The Netherlands



A Jesuit moment. There are moments when our Jesuit identity seems almost tangible. Last Saturday was one of these moments. Together with friends and collaborators the Dutch and Flemish Jesuits were assembled in Antwerp to celebrate the start of the new independent region of the European Low countries that replaces the former Dutch and Flemish provinces. It was also the moment of the pronunciation of the last vows of two Jesuits.  The presence of Jesuit guests from Dublin, Paris, London, Congo, Amsterdam, Rome and Brussels underlined the importance of this celebration. Fr. Victor Assouad, general councillor represented Fr. General Arturo Sosa. During a solemn mass in the former Jesuit Church of Antwerp, St. Charles Borromeo,  the new regional superior, Johan Verschueren drew an image of this new region as a realistic and hopeful opening to the future with a sad note for the loss of the two provinces. A sad note also because it is clear that the numbers of Jesuits is shrinking. The regional superior pointed out where our focus lies: in the dedication of people for Gods work. This became confirmed in the pronunciation of the Vows. When I heard Wiggert Molenaar, a Jesuit brother pronounces his commitment to Christ in the Society and Ward Biemans, a Jesuit priest added the obedience to the pope regarding the mission, I felt a deep gratitude. Gratitude for these so committed people and gratitude for being a member of this society. It showed for me what is central in our vocation: our commitment to Jesus in his salvific work.
A Communication Training for not specialized Jesuits and co-workers: a challenge for those working in the pastoral, spirituality and social areas, but also for the communicators proposing an adapted useful program. 20 Jesuits and co-workers from Great-Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Flanders spent three extremely hot days in the coolness of the Old Abbey in Drongen near Gent, at the end of June. There was little theory, apart from an introductory session by “internet chaplain” Nikolaas Sintobin, but a choice between 5 workshops. No doubt, those who actually are working in area of Vocations, Jesuit Missions, Jrs… are eager to communicate in a digital era.  The opportunity to participate in small groups in workshops, guided by specialist was really appreciated. The proposed workshops were: “Photography for the digital environment” (Ruth Morris, London), Achievable audio & video content (Guido Attema, Amsterdam), “Writing opinion pieces/blogposts/reflections” (Anton de Wit, Nijmegen), “Success in social media” (Sim d’Hertefelt, Brugge), “Who do you think you are talking to? – Why language matters” (Stephen Noon, Birmingham). On the last morning Jane Hellings (gbsj, London) provided an overview and some reflections about the technical communications. Participants gathered in interest groups and shared about future collaboration, at Province and Assistancy level. Participants were invited to use the camera of their smartphones and make remarkable shots of the Old Abbey, or to write a column on a news fact that more young people are attracted to belief after visiting a church. Vocations promoter Walter Ceyssens found it a useful Training Conference: "This was a very helpful meeting indeed. My online competences which barely are above level 1, were upgraded. Furthermore the session met the need to gather the Society's digital expertise of Jesuits and especially lay collaborators, which is often scattered".
Fr. has made a lot of important decisions with reference to a lot of European provinces:   New Provincial in Spain  Fr. Antonio José España Sánchez has been appointed Provincial of the Spanish Jesuit Province.  Francisco José Ruiz Perez, current Provincial, wrote to Jesuits and partners in mission to inform them about this appointment by Fr. General Arturo Sosa. The new provincial will start his mission in Madrid on July 8th. Read more   Fr Damian Howard SJ is the new Jesuit Provincial in Britain Fr Arturo Sosa SJ, the General Superior of the Society of Jesus, has appointed Fr Damian Howard SJ as the next Provincial Superior of the British Jesuit Province. Fr Howard will take up this post on 1st September this year. He replaces Fr Dermot Preston SJ, who has been Provincial Superior since 2011. Read more   New Region: European Low Countries - ELC Fr General has approved the creation of a new Independent Region of the European Low Countries (ELC) which will take effect on July 31 this year. The new Region will comprise the goods, works and houses of the current provinces of The Netherlands and North Belgium (Flanders). Fr Johan Verschueren, current provincial of these two provinces will be the major superior for a period of at least three years -  unless an arrangement is made concerning the restructuring of Provinces in the West European Assistancy in the meantime.  Fr Verschueren will complete five years as provincial in August 2017.  Read more   New Province Southern Europe - Italy and Malta to become EME next July On 14 April 2017, Father General signed a decree establishing the Euro-Mediterranean Province (EME), which will come into existence on 1 July 2017. The new province will unify the current provinces of Italy and Malta, which will consequently be suppressed on 1 July. Father General has appointed the current provincial of Italy, Father Gianfranco Matarazzo as the provincial of the new EME province. Fr. Gianfranco Matarazzo has accepted the new assignment with generous availability. Read more Read also: New headquarter for a new province   New Provincial in Croatia On Saturday, May 27, 2017, Fr. General Arturo Sosa has appointed Fr. Dalibor Renić as new provincial of the Croatian province. Fr. Renić will take his service on the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola on 31 July 2017. Read more
Fr General has approved the creation of a new Independent Region of the European Low Countries (ELC) which will take effect on July 31 this year. The new Region will comprise the goods, works and houses of the current provinces of The Netherlands and North Belgium (Flanders). Fr Johan Verschueren, current provincial of these two provinces will be the major superior for a period of at least three years -  unless an arrangement is made concerning the restructuring of Provinces in the West European Assistancy in the meantime.  Fr Verschueren will complete five years as provincial in August 2017.  When the two provinces merge to become the new Region there will be 60 Jesuits in The Netherlands living in two communities: Amsterdam and Nijmegen. 14 members of the Dutch province live abroad, of whom five in Flanders.  In Flanders are residing at present 108 Jesuits in eight communities. Nine Flemish Jesuits are outside the province, of whom one in Amsterdam.
