As spring is coming and Easter is approaching, we can contemplate both on God’s creation and His resurrection to reinforce our hope amidst the troubling third wave of Covid in Europe. The situation in Hungary and Slovakia is far from optimal, but the organization of this year’s Magis Europe continues. We ask you to join us in prayers for the chance of a virus-free, international and genuine Magis summer experience in Hungary. At the end of the winter new restrictive regulations have been introduced in Hungary, because the third wave of Covid is mighty in Hungary and also in Slovakia – the other location of Magis Europe 2021. Nevertheless, despite the many uncertain factors, we are continuing to organize the event. We hope that during summer the situation will allow for a complete in person Magis experience. What you can do now is to create your Magis account on the website of the event, unless you have it from last year – then you only have to check whether your personal information (name, email, etc.) is OK. We also ask you to provide a consecrated referral person whom we can contact to confirm that Magis is the right program for you. After we have contacted your referral person, you can expect to receive a notification letter from us when – expectedly after Easter – the application opens. That is the period where you can select your favourite experiments and indicate in which of them you would like to participate. This is also where you can apply for financial support if you feel the need. Until then, follow us on Facebook and Instagram where you can already explore some of the experiments. A detailed description of each of them appears on the website soon, but you can already find out more about their special characters. After you set your preferred experiments, only one step remains to finalise your application: participation fee payment. In order to avoid any risk of unnecessary payments, this will be due in a two-week period in early summer, after we can safely and surely say that Magis Europe 2021 is allowed (by Covid regulations) to take place in August. The pandemic situation is still challenging in Central Europe, but by creating your Magis account you join us in our hopeful stance towards August. Stay safe, and please also join us in prayers for Magis and for the world!
“To contemplate all things in God”. At the age of 94, Hungarian Jesuit Ferenc (Franz) Jálics passed away on 13 February in a Catholic home for the elderly in Budapest. He devoted nearly all his life to finding ways to the deepest spirituality and prayer, which he found in contemplation. He has been a widely known and acknowledged master of Christian meditation worldwide, with his books translated into more than 16 languages and his method implemented in several retreat houses around the globe. Having been born and become a Jesuit in Hungary, on the wake of Communist dictatorship, after WWII, he was forced to leave his country. He studied philosophy in Germany, later in Belgium, then in 1956 was sent to Chile, and then to Buenos Aires, to continue his studies. After being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, he stayed in Argentina, and became a professor of theology and the spiritual director of young Jesuits, including Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. While doing social and pastoral work in a poor neighbourhood in 1976, at the height of “Dirty War”, with his Eastern-European background, he was thought to be a Russian spy and his companion a left-wing guerrilla. Consequently, they were captured by a death squad of the right wing military dictatorship, abducted, and held captive for five months. It was this prison experience that led him develop a special method of Christian contemplation combining elements of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola with Jesus Prayer. He left South-America in 1977, moved first to the USA, and then in 1978 to Gries, Germany, where he gave contemplative retreats. Until 2004, he was the director of the retreat centre he had founded in Gries. From then on, he did not give up giving retreats especially in Germany, Hungary, Romania. In 2017 he returned to Hungary, where he lived in a Jesuit community, then in a Catholic home for the elderly. Nevertheless, even here he gave spiritual guidance and led group meditations as long as his health let him do it. Ferenc Jálics passed away in this home on 13 February. His burial ceremony will take place on 8 April at 6 pm, in Sacred Heart Jesuit Church, Budapest.
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 hello@magis.jesuits.eu. For up-to-date news check out Magis website and Facebook page.