The Jesuit Georg Sporschill, who is known far beyond Austria's borders for his commitment to street children and Roma in Romania, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Udine on 16 September. At a ceremony held by the Italian university, which has 17,000 students and is medium-sized in size, Rector Prof. Alberto Felice De Toni handed over the honorary decree for primary school education (Scienze delle Formazione Primaria) at 6 p.m. in the university "Centro di Accoglienza E. Balducci". The decree of the Italian Minister of Science, Marco Bussetti, states that the honorary doctorate is awarded to Sporschill for his educational work in Romania, which saves disadvantaged people. Sporschill's pioneering work was aimed at "developing forms of education and qualitative support for children and young people with very specific needs in extremely complex contexts". Franco Fabbro, professor of psychology at Udine University, who was a supporter of the Sporschill Prize, stresses: "His thinking and his works put Georg Sporschill on the side of a few Italian priests who, in the last century, dealt with abandoned and needy young people, which considerably increased the progress of educational science". "We go where the need is greatest." Georg Sporschill, born 1946 in Vorarlberg, studied theology, education and psychology in Innsbruck and Paris. He then worked as a consultant in adult education in the Vorarlberg state government. At the age of 30 he entered the Jesuit Order and two years later was ordained priest. As a young chaplain in Vienna-Lainz he founded and accompanied many youth groups. From 1980 onwards, Sporschill's commitment applied to young people who had been released from prison, drug addicts and homeless. He founded the Caritas Youth Centre and three other shelters for the homeless. He sent the "Canisibus" with soup to the homeless and opened the "Inigo" restaurant in downtown Vienna, which gives long-term unemployed people work and self-confidence. Georg Sporschill went to the street children of Bucharest in 1991. Together with Ruth Zenkert he founded the relief organisation "Concordia Sozialprojekte" and took thousands of children from the streets and canals of the Romanian capital to children's and youth homes. Since 2004 he has been working in the Republic of Moldova for orphans, neglected teenagers and needy elderly people. Four years later, Sporschill began his work for children and families in Bulgaria. The principle "We go where the need is greatest" finally led him to the Roma in Transylvania/Romania, where he founded the association "Elijah" ( with Ruth Zenkert after leaving the "Concordia" board in 2012. In the region, tens of thousands of Roma families live on the outskirts of the villages, in the most confined of spaces, in poorly constructed mud huts, expelled from society. Illiteracy, unemployment and hopelessness prevail. The association "Elijah" has the aim to help the families with many children to get out of misery by their own efforts in order to break the cycle of poverty. New centre in Hosman near Sibiu Father Georg Sporschill wants to give the children and young people in particular new prospects for the future through social centres, homework supervision, music lessons and training workshops. He lives and works in Hosman, 30 kilometres west of Sibiu, in the Elijah community.
Fr. General Arturo Sosa SJ guest in Vienna, Austria. Arturo Sosa SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, visits again and again provinces of the Society of Jesus in order to get an overview of the Order and the work of the Jesuits on site. In 2021 the provinces of Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Lithuania-Latvia will found the new Central European Province ECE. In the course of this Father General travels to all four provinces. From the 21th to the 23th of June he was a guest in Vienna in order to get to know the Austrian Province. Under the topic Building Bridges, the Jesuits in Austria introduced themselves to him. The three days that Father General spent in Vienna were packed. The first item was a press conference with representatives of the Austrian media. He asked himself questions about his home country Venezuela as well as about the international developments of the Society of Jesus and the forthcoming Amazon Synod. He also mentioned the new universal apostolic preferences which will give the Order its orientation over the next 10 years. After the press conference, public transport was used to travel to the centre of Vienna, where lunch was served together with the Jesuits from Vienna, staff and refugees. The refugees found help and support through the projects Locugee (a project of the Jesuit Refugee Service JRS) and CONCORDIA social projects. Just two examples of social projects of the Jesuits in Austria and beyond, which, with the commitment of many supporters, enable refugees and people pushed to the edge by society to have a future worth living. After a short, private city tour with Father Gustav Schörghofer SJ the meeting with the members of the Altkalksburger Vereinigung took place. Here already a full hall of interested people waited for Father General. Education and schools were and still are a big and important part of Jesuit work. Prayer was celebrated in the Stanislaus Chapel. Afterwards Father General and Bishop Christoph Schönborn met for a private conversation. The evening was completely reserved for the Jesuits. It is a tradition that Father General meets with his fellow companion on site for an exchange. On Saturday Father General was introduced to the works of the Austrian Province in a playful way. In two teams he and Provincial Bernhard Bürgler competed against each other. In Jesuit tradition, each team was accompanied by two assistants. They had to answer specific Austrian related questions and collect Mozarttaler. During the game there were stations where the individual locations of the Jesuits in Austria - Graz, Innsbruck, Linz and Vienna - were presented. Staff members and Jesuits talked about their work and its significance for them and the Jesuits. There were lots of opportunities for exchange and networking among the Jesuits and co-workers with Father General. In the evening people were invited to a Vespers followed by a conversation in the Konzilsgedächtniskirche. The blessing of the new "Pedro Arrupe" event room and the mass in the full Jesuit church formed the conclusion of Father General's visit.
