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.
Meeting of the Czech and Slovak scholastics. At the turn of the year, from December 28, 2017 to January 1, 2018, an annual meeting of scholastics from the Czech and Slovak provinces took place at the Jesuit cottage in the Trlenska valley near Ruzomberok in Slovakia. Among the participants, there were students of philosophy in Poland (Krakow) and Germany (Munich), young Jesuits on regency in Slovakia and one deacon. During the whole period, eleven young Jesuits were accompanied by the Czech  Provincial Josef Stuchly. Scholastics studying in Italy were missing because they attended an ordination of their confreres in Rome. The meeting gave to the young Jesuits an opportunity to share their lives in the Society and their experiences of the formation. They talked about their studies and regencies in different European countries (Germany, Poland, Slovakia), and they also discussed current themes of  both provinces. An important topic was the merging the Czech and Slovak provinces that will take place in the future. Participants shared their ideas and feelings about that merging and they also tried to identify the most important questions to be addressed regarding this topic. Talks were followed by less formal sharing and discussions. For this part of the program also the Slovak Provincial Rudolf Uher joined the group. Serious themes were balanced by a lot of spontaneous encounters, conversations and a leisure time spent together. The participants had a time for the rest, for walks, trips and swimming, for visits in Ruzomberok, and thanks to the weather that brought a lot of show also for skiing in the adjacent mountains. Every day there was a common Eucharist and adoration. On the New Year's Eve, sisters from the Congregatio Jesu community in Ruzomberok and several other guests joined the group for the Holy Mass and a festive dinner. They welcomed the New Year during common midnight adoration in Ruzomberok, followed by a celebratory drink in a nearby parish premises. The whole meeting that took place in an atmosphere of peace, joy and a mutual support was concluded by a morning Mass on Monday, January 1st.
Central-East Europe Novice Meeting in Split. This year's the central-east Europe novices meeting took place in Split, Croatia. It was the meeting of novices from Gdynia (Poland), Ružomberok (the Slovak and Czech joint novitiate in Slovakia) and Split. The meeting was held from the 6th of June until the 11th of June. The meeting began with a holy mass which celebrated in the Split cathedral by the archbishop of Split Marin Barišić in concelebration with the Jesuit novice masters and their assistants.  The Croatian novice master fr. Stipo Balatinac held the introductory word before the mass: “The place of our usual yearly meeting happens to be, trough rotation, Split. Here we have 15 novices that arrive from Gdynia led by their novice master fr. Piotr Szymanski. From the Slovak and Czech joint novitiate in Ružemberok, due to sickness, arrived only three novices and their master and his assistant: fr. Jan Adamik and fr. Ondrej Gabriš. Next to them here we have our seven Croatian novices, alongside with me, their novice master. I am pleased that our guests can not only see the oldest cathedral in the world, but also celebrate in it our Lord the best way, through the holy Mass. In this meeting we want to enrich ourselves spiritually and rest our bodies, especially in our already warm Adriatic Sea.” 40 years of Novitiate and the feast of St. Stanislaus Kostka. Sunday November 12th saw a festive commemoration of 40 years since the Jesuit novitiate was transferred from Zagreb to Split. To mark the anniversary, Fr. Zvonko Vlah SJ – one of the novices who at the time formed the first generation in Split – celebrated mass at the Church attached to the Novitiate building Vows 2017 in Croatia On Saturday, September 16, in Split, Croatia, three Jesuit novices have taken vows. They are Zlatko Brauchler (born on August 16, 1991 in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany), Dino Stanić (born on May 24, 1992 in Rijeka, Croatia) and Matej Zdravčević (born on January 11, 1992 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany). The Holy Mass was celebrated in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Split, Croatia. The main celebrant was Fr. Dalibor Renić SJ, provincial of the Croatian Province of the Society of Jesus. After the vows the new Jesuit scholastics have visited their families and friends. Now they are in Zagreb, studying philosophy at the Jesuit Institute of Philosophy and Theology. Let us all pray for their perseverance, spiritual and intellectual progress. May they surrender their lives completely to God, for His greater glory.
