Hungarian Jesuits have joined an initiative focusing on helping families in underdeveloped areas to have a better future. The mission to which the Hungarian Province of the Society of Jesus is now making its contribution, was launched by Franciscan sisters in a village called Arló in the Borsod area of North-East Hungary. The project is supported by the “Redeveloping villages” initiative of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The village is located in a picturesque landscape in the mountainous Bükk area. During the Socialist era before 1990, the village suffered from the industrialization of the time, but after the transition, because of the downgrade of the heavy industry, many people lost their livelihood. They mostly include the Roma community of the village, who make up 60% of the 3700 inhabitants of the village. „Most of them are undereducated and don’t do well with commitments, so they have a difficult time finding a job”, says Mrs István Vámos, the local mayor. The employment difficulties are deeply rooted in local education problems, which often include “spontaneous segregation”. The Arló elementary school has 360 pupils, all of whom are Roma. “The reason of this is that non-Roma or even more selective Roma parents take their children to another school, in search of better chances there”, says the mayor. The Franciscan sisters have already contributed a lot to helping children, who often don’t even finish elementary school. In recent years, five local Roma youngsters were admitted to the Jesuit high school in Miskolc, locally referred to as „Jezsu”. „Even though the high school has become an elite institution, due to its apostolic mission and its close location to the problematic Avas residential area, it is important to conduct missionary work”, emphasizes the vice principal of the school, Balázs Velkey. Continuing this streak, the Jesuits have joined a social initiative, cooperating with the Franciscan sisters and the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, whose vice president Miklós Vecsei, as ministerial commissioner of redevelopment, is responsible for Roma issues as well. The Jesuits will be in charge of Arló in the “Redeveloping villages” program, aiming at the redevelopment of villages. The project includes more than 60 settlements as to date and is coordinated by the ministerial commissioner. The Jesuits will be represented by Balázs Velkey as coordinator, and he will spend one day every week in the village. The aim in Arló is that even the children coming from disadvantaged background could take responsibility for their own future. „Working on this cannot be started too early, because a lot of children are fallen behind in nursery school, and some of them even have developmental disorders”, says Balázs Velkey. These efforts all have the same purpose: that the children should have better future than their parents. Besides Velkey, the Jesuits send Ferenc Kiss SJ, who previously worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service, to Arló, who will spend two days a week in the village. The Jesuits will have two more people working in the area, where they first assess the needs of the local community, in order to come up with a redevelopment plan. Plans made in a cosy room, far away from the reality of the village, will not stand, underline the coordinators of the program unanimously. Instead, they need to be present in the area, as they also say, not to educate, but to learn first, and then, using these experiences, Roma and non-Roma Hungarians can ask and answer the right questions together.
A pilgrimage movie on the footsteps of St.Ignatius. 2021/22 will see a worldwide commemoration of the famous pilgrimage of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. On the eve of the jubilee year, a documentary titled Camino Ignaciano was filmed this August. The movie recalls the journey of the founder of the Jesuit order from Loyola to Manresa, and is planned to be screened at the 500th anniversary celebrations of the renowned event worldwide. The 90 minutes documentary, recorded at historic sites in Spain, will present how a pilgrimage may become a spiritual journey. In the movie a Jesuit guide, José Luis Iriberri SJ accompanied the spiritual exercises of four Hungarian pilgrims. He walked with them the way Saint Ignatius set foot on 500 years ago from Loyola to Manresa, and at the same time will guide the viewers on their inner journey. Following the still less known route of Camino Ignaciano in Spain, the viewers may become acquainted with the spiritual and visual beauty of the pilgrimage and also become familiar with the Saint Ignatian spirituality. José Luis Iriberri SJ is a master in counselling at Ramon Llull University, Barcelona. He is the founder and director of the bureau of Camino Ignaciano, and is the co-author of books on the route. He guides pilgrim groups several times a year. The director of the film is the Hungarian Ferenc Tolvaly, the director of El Camino and other pilgrimage movies. The creative director is the Hungarian Lajos Kovács SJ, doctor of communication sciences, professor at Corvinus University of Budapest. He has also worked as a television director and a cameraman. The premiere is scheduled to the spring of 2021, the opening of the Jubilee Year of Saint Ignatius. The script was approved by father Iriberri and the leadership of the Hungarian Province of the Society of Jesus; the latter is the patron of the film, providing professional counselling for the project. Video with Fr. José Luis Iriberri
