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Testimonial of Victor Zhuk After finishing my theological studies in 2015, there finally came time to give back after having received so much during the period of Jesuit formation. To be precise, the Jesuits in formation do not only study, but also have an opportunity to apply what they learn: for me it was during “regency”, a two-year period of working in Istituto Leone XIII, a school run by the Jesuits in Milan; as well as in manifold pastoral summer activities and the ongoing apostolate work at least once a week during various stages of my studies. Still, being sent for the first full-time mission as a priest marks the beginning of a new responsibility. In 2015-2019 I worked in St Thomas Institute in Moscow, teaching and having various other duties. After those four years, the superior of the Russian Region decided to send me to my homeland – Belarus, where in the city of Vitebsk in the north of the country two Jesuits (a Polish and a Russian) had been ministering for a number of years in the local diocese, but with restrictions which the Belarusian government imposes on the priests and the religious from abroad. Even if we could now formally make a real Jesuit community (which must start with at least three members), we were and still are “the least Society”, as St Ignatius would call the Order he founded. In the past this land has seen a much larger presence of the Jesuits: Polotsk, the seat of the general curia of the Society during the period of suppression, is just 100 km away from Vitebsk. The Society of Jesus is now building a church for the growing Catholic community in a new part of the city, together with a small pastoral centre, in order to offer activities characteristic of our charism. Belarus under the lockdown In the meanwhile, I did my tertianship in the Philippines, returning to Belarus after six months in March, 2020 just in time before the lockdowns took effect all around the world. The reality of pandemics meant having hands tied in terms of pastoral activity – both in the parish and offering retreats in various places. Being forced to cancel the retreat which was planned since the previous year to be held in June 2020, I took the initiative to offer an online Ignatian retreat, based on 9 pre-recorded video inputs for personal prayer, with the option to be accompanied by a spiritual guide - a member of the team of the Jesuits and non-Jesuit collaborators. The response to this proposal was far greater than expected (initially thought for those who had to give up on the "live" retreat), with several hundred Russian-speaking participants from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Some stated that they had had the desire to take part in an Ignatian retreat, but never got an opportunity to do it because of the travel distances or other difficulties, while the online option was just right to have a deepened experience of prayer and to approach the treasures of Ignatian spirituality. In a paradoxical manner, the pandemics has opened a door to a new apostolic opportunity in the web. I repeated this experience, offering another online retreat, based on the book of Exodus and Ignatian “Spiritual Exercises”. Political turmoil The year 2020 has been a difficult one for Belarusians not only because of COVID-19, but because of the political turmoil which followed another rigged presidential election, and the violent crackdown on those who protested against being robbed of their votes. Until now the situation remains difficult, as there seem to exist two parallel realities: the utopian world shown on state television, and the reality of the majority who oppose lies, injustice and persecution. Witnessing the repression by the dictatorship state on its own citizens is a constant source of pain, but seeing people’s readiness to be even put in jail for their desire of justice and freedom fills one’s heart with gratitude and hope. I am personally so grateful that the Catholic Church has not remained silent about the flagrant injustice of those in power. It is still unclear how the situation will evolve, and the society is living in a state of uncertainty and anxiety. In these circumstances, as one of my parishioners affirmed, those who have faith are so blessed, for we put our trust in the God who raised Jesus Christ after a painful death to a new life. In the midst of this turmoil, as I myself was charged with “participation in an unsanctioned event” (the famous “23.34” article of the law) and even spent one night in jail, it was very inspiring for me to find out the story of my Jesuit brother martyr Stanisław Michalski who was beaten to death by the communists and died on Christmas day 70 years ago, in 1950. He had chosen to remain in Belarus, on the territory of the Soviet Union, in order to minister to God’s people, while many other priests took the opportunity to flee to Poland. With young families Even in the middle of all these difficulties, life goes on, and I feel privileged to witness the joys and hopes, as well as struggles and fragility of the mostly young families who form our parish. As we await that the church building should be ready by summer 2021, we continue to gather in a very limited space we rent, which makes us feel truly as one family. I was grateful to find out that Pope Francis announced a year dedicated to families, starting March, 19, urging to rediscover the message of “Amoris Laetitia”. Together with others, I want to take this opportunity to seek to offer to our families the inputs and tools to help them live out their Christian faith in daily life. May the Lord lead us where He wants to see us, for His greater glory. 
