Caldas de Saúde
Charneca de Caparica
Póvoa de Varzim
Ignatian seminar: The inspiration of Mary and of the Ignatian Spirituality on the role of women in the Church “Come and see: with Mary, see” was the inspiration for the 12th Study Seminar on Ignatian Spirituality (SEEI) that took place from November 17 to 19, in Fátima, Portugal, and was organized by the Portuguese Province of the Society of Jesus. About 400 people from different communities and Ignatian groups, scattered throughout the country, gathered for two days of debate and sharing. In the light of Mary, whose apparition is celebrated in this centennial year, SEEI was an opportunity to meet and reflect on the paths that the Church and each Christian are called to follow. The role of women in the Church was one of the main topics of the event. “Women must have in the Church the role they had for Jesus in the Gospel”, said Father Vasco Pinto de Magalhães sj, speaker at the event. “Women should have an increasingly active and considered voice, and should have the intervening role that is due to them, at all levels.” About the priesthood of women, Fr. Pinto de Magalhães encouraged the reflection on the best way “to mature, in the Church, the feminine side of the sacerdotal charisma received in the baptism”. The Italian theologian Stella Morra, professor at the Gregorian Pontifical University, stated that “women in the Church already animate the lives of Christian communities, contribute to pastoral action at the local and national level, teach theology, and in many cases, guide liturgical acts in the absence of the priest." Stella Morra encouraged a collective and fearless discernment by the Church as a diverse and collective people, the "us ecclesial", looking at the present times as promising for the conversation about diversity in the Church. Other topics of Marian inspiration were part of SEEI: "the openness to the Spirit", addressed by Fr. Carlos Carneiro sj, or "the vocation for justice" by Joana Morais e Castro. Inspiring personal stories were also told by women and men who, like Mary, let God incarnate in their lives. Margarida Alvim, Teresa Olazabal, Isabel Figueiredo and Filipe Costa Lima shared some of the testimonies.Organized since 1991, SEEI takes place every two years. The book with the speeches of the Study Seminar on Ignatian Spirituality 2017 will be available soon.
CUPAV – Lisbon’s Jesuit center dedicated to university students – is hosting, this year, from October until June – “Projecto 18.91”, in English: “Project 18.91”, an introductory course on the Social Doctrine of the Church (SDC) with a special method inspired by the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (reading – lecture – Q&A – personal reflection, sharing in groups), motivated by the recent publication of “DoCat”. The name Projecto '18 .91 'refers to the year in which the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII 'Rerum Novarum 'was published, which became a fundamental pillar of the Church's Social Doctrine. There are 100 participants, aged between 20 and 30 and 9 lecturers, one for each monthly session. The mains goals are, first, to get people informed about how the Church interprets the links between the Gospel and social thought and, second, to incentivize an autonomous approach to doctrine in general, and third to insist on the relationship between doctrine and daily life. The initiative came from a group of young laymen and was supported by Fr. João Goulão sj, the director of CUPAV. The two first sessions were a success. When asked about how did the first session go, Rui Fernandes sj, a Jesuit student from Santarém, the first speaker at Projecto 18.91 on the topic: “Being Christian in the society – Church and society”, says: “I was very surprised by the number of people participating, also very happy to see the interest people demonstrated. From what I could perceive, I think there is a clear desire of deepening; people want to get to know stuff, they want to have an intelligent reading of them and I think that is a very good sign”. Fr. Francisco Mota sj, the speaker of November talked about the main principles of SDC. In his opinion, Projecto 18.91 “is a pertinent project, that was missing in the Portuguese Church (…) the method helps.. this relationship between a lecture and previous reading has many benefits, helps to prepare the theme before it starts, helps to dispose oneself to listen what is to be said. It’s a type of course that permits decentralizing preoccupations and doing so it can bring unity to our Church. We are studying what concerns the SDC, we are at a catechesis, being loyal to the text and applying what we learn into daily life. I hope that this is a work that brings unity.”
