European Jesuits in Formation (EJIF) is a group that gathers together all European Jesuits who are in formation, from novices to brothers and young priests who haven't yet taken their final vows.

Every year, the young Jesuits are invited to participate in an EJIF meeting that is held in one of the European Jesuit provinces. Usually this meeting includes an group experiment or meeting (pilgrimage, social work, conferences around formation topics), then an individual guided retreat of eight days and finally a formation session.

Many young Jesuits live in international formation houses. Still these meetings aim to foster broader knowledge of the Society of Jesus, by giving the Jesuits the opportunity to get to know others in formation and to learn more about our Jesuit life and spirituality.

Interview with Frank Janin, SJ. Which are your wishes as newly appointed President of the Conference of European Provincials? For the past six years, as Provincial of the BML, I have been able to appreciate all what the Conference brings to our mission in all its dimensions and areas of work. I will point out in the first place the aspect of fraternity in a concrete awareness of the universality of the Society. As a provincial I felt that I did not stand alone in my task. I have brothers who share the same concerns, the same questions, and the same dreams. The role of the Assistancies is also very important, but opening up to the European dimension makes it even more possible for me to realize that the mission goes beyond my concerns at the province level. As Jesuits, we must always keep in sight the horizon of the world. In this sense, the framework of Europe is still too narrow, but it nevertheless makes very concrete this perspective of universality that we claim to live by. My deepest wish is that we could keep on forging these bonds of fraternity and friendship in the Lord with the goal of increasingly listening to what the Spirit of God expects from us in this part of the world. The General Congregation 36, like the Pope's speech on its occasion, put the need for discernment back in the forefront. In a world that is as moving and uncertain as ours, we are constantly invited to remain open to the suppleness and creativity of the Spirit. Main opportunities now for the Society in Europe On the political level, many deplore the loss of a common European vision that endangers its identity, its very existence. This situation confronts us to a greater than ever need to be ourselves: Jesuits, carrying a vision able to bring us together and to make us overcome our differences, while respecting them at the same time. The situation of a Europe doubting itself, seeking its own path, tempted by identity withdrawals, can make us insecure. However, it can also stimulate us to run against the tide, to testify that it is possible to discuss in depth without being determined by our historical, psychological and ideological limits. In this sense, the whole process of restructuring European Provinces is a magnificent opportunity. We can live this restructuring as a constraint and a fatality due to our numerical reduction. Or we can live it as a springboard that pushes us out of ourselves and our securities, brings us out of the way we are imagining others, and enables us to dare and talk about our wounds and fears, and helps us to lower our walls and build bridges instead. If the Society of Jesus is not capable of this, who will be? This situation of poverty and scarcity can therefore be approached as a chance, a grace. Communion and collaboration in the mission becomes a necessity. It should always have been this way, and the Society has insisted on it for a long time, but it now appears in full light: collaboration between us, companions of Jesus, and with all those with whom we share the mission. The existence of a rich and numerous "Ignatian family" is emerging in many of our Provinces. Could we ever imagine a gathering of the “European Ignatian family”? However, this does not dispense us from continuing to ask ourselves the crucial and difficult question of vocations. Ultimately, whatever restructuring we undertake, vocations remain essential if we wish to continue to carry out any mission whatsoever. In this respect, particularly in Europe, we are not at the end of a major change.  The places of exchange where it is possible to increase our European consciousness are already many. Think of all the interprovincial collaboration groups (networks) that deal with faith, education, young adults ministry, ecology and social apostolate, and formation. All these groups can be centers of discernment for a renewed mission, in tune with the needs of the world, our charism, and the inspirations of the Spirit. Main challenges for the Society in Europe I have already mentioned it. It seems to me that the main challenge for the Society of Jesus in Europe (and no doubt beyond it) is to permanently remain in an attitude of discernment about its own objectives. Where does God really expect us? At the provincial level, this choice of priorities, the ability to be truly free in the face of multiple calls, in the face of a rich institutional history, is a difficult task. It is not less so at the European level. For more than a year we have been looking for a companion to coordinate the European social apostolate and become responsible for the JESC. What does that tell us? Is that mission useless? Do we lack creativity or generosity? Are we engaged on too many fronts? Our spirituality draws us, among all the "goods" that are presented to us, to seek and select "only" what is "more" in the present situation, to be "to the praise and service" of the Lord (cf. ES 22, 169, 179, etc.). Confronted - and we will be so more and more – to the fact that we cannot do everything, the question of the relevance of our choices will become more and more crucial. In addition to working in the existing networks, new and ambitious projects have recently been developed in the fields of higher education, Ignatian leadership training and the safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults. Let us not forget the European apostolates in Brussels. Here too, we can humbly but vigorously bring our building block to a more just and more supportive Europe that does not forget how its roots plunge deep into the soil of the Gospel. Finally, the link between Conferences and with Father General is bound to be strengthened. Many topics on the agenda of the Society must be considered at the global level. To maintain a true back and forth link between this level and that of the concrete field where the mission is being enacted will require much wisdom. So many challenges lie ahead. If we can perceive and receive them as calls of the Spirit then we will approach them with confidence and with the consolation that Francis calls us to ask. This joy in seeking and finding together the will of God is my prayer for our Conference.