Witnesses from Asia, USA and South America. Three teachers from the Gregorian University, holding positions of responsibility and governance within the Society of Jesus, are the voices and witnesses of a leadership that is rooted in the history and culture of the Americas (and in particular Brazil and the United States) and of Asia Pacific. The sixty participants of the annual course leading to the Diploma in Leadership and Management, organized by the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Alberto Hurtado Faith and Culture Centre of the Gregoriana, were able to listen to their witness on 12 December, thanks to the opportunity of integrated teaching, streamed online by Fr. Stefano Del Bove sj, program director, and by Prof. Marco Accorinti. The inputs cover one third of the monthly study days, which from October to June constitute the integrated theoretical formation part of the leadership course and the basics of the sciences of institutional organization, to accompany those who work on a local and global scale, towards the improvement of knowledge and skills appropriate to the roles of responsibility and service they are assigned to in their countries of origin and churches to which they belong. Among these participants this year forty hail from the Italian institutional, business and association world. Daniel Huang SJ: leadership as a mission Fr. Huang (Left) with (actual cardinal) Luis Tagle and (then) Fr. General Adolfo Nicolas. The Asian connoisseur Fr. Daniel studied in Manila and New York. On the pastoral level he was stationed in the Philippines primarily as parish priest, then as consultor to the Provincial, rector of the seminary of Manila, and the Society’s Superior in the Philippines. He was also a point of reference of the General Curia for the Asia Pacific assistancy, serving the last two Generals. All this experience is behind his teaching at the Gregorian faculty of missiology. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Georgetown University in Washington DC. “Leadership is primarily about people. It is a mission not a promotion. Within the Society, titles of merit do not exist. When commitment to a service is terminated, it is over. This helps avoiding commitments becoming a personal affair”. Eight points were highlighted: "being aware of one's weakness in order to be able to show mercy and compassion to others". Cura personalis is one of the pillars of Ignatian leadership, “as it is always the subject of spiritual colloquy. Each Provincial” he says, “must receive a return of conscience from the Jesuits. The objective is to give spiritual and personal knowledge to the Superior, so that both can discern the mission together. This aspect is stemmed out of love. In my experience, Jesuits are like the stained-glass windows of a cathedral: from the outside they look grey but inside you see their beauty and colours”. It is important to have a profound understanding of people, and to know how to listen to them. Establish trust, "without trust there is no leadership". The most vulnerable leader is one who is dependent on the opinion of others. "One must learn to accept that not everyone will consent to your decisions". There are four profiles of a leader: the charismatic who leads through the capacity of personality; the intuitive, who points to the future; the executive who excels in implementation, the caring who takes care of his subjects. “Ignatian leadership is a combination of all four, even if all these elements are rarely found in one person.  It is beneficial to identify one's strengths as well as to identify people who can compensate for one’s weaknesses”. It is important to recognize the responsibility that a leader carries on his shoulders. “The words and gestures of a leader can bear an influence which in normal circumstances they do not own”. Let us form our successive leaders. Fr. James Grummer SJ: "knowing oneself and others" Fr. Grummer (Right) with previous Fr. General Adolfo Nicolas and actual Fr. General Arturo Sosa. Passionate reader of Roberto Bellarmino during his years of formation in the USA, Fr. James Grummer lived in environments that were not always Catholic.  He lectured on historical studies and remains at the humanities university: among his in-depth studies there are also the stories of German-speaking Catholic immigrants. In the USA he was community superior, chaplain, socius to the provincial and provincial of an important area of the country with 2 universities, 3 colleges, missions, parishes and retreat houses. He was in charge of international relations with South Korea, various African countries, and Ecuador. Then in the Roman Curia he was responsible for the entire North American assistancy. For some years now he has been Superior of the Jesuits at the Gregorian, and director of the centre for Ignatian spirituality. In his witness he invites his listeners to "enter into the experiences of others, like Jesus. Let go of worrying of what others think, because everything depends on the Father and commit yourself to creating paths of collaboration. Be