Schwäbisch Gmünd - During Easter week 200 Jesuits from the German, Lithuanian, Austrian and Swiss provinces met for the common province symposium in Schwäbisch-Gmünd. Beside praying and celebrating together, the focus was on reflection and exchange on the mission in the areas of spirituality, social responsibility and education: the Jesuits of these countries are growing ever closer together. In two years' time, in April 2021, they will form the Central European Province ("Europa Centralis" - ECE). Fr. Franck Janin SJ, President of the Conference of European Provincials, explained the process and the impact of the new Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) of the Society of Jesus. The entire meeting was held under the motto "Beyond ourself" and informed the nearly 200 Jesuits from Austria, Switzerland, Lithuania, Sweden and Germany who had taken part about the previous process of founding the province and the planned further steps. The seat of the new ECE-Provincial shall be in Munich, informed the Austrian Provincial Bernhard Bürgler SJ. Fr. General Arturo Sosa SJ had confirmed in a letter that the Canisius-House in Munich should become the seat of the new ECE-Provincialate. An important topic was the ecological challenge (“caring for our common home”) and how the Jesuit Order responded to it. Fr. Gaël Giraud SJ (EOF), chief economist of the Agence Française du Développement and research director at the CNRS, presented the state of research and reported that climate change affects the already disadvantaged parts of the earth's population the most. We Jesuits see ourselves challenged to rethink our own lifestyle and to increasingly include ecological implications. On different levels and through professional competence the Order with its works and apostolates can help to shape social processes. It is also necessary to deepen the spirituality of creation. Fr. Claus Pfuff SJ, JRS-country director, professed last vows at a solemn Mass on Wednesday. The fraternal meeting allowed Easter to be celebrated as a feast of resurrection and new creation. The strength and motivation that grew out of the common mission of the Order were palpable.
München/Wien/Zagreb - The three Provincials of the Jesuit Provinces Austria (Fr. Bernhard Bürgler SJ), Germany (Fr. Johannes Siebner SJ) and Croatia (Fr. Dalibor Renic SJ) declared on Friday afternoon with immediate effect the withdrawal of the Jesuits from the Asociation "Loyola-Gymnasium" (ALG). The general meeting of the ALG Board had previously withdrawn the trust of the director of the ALG, Father Axel Bödefeld SJ, with the majority of the members and had decided his immediate release. Fr. Bernhard Bürgler SJ, who was Chairman of the ALG Board until yesterday, explained: "We very much regret this decision, as ALG has developed very well in recent years. Unfortunately, this step was unavoidable, as the majority of the members of the association has no confidence in the Director and do not appreciate his current work; furthermore, this group does not support the basic orientation that the Order desires for the ALG. We have committed ourselves with considerable personal and financial effort to this project and this country. Especially the work with the Roma and the Ashkali is an important accent for us, but it is not supported by the majority of the supporting association. The new project of a vocational school, which trains Kosovar youths for Kosovo, is very far advanced in its preparation and finds broad support in politics and economy. But here too, the support of the sponsoring association is lacking. Without the trust in the people involved, our commitment here in Prizren unfortunately has no future. We know that we are disappointing many people here with this decision. We are also aware of our responsibility towards many institutional and private supporters and benefactors (e.g. Renovabis), which is why we have to take this step now". In the supporting association ALG, from which the three Jesuit provinces have left, there are further members: Albanian Youth Action, Apostolic Administration of Prizren, Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Landesverband Sachsen e.V., Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Ortsverband Neustadt/Sachsen e.V., Congregazione delle Suore Angeliche di San Paolo, Freunde und Förderer der Asociation "Loyola-Gymnasium" e.V., Grünhelme e.V., Kosova Alternative Education, Loyola-Stiftung, Marianne-und-Rudolf-Haver-Stiftung, Stellaner-Vereinigung Deutschland e.V. The “Asociation ALG” was founded in 2003, and school and boarding school operations began in 2005. The state-approved private grammar school with a boarding school for girls and a boarding school for boys is unique in Kosovo in its kind and orientation; it is very successful and in great demand. One of its special features is the German lessons at a high level. Six years ago a primary school was also founded; this project in the historic centre of Prizren is also extremely successful. With the "Loyola Tranzit" project, the ALG has built a bridge to disadvantaged children and young people over the past two years. In the social education centre, pupils of the ALG are particularly involved in teaching Roma and Ashkali children in a protected atmosphere, supervising their homework and preparing them for attending a regular school. Pictures: The ALG Prizren stands for a perspective of local youth in the spirit of understanding. The boarding school is open to girls and boys of all ethnicities and faiths. Since the beginning of the 2013/14 school year, there has been also a Loyola primary school in the historic centre of Prizren.
