (PRO), to Alessandro Manaresi, delegate for European formation and to the steering group for formation in Europe.

UPCOMING EVENTS

8-12
Mon - Fri
May 2017
VALLETTA
Malta
Vocation Promoters READ MORE
8-11
Mon - Thu
May 2017
MALTA
JESWEB - Webmasters Meeting of tne network of Jesuit European Webmasters READ MORE
11-13
Thu - Sat
May 2017
VALLETTA
Malta
Writers Workshop More info READ MORE
13
Sat
May 2017
WARSAW
Poland
Ordinations Wojciech BOJANOWSKI (PME), Eryk GUMULAK (PME), Krzysztof JELEŃ (PME), Damian PAWLIK (PME) will be ordained deacon by card. Kazimierz Nycz at the St Andrew Bobola Sanctuary at 11 am. READ MORE