During the weekend on October 31 and November 1, 2020 seven Slovak Jesuits helped as volunteers in the all-over testing on Covid-19 in Slovakia. In this testing there was tested every citizen over the age of 10 for coronavirus (about 4 million people). Fr. Martin Halčák and Fr. Peter Buša came out with their own initiative. In the spring 2020 both of them helped during the first wave for a whole month in the quarantine center on the university campus in Bratislava. They volunteered to help the Civil Protection. These Jesuits assisted in the administrative operations of the collection point in Bratislava. Fr. Jozef Šofranko, the Slovak provincial of the Society of Jesus, also joined them in the last testing. He said: "Actually, in this pandemic situation, we have more free time at the weekends, so we would like to help for the common good". At the other off-take point in Piešťany there were other four Jesuits assisting: Fr. Peter Zahoránsky, Fr. Róbert Gočala, Fr. Jakub Garčár and Fr. Adrián Čontofalský. All of them work in the Retreat house in Piešťany. These fellow Jesuits responded to the call of the local town. Fr. Provincial Jozef Šofranko added: "Because our pastoral activities are limited at this moment, we want to serve people in this way." We are so grateful to our Jesuits together with the provincial for their participation and willingness to help in the current situation. We would also like to ask you to pray for them. Pictures: Fr. Martin Halčák (@Peter Mayer, Hospodárske noviny)/ Fr. Provincial Jozef Šofranko helping with testing
At the Holy Mass on 9th of May 2020 in the Church of the Blessed Savior in Bratislava Fr. Jozef Šofranko, SJ, took over his office as the Provincial of the Slovak province and thus became the new Provincial of the Jesuits in Slovakia. He was appointed to this ministry by the General Superior of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, according to the decree from 6th of January 2020. Until now Fr. Šofranko has hold the ministry of the Socius of the Provincial since 2014. He replaced the ex-provincial Fr. Rudolf Uher, SJ, who has been the Provincial of the Slovak province since 2014. We are very thankful to Fr. Uher as well as to Fr. Šofranko for their hard work. We are also praying for the new provincial that the Holy Spirit will lead him in his new mission. About Fr. Jozef Šofranko, SJ Fr. Jozef Šofranko was born in Prešov (Eastern Slovakia) on 25th of May 1977. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1996 in Trnava. After Novitiate, he studied philosophy and theology at the Theological Faculty of Trnava’s University in Bratislava. Then, after his ordination in 2006 he served as a Chaplain in the Jesuit Parish in Banská Bystrica. From 2008 he was doing his licentiate studies of Canon Law in Rome at Gregorian University. From 2011 to 2013 he was responsible for the Slovak section of Vatican Radio. He did his tertianship in 2013 in Portland – USA. From 2014 to 2020 Fr. Jozef Šofranko has been the Socius of the Provincial and also has given lectures of Canon Law at the Theological Faculty of Trnava’s University in Bratislava since 2017.
At the request of the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak republic, addressed to the religious orders, for volunteer assistance in quarantine centers in Slovakia, several Slovak Jesuits showed their interest. Taking into account age and circumstances, Fr. Provincial Rudolf Uher complied with the request and sent two Jesuits: Fr. Martin Halčák and Fr. Peter Buša. On 2nd of May 2020 both of them started their service in the quarantine center in Bratislava. Later on, after a great impact and positive presence of our brothers, Fr. Provincial was asked by the responsible representatives of Civil Protection for the opportunity to extend the participation of the Jesuit brothers in the quarantine center from the original two weeks for a month. Fr. Provincial agreed with the request and so both of them will remain in this necessary service until the end of May. We thank so much our Jesuit brothers – Fr. Martin and Fr. Peter for their commitment and willingness to help. We would like also to ask you to pray for them. A.M.D.G
On February 3 – 5, Jesuits from the Czech Republic and Slovakia met at their historically first common meeting, at the pilgrimage site in Velehrad (Moravia, Czech Rep.). This meeting of seventy Jesuits from both countries was the first visible step in the process of convergence of the two provinces, which should join together in the future. During the three days, the Czech and Slovak Jesuits had the opportunity to get to know each other and to deepen the consciousness of their common Jesuit identity, which unites them. On the afternoon of the first day, they presented the life and apostolic activity of their communities in both countries. They learned they each other more personally in twelve small groups. The whole second day of their meeting was dedicated to a spiritual dynamic, accompanied by invited guests from the Jesuit Conference of European Provinces (JCEP) Fr. Franck Janin, current President of JCEP, and his socius Fr. José