It was a novelty: for the first time, all provincial treasurers of the future new Province ECE (Eastern and Central Europe) met in Vienna for an exchange of ideas. P. Alois Riedlsperger as treasurer and host of the Austrian Province, P. Attila András as treasurer of the Hungarian Province and member of the steering committee, P. Ralf Klein from Germany, P. Artūras Sederevičius from Lithuania and P. Hansruedi Kleiber from Switzerland attended the meeting. Martin Tanzer was also present as Director of the Austrian Province. There was a lot to discuss on these two days: first the economic situation in all the provinces was discussed, afterwards an exchange of views on the current structures and legal forms took place. Each country has its own particularities and legal idiosyncrasies. Subsequently, fields of action were worked out which will be essential for the future joint ECE Province. Examples include: clarifying the national legal situation regarding the introduction of the ECE Province and the future headquarters of the Province, taking stock of the individual assets (Arcae) and clarifying their future management or ensuring pensions in the context of harmonisation and national differences in pension legislation. Other important points are the clarification of future contribution payments and their calculation, as well as the future monitoring (Revision) of the individual administrative units. 10 Fields of action are passed on by the treasurers to the steering committee, which then derives further measures and tasks. Another important point was the discussion of future costs per diem (day rates for overnight stays) and the compensation keys for the settlement of the ECE process. But it was not only the contents that were worked on intensively; the programme was embedded in a visit programme. The dinner took place in the restaurant INIGO, a charity project of the Caritas in a property of the Jesuits. Afterwards we went to a classical concert - as befits Vienna - to round off the evening. The new Province offers many opportunities: to break existing structures, to creatively break new and simple paths, to create subsidiary and flexible processes, to remain regional and yet to think in a unified way. For example, when discussing the new billing codes, it became clear that at the end of the process, there will only be a single pot left over and, in the end it will pay for a new Province. This common thinking beyond (still) existing borders makes things much easier. And is actually original: because everything is ultimately assets of the Society of Jesus. The treasurers enter this process with great mutual trust and a positive attitude. The challenges are clearly identified and will probably become even more complex with increasing concreteness. The next steps have been taken and the ECE treasurers are ready. Picture description from left to right: P. Hansruedi Kleiber SJ, Martin Tanzer, P. Artūras Sederevičius SJ, P. Ralf Klein SJ, P. Attila András SJ, P. Alois Riedlsperger SJ
Father Johannes Siebner SJ, Provincial of the German Province, was in Rome at the "Colloquium" for new provincials. This time is a framework for intensive exchanges among the new provincial, newly appointed last year, Superior General P. Arturo Sosa and the General Curia in Rome. Years ago, a former Superior General once said, in connection with the invitation of the new provincials to Rome, that the event should not be called "school for new provincials", as you cannot teach anything to provincials: that’s the reason, why it has been called "Colloquium" for several years. It quickly became clear that Father General P. Sosa is very keen on this kind of introduction or further formation. Father Sosa SJ not only welcomed us warmly at the beginning, he also participated in most of the two-week colloquium. The group: 13 Provincial Provinces of the Northwest Africa Provinces, from the Antilles, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Canada, Bombay (Mumbai), Hazaribagh (in northeastern India), Vietnam, Ireland, Croatia, Hungary, and just Germany. Already the composition is something special, a privilege: worldwide church at it's best. Exchange, conversation, prayer together, listening and telling are in the center - in fact a ‘colloquium’. In addition to the Superior General, numerous staff of the General Curia are involved and give generous time. The provincials clearly felt the esteem, many of the staff of the curia have been once provincial and know the “job”. Their message: we are here in Rome for two reasons: first and foremost, to help the Superior General to fulfill his task, and secondly, for you, the Major Superiores on the ground. And Siebner and his colleagues realize, it´s really true: the "apparatus" does not take itself seriously, all the assistants, delegates and secretariats put themselves in the service. Universal and regional Of course, the reception of the latest General Congregation in October / November 2016 also plays a central role. The decrees of this assembly want to give direction and orientation worldwide for the mission on all continents, regionally and therefore in completely different cultural, religious, political and social contexts they should be implemented. During the conversations, it became clear that the decrees of 2016 are well received: The new provincials are mainly concerned with how they