The vocation of the European Schools is to provide a multilingual and multicultural education to children in the nursery, primary and secondary cycles. This noble vocation has returned with a vengeance this September in the 6 establishments of the Brussels European Schools: Brussels I in Uccle and Berkendael, Brussels II in Woluwe and Evere, Brussels III in Ixelles, Brussels IV in Laeken. We, the Catholic religion teachers, have also relaunched our activities, now with Father Dalibor RENIĆ, the new president of the Conference of European Jesuit Provincials.   We are a community Every year, the new school year for Catholic religion teachers in the European Schools of Brussels begins with a plenary assembly to which the teachers are invited to exchange ideas and plan joint activities.  The assembly took place in the Chapelle de l'Europe, the emblematic place where teachers' meetings and gatherings are usually held. We pray together The traditional back-to-school Mass on the first Saturday in October marked the start of the school year for the pupils of the Brussels European Schools, as well as for their parents, the first and foremost educators of their children's faith, whom we accompany in their responsibility to pass on the faith. This significant event took place at the Church of Notre Dame des Grâces du Chant d'Oiseau in Woluwé-Saint-Pierre, attracting more than 550 pupils of all ages and their parents. It was a celebration marked by dynamism and communion.  Forming together At the first meeting at the Foyer Catholique Européen on Tuesday 24 October, the teachers had the honour of meeting Father Dalibor RENIĆ. This opportunity led to fruitful exchanges and enriching presentations, laying the foundations for a promising collaboration. Spirituality took on its full meaning at the first teachers' retreat of the year, held at the Benedictine nuns in Rixensart. From Saturday 18 to Sunday 19, sixteen teachers had the privilege of benefiting from Father Dalibor's teachings on the experience of God and prayer. The programme, balanced between teaching, personal meditation and group discussions, encouraged in-depth reflection. Eucharists together and vespers sung with the sisters helped to strengthen the spiritual bond. The convivial evening over a Belgian Trappist beer was an opportunity to draw up projects for the team and for the teaching of religion in the ES, sealing moments of sharing and conviviality between the teachers. Our work is a forest that grows without making a sound - according to Pope Francis, who uses this ecological comparison to highlight the sincere efforts of the people who, every day, devote themselves with honesty and dedication to the service of young people. This spiritual reopening promises a year rich in learning and exchange, in which faith and community will play a central role in the educational life of the European Schools in Brussels.
The commitment of  the Society of Jesus towards climate justice  Over 70,000 people will shortly descend on the city of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for the COP28 conference which begins on 30 November. Those travelling will include presidents and prime ministers, government officials, business executives, non-governmental organisations’ experts and activists. The list of notable absentees will include the American and Chinese leaders, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.   It is in this context that some heads have turned at the fact that Pope Francis will attend COP28 and address delegates, making it the first time a Pontiff visits an UN climate conference. Despite this, it should be of no surprise to those who accompany the words and actions of the Pope that he has taken this unprecedented step.   Indeed, already in 2015, during the months leading up to the COP21 conference in Paris, Francis released Laudato Si’. In another pontifical first, this encyclical was addressed not just to Catholics but to "every person living on this planet" and was released with a hope of creating a momentum of dialogue and collaboration between world leaders ahead of COP21.   COP21 was considered a success because the Paris Agreement was ratified there, when 196 countries set out the long-term goal of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and working to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Fast forward to COP28, the Pope has released another document ahead of the conference. Laudate Deum follows up the progress in the years since 2015; "we have fallen short of the commitments we made in the Paris Agreement, and the consequences of this inaction are already being felt around the world."   The language in Laudate Deum is straightforward and addresses what is needed at COP28 with Francis directly referencing the conference: "COP28 must be a moment of transformation, a turning point in our collective response to the climate crisis. It is time for concrete action, not just words and promises."  These calls ahead of COP28 cannot be avoided and put a moral pressure on the conference to make a difference. This is more important than ever in the wake of the last UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) Synthesis report which records that current emissions reduction commitments are not enough to keep global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Together with other European Jesuit institutions and the European Network of Eco-Delegates, we, at the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC), have taken this call to embrace COP28 seriously and to help people to get involved. In order to bring the conference to peoples’ homes, we have launched a COP28@Home campaign, with Jesuit Missions in London and the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in Dublin.   First and foremost, we invite all of those who have been inspired by Pope Frances’s message to be informed on the conference and its history, thus we have created a Guide to COP to get started. Secondly, we encourage followers to act by writing to their local political representatives and be involved in a participative process surrounding the COP. A  handy template letter has been produced for this purpose. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we invite people to pray for the success of the conference, and a thought provoking prayer guide has been put together by two young Jesuits, Xavier de Bénazé SJ and Fabian Moos SJ, who are passionate about climate justice. You can read more about this, and sign up to our daily e-bulletin which will run though the conference in the webpage  Finally it’s worth mentioning that the Jesuits are comprehensive in their support for the Pope and his emphasis on COP28. Over 100 signatories from Jesuit leaders, associated lay people and Ignatian institutions have signed a common statement, that you can read in the webpage, with a strong call to climate justice at COP28. Those are words that accompany much work already being done by many worldwide, on behalf of a justice which focuses primarily on the poorest in society, namely those who are most affected by the effects of climate change.
