It has been three months since the Slovenian deacons visited us in Croatia. During the Easter week, the Croatian scholastics visited them in Slovenia. Our trip started after the morning mass on Easter Tuesday. The first destination was Ljubljana, where we were kindly greeted by fr. Marko Pavlič from the community of St. Joseph. Fr. Marko was our main contact in Slovenia and co-organizer of our trip. The superior of St. Joseph community, fr. Damjan Ristić, presented the life and work of his community and the work of the recently founded "Jezuitski kolegij v Ljubljani" (a Jesuit-led collegium/student dorm). Among other things, fr. Damjan informed us that the St. Joseph church was given back to the Society only after the fall of communism in Slovenia. During communism, the church was used as a film studio. In the afternoon, we went to visit the Jesuit parish Dravlje on the outskirts of Ljubljana. Upon returning to the St. Joseph community we visited the "St. Stanislaus Institute". This institute is an elementary and a high school that was co-founded by the Jesuits and the diocese of Ljubljana. The Institute is now led only by the diocese. Next day we visited the famous Postojna cave, the Predjama castle and the beautiful Lake Bled. On the final day, we visited the community in Maribor. Our host there was fr. Marjan Kokalj, the spiritual director of the Magis collegium. Apart from the college, the Jesuits in Maribor are running a parish church. The Archbishop of Maribor msgr. Alojz Civkl is also a Jesuit. He was recently ordained a bishop, in the time the diocese went through a major financial crisis. After the visit to Maribor, we went to see Stična, the only Cistercian abbey in this region. And to further deepen the experience, on our way back to Croatia we visited the only Carthusian abbey nearby, Pleterje. All in all, we have perceived what are the joys and struggles that the Jesuit in Slovenia are facing. On one side, there are small numbers of believers, a lot of hostilities from the city authorities, university and the state towards the Church itself. Lest we forget the financial debts of the local Church. On the other side, all the Jesuits we met in Slovenia were so enthusiastic and positive that we went back to Croatia with a new courage and ideas that could be applied in our province. We believe that this trip was one of the many things we as two neighboring provinces should do to improve our friendship and cooperation.
It was a symbolic handshake, one of peace in the spirit of St. Ignatius, that kicked off a day-long encounter between us (eight scholastics in their philosophy cycle and one in his regency) and 3 Slovene scholastics (Marko Pavlič, Rok Bečan, and Egon Hriberšek). The event took place on Saturday 20th at the formation centre of Fratrovac. The initial mass was one of thanksgiving to the Lord for such a moment of grace. In his homily, Fr. Cindori shared a very meaningful message to any Jesuit: the world is our home and we must be willing to go where others do not. After mass, we headed to the Croatian Zagorje and visited Veliki Tabor, a castle very close to the Slovenian border. The castle is of particular interest to us Jesuits, as it was here that Fr. Nikola Ratkay, a 17th century Jesuit missionary in India, was born. Having had a good dose of history, it was time for lunch and friendly discussions at Grešna gorica, a local Croatian restaurant. We wrapped up the day by a visit to the Shrine of St. Mary in Marija Bistrica. The rector himself, Fr. Matošević, recounted the history of the shrine and was kind enough to invite us to the parish house, where he shared with us what is a usual day like on the site. By then, our fellow Slovene scholastics had to return home in preparation for Sunday’s apostolic work. Next time, it will be their turn to host us. We hope to meet them soon.
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
Final vows of Marjan Kokalj and Ivan Platovnjak in Slovenia Ljubljana, July 31. Fathers Marjan Kokalj SJ and Ivan Platovnjak SJ pronounced their final Jesuit vows on the Feast of St. Ignatius at the Church of St. Joseph. Enjoy the audio recordings and photos of this blessed celebration.
On Sunday, October 2, we gathered at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Maribor for a classical music concert that marked the conclusion of the Jesuits’ preparations for the Year of Plečnik. On January 7 of the following year, 60 years will have passed since the death of the great architect that was strongly connected to the Jesuits during his life. The concert titled Magis musical evening with Plečnik featured the Slovenian Philharmonic Horn Quartet, baritone Fr. Damjan Ristić SJ and Klemen Golner, the pianist of the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra. In his opening speech, the archbishop of Maribor and metropolitan Alojzij Cvikl highlighted how happy he was that the Magis Jesuit college had already started giving back to the city, while culture professional and writer Tone Partljič said in his speech that “what Plečnik did in architecture could be compared to what Prešeren did with his collection of poems Poezije.” They both reached the highest European standards without any predecessors, which is a miracle. Fr. Peter Rožič, the principal of the college, expressed a special thanks to the Fuisz family from the US that strongly supports the Jesuit projects for civil society. He also thanked Franci Pliberšek, the founder and director of the Mik company, who also supports the work of the Jesuits. Magis musical evening with Plečnik was the first of many events planned by the Jesuits to commemorate the 60th anniversary of death of the greatest Slovenian architect on January 7 next year. In the following year, they are preparing more architecture events, conferences and study trips with the intention to present the lesser known sides of Plečnik.
Europe and Near East, 100 novices in 10 novitiates.  Every vocational journey can start in many different ways for many people across Europe and Near East. In October, 56 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 100 novices in Europe, 56 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: 6 NovicesSecond year: 7 Novices Total novitiate: 13Countries: Northern Belgium, Ireland, The Netherlands and United Kingdom Cairo (Egypt) First year: 5Second year: 1 Total novitiate: 6Countries: Egypt, Lebanon and Syria Coimbra (Portugal) First year: 5Second year: 0 Total novitiate: 5Country: Portugal Gdynia (Poland) First year: 10Second year: 8 Total novitiate: 18Country: Poland Genoa (Italy) First year: 8Second year: 9 Total novitiate: 17Countries: Italy, Malta, Romania, and Slovenia Lyon (France) First year: 2Second year: 4 Total novitiate: 6Countries: France, Southern Belgium and Luxemburg  Nürnberg (Germany) First year: 7Second year: 6 Total novitiate: 13Countries: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania and Switzerland   Ružomberok (Slovakia) First year: 2Second year: 3 Total novitiate: 5Countries: Chequia and Slovakia San Sebastián (Spain) First year: 6Second year: 3 Total novitiate: 9Country: Spain Split (Croacia) First year: 5Second year: 3 Total novitiate: 8Countries: Croatia