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.
Eugenijus Puzynia was ordained to the priesthood on December 1 in St. Francis Xavier church by Kaunas archbishop Lionginas Virbalas SJ. Exsultet choir, formed by Fr. Puzynia years ago, sang, and the reception was held in the Kaunas Jesuit School. Eugenijus is already the chaplain of Vilnius University, part of campus ministry at St. John‘s church in Vilnius. Artūras Sederevičius pronounced his solemn profession on December 15 in Kaunas, in the presence of provincial Fr. Vidmantas Šimkūnas and of the archbishop emeritus of Kaunas, Sigitas Tamkevičius SJ, and his relatives and friends. Artūras had taught at the Kaunas Jesuit School, teaches at the Vilnius Jėsuit School, where he was headmaster for five years, vicerector at St. Casimir‘s church,  and is province treasurer and consultor.
Exhibit in Vilnius. The Church Heritage Museum of the Archdiocese of Vilnius opened an exhibit „One Hundred Years of Missions and Missionaries“ on December 13, to last until May, 2019 as the principal exposition of the museum with a fine catalog, activities for young people and special monthly programs. Arranged by color according to the „Peace and Justice Rosary“ are artifacts from five continents to inform about Lithuanian missionaries and the missionary spirit and service of every Christian. It is sponsored by the Jesuits of Lithuania in cooperation with a unit of Senior Girl Guides. A small mobile exhibit is moving every two weeks from town to town until the summer, also in conjunction with the anniversary of Jesuits coming to Lithuania. On January 6 the official commemorations of 450 years of Jesuits in Lithuania begin with Mass at our four churches. An alumni conference is planned for February, another on leadership in April, Fr. General‘s visit in May, several Magis events, an exhibit in the Vilnius University library, a Jesuit school theatre festival and a final concert „Called to sing for the love of God“ a year from now.
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.
On the 5th of August the official dedication of the Jesuit residence in Riga took place. The residence is dedicated to the first Jesuit companion St. Peter Faber whose charisma was the Spiritual Exercises. The patron was intentionally choses since the essential part of the Jesuit mission in Latvia is ministry in spirituality as spiritual directors and retreat ministry. During the ceremony the bishop of Riga Zbignevs Stankevics emphasised the importance of this Jesuit calling to provide spiritual accompaniment to people of Riga. Additionally, the bishop stressed the need to maintain ecumenical relationships that are so well established in Riga because the Lutheran Church is interested in Ignatian spirituality. There were many guests from Lithuania and Latvia especially many Christian Life Community members who continue supporting the Riga Jesuit community in our mission.  The provincial of the Lithuanian-Latvian province Vidmantas Simkunas SJ expressed his gratitude for this beautiful day we could celebrate the blessing of the residence 5 years later since the Jesuits started a permanent presence in Latvia in 2013. Thanks to many benefactors including some European provinces such as the British, Dutch, German, Irish, and also the American Bishops conference and individual donators the house was purchased in 2015. On this day we could truly join the choir “Exaudi” from Kaunas, Lithuania in singing Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Currently in this new community live three members from three different cultural and linguistic backgrounds: Fr. Janis Melnikovs (Latvia); Fr. Gintaras Vitkus (Lithuania) and Fr. Tadeusz Cieslak (Poland).
To celebrate 100 years of the modern Republic of Lithuania, the Lithuanian postal service has memorialized 100 people who have contributed the most to uniting Lithuanians in the world in a special souvenir sheet of six 1,00 euro stamps. Pictured are living persons, not faces of famous Lithuanians from the past, and are being pictured on stamps for the first time. Antanas Saulaitis SJ is in clerics, one of the 20 chosen from among Lithuanians abroad.