Documents of General Congregation 36 of the Society of Jesus Download the documents   Reception of GC36 in The Netherlands and Flanders. Fr Jan Stuyt (NER), socius of the provincial of Flanders and The Netherlands has just prepared the Dutch edition of the Documents of GC 36. He shares some reflections.  1.  Regarding the first Decree on Mission (D 1.4.):  I was struck by the feeling of : "Now What?"   We (the delegates to GC36) feel like we are stuck like the first companions in Venice: we had these great plans, and now what. I recognize the need to review the road travelled so far, and to think of the next step.  2. There is a strong continuity with the previous congregation and the decision to continue to see our mission in the light of reconciliation with God, with each other and with creation.  (D.1.21) We have not yet let our spirituality and our works be coloured and restructured by this need for reconciliation. It is a work in progress. 3. As a Jesuit in Western Europe I recognize the picture of the contexts where we work (D.1.24). It speaks of secularization, of interreligious dialogue and of people who seek spirituality outside the Church.  I wonder if  the picture is equally valid for all continents?  There is a fascinating expression at the end of this paragraph where it speaks of: "accompanying people from the depth of their spiritual traditions".  Now that is a great challenge -  I remember once giving the Exercises to a Japanese buddhist. I like the way that this was formulated: concise and challenging.  4.  In Decree 2 about Governance the word "discernment" is used very often  (f.i. in D. 4-5).  Where the delegates afraid of using the words "we need to make choices"?  Father Kesicki, ex-provincial of Chicago-Detroit, mentions in the last issue of the Studies in the Spirituality of the Jesuits (48/4) what he said in a Province Congregation in 2011: "I perceive the Society as a company of men and not a network of institutions". He acknowledges that it was a provocative if not polemical wording, and it certainly provoked a lively exchange.  5. The accompanying letter from the Flemish and Dutch Fr Provincial to the Dutch translation of the Decrees starts with the words: "Dear Brethren and Co-workers".  In previous edition there was a usually a notice on the first page : "Only for Jesuits".     This choice to address those who work with us together with the Jesuits is in line with the appreciation expressed by CG 36  (D.2.6) for the contribution made by our partners who are not Jesuits but co-workers and friends.       Read also: The Documents of GC 36                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
132  Jesuits from the province to be EOF meet in Lyon. The assembly of the GAL and BML provinces at Francheville near Lyon brought together 132 Jesuits, 103 from the present French province and 29 from de present BML province. To debate about the question: “after the 36th General Congregation to go forward into the open sea, what are our horizons?” It has been treated, I think, according to an approach that mobilises as much the hart as the intelligence. I did appreciate that as introduction three General Congregation participants told us how they lived it: the election of Father General (Thierry Dobbelstein); the report ‘De statu’ and the universality of the Society of Jesus (François-Xavier Dumortier); the joys and sufferings of discerning (Etienne Grieu). From these testimonies I pull out the importance of taking one’s time, to discover and appreciate the diversity of the universal body that we form, and also the utility - for organising the work - to use counsellors. We have been able to listen to the first of the two (?) decrees of the General Congregation: “Companions with a mission of reconciliation and justice”. We did it with the help of Etienne Grieu and Thierry Dobbelstein. This text has been matured for a long time in a meeting that can be called ‘a spiritual conversation’. If this kind of exchange - made of active listening rooted in a desire to speak about  what touches us most deeply - has contributed a lot to the quality of the GC ‘s good work, we will understand  that the decree commands it to us  (?) for the life of our communities. The decree unfolds a triptyque, with each element closely tied to the two others: community (‘of discernment with open horizons’); identity (fiery people with a passion for the gospel’) mission (‘with Christ the Reconciler’). As it can be seen, the decree 1 is able to nourish the reflexion and the life of our communities, as well as of each one of us. The members of the GC36 felt the necessity to be co-responsible for our companions who live in a dramatic situation on different places of our planet. Hence they have written “A message and a prayer for the Jesuits who live in a war and conflict zone.” Sylvain Cariou-Charton has evoked for us its genesis. With a very just tone that calls on us and is marking us. It has been introduced into the mass for peace, celebrated on the 29th of December. Concerning the second decree of the GC36 “a renewed Governance for a  renewed Mission” (whose text has not been distributed), François Xavier Dumortier gave us elements to be reflected on, that are very useful to understand the range of significance of this document, and Sylvain evoked for us some key-elements, as the discernment (for a spiritual government rather than a managerial one), the collaboration, the net. What I have felt: the complexity and the importance of being thematic. And for what at stake is, we can especially note the formation for governing and the place of giving an account of one’s conscience.   Another strong element of this common encounter: the exchange of opinions among us members of the province to come. From this point of view, I did appreciate the demand addressed to Pierre Ferrière to evoke the spiritual figure of Pierre Favre, future patron of the EOF province. Pierre has done it with brio. The day’s program had saved two meetings in groups of 9 to 10 people. A success, I think. Especially the meeting that was held as a spiritual conversation.    Other moments favoured a fraternal spirit among us: the meals at small tables, more festive evenings, organised visits of Lyon. And moments of common prayers, well prepared by the liturgy team.      Thanks to the organising team (François-Xavier Boca, Guy Vanhoomissen, Sylvain Cariou-Charton). Thanks also to the Spitual Center “Le Châtelard”, who’s warm and efficient welcome has undoubtedly contributed to our meeting’s success.