the leader you are, use your talents instead of envying the talents of others. Cherish the beauty of others and of the world, to be valued as a gift for which we are responsible ". Fr. Adelson Dos Santos SJ: a style of permanent conversion Fr. Adelson Dos Santos studied law, theology, and spirituality. He was the Director of a retreat and formation house in Manaus, and spiritual director of the Scholastics studying Philosophy in Belo Horizonte. Now he holds positions of responsibility in the Amazon (he was recently also called to the Synod on the Amazon) and delegate for formation of the Brazilian Province. He directs the Favre Centre for formators in consecrated life and the priesthood at the Gregoriana. “The true leader is formed through the inner life, through self-knowledge, and through a clear vision of the world. This leads to a greater understanding of others as well”. “Like Ignatius” he adds, “we must seek the means that help in discernment, in self-knowledge, in deepening our knowledge of the reality that surrounds us. As the first Jesuit missionaries testify, we are called to evangelize through dialogue, without attacking or eradicating traditions, cultures, even from a religious point of view”. The challenge is always the same. “I grew up in Manaus, a missionary church. Very few of those born there later became religious, or priests. The church is always a missionary church among the indigenous peoples, a current frontline always recalled by Pope Francis during his pontificate. In Rio in 2013 during WYD I remember him greeting a group of Jesuits. The Amazon is in my heart he told me. Six years after, the synod took place”. This is his invitation, to "let oneself be enriched by the experiences of others even if I am the leader". As in the film The Mission (1986) the Jesuits went all the way in their mission. We have to go through a process of conversion, a crucial word in Pope Francis' speech. The world is our common home, everything is connected. The change starts from the heart, from the motivations, the will and the deep desires that are within each one ".
The Vocation Promotion team is starting a new initiative on the infosj.es website called "En familia, por las vocaciones" (In the family, for vocations). It is a new resource to pray for vocations to the Society of Jesus. After noticing that there are already many materials specifically addressed to Jesuits, we felt the need to invite others (collaborators, acquaintances, families, etc.) to join in this intention. To this end, a series of monthly prayers has been prepared, beginning in January 2021, to be published on the first Thursday of each month. The initiative stems from the healthy concern of many who, from time to time, come to us with the question: what can we do for vocations? At the heart of this question is a beautiful intuition: vocations to the religious and priestly life are everyone's business and the Church needs them in order to carry on Christ's mission. This prayer sheet will always have the same outline: a brief introduction, a passage from the Gospel, some petitions followed by a Hail Mary, and a final prayer. Behind it is the desire to make it a format and accessible to anyone, whatever their age, their way of praying or their knowledge of Ignatian spirituality. Hence the desire to pray them as a family and to pass on this good intention to the youngest children, as well as to teach them that the Christian life involves asking honestly: "Lord, what do you want of me? Testimonies of vocation This is the title of the series of videos on Jesuit vocation commissioned by the Vocation Promotion team and which opens with the promotional trailer we are publishing today. Every two weeks, a new chapter will be released in which Jesuit companions talk about their experience of the vocational process. Entrance, fear, attraction to the Society... are some of the topics covered in these six videos. They will be available on the serjesuita.es website and on the JesuitasESP YouTube channel.  See the trailer here:
With the advocacy efforts of JESC Secretary for European Affairs, Martin Maier, 21 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the main political Groups sent a letter to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, and to the Ambassador of India to Belgium, Mr. Santosh Jha, asking the immediate liberation of Stan Swamy on humanitarian grounds. The signatures were collected by the MEP Pierre Larrouturou after the successful discussions with JESC Secretary for European Affairs and the International Solidarity support Group for Fr. Stan Swamy. Fr Stan Swamy was imprisoned in India on October 10th, and his health is quickly deteriorating under these difficult conditions. MEP’s letter: https://jesc.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/1-e1609339534747.jpg and https://jesc.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2.jpg