inspire and also motivate the aspect of fellowship. Their most important tasks are to be concerned for each brother, their mission and for community life (cura personalis). And so the exchange of experiences of the "Young Provincials", not quite so universal, for example, revolves around the so-called visitation of each individual community by the Provincial. How you do that? Where do you set accents? But also: How do you do that with the cooperation between head of work and superiors? In general, the issue of cooperation with non-Jesuits plays a central role in our discussions. A good "practice field" seems to be where Jesuit collaborators are in a work whose leader is a non-Jesuit. Many other topics and aspects of our work are taken up during the days in Rome, some also very practical, almost technical (legal and financial issues). Siebner and the other “young provincials” also were guests in the Gregoriana and the College Il Gesù, they visited the rooms of St. Ignatius and had an extremely interesting tour through the archives. “Of course, as a special experience stands out the morning Mass with Pope Francis in Santa Marta and the short personal meeting with him after the mass. His warmth touches and his simplicity, the humor and the sincerity. He radiates the "joy of the gospel" of which he always speaks - that is catching,” remembers Siebner.
“Church asylum is a blessing for the constitutional state", emphasizes Father Frido Pflüger SJ, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, on the occasion of the discussion at the conference of the interior minister. In case of doubt, it gives the state the opportunity to check its actions again to see whether they are fair to the individual," said the Jesuit on December 7 in Berlin. The Jesuit Refugee Service has accompanied several hundred Churches in Bavaria. Berlin (JRS) - Church asylum means an immense responsibility and burden for congregations, says brother Dieter Müller SJ in Munich, who has had contact with numerous congregations and monasteries that have granted church asylum to at least 120 refugees since January 2017. "No church community takes this lightly on itself, but only because it is convinced of the unjustifiable hardship of deportation for one person," he says. In comparison with the number of decisions - especially the many decisions that are corrected by courts - the number of church asylums is minimal. The fact that the number of asylum seekers has increased is not least due to the fact that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has completed more asylum procedures. In many cases, it has been relegated to another EU country. A young woman, who had to flee on her own, should return to Italy. There she is not only threatened with homelessness: the danger of being forced into prostitution by violence is very high. A parish has received her and, with the help of a lawyer, tries to ensure she can conduct her asylum procedure in Germany.  Most of the church asylums known to Br. Dieter Müller concern repatriations to Italy and Bulgaria - countries in which many refugees have had brutal experiences or are at the mercy of total lack of perspective. To his knowledge, factors which may induce a parish to grant church asylum - in individual cases also against repatriation to countries such as Spain or the Netherlands - are threatening violence, acute traumatisation or, especially in the case of young adults, family ties.  Instead, refugees are being pushed back and forth through Europe regardless of their fate." Müller rejects speculations about unreported people as an unsubstantiated allegation: "I do not know of a single congregation that would hide a refugee from the authorities. The aim of a church asylum is to remain in contact with the authorities and find a solution." Director Pflüger SJ adds: "Instead of making a symbolic policy for the right-wing border at the expense of refugees, it would make more sense to actively support the enormous civil society commitment in refugee work - of which only a small part is church asylum. It could, for example, deal with the question of how refugees can lead a normal life here as quickly as possible."
In the wake of the Vatican's media reform, a new medium has replaced the 86-year-old pope's station these days. Under the title Vatican News (www.vaticannews.va), the various previously separate media will report together in the future. Initially, six languages will be started. Alongside Italian are English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and German. The language editors were assembled for this purpose already in the summer. Father Bernd Hagenkord SJ, the former head of the German-language editorial board of Vatican Radio, has taken over the task of "Chief of Service", he is the coordinator of the content and work of the new joint editorial board. On behalf of the Superior General, Father Hagenkord also coordinates the activities of the nearly twenty Jesuits employed in the Vatican media. Radio Vatican was founded in 1931 by the Jesuits and until last year also led by the Order. In January 2016, the station, together with the other Vatican media, entered a common structure, the Vatican Secretariat for Communication. In October of this year, the Secretariat and the Order concluded an agreement on the future participation of the Jesuits in the media work of the Vatican.