Why should a group of 39 Jesuit scholastics from Italy, Malta, Spain, Romania and France spend five days in Malta between Christmas and New Year? For a holiday?! No, not this time! Bearing in mind the creation of the new province comprising Albania, Italy and Malta as from this July, the main aim of this encounter was that the foreign scholastics (Italians in particular) could get a first-hand taste of the Maltese context, of some of our communities and apostolates… and possibly learn a word or two of this strange Maltese language! For us Maltese, this was a great opportunity to share our mother-land with brothers who have shared theirs with us during various stages of our formation.    We had moments of group sharing about our dreams for the new province and possible challenges we’ll face; though we also availed ourselves of very brief touristic visits and a one-time participation at a Mass in Maltese with local parishioners. The meeting also included an exclusive chat with Archbishop Charles Scicluna who shared with us how he sees the Church in Malta, and his sources of   consolation and desolation. One day was dedicated to visit some of the Jesuit communities and apostolates there: St Aloysius’ College, the University Chaplaincy, and the province infirmary. The communities generously welcomed us with typical Maltese pastizzi, a sumptuous lunch, and some tasty cakes and tea respectively. The older Jesuits at the infirmary were delighted to see so many younger companions, and some were quite proud to “show off” their Italian language skills! On the last full day we listened to the Italian and Maltese Provincials’ experience of GC36, and then drafted a document to present to the Provincials with some reflections and proposals for the new province from us scholastics. A hidden treasure of this meeting was definitely our ability to collaborate together to put up the meeting and live in great unity this encounter: definitely a blessing from God and a big sign of hope for the future province.
Intensive German language courses at the University of Innsbruck during summer Download more information
Move of the Berchmanianum in the Netherlands. After 87 years the Jesuits of the Berchmanianum in Nijmegen leave for a new building close by. The fathers and brothers move to a new place because their former beautiful but old building no longer meets the current requirements. In addition, there are fewer priests who come to live in the nursing home. The property was purchased by the Radboud University. The Berchmanianum was built in 1929 as a study house for young Jesuits and has been functioning for fifty years as an old age home for religious. "I was very happy here. But you have to love this house, if you want to  incur the inconvenience," says Hans van Leeuwen, who was provincial of the Dutch province in the eighties. "In my room I had for example, only a sink. If I had to go to the toilet or wanted to shower, I had to use a long corridor and pass some thresholds. For me this was no problem, but for some residents a real challenge." Until the end of last week, the Berchmanianum was home to 61 religious. Most of them are Jesuits, but there are also some Dominicans, members of other religious orders and congregations and some priests from different dioceses. Each one is of old age and a large part of them needs intensive care. Thus, one of the wings of the building is a closed ward for residents who do not know exactly where they live. The departure hurts quite a bit. "Just before the move we had our last supper together, a Chinese buffet," says Van Leeuwen. "And on Sunday we had the last Eucharist in the heart of the home: the chapel. An emotional moment, where we have been thinking about our departure and prayed that we might properly process all the changes." According to executive secretary Remy Ramaekers the move is a huge project. "It is not only a question of moving one last time vulnerable residents in old age and in need of care, it is also a huge logistical challenge." The Berchmanianum has a floor space of about 5,000 square meters, and has three floors. In addition, the large attics and basements encouraged the amassing of stuff. Ramaekers: "What has to go where? This requires a huge preparation". Hans van Leeuwen lived nearly five years in Berchmanianum. As one of the more healthy people he helps his vulnerable companions. Van Leeuwen already lived in the house before, from 1955 to 1958. In the refectory he talks about his student days here. "As a twenty-year-old boy, I came from the novitiate in Grave to Nijmegen to study philosophy. That lasted three years. Our student rooms were then half of the rooms now, the walls have been broken through. The refectory is still exactly the same, with those beautiful murals.  One third of the actual residents studied here. Then they went out into the whole country, even the world. Scholars, critical thinkers who did not need luxury, but wanted to make themselves useful to society. And they came back in their old age to spend their last years in peace in their home in Nijmegen. It is often difficult to find a new use for this religious heritage. In that respect, the fathers find it comforting to know that Berchmanianum was bought by the Radboud University, since the Jesuits feel traditionally associated with academic world. Fortunately all the staff - 85 people, mostly part-timers – is moving with the fathers and brothers.