The Parish of St. Francis Xavier of Caparica (Almada, Portugal) solemnized the World Day of the Poor, celebrated for the first time on November 19, at the initiative of Pope Francis. To mark this day, a special call was made for participation in the Sunday Mass of 11.30 and an invitation to various groups with links to the community. The church turned out to be small for all who wanted to attend. At the end of the Mass, there was a shared lunch attended by hundreds of people. Following the Pope's decision to create a World Day of the Poor, the provincial of the Jesuits in Portugal challenged the communities associated with the Society of Jesus to participate a significant way to this day.  Careful preparation for the Mass was a special call for participation in the liturgical celebration and for the invitation to members of different groups linked to the Society of Jesus who collaborate in the pastoral activity of the parish. In this way, members of the Christian Life Community (CLC), young people from the Gambozinos association and members of the NGO Laity for Development, joined the parishioners. The Padre Amadeu Pinto Youth Center and the Parish Social Center were also involved in a special way in this celebration. The Eucharist was animated by the choir of the youth group and totally filled the church, whose assembly can pray inspired by African songs. Following the tradition of some African countries, at the offertory, foodstuffs were brought to the altar to be donated to families with the most needs. Following the Eucharist followed a shared lunch in the courtyard of the parish. Decorated with works developed by some children from phrases from the message of Pope Francis for World Day of the Poor, the space was filled with a festive tone. Of all the delicacies, the Cape Verdean cachupa, the Portuguese feijoada and the cake prepared by the teenagers of the Padre Amadeu Pinto Juvenile Center stood out. At the end of the lunch, it was possible to visit the facilities of the Center, where about 100 children a day pass, being assisted in their school tasks and participating in play and sports activities that contribute to their integral development. It was a day marked by the joy that contributed to foment the culture of  encouenter desired by Pope Francis. In a simple way and in an atmosphere of reciprocity and sharing, people came from different backgrounds to share the Eucharist, the table and life. This was only one of the initiatives of the Portuguese Jesuit Province to celebrate this day. Other initiatives were: a Special edition of the Cultural Magazine Brotéria; a common prayer for all Jesuit communities; a video to share within social networks; a special edition of the Passo a Rezar (Portuguese version of Pray as you Go); role-plays in Jesuit schools, etc.
Europe and Near East, 102 novices in 10 novitiates.  They knew about by us in a diverse way, some have studied with us, other just heard about us in a retreat, a conference or by clicking in our websites. Every vocational journey can start in many different ways for many people across Europe and Near East. They could be admitted after a process of knowing each other, Jesuits and candidates, and following a aspirants programme with spiritual direction. In October, 58 young men have joined the Society of Jesus with the true intention of becoming Jesuits. They come from almost every Jesuit Province or Region in this territory gathered in 10 different novitiates that go from Portugal to Poland and from England to Egypt. Jesuit training begins with a two-year programme called novitiate. This instruction begins only after a period of vocational discernment. The role of a Jesuit spiritual director is key in this process. This Jesuit's tasks is mainly focused on helping the young man discern what God is calling him to do, and how best to explore his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Only when mutual knowledge between candidates and Jesuits is mature enough the person will be admitted in the novitiate. Discerning a Jesuit vocation is an exercise of freedom, commitment and openness to find where God is willing to meet each one personally. All together there are 102 novices in Europe, 58 in first year and 44 in second year. A novice learns to create a community of brothers who grow in prayer, knowledge of the Society, apostolic work, and personal enrichment. He meets the Lord through the 30-day Spiritual Exercises retreat. At the end of these two years, he pronounces vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Here there are some interesting figures about the Jesuit novitiates in Europe and Near East: Birmingham (U.K.) First year: 3 Novices Second year: 2 Novices Total novitiate: 5 Countries: Northern Belgium, Ireland, The Netherlands and United Kingdom Cairo (Egypt) First year: 3 Second year: 5 Total novitiate: 8 Countries: Egypt, Lebanon and Syria Coimbra (Portugal) First year: 3 Second year: 5 Total novitiate: 8 Country: Portugal Gdynia (Poland) First year: 16 Second year: 9 Total novitiate: 25 Countries: Poland, Russia, Ukraine Genoa (Italy) First year: 6 Second year: 6 Total novitiate: 12 Countries: Italy, Malta, Romania, and Slovenia Lyon (France) First year: 10 Second year: 2 Total novitiate: 12 Countries: France, Southern Belgium and Luxemburg  Nürnberg (Germany) First year: 6 Second year: 5 Total novitiate: 11 Countries: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania and Switzerland   Ružomberok (Slovakia) First year: 4 Second year: 1 Total novitiate: 5 Countries: Chequia and Slovakia San Sebastián (Spain) First year: 3 Second year: 5 Total novitiate: 8 Country: Spain Split (Croacia) First year: 4 Second year: 4 Total novitiate: 8 Countries: Croatia