The first joint Formation Gathering of Jesuits from central and eastern Europe. The merging of Eastern and Central European Jesuit provinces is picking up pace. Over 40 Jesuits assembled from Lithuania, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland to the first joint Formation Gathering in Nuremberg. Mission to reconciliation and justice The Jesuits who came to Nuremberg undergo their formation at various places in Europe and the USA. At the center of the meeting stands the mutual getting-to-know each other as companions in the common mission of reconciliation and justice, as the last General Congregation describes it. The Jesuits were sent to many different places in Nuremberg and its surroundings, where they have met people, which live at the peripheries of our society. Even before the Order was officially founded, the first Jesuits had grown into one apostolic body through the common apostolic service. Encounters that transform These were common encounters in the everyday life of people – like drinking tea with the needy in the "Wärmestube", cooking together with migrants or visiting sick elderly religious sisters. "These encounters is no playing around, they change the way we live our lives as Jesuits", said Fr. Johannes Siebner SJ, the provincial of the German province as he lead the celebration of the Eucharist with the homeless in Domus misericordiae, an institution for the homeless in Nuremberg. Discernment in common Parallel to the common mission stood on the agenda the common Ignatian discernment of spirits– another element, which belongs to the daily life of a Jesuit. In small groups, the Jesuit scholastics and brothers addressed different issues concerning the future of the Society of Jesus in Europe. It was meant to help them share about relevant questions and their own experiences on the topic as well as to try out and practice various methods of discernment in common.    Building block of coalescence At the end of the meeting, a celebration of the Eucharist took place at the Jesuit church of St. Claire with five newly ordained priests from Hungary and Sweden. "Even trough the smallest works the kingdom of heaven on earth can be built up", said Fr. Thomas Idergard SJ, referring to the life of Alfons Rodrigues SJ, who is a patron saint of Jesuit brothers. This mass was small yet an encouraging building block for the coalescence of the new Jesuit province in Central and Eastern Europe. Beside the official program there were many opportunities to familiarize with the respective home countries and provinces and to create or deepen friendships. The next such meeting of Jesuits in formation will take place in January 2019 in Hungary. By 2021 the five provinces, which encompass seven different European countries, will coalesce into one new central European province.
Pia Dyckmans and GER Provincial Fr. Johannes Siebner Shortly before the end of the year, the German Province of the Jesuits will receive a new public relations and PR official. Pia Dyckmans succeeds Thomas Busch, who after 18 years has taken over the public relations of the Order, as of 1 December. Dyckmans was previously a radio editor at the Sankt Michaelsbund in Munich, the Catholic media house of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, and a trainee at Vatican Radio in Rome. The 28-year-old comes from the Lower Rhine, but has moved it to the South: first to St. Blasien to the Jesuit boarding school and then to Munich for her studies in theology and German. There she also attended the Catholic School of (Institut zur Förderung publizistischen Nachwuchses e. V. ifp), in order to train as a journalist while studying. After 18 years Father Siebner says goodbye to Thomas Busch as the press and media relations officer with great gratitude.: "Personally, as in the name of the Order, I express my heart felt thanks and wish him all the best for the future." New JESUITEN redaction Also in our publication JESUITEN there will be some changes of personnel: From 2018 Tobias Zimmermann SJ will take over the post of editor-in-chief of JESUITEN in addition to his duties as rector of the Canisius-Kolleg in Berlin. He succeeds Klaus Mertes SJ, who has decisively shaped the profile of this publication since 2007. At the same time, there will also be a change in the editorial office. Thomas Busch commit the post of CvD (Chief of Service) to his successor Pia Dyckmans.