Young Jesuits in Austria, Germany and Switzerland go into series production with a new social media format. The first German speaking "One Minute Homily" (OMH) was published just in time for Lent. On Sundays and church holidays a Jesuit sums up the gospel of the day in one minute. While the number of churchgoers on Sundays is constantly falling, the number of clicks on the Internet is rising. Therefore, the message of the Gospel is now to be transmitted to the social media channels of the Jesuits in order to bring the message to believers and interested people in an understandable everyday language. The idea for the "One Minute Homilies" comes from young Jesuits from the USA. In Advent Dag Heinrichowski SJ and his fellow companion from the Berlin Canisius-Kolleg had tested the format for the German-speaking area. "It is of course a challenge to get a thought on the Gospel to the point in such a short time, but the feedback was very positive - especially from our young people at the college," he says. The number of hits on the YouTube channel and the Facebook page of the Jesuits were also so convincing that a group of ten younger Jesuits from Austria, Germany and Switzerland came together to bring the message of Jesus to the internet with their mini homilies. The "One Minute Homily" started with an extraordinary one on Ash Wednesday. Dag Heinrichowski SJ looks at the gospel about correct fasting (Mt 6, 1-6.16-18) and talks about the temptation to use fasting for self-optimization and performance.  The YouTube link Channel for Austria Channel for Germany
Bad Schönbrunn - At the beginning of 2019, 45 participants of the 'Formation Gathering' met at the Lassalle-Haus in Bad Schönbrunn, Switzerland, from 2 to 5 January. Formation Gathering' is the meeting of the Jesuits still in formation from the countries of the future Central European Province (ECE: Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Lithuania). Since many young Jesuits are involved in youth work or work there, the meeting in Switzerland was about the Youth Synod and its consequences for the Jesuits in the four provinces. In order not to start with vague future scenarios but with the concrete present, it was the Jesuits currently working with young people who gave testimony about their experiences. What was striking is the broad variety of how Jesuits are engaged in working with young adults: at University and in school chaplaincy, in associations of Catholic students (KSJ) and in charismatic movements of young adults. From all these areas Martin Föhn SJ (HEL), Sebastian Maly SJ (GER), Arndt Gysler SJ (GER) and Beat Altenbach SJ (HEL) shared their experiences. They encouraged to accept all the ways youth are living their faith today and at the same time to help with Ignatian ways of pastoral care where possible and necessary. The longing for development in silence and in the security of spiritually shaped communities seems unbroken. The Youth Synod was approached in two ways: first, by a reading session of some text extracts from the Synod’s final document; second, by the reports of their participants: The Auxiliary Bishop Alain de Raemy (Geneva, Lausanne, Fribourg), the youth chaplain Claude Bachmann (Lucerne) and Bernd Hagenkord SJ as director of the press office of the Youth Synod. Encouraging and sobering résumés were spoken, but above all there was the consensus: The Youth Synod should not be regarded as concluded, but as a prelude to an ongoing process of renewal of pastoral care, which not only works for, but especially with the young people on changing our lives in this world. Rahel Kölbener, chairwoman of the worship movement "Adoray" in St. Gallen, also emphasized this missionary perspective. She knows from her own experience that young adults are openly searching for ways of expressing and deepening their faith. Andreas Schalbetter SJ, chaplain of the University of Lucerne, showed us what possibilities there are to help students in their spiritual research. It was the first part of our excursion to Lucerne, followed by a guided tour through the Jesuit Church by “Living Stones”: Students accompany tourists – in this case, also young Jesuits! – explaining the meaning of art and architecture of the church, thereby opening up access to the faith traditions contained therein. After a visit to the room of silence in the University of Lucerne and the rooms of “horizonte“ (“horizons”, the name of the university chaplaincy) and a mass with the four provincials, the day ended with an amusing variety evening in the Lassalle House, which the Jesuits themselves designed. We concluded by a session with information on the trends in Jesuit Formation and looked ahead to the Formation Gathering 2020 in Prizren (Kosovo) which will be prepared by the newly elected ECE JIF committee. Before saying goodbye, the participants celebrated Mass with the newly ordained priests from Hungary, Lithuania and Germany, followed by an individual blessing - not least for everything that the still young year has in store.