In recent times, we have been facing a major challenge: how to reach the variety of pupils from the three schools we have in Portugal, from both the regular and technical education. The former model of a weekend for each class, led us to a strict selection of which pupils could be part of the activities, generating discomfort to the pastoral ministers and the pupils themselves. Unintentionally, we were creating some kind of elite among the pupils, and those farthest from God had no activity to participate in. Therefore, a big question rose up: what to do to reach more pupils, in so different relations with God? After a period of discernment, we found consolation on making a pilgrimage where pupils from the three schools and from both high school and technical education could participate. Pilgrimage? Where to? When the Society of Jesus arrived in Portugal, and the College in Coimbra was founded, some fields were given to support pupils who couldn’t afford it. In those lands was the Shrine of Our Lady of Lapa (Our Lady of the Rock, roughly translated), which quickly became a place for pilgrimage. This shrine and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia (Spain) were, in those times, the two most important sanctuaries of the Iberian Peninsula. Between October 4th and 7th a group of two hundred pupils with a group of animators (Alumnae, Teachers, School Personnel and Parents) set out to thank so great good received, and to put under the protection of Our Lady the year to begin. The spiritual background for these days was based in the year motto: “Above all, Thank you. More in deeds than in words”. This was our way of praying the contemplation to gain love. It filled us with consolation to see God acting in our pupils, to see how they found meaning to walk through their hard times, and how the spirit of aid was always present. In these days, we witnessed true miracles, which were the focus of the Thanksgiving Eucharist once arrived to the Shrine. Without any doubt, this is a way to reach the pupils we couldn’t get with the reflection weekends. The joy that overruns the halls of the three schools is testimony to this paschal meeting we had on our way to Our Lady of Lapa.
This summer, Portugal was scourged with wildfires. leaving behind a trail of destruction and causing 64 deaths, the wildfire that broke out in Pedrógão Grande, a municipality in the centre of the country, was the worst prequel to what was to follow. As soon as the real extent of the tragedy became clear, many students and young professionals close to the Jesuits in Portugal, rushed there to help the local people and the firemen, providing the needed assistance and logistical support. A month later, at the end of July, Missão Aqui e Agora (Mission for here and now) was born thanks to the initiative of two of the volunteers, who rapidly mobilized other young Catholics willing to bring some hope and joy to a place devastated by pain and death. For two weeks, volunteers stayed in Castanheira de Pêra, one of the hard-hot districts, helping out Médicins du Monde, responsible for coordinating aid on the ground. In all, there were some 40 people aged 18 to 30 and coming from every corner of the country. Although many of them had never met before, they were united in their desire to do whatever was needed: they distributed food, clothes, wood and other essential goods; removed debris from burnt houses; planted vegetable seeds in gardens; visited and comforted those feeling lonely. All this, while bringing along their joy. To keep the team of young volunteers going for weeks, a big spiritual and emotional support was put at their disposal. Several Jesuits were also there, accompanying and helping alongside volunteers. Father Provincial José Frazão Correia was one of those who witnessed the mission first-hand . He was deeply touched by the inner freedom with which volunteers decided to leave everything behind to “make the Lord’s presence felt in the midst of such desolation”. Thanks to a local parish priest, daily mass was celebrated outdoors with the community, enriching the experience of missionary work. Already a month has gone by since the tragedy and some have paid a second visit, given the huge manpower needed to rebuild the place. However, the main purpose of their visit stems from their need to be among locals as they contribute to the reconstruction process. They not do this out of their own initiative, but remain strongly attached to the cause by bringing with them more friends. We hope that many more keep returning!