Dr. Monika Deželak Trojar, researcher at the SAZU (Slovenian Academy of Science and Art), is the project manager of the postdoc research about Jesuit plays (dramas). During her research she discovered, among others, 26 jesuit dramas from the 17. and the 18. century. The dramas were created and played at the old Jesuit College of Ljubljana. The dramas are in Latin, German and Slovene language. Dr. Deželak found the documents at the Auersperg Family Archive in Vienna. Dr. Deželak Trojar writes about this valuable discovery: Discovery of manuscripts and periochae* of the former Jesuit college in Ljubljana The research showed that the Jesuits in Ljubljana (between 1597 and 1773), as well as in other colleges throughout Europe, paid great attention to the preparation of theater performances. Their theatre dramas were closely linked to their educational activity. The students acquired rhetorical and linguistic knowledge by practicing theatre plays and were therefore well trained in public speaking. The performances were performed at least once a year, often more. Most were intended for a wider audience. Jesuits in Ljubljana organized school and religious performances and processions. School performances were associated with the beginning and the end of school year, carnival time, visits of important personalities, major anniversaries and events of the city. Religious performances belonged to the pastoral life and were associated with the celebration of the most important religious festivities. The research led to the discovery of new primary dramatic material of the Ljubljana Jesuits. Among other, the discovery of twenty-six manuscript dramatic texts, six printed and six manuscript periohas of dramas created in the Ljubljana College of the Society of Jesus between 1640 and 1672. The documents have been preserved in the Auersperg Family Archive, which is part of the House, Court and State Archives in Vienna, Austria. Twenty-five periochae, eleven or twelve summaries of passion processions (one of which is preserved in two copies) and one manuscript dramatic text have been preserved in the Seminary Library in Ljubljana. Most of the mentioned material, created between 1647 and 1713, has survived to present thanks to historian Janez Gregor Dolničar (1655-1719) who kept a collection named Miscellanea. Five printed periochae from 1674–1708 have been preserved at the Austrian National Library in Vienna, and two (from 1725 and 1727) remained among the material of the National and University Library in Ljubljana. The discovery of this documentation is of inestimable value for Slovenian theatrical history and the history of the Jesuit order in Slovenia. Based on this discovery, it will be possible to reconstruct a new, complete chapter about the beginnings of theater in Slovenia. * Periochae (Greek and Latin) are theatrical sheets with summaries of the content of a play. Often periochae contained also the names of people who performed the plays.
Maribor has a population of 110,000 and is the second largest city in Slovenia. The Jesuits have been present here continuously for 88 years. Since five years there is even Jesuit bishop, Fr Alojz Cvikl. Fr. Ivan Hočevar, parish priest of the parish of St. Magdalene in Maribor, has been providing spiritual care to sick patients at the University Clinical Centre (UKC) in Maribor since 2018. This year Slovenia was hit hard by Covid 19 and the autumn wave was even stronger than the previous one in April. Regular pastoral care for patients is generally not possible at this time. Also masses in the hospital chapel are temporarily cancelled. However, the chapel is open for prayer at all times. At the Clinic in Maribor, there have been a high number of COVID-19 patients.The gynaecological clinic (on the photo) UKC Maribor has been transformed into Covid-19 hospital. Fr. Hočevar describes his mission in the Covid-19 ward: "Relatives of patients call me. These patients are in the intensive care unit, in critical condition, and this is the reason why I am allowed to enter this unit. The suffering is different, some patients are in a coma... Before I enter, I put on my personal protective equipment and go through a disinfection process. Health professionals help me to do this. In April this year, when I first visited the ward, I was terrified, but today it is part of my routine.” Before Fr. Hočevar became responsible for S. Magdalena's parish in 2015, he accompanied diocesan seminarians and later university chapel students spiritually in the same city. Running a small parish and also sacramental care for the sick filled him with satisfaction, regardless of his efforts to adapt to different generations and family traditions in the region. "When I see patients, especially the more serious ones, I cannot help but see in them the suffering Christ. Once I saw a patient covered with wounds. When I finished praying, she died before my eyes. Even the nurses were praying and crying next to me. Such and similar stories are deeply rooted in me. After everything a person goes through, he can no longer be the same. I pray every day for the sick and the suffering and for the hospital staff.”