Magis retreat in the heart of Slovakia and “more” St. Francis of Assisi had in San Damiano a mystical experience with the crucified Christ speaking to him: “Rebuild my Church”. Starting to rebuild by hand the little Church called St. Mary of Angels gradually he realized that the very essence of this call was to rebuild the Church as the body of Christ. “Rebuild my Church” was a motto of a weekend retreat of Magis Slovakia in November 10th till 12th 2017. It took a place in a beautiful area of the Jesuit compound of the Novitiate “villa” Trlenska. Located in the center of Slovakia about 10 km from Ružomberok, it is surrounded by mountain ranges,  the national parks of Great Fatra, Low Tatras and the protected natural area of Chočské vrchy (Choc’s mountains). Trlenska, which was gradually built by Jesuits in the thirties of the previous century, is a compound of several buildings which consists of Trlenska villa – cottage, Chapel of Virgin Mary (with a copy of the famous icon of the Virgin Mary from the basilica St. Maria Maggiore), The House of Thomas Munk SJ (former farm barn) and the Shelter of St. Joseph (an open shelter for pilgrims). Currently it serves as an apostolic facility all though the year for different age categories and activities such as summer camps, retreats, spiritual renewals, etc. In the Summer 2013 it was hosting Magis Central Europe and since then each year it welcomes one of the Magis Central Europe groups. Twenty young adults, who are part of a larger Magis family, spent the weekend in “building the Church”. As a part of magis activity, they were working either in the Chapel of the Virgin Mary or doing some autumn cleanings of the nearby area and the villa. The history of the Chapel served the participants as a base for a kind of a theological reflection on the Church. As already mentioned, Trlenska was built in 1935. For the next 15 years it served its original purpose as a retreat place for Jesuits novices and pilgrimage point for local people. However, during the event of so called Barbarian night of April 13th- 14th 1950, the communist regime suppressed all the male religious orders in Czechoslovakia. All religious were imprisoned and the entire property confiscated by the state. Trlenska for the following 40 years was transformed into educational facility for pioneers with the Chapel changed into dining room. Only after theVelvet Revolution (1989) it could be used again as a Chapel. After that, the Chapel undertook some necessary adaptations to became again a space of worship. And yet, during last almost 3 decades, due to various reasons such as constant urgency of some other works to be done, different priorities, fundraising issues, etc., the Chapel has never been given a sufficient attention in terms of renovation. Recently, beginning from September 22nd 2017, Fr. Ondrej Gabriš SJ, responsible of the area, started with a small team of volunteers, renovation work of the Chapel. Under the supervision of the architect and constant presence of the construction professional, volunteers may join for renovation works. And this was the case also with Magis. Volunteer work in this case is not seen just as a necessity due to real lack of sufficient funds, but as an option to make the Chapel “ours”. So, common work on the Chapel to make it more hospitable, welcoming, more beautiful and warm “Church”, served retreatants as a vivid symbol of the Church. Theological meditation was accompanied by the questions such as: “How do I feel in the Church?”, “How do I care for her?”, “How can I help her to be more welcoming…?”. This way other elements of the Magis “curriculum” such as Eucharist, personal time for meditation and Magis circle were lively integrated into this short retreat. Although initial renovation works showed that under the surface the Chapel is damaged much more seriously than it was expected, including very bad condition of its original 3 stores wooden tower, enthusiasm of the volunteers promoting responsibility towards “the Church”, gives hope for the blessing in “building of the Church”. Spiritual strength of the place is enforced by the fact, that it was a place of “villa days” of many Jesuits, who later during their life, especially under the communist persecution, gave strong and attractive testimony of their faith. Pioneer among them is definitely a Jesuit novice Thomas Munk. Being of a Jewish origin, in 1944 he was forcibly taken by Nazis from the Novitiate in Ružomberok. Together with his father Francis both are candidates for beatification.
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
Miloš Lichner, Dean of the Bratislava-based Faculty of Theology of the University of Trnava has become the new vice-president of the European Society for Catholic Theology (ESCT), which brings together more than eight hundred theologians from all over Europe. He was elected to the post at the end of the international theological interdisciplinary conference "The Challenge of Fraternity", which took place from the 30th of August till the 2nd of September in Strasbourg. During these three days, the prominent speakers took the floor, the space was given to young doctoral students as well, and at the same time, the best theological book was rewarded. This congress is held every two years and is organized by the ESCT. It also includes national and regional sections with involvement of Slovak theologians (SSCT).  At the end of the above-mentioned European Congress, the General Assembly of the ESCT held the election of the new ESCT vice-president, who will automatically become the ESCT president after two years when the new vice-president will be elected. One of several tasks of the vice-president is also the preparation of the international conference in his country," says Miloš Lichner for the Press Agency of the Slovak Bishops´ Conference. The Slovakian has been elected unanimously. Prof. Marie-Jo Thiel from the University of Strasbourg has become the new president and new members of the ESCT presidium have been elected as well. "I am grateful for the trust that theologians have unanimously expressed to me. Many of them I know from books I read, and today they have voted for me. I am also happy for the fact that this is the first time the presidium moves to the former Eastern Bloc. At the same time, I feel a sense of responsibility, because only the vice-president can be elected. He will automatically become president after two years, his agenda is quite large and it will increase the agenda which I already have", Miloš Lichner responded. The Slovak Society for Catholic Theology (SSCT) was established by the Slovak Bishops´ Conference at its 56th plenary session on the 12th of February 2007 in Prešov and was founded on the first constituent assembly on the 18th of May 2007 at the seminary in Badín. The SSCT has been the section of the ESCT since its inception. The first chairman was Cyril Hišem, Dean of the TF KU. In April 2015, at the 8th General Assembly of the SSCT, his current executive secretary and co-founder Miloš Lichner SJ, Dean of the TF TU, became the new chairman. The SSCT cooperates in several spheres with the Slovak Bishops' Conference as well as with the ESCT.