From Facebook to databases, the Bollandists remain young! Why is Valentine the patron saint of lovers? Where do the names of the three Magi appear for the first time? Good questions! For the past year and a half now, the Bollandist Society has created a Facebook page where following the liturgical calendar some historical light is shed, in English and French, on a particular question relating to the saint of the day. Some of these posts make it clear that hagiography is actually related to current events: the destruction of the Ummayad Mosque of Aleppo was reported in the media, but who knew it was built with the stones of the sanctuary of the Christian martyrs Cosmas and Damian in Cyrrhus? We are very much aware of the tragedy of child soldiers, so why was one of them, the Mexican José Luis Sánchez del Río († 1928), martyred at the age of 14, canonized last October? Social networks enable the Bollandists to reach a new audience, far wider than that of the academics to whom their traditional publications are addressed, and to make them aware of the “science of the saints”: not a devotion devoid of critical sense, but an academic discipline ready to use the methods of history and philology to illuminate the Christian past (and thus the present). Eighteen months after its launch, nearly 2,600 people regularly follow the page, but it is not uncommon to reach 6000 to 7000 views! Special attention is given to the choice of images: our page is thus an introduction to the richness of the iconography of the saints as well. So many innovations have come to enrich the life of the Bollandists in the last months that it is not possible to list them all. But the arrival of a new Bollandist is too rare an event to be passed over in silence! Marc Lindeijer, from the Dutch Province, worked seven years in our General Curia in Rome as assistant to the postulator general, responsible for the canonization causes of the Jesuits. He will be able to develop his research on modern and contemporary holiness, thanks in particular to the exceptional collection of Positiones - the printed dossiers on the martyrdom or heroic virtues of the servants of God - possessed by the Bollandists, a continuously growing collection. Mrs Irini de Saint Sernin is Greek by birth, Orthodox by religion, and passionate about this four-century old institute with its extraordinary library. The Bollandist Society’s precarious financial position cannot jeopardize its future. We must act. For the past year and a half, she has embarked on a long-term venture aimed at making the Bollandists and their work better known and providing them with the necessary financial support for the pursuit and development of their activities. The first results of her efforts were quick to come. The Baillet Latour Fund has offered a substantial subsidy to digitally catalogue some 22,000 volumes printed before 1800. Three cataloguists have joined the team. The bibliographical data they enter, are immediately available online in the catalogue of the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) that hosts our catalogue. The Bollandist Society possesses an immense documentation in books and manuscripts, but the inventories are on paper and can only be consulted on the spot. Through electronic databases consultable online, our collections can be made accessible to all. In this way, several scientific projects have been undertaken, in partnership with other academic institutes: census of hagiographic manuscripts, within the broader framework of a database of Greek manuscripts developed by the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (CNRS, Paris); updating and computerization of the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina, a directory of Latin hagiographic texts prior to 1500, together with the KULeuven, etc. In order to carry out these projects and ensure the future of the oldest but still young Belgian scientific society, the Bollandist Fund was created within the King Baudouin Foundation: it is intended to collect donations from those who wish to support our great enterprise.  Robert Godding, s.j. Director Nouvelles BML, February 2017   Facebook:
Europe and Near East, 100 novices in 10 novitiates.  Every vocational journey can start in many different ways for many people across Europe and Near East. In October, 56 young men have joined the Society of Jesus with the true intention of becoming Jesuits. They come from almost every Jesuit Province or Region in this territory gathered in 10 different novitiates that go from Portugal to Poland and from England to Egypt. Jesuit training begins with a two-year programme called novitiate. This instruction begins only after a period of vocational discernment. The role of a Jesuit spiritual director is key in this process. This Jesuit's tasks is mainly focused on helping the young man discern what God is calling him to do, and how best to explore his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Only when mutual knowledge between candidates and Jesuits is mature enough the person will be admitted in the novitiate. Discerning a Jesuit vocation is an exercise of freedom, commitment and openness to find where God is willing to meet each one personally. All together there are 100 novices in Europe, 56 in first year and 44 in second year. A novice learns to create a community of brothers who grow in prayer, knowledge of the Society, apostolic work, and personal enrichment. He meets the Lord through the 30-day Spiritual Exercises retreat. At the end of these two years, he pronounces vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Here there are some interesting figures about the Jesuit novitiates in Europe and Near East: Birmingham (U.K.) First year: 6 NovicesSecond year: 7 Novices Total novitiate: 13Countries: Northern Belgium, Ireland, The Netherlands and United Kingdom Cairo (Egypt) First year: 5Second year: 1 Total novitiate: 6Countries: Egypt, Lebanon and Syria Coimbra (Portugal) First year: 5Second year: 0 Total novitiate: 5Country: Portugal Gdynia (Poland) First year: 10Second year: 8 Total novitiate: 18Country: Poland Genoa (Italy) First year: 8Second year: 9 Total novitiate: 17Countries: Italy, Malta, Romania, and Slovenia Lyon (France) First year: 2Second year: 4 Total novitiate: 6Countries: France, Southern Belgium and Luxemburg  Nürnberg (Germany) First year: 7Second year: 6 Total novitiate: 13Countries: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania and Switzerland   Ružomberok (Slovakia) First year: 2Second year: 3 Total novitiate: 5Countries: Chequia and Slovakia San Sebastián (Spain) First year: 6Second year: 3 Total novitiate: 9Country: Spain Split (Croacia) First year: 5Second year: 3 Total novitiate: 8Countries: Croatia