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.
Nuremberg - In response to the initiative by the German and French finance ministers (beginning December) to convert the financial transaction tax into a share tax, the campaign "Tax Against Poverty - Financial Transaction Tax" responds by stopping its campaign activities. Father Jörg Alt SJ, who initiated the campaign in 2010, comments on this initiative: "The campaign was launched by the Jesuit mission with three aims: the financial industry, one of the causes of the financial crisis, to demand a modest contribution to coping with the costs of the crisis; to use the proceeds of the crisis to alleviate poverty and the consequences of climate change; and to use the tax to make the trade in questionable financial products unprofitable and thereby to push it back. The Franco-German project thwarts our intentions: It burdens the real economy and protects the financial industry. And instead of fighting poverty and climate change, it is now to be financed in a Euro zone budget. While Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had still advocated the tax for reasons of justice and strengthening democracy, the current Franco-German proposal is a slap in the face for all those who have been committed to tax justice for years. We cannot legitimise this approach, which is why we also support the cessation of campaign activities. But: "The next financial and banking crisis will certainly come - then we will speak again".
Essen lays in the center of the Ruhr Area. Every day in the Abuna Frans House the message of Christmas works, and Ludger Hillebrand SJ feels like in Bethlehem: "There! I stand at the door and knock. Whoever hears my voice and opens the door, to which I enter and eat with him and he with me." (Rev 3:20) Father Lutz Müller and I have been running the Abuna-Frans-Haus for 20 months, a flat-sharing community of eight refugees and us Jesuits. Two housemates came from the street. First of all a short conversation over the phone with the person who visited them. Emergency situation! So, rooms cleaned and vacuumed, bed made, towels laid out, received. At first we didn't know why they had landed on the street. We simply opened the door and had tea with them. We learn the life story of all our roommates bit by bit. One of them told it to us only after more than a year. It took him so long to gain trust in us. Two hours of narration for over three years of escape from Africa via Greece to us. We normally don't ask about the reasons for the flight and the exact way to Germany. We wait adventitiously what comes and help where help is requested. The one former homeless Syrian knocked on my door late in the evening. He wanted to speak. At that time he spoke almost no German, I do not speak Arabic. I told him clearly that I did not understand him. He didn't care. He talked in tears. Just go for it and I listened as far as I could. What did I learn from that? I don't understand everything, can't understand everything at all, probably doesn't have to understand everything either. Simply being there, opening the door, facing the other, is already light in the darkness of this world. "His own did not receive Him" In the Gospel of Christmas according to John one can read: "He came into his property, but his own did not receive him". In recent years the borders have become denser, higher, more insurmountable. Our Christian Europe lets Africans drown in the Mediterranean and cooperates with dictators so that no one unexpectedly stands before our doors. As the fourth largest arms exporter, we earn a lot of money with many wars. And we wonder why people flee to us. In the year 2016, the repeatedly quoted climax of the alleged refugee crisis, one refugee per hundred Germans. Converted this means that the individual German could only eat 99% of his breakfast! What a drama! And in the meantime many of them have already been deported again, travelled back, or moved to families in other EU states. The policy of isolation and deportation is having an effect. What happens to the refugees who came to our house? One, a civil engineer from Syria, found a job as a civil engineer in Essen. A young man from Guinea is doing an apprenticeship as a baker; another is doing an apprenticeship as a restaurant specialist. All the others take language courses and take part in qualification courses for their future work. And we who, with the help of congregations and orders and countless volunteers, have opened the door for eight people? We meet silent and eloquent, young and old men. One of our roommates is called Jesus, two are called Mohamed and one is called Joseph. After months of living together, we understand each other better and we don't have to ask so many questions. Interreligious and international coexistence needs time and a lot of patience. On the way we enjoy the common food from the cultural areas of Africa and Arabia. "But to all who received him, he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in his name. Like children, we do not understand much in all its depth, drama and tragedy. But like children, we are happy when the Congo resident helps the Lebanese. And when a young roommate lets the Internet rest and goes shopping with an old one. Many small effective lights. Like in Bethlehem. Hallelujah.
Father General Arturo Sosa SJ received the Nihil obstat from the Vatican and appointed Father Ansgar Wucherpfennig SJ Rector of the University of St. Georgen with immediate effect. The University Conference had re-elected Wucherpfennig in February for a third term of office. Sosa is Grand Chancellor of the university and as such appoints the elected rector. For the appointment the so-called Nihil obstat, the declaration of no objection, was necessary. The Vatican's Congregation for Education has now issued this declaration, after Father Wucherpfennig had issued a declaration in which he emphasized that as a religious and priest he was committed to the authentic teaching office of the Church. Where required by his ministries, he fully and comprehensively explained the Church's teaching on the possibility of ordination of women (Ordinatio sacerdotalis) and of blessings for same-sex couples (letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on pastoral care for homosexual persons). As pastor and scholar he will continue to mark the questions he addresses to this doctrine as his personal interpretation. As a Christian and scientist, he had the personal hope, according to Wucherpfennig, that the ecclesiastical doctrine presented in the two Roman letters would continue to open up and develop further. His public statements on the diaconate of women and on blessings for couples who are unable to marry sacramentally were aimed at such a further development. Wucherpfennig will now publish articles on these two questions and present the results of his research - in faithful and creative continuity with the fundamental doctrines of the Church. The Provincial of the German Province of the Jesuits, Father Johannes Siebner, SJ, was relieved that the elected Rector of the University could now be appointed and thanked Father Sosa, Superior General, expressly for his commitment. "I am very grateful for the broad support that Fr. Ansgar Wucherpfennig and the University of St. Georgen have received in recent weeks. At the same time he thanked Prof. Thomas Meckel, who had represented Ansgar Wucherpfennig SJ as Prorector since October 1st, on behalf of the Order.
On the 6th of October, Sebastian Maly SJ, Clemens Kascholke SJ and Jörg Nies SJ were ordained to the priesthood in Frankfurt/M. by Bishop Georg Bätzing (Limburg). More than 800 guests - including families, friends and many Jesuits - gathered in the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew in Frankfurt. Bishop Bätzing spoke in his sermon about consolation and vocation: “Only who knows himself exactly and knows what he wants, will also know what God wants from him. ... Finding the will of God is closely connected with getting involved in one's own path of life. ... This shows a specific understanding of vocation, namely that man in the totality of his destinies may be understood as a call of God. He does not receive the call of God, he is ‘God's call’.” Subsequently, the three candidates for ordination gave the first blessing to the faithful. Afterwards there was the possibility to congratulate the newly ordained priests at the reception in the "Haus am Dom". Their first mass the newly ordained celebrated one day later in the Jesuit Church St. Ignatius in Frankfurt.
On September 8th four companions made their first vows in Loyola: Lucas Alcañiz (Madrid, 30 years); Luis Argila (Barcelona, ​​36); Alejandro Escoda (Barcelona, ​​26) and Alejandro Toro (Los Santos de Maimona, Badajoz, 21). On September 10 five young men made their first vows in the Society of Jesus in Nuremberg after a two-year novitiate period and thus bound themselves to the Order for their whole lives with the promise of full commitment for others. For the German Province Lukas Kraus SJ and Jonas Linz SJ made the vows, for the Lithuanian Province Donatas Kuzmickas SJ, for the Hungarian Province Árpád Tóth SJ and for the Austrian Province Gerald Baumgartner SJ. September 15 Giacomo, Cornel, Janez, Piero and Andrei have pronounced their First Vows in the Church of the Gesù of Genoa in the EUM province.