The view from my room at Monte santo di Lussari/ Višarje/ Luschari (Italy, province of Udine) opens to three adjacent valleys: Drau in Austria, Sava and Soča in Slovenia. Behind my back is the valley of Bela/ Fella, a tributary of Tagliamento in north-eastern Italy. For centuries (660 years to be exact) this shrine has been the destination for pilgrims from these valleys. (Did I mention that the water from “my" part of the building flows into the Black Sea whereas the other half of the roof feeds the Mediterranean Sea?) Geologically, we are a dividing point, a continental divide. Spiritually, we are a meeting point of three major European ethnic groups: Slavic, Germanic, and Latin peoples. Their encounters were not always peaceful. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers died during World War One along the Soča front line (Isonzo) of Hemingway’s fame. Benito Mussolini, Erwin Rommel, and Rudyard Kipling all had an intimate knowledge of this battle line. After Italian occupation of the Kanaltal (and Lussari), thousands of German speaking inhabitants opted for the Third Reich and resettled — every summer their descendants come to the shrine to remember the fateful decisions of their ancestors. Over these passes, countless refugees fled the communist terrors. The start of a joint pilgrimage In the 1980s, when the iron curtain hung over the Predil pass 10 kilometres from Lussari, the bishops of Udine, Klagenfurt (Austria) and Ljubljana (Slovenia-Yugoslavia) started a joint pilgrimage. They prayed for a free and peaceful Europe. No-one could have imagined, then, that one generation later the three countries would be members of a single European Union. Less than a generation after that, we have gotten so used to not having border checks and ideological police that we take it for granted, as our birth right as it were, as something that is owed to us. We could not be more mistaken — a minuscule virus brought back both the border checks and nationalist egoisms. Why am I writing this? Since 2016 I have been responsible for pastoral activities at the shrine. That is made easier by the fact that we are 1800 meters above the sea level, which means that the pilgrimage season lasts from June through September. This summer, after a five-year hiatus and in the middle of the pandemic, I proposed to the successors of those bishops to make a pilgrimage to Lussari, to pray for their peoples who are threatened not only by the corona virus, but also by the virus of nationalism and egoism. They responded without hesitation and together they prayed on this holy mountain. The youngest of them made the pilgrimage the traditional way, on foot from the foot of the mountain (1000m elevation). Lending a hand to Our Lady Personally, I see my service here in very simple terms. I lend a hand to Our Lady, making sure that their children are well taken care of. Every one of them, without discrimination, and all together as one family. I greet them in languages that they speak (my deep gratitude goes to my Jesuit education and to all people who made it possible). Our masses are multi-language. In my homilies, I liken God to the sun whose rays got caught in the mantle of Our Lady (the fresco above the ambo): His warmth sustains us in life, His light enlightens our search for happiness. I absolve them from their sins. I pray for them and offer them a bed if they ask for it (mostly to pilgrims who do the 6-8 day "Cammino Celeste” on foot). I am not doing this alone. Other priests and religious do their service here, including my Jesuit brothers. Every summer, between six and ten seminarians from local seminaries are sent here for their pastoral experience. And there is always a room available for a priest or religious who wants to do a retreat or vacation.