This May and June saw the heavenly birthday of two Jesuits who were born in Europe, but embraced Japan as their second home. On the 20th of May 2020 the Spanish Adolfo Nicolás, former superior general of the Society of Jesus, passed away in Tokyo, shortly followed by his Hungarian master and professor, Péter Nemeshegyi on the 13th of June in Budapest at the age of 97. The two Jesuits, like many of their predecessors throughout the history, spent decades in Japan in missionary work, bringing the Gospel to thousands of locals. While doing so, they were both intermediators as well, enriching the Christian notion of life with the values of the Japanese way of thinking. Born in 1923 in Budapest, capital of Hungary, Péter Nemeshegyi attended a Lutheran high school. Having finished his legal studies at university, first he worked as a bank clerk. However, he soon felt the call of God, so he entered the Society of Jesus in 1944. He became a Jesuit in times of turmoil. After World War II drew to its end, the reconstruction of Hungary hardly began when the Communist party commanded an increasingly harsh campaign against all the churches. His superiors advised him and his associates to leave the country before it was too late, and the religious orders would be banned, as it did took place in 1950; he did so with many of his fellow Jesuits, and first escaped to Austria, and later went to Italy. It was in Rome where he became a doctor of theology at Pontifical Gregorian University and was ordained a priest in 1952. Then he was sent to missionary work to Japan, where he spent more than 40 years. At Sophia University in Tokyo he taught theology and was professor of patristic studies; he was appointed a dean of the faculty of theology for six years, in which capacity he did a lot for the inculturation of the Catholic teaching and the formation of the Japanese theological and liturgical language. He oversaw the Japanese translation of the Bible and the Church Fathers, authored more than two dozen books and essays in Japanese. Between 1969 and 1974 Pope Paul VI. appointed him as member of the International Theological Commission, and also worked in the Society of Japanese Christian Scholars. He launched the series of the local Catholic Encyclopaedia and held university lectures on various subjects, including the morals and lessons of Mozart’s music. Besides his scientific activity, he was involved in apostolic work, too, bringing the Christian faith to hundreds of Japanese believers. He returned to Hungary in 1993 for “missionary work”, and did more or less the same as he had done in Japan, but this time in his native land. He worked as professor at theology, published several books, guided spiritual retreats, soon becoming a spiritual authority, especially with his famous sermons at the Jesuit church in Budapest. He remained active even when he was well above 90 years of age and lived in a home for the elderly, using wheelchair to fulfil his duties. He was a person for whom the words “a living legend” are neither a banal commonplace nor undeserved exaggeration. What is more, he has always been a man of God and a friend of Jesus, who was able to be a distinguished scholar and to convey the Christian message with simple and expressive words for anyone to understand. And a man whose death does not bear only grief and mourning, but first of all deep gratitude for a rich and fruitful life of someone with whom we were privileged to be contemporaries. Szőnyi Szilárd
A month ago Hungarian Jesuits and their friends were full of hope about organizing this year’s Saint Ignatian youth festival, Magis Europe 2020, despite the current global pandemic. Although their enthusiasm is the same, and the situation seems to start getting better slowly, the central team of Magis 2020, in accordance with the experiment leaders of the meeting, decided to cancel – or rather, postpone – the event. There are many reasons behind this decision, like concerns about international travelling and insecurities about mass events. Probably one of the most determining reasons is that Pope Francis has just recently changed the dates of the largest international gatherings for Catholics: the World Youth Day will be in 2023 instead of 2022, and the International Eucharistic Congress 2020 is also rescheduled to 2021. Since Magis 2020 was planned to focus on the Eucharist as well, the central team is happy to announce that ‘21 is the new ‘20: according to their plans, Magis Central Europe will take place in Hungary and the neighbouring countries in the summer of 2021. So as to provide some Magis experience this year as well, this August will see a short online substitute meeting – the central team will reveal details as soon as they are figured out. As far as the application process is concerned, registration to Magis 2020 is, most evidently, no longer possible, and those who have already paid their fee will receive a detailed letter about the refund. Yet, the registrations made this year will be valid for next year, so it will not be necessary to start the process all over again. The organizers will announce in due time when the new registration process commences (some time at the beginning of 2021), and what you will need to do only is to affirm your intention to participate in Magis Europe. In case if any questions, the central team is happy to help at For up-to-date news check out Magis website and Facebook page.
