The Jesuits in Central Europe found on April 27th 2021 a new Province. For this the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, appointed this Friday 31 July, on the Feast of St. Ignatius, a new Provincial, who will take up his office next year. The choice fell on Father. Bernhard Bürgler SJ, the present Provincial of the Austrian Province of the Jesuits. Munich/Rome, 31 July 2020 - Fr. Bernhard Bürgler SJ becomes first Provincial of new Central European Province. Jesuit Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, appointed him this Friday. Bernhard Bürgler will take office as the Provincial on 27 April 2021 upon establishment of the new province. It will replace the previous provinces of Austria, Germany, Lithuania-Latvia and Switzerland. Provincial in Austria Bernhard Bürgler is currently the Provincial in Austria and thus is one of the Jesuits who have been instrumental in preparing the merger over the past years. Consequently, he is well aware of the challenges awaiting him: ‘We can only convincingly present our way of life if we grow together to embody unity in diversity. To do so, we must shape our institutions and activities in view of the needs of our time and our limited resources’. He sees transnational collaboration as offering tremendous opportunities in this respect. “Our charisma as Jesuits is that we think in broader categories and act jointly. National differences will lose significance over time, which will enable us to more fruitfully disseminate the treasure of Ignatian spirituality in our engagement for faith and justice, in dialog with different cultures and in the quest for reconciliation.” Jesuit Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ emphasized in his letter of appointment that the new province will simplify apostolic planning: “The mission of the Society of Jesus has been universal and larger than the borders of countries or languages from its very inception. The structures of the order exist to facilitate this mission.” He also made reference to the universal apostolic preferences with which the order has defined the thrust of content matters for the coming ten years. The Superior General wished the future Provincial energy and vigour but also faith in God and serenity. A proven expert in the areas of spirituality, retreats, meditation and psychoanalysis Bernhard Bürgler is a proven expert in the areas of spirituality, retreats, meditation and psychoanalysis. The 60-year-old was born in Lienz in Austrian East Tyrol. After his secondary school leaving examination, he studied theology in Innsbruck. Upon completion of his studies, he worked in the German retreat house Haus Gries, which is operated by the Jesuits. After additional years as a religion teacher in Austria, Bürgler entered the Society of Jesus in 1991. After the novitiate he received his doctorate in theology and also received training as a psychotherapist. His activities in the order were that of Spiritual Director in the international Collegium Canisianum (Innsbruck), Director of the retreat house ‘Haus Gries’ (Wilhelmsthal), Area Director for spirituality and retreats in the Cardinal König Haus (Vienna). In 2014 he became the Provincial in the Austrian Province of the Society of Jesus. The rules of the Society of Jesus call for the Provincial to be appointed by the Superior General in Rome. As a rule, the term of office is six years. In addition to the administrative task of directing the province’s affairs, the central duties of a provincial include especially what is known as the “cura personalis”, or regular talks with each Jesuit about his work and life in the order. The new province will comprise 442 Jesuits at 36 locations in Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland.
Munich/Vienna - Under the title Zeitschrift für Theologie und Philosophie (ZTP) the two renowned journals Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie (ZKTh) and Theologie und Philosophie (ThPh) will be united and continued from 2021. Reason for this step is the union of several Jesuit provinces to the Central European Province on April 27th 2021. The ZTP is a joint project of the three academic institutions in the German-speaking area, which are supported or co-supported by Jesuits: the College of Philosophy in Munich, the Philosophical-Theological College Sankt Georgen in Frankfurt am Main and the Catholic-Theological Faculty of the University of Innsbruck. The editorship is interdisciplinary with Alexander Löffler SJ (Theology/Frankfurt) and Bruno Niederbacher SJ (Philosophy/Innsbruck). The international and interdisciplinary editorial team also includes Godehard Brüntrup SJ, Boris Repschinski SJ, Georg Sans SJ and Oliver J. Wiertz. In the Editorial Board, the six-strong editorial team is supported by proven national and international academic experts* from the fields of systematic theology and philosophy. Through excellent and original German or English academic treatises and book reviews, the ZTP aims to promote research in theology and philosophy through systematic studies in the Jesuit tradition and, in addition, to be a forum for the concrete encounter of theology and philosophy. A corresponding review process (blind peer review) guarantees that the contributions meet the highest scientific standards and are present on the Web of Science. Beginning with volume 143, the ZTP will be accessible in both online and print format from 2021. Jesuits Austria and Germany
Munich/Vienna - Also in the Corona crisis Jesuits want to make pastoral care possible. For that purpose a new newsletter of the Austrian and German Jesuits started from Thursday, March 19th. Under the title "Ignatian Neighbourhood Help" spiritual impulses are to be sent out daily in the morning and on Saturday a proposal for a Sunday house service. In addition, further digital offers from the different communities and institutions of the Jesuits are to be sent, in order to point out not only digital neighbourhood help, but also local offers. "Many people are very insecure at the moment, some of them are sitting at home and cannot go to church as usual - especially in view of the coming Easter surely additionally painful for many. We should show people: we are still here for you - not analog, but digital", explains Pia Dyckmans. The public relations officer of the Jesuits in Germany launched the newsletter together with her Austrian colleague Franziska Fleischer. They report that the Jesuits were immediately convinced of the necessity and made themselves available for this offer within a few hours. In the crisis the order stands together and shows that digital pastoral care is now of particular importance. Every day another Jesuit writes a spiritual impulse for the newsletter "Ignatian Neighbourhood Help". The newsletter is to be sent first until April 30th, 2020. Here you can register for the newsletter "Ignatian Neighbourhood Help" (in German) free of charge.
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.