Seeking the possibility to gather, integrate and collaborate is at the heart of our Jesuit mission today. One of such examples is the ministry of Fr. Leszek Gęsiak SJ, the spokesman for the Polish Bishops Conference. Since autumn of 2020, the beginning of his service, Fr. Gęsiak used the opportunity to integrate the spokesmen from different male religious congregations in Poland, initially through online meetings, but later through meetings in person. In November 12-14, 2023 there happened to be the third of such meetings in person. This time we were hosted by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Kodeń, a town precisely at the Polish-Belarusian border - from the windows of the guest house one could easily watch the Belarusian territory. It was a good time of sharing experiences in our spokesperson ministry and expanding our knowledge of crisis management. The special guest of the meeting was Capt. Dariusz Sienicki, Spokesman for the Commander of the Nadbuzanski Branch of the Border Guard, who presented his work and the challenges associated with the service at the Polish frontiers, expanding our knowledge in a complex issue of migration. This branch of the Border Guard has under their custody the borders not only with Belarus but also with Ukraine. They were responding to the migration crisis in the fall of 2021 and to the enormous wave of war refugees from Ukraine since February 24, 2022. During the meeting, we also discussed some of the issues included in the final report after the first Rome session of the Synod on synodality. We also addressed the issue of cooperation between religious orders in media communications and the development of existing information channels.The working sessions were combined with visits to places of pilgrimage. In addition to staying and praying at the Shrine of Our Lady of Kodeń, Mother of Unity, we also visited the Shrine of the Blessed Martyrs of Podlasie in Pratulin and Catholic Neo-Uniate Byzantine-Slavic rite parish in Kostomłoty, the only parish of such rite in the world. In the past, before WW2, the Jesuits made a strong influence on that rite through our mission in Albertin, which included the Byzantine-Slavic rite Jesuit novitiate, and where one of the members of the community was Fr. Walter Ciszek SJ, the Servant of God.
JCEP President Dalibor Renić made his first canonical visit to the Jesuit community in Turkey from 29 October to 6 November. He first visited the St Ignatius Residence in Ankara and the four Jesuits who live there. Jean-Marc Balhan (originally from Belgium), Alexis Doucet (France), Michael McGuckian (Ireland) have recently been joined by Changmo Cho (Korea), who arrived in September and began his Turkish language programme. Two young Jesuits from Vietnam completed their summer immersion programme in September and returned to their province. The Jesuits work in various apostolates in Ankara and throughout Turkey (religious formation, international ministry, intellectual apostolate, media), but their focus is on building a local Church of the Turkish-speaking faithful.  Accompanied by Jean-Marc, Dalibor then travelled to Iskenderun to visit Bishop Paolo Bizzeti SJ, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, and Antuan Ilgit, also a Jesuit, who has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the same Vicariate. Antuan will be consecrated Bishop on 25 November in Istanbul.  Antuan took Dalibor and Jean-Marc on a visit to the Catholic communities of Mersin and Tarsus, where they were warmly welcomed by the Capuchins and the monks of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.  The next day they visited the ancient city of Antakya (Antioch), which has been destroyed by the earthquakes in February. Some 60 per cent of the buildings have to be demolished and that process is still underway. The reconstruction will last for years. But just a week ago the Catholic priest returned to celebrate the Eucharist for the small group of Christians who still live there. The diocesan Caritas is very active in providing all sorts of help in the area and will also continue to help in the reconstruction.
Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia was renamed Ruđer Bošković Airport on 2 November, after one of the most significant Jesuit scientists. Ruđer Bošković (1711-1787), who was also known as Rogerius Boscovicius and Roger Boscovich, was born in Dubrovnik and gained fame as one of the most influential physicists and mathematicians of his era.  Bošković entered the novitiate in Rome and then worked mainly as a professor and researcher in Italy and France. He also wrote poems and worked for the diplomatic service of the Republic of Dubrovnik.  Dubrovnik is a well-known tourist spot. Dubrovnik Airport has been active since 1936 and is Croatia's third major terminal, with 2.3 million passengers in 2022. The Society of Jesus has been active in Dubrovnik since its beginnings, with Nicola Bobadilla serving there for a few years from 1558. Boscovich received his education from the Dubrovnik Jesuit College, which began operating in 1658.
Accompaniment in the search for hope.  At the end of October, more than one hundred secondary school heads from the JECSE (Jesuit European Committee for Primary and Secondary Education) network met in Sacrofano (near Rome), Italy.  After 5 years break, they came together again for this unique formation meeting for our school leaders to deepen our understanding of our common mission and to strengthen relationships among colleagues from schools across our region. This year's meeting we focused on the theme: “He sent them two by two …” Accompaniment; walking with our colleagues ‘from’ and ‘into’ the heart of our Ignatian tradition.  During the meeting we heard from three distinguished speakers. The meeting began with a talk by Mr Iván Mirón, coordinator of the Northwest Zone of the Spanish Province and former head of the school in Vigo. He inspired us to think about our vocation and mission, to reflect on what we are called to do as Jesuit school leaders? The following day, Prof. Ana Berástegui - Director of the Institute of the Family at the University of Comillas - explored with us the various challenges facing education in today's complex context of post-pandemic Europe and showed us where to draw hope in these uncertain times. Dr John Stoer - Delegate for Education in the United Kingdom - deepened our understanding of accompaniment in this challenging times, sharing his extensive professional experience. The testimonies of three Hades from three different countries and contexts helped us to reflect on the accompaniment we need in our own roles and reminded us of the importance and necessity of networking. In group work, we reflected on how we can accompany others so that they can experience the hope of Jesus personally and be better able to pass it on to those they serve. The meeting in Sacrofano allowed us to pause for a moment, to take a break from our daily routines and busy lives. We had time to pray, to reflect together, to listen and share in a prayerful atmosphere, to sing and to celebrate. On the last day we also had the great opportunity to travel to Rome to visit Il Gesù and the Camaretas and to celebrate a Eucharist of thanksgiving. We return to our countries with grateful hearts, new hope and the feeling that we are walking together in the same direction. Thanks to everyone who made this meeting possible: EUM of the Province for the hospitality, the JECSE team and the Delegates for its preparation and organisation, all the participants for co-creating with us this wonderful event!


Thu - Fri
Dec 2023
Final Vows  Mariusz Balcerak SJ will pronounce his solemn profession on Friday, December 8, 2023, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Krakow, during the Eucharist at  6:00 p.m.   READ MORE
Mon - Wed
Dec 2023
Consult of JCEP Consult of the president of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials. The event takes place in Ivanka Pri Dunaj, close to Bratislava, Slovakia. READ MORE
Mon - Fri
Jan 2024
EJIF COCO Meeting of the steering committee of EJIF in Brussels. READ MORE
Thu - Sun
Jan 2024
Council Kircher Network Meeting of the council of the Kircher Network in Brussels. READ MORE