Hungarian Jesuits have been offering a wide variety of online initiatives since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Beside a full-scale range of Eucharist broadcasts, there are digital prayer sheets, audio examens and other materials also available, encouraging individuals, couples and families to look upon their home as a sanctuary, and lead prayers on their own. However, living behind closed doors for weeks, maybe months at length, is not at all easy. The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic gave a special touch to this year’s lent period: it has made us halt, revise our daily life and face our boundaries. What is more, all that is happening to us may cause a turmoil in our soul, existential questions may arise and we might also have uncertainties. This has made the Hungarian Jesuits and their companions – religious and lay people alike –, trained at the Ignatian Spiritual Centre Manréza in Dobogókő, offer online spiritual direction and support for anyone who seeks to find God in these special circumstances, would find stillness or ask guidance for their prayers. In our Online Port, the dates and times available are listed in an online calendar; once you have registered to one of the spiritual guides, he or she will contact you in order to arrange how – via Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, etc. – the talk will take place. This initiative goes hand in hand with a similar one offered by Oasis Pastoral Care and Mental Health Service, supported by the Hungarian Province of the Society of Jesus. Face-to-face counselling being unavailable amidst the pandemic, they also offer online opportunities to those who are in need of supportive listening, accompaniment and pastoral counselling.
Are you between 18 and 35 years of age? Would you spend a meaningful week between the 1st and 9th of August, 2020, among youths, Jesuits and their friends from various countries? Are you ready to go beyond your comfort zone and try yourself in practical experiments? Are you into pilgrimage, the spirituality of Saint Ignatius and charity, or arts and ecology? Do you happen to speak English? If your answers are yes, there is nothing else to do then to check out the details of Magis Europe 2020, held in Hungary, and register between the 1st of March and 15th of May. You may do it via our new website »«, where you may also find the background and all the details of the meeting. In Ignatian spirituality, magis marks one’s effort to find what is according to the will and to the greater glory of God. With this is mind, the upcoming event, dating back to more than two decades, has two parts: Ignatian experiments and the closing event. During the experiments you will be encouraged to experience yourself, others and God in a new way. You’ll find yourself in unusual situations, and probably realize that teamwork is essential while making friends with people from various countries, and discovering that we all belong to one international community of human beings. This is also manifest in the venues of the experiments: besides Hungary, it is neighbouring Slovakia, Austria and Romania that welcome participants, all of them finally gathering in Miskolc, Northern-Hungary, for the closing event. The central theme of Magis 2020 will be the Eucharist under the motto: “You are my Bread, my Life, my Love”. One month after our event, the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Budapest, Hungary – a fact that inspired the choice of this year’s focus. Plus, the first Universal Apostolic Preference of the Jesuits is “to show the way to God”. Magis aims to do this by exploring in depth the Eucharistic aspect of Ignatian spirituality through the pillars of the daily schedule with morning prayers, noon or evening examens, holy mass, experiments and Magis circles. Though next August may seem to be in the distant future, and there is also time until the registration and check-in, the new website is already worth browsing. Our aim was to create an online platform where you may get an insight into what will await you if you make up your mind to dedicate one week of your next summer to Magis Europe 2020. Be it a retreat in the Mediterranean-like mountains in Southern-Hungary; a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Pope Francis to a famous shrine in Romania dwelled by Hungarians; a spiritual bike tour around Lake Balaton; evangelization by means of Slovakian wooden churches; learning English through fun and spirituality; spending one week as a Jesuit – the aim is the very same: to find ways to make the most and the best of ourselves, of one another, and then to render it to the greater glory of our common God.