On December 29, 2020, an earthquake hit the city of Petrinja (some 40 km south of Zagreb) and its surrounding area. Seven people have died in the destructive earthquake, many were injured, and many people lost their homes. Being 6.3 degrees strong at the epicenter, it has destroyed the neighboring towns and villages, including an elderly home run by a Jesuit Charity (Bishop Josip Lang Foundation) in Mala Gorica near Petrinja. All residents of the elderly home were evacuated and transferred to a safe location. The president of the Foundation, Fr. Mijo Nikić SJ, who came to assess the situation of the elderly home after the previous earthquake, was slightly injured during the earthquake. The earthquake also hit Zagreb, causing the same degree of damages to Jesuit communities as the March Earthquake, including new cracks and holes in the Jesuit Basilica of the Sacred Heart and other Jesuit houses. The Basilica’s ceiling was additionally damaged, just after the works on its reconstruction had begun. There are also new damages to St. Joseph’s College in Zagreb, both on the walls and the roof. The historical building was already severely damaged by the earthquake in March. The old College has to be completely reconstructed to be habitable again. Mobile team of priests helping victims of earthquake At the initiative of Croatian Jesuits, on January 8, 2021, a mobile team of priests was formed to provide psychological and spiritual help to people and families who were victims of the recent destructive earthquake on the territory of the Diocese of Sisak (Croatia). The team is a part of a broader project of the Commission for Family Pastoral Care of the Diocese of Sisak. The team headquarters is located in Mala Gorica near Petrinja, and it is from there that the priests and psychologists visit families and parish communities of the affected areas. The mobile team began their active work on January 9, 2021. They visited many families near Petrinja, Glina, and Sisak. On the first day, nine people participated: six Jesuits (Fr. Ivo Antunović, Fr. Stipo Balatinac, Fr. Zvonko Vlah, Fr. Antun Volenik, Fr. Zdravko Jelušić, and Fr. Mijo Nikić, leader of the team), two Diocesan priests (Rev. Branko Koretić and Rev. Josip Bošnjaković), and a layman (Dr. Petar-Krešimir Hodžić, head of the Office for Family and Life of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference). The task of the team is to listen to people, to empathize with them and understand their pain and suffering, to be with those in need. Also, they are administering sacraments (Confession, Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick). In that way, they are being ministers of reconciliation and consolation, bringing light and peace to people that have suffered gravely because of the earthquake. Several European Jesuit Provinces and JESC mobilise funds to support Croatia earthquake victims​ Earthquake destroyed “Lang’s Home” for the elderly, sick, invalids and abandoned persons in Croatia How to fund? Click here.
With Ignatius, as the months go by. On May 20, 2021, an Ignatian Year will open on the 500th anniversary of the wounding of Ignatius of Loyola at the Battle of Pamplona. In preparation for "Seeing all things new in Christ", the Jesuits of French-speaking Western Europe are launching several initiatives. Beginning this January, they will propose, each month, an extract from the Spiritual Exercises, accompanied by a testimony, to follow the path proposed by Ignatius to show the way to God and to open to a commitment in the world. This journey is available online (website, newsletter and social networks) but also through an annual calendar, distributed widely in communities, schools, works and associations. In this month of January, the a priori of goodwill or favorable presupposition is put forward. It is expressed in the testimonies of Jesuit chaplains of students, pupils, children in difficulty... Benoît de MAINTENANT sj, student chaplain in Versailles (Île-de-France), testifies how he lives goodwill in action. "Students work to master a domain. In this way, they discover the meaning of their studies and take hold of their lives. "Saving the proposal of the neighbor" allows them to preserve with joy to overcome their narrow reasoning. As a companion, "saving the students' proposal" allows to receive them with benevolence and to taste the flavor of their individual discoveries. Seeking to understand better what the other says is a simple way to love more. » Among the themes to come: inner freedom, re-reading, personal relationship with Christ...

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24
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Feb 2021

Brussels Pastoral Board Meeting of Brussels Pastoral Boards READ MORE
10-11
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Mar 2021

Formation Delegates Meeting European meeting of the network of Formation Delegates. The meeting will be online. READ MORE
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Social Delegates Meeting Annual meeting of the European Network of Social Delegates.  READ MORE
8
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Apr 2021

Spirituality Centres Meeting Annual meeting of the European Network of Spirituality Centres READ MORE