de Pablo. For this purpose, they chose a text from Matthew's Gospel, "You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world." The participants of the meeting had to think about this part of the Gospel both in relation to themselves and in relation to the future of both provinces – what God is calling them to do if they are to continue to be salt and light for others. Therefore, in the morning and afternoon, they devoted an entire hour to a personal meditation over the Gospel text, the next hour was intended to share the fruits of their prayer in small groups and then share it in plenary. This spiritual process, using elements of the Ignatian spirituality, was intended to help strengthening the unity of the hearts, which only could ensure real cooperation and greater convergence in the future. The meeting culminated on the last day with the Eucharistic celebration in Czech, held in the Basilica of Velehrad, presided by the Czech Provincial Fr. Petr Pradka and in which Fr. Viliam Karla did the homily in Slovak. The scholastics of both provinces also renewed their religious vows at this Mass. Currently, the Czech Jesuits have 47 members, the Slovak 86. The cooperation between the two provinces so far concerns mainly formation. Since 2002, a joint novitiate has been operating in Ruzomberok, Slovakia. Czech and Slovak Jesuits in formation (scholastics) meet regularly; usually they also study together at various places abroad. Superiors of local communities and members of provincial consult of both provinces meet annually. Czech and Slovak Jesuits also organize spiritual exercises for their members. Three Slovak Jesuits are working in the Czech Republic, one Czech in Slovakia. Already in the past, there was a common Czechoslovak Jesuit province since 1919. It was divided in 1938, when the Czech province and the independent Slovak vice-province were established. It became a province in 1983. In these years of ongoing process of restructuring in the Society of Jesus, a voting poll was held in both the Czech and Slovak provinces in 2017, in which the majority of the members expressed their views in favor of the future joining of both provinces.
Portugal Father General Arturo Sosa, SJ, appointed Fr. Miguel Nuno Maria de Siqueira de Almeida, 52 years old, as the new Portuguese Provincial. Fr. Miguel Almeida is born in Lisbon on 6 November 1967. He is graduated in Philosophy from the Faculty of Philosophy of the Portuguese Catholic University, in Braga, and in Theology from the Gregorian University, in Rome.He did his Masters in Moral Theology at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Cambridge, MA - USA. He was Socius of the Master of Novices, director of several university centres and was currently the Superior of the Juniorate in Braga. He was elector in the General Congregation 36.   Slovakia Fr. Jozef Šofranko - new Provincial of the Slovak Province        On 6th of January 2020 Fr. General Arturo Sosa appointed Fr. Jozef Šofranko as a new Provincial of the Slovak Province. Fr. Šofranko will take charge of the Province on 9th of May 2020 during the Mass at 12.00 in the Jesuit Church of the Most Holy Saviour in Bratislava. Fr. Jozef Šofranko was born in Prešov (Eastern Slovakia) on 25th of May 1977. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1996 in Trnava. After Novitiate, he studied philosophy and theology at the Theological Faculty of Trnava’s University in Bratislava. Then, after his ordination in 2006 he served as a Chaplain in the Jesuit Parish in Banská Bystrica. From 2008 he was doing his licentiate studies of Canon Law in Rome at Gregorian University. From 2011 to 2013 he was responsible for the Slovak section of Vatican Radio. He did his tertianship in 2013 in Portland – USA. Actually Fr. Jozef Šofranko is the Socius of the Provincial and teaches Canon Law at the Theological Faculty of Trnava’s University in Bratislava.
Trnava Jesuits publish prestigious Psalm Commentaries. A team of authors led by Milos Lichner has been awarded a prestigious Dominik Tatarka Prize 2017 for the book Zalmy 51-75, Komentare (Psalms 51-75, Commentaries). The work that aims to support the knowledge of Jewish-Christian roots of Slovak culture, has been published by the Dobra kniha Publishing house. The book consists of almost seven hundred pages, on which more that 20 members of ecumenical team (biblists, theologians and philologists) had worked for over five years. It is a modern professional interpretation of the Psalms, enriched by information from the field of linguistics, history and archeology. The edition of commentaries has been prepared under the gestion of the board of Faculty of Theology of Trnava University headed by dean Milos Lichner. In his ceremonial speech, he expressed the conviction that Catholics, Jews and Protestants are able to unite their efforts in a positive battle for better word. The prize with a 14-year tradition awarded annually to the authors of extraordinary literary works was accepted by Milos Lichner, editor Bohdan Hrobon and rabbi Michael Kapustin on March 13, 2018, at the premises of Palffy Palace in Bratislava.