In the St. Joseph Church of  Ljubljana - the Slovenian capital - on Saturday 27 June a holy mass has been celebrated, in which the Jesuits thanked God for the departing provincial superior, Fr. Ivan Bresciani and asked for mercy for the new Provincial, Fr. Miran Žvanut. In order to secure good health conditions the service was simple. Nevertheless, beside 23 Jesuits participated also 160 co-workers, relatives and friends. With the current Provincial fr. Ivan Bresciani (2014–2020) the office has completed for the socius Franc Kejžar and consultants Damjan Ristić, France Zupančič and Ivan Platovnjak. The new provincial Miran Žvanut will be accompanied by Fr. Marjan Kokalj as socius, and advisors France Kejžar, Janez Poljanšek and Milan Bizant. A conversation with the current and new provincial follows, an excerpt from magazine Slovenski jezuiti, prepared by p. Marjan Kokalj SJ. Photos by Žiga Lovšin and Rok Bečan SJ.   Fr. Ivan Bresciani SJ, Provincial 2014-2020 Fr. Ivan, how do you feel after six years of serving as Provincial; you seem to have had a good time, even though you probably know what fatigue is? Six years have passed quickly and this is also a good sign because it means there has been enough work, care and effort. I felt a lot of grace in those six years. I believe that God has guided me and despite my mistakes and limitations, I have often felt God close to me. I have learned a lot in these six years and the fatigue I feel now is of a positive nature because I am grateful for this rich period.  I think I can say that you were a provincial who managed to move a lot. Among other things, you focused your work especially on the youth apostolate by establishing two student residences (in Slovenian: Kolegij), gave a Jesuit to help the diocese of Maribor as pastor of the University Parish of Maribor, enabled one Jesuit to devote much time to work with scouts, reorganized the Institute of St. Ignatius and its buildings, you strengthened the parish team in Dravlje and founded a new Jesuit community in Radlje ob Dravi, tied to the parish, which is now prosperous. At the same time, there is certainly a lot of hidden work and problems that no one sees. How do you look back on the work done?  Looking back on my six years of work, I feel within myself a great deal of gratitude to God for the grace I have received. There were really a lot of moves, but I think they were necessary. The fact is, however, that by nature I don’t make my own decisions, but I need a lot of opinions and advice to help me to discern. Rarely have I followed just some of my thoughts from start to finish without listening to other advice. It often happened that I felt inspired in my brother and accepted this as my decision. I don’t think it’s the hardest thing to make a decision, but to bear the consequences of the decision. The hardest thing is to carry a cross that is not yours. If I capture these six years with one thought, I can safely say that I have been given the joy of the work done, not because everything would have been done well, but because of the faith that the Lord Himself will cleanse, change, and complete everything in His body. And that gives me deep inner peace. At the same time, I would also like to thank the consultants of our Jesuit province and the superiors, individual delegates and lay people for their cooperation. Myself alone would really fail to do anything.  What would you wish the new provincial on the road? I wish the new Provincial Miran Žvanut a lot of blessings. May he be accompanied by the image of a good shepherd who knows the voice of his sheep and they know his voice. A good shepherd gives his life for his sheep. Therein lies the heart of the mission.   Fr. Miran Žvanut, provincial 2020- Fr. Miran, Fr. general entrusted you the office of Provincial of the Slovenian Province of the Society of Jesus; what are the first feelings after the appointment and what are the first thoughts when you think of the province? When my current provincial Fr. Ivan Bresciani announced the news of the appointment, I was left speechless. I was surprised and shocked, even though I knew my name was on the list as well. Somehow, I thought “that chalice would go past me”. In the background, after the appointment, I felt gratitude, feelings of trust and, of course, the responsibility that comes with the new mission. However, I believe that the Lord who imposed this cross on me will also help me to bear it. Above all, a desire to connect and serve the province arises in me. These are the first thoughts that flight through my head; how and in what way, and on the basis of the experience I have in working in the parish, to put this into practice.  How do you see the Society of Jesus in the world today in general? I see the Society of Jesus as very dynamic and responsive. It adapts to the needs of the time and seeks ways to approach man, to give him dignity and hope. We also see this from the universal apostolic preferences of the Society of Jesus proclaimed last year: to show the way to God through spiritual exercises and discernment, to walk with the poor, excluded from the world, wounded in their own dignity, in the mission of reconciliation and justice, to accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future and to collaborate in the care of the Common Home or of the creation given to us.We Jesuits want to be active in all areas and co-shape today’s world, try to understand it and be actors, not just passive observers. I am proud, happy and grateful to be a Jesuit, to be a member of the Society of Jesus, working in such different fields and bringing faith and hope to the world today.  How do you see the future of the Slovenian province? It’s hard to predict anything. There are not many young Jesuits at the moment, which is a prerequisite for normal development and work, but I am an optimist and I believe that God will turn things around so that it will be right. The future certainly lies in connecting with other European provinces and working with the local church and bishops. The Jesuits have a lot of knowledge and experience with which we can help the Slovenian Church and we must realize this.  What would you say to our readers in the end? In the second point of the second introductory exercise of Contemplation to Attain the love of God, Ignatius wrote: “I will observe how God dwells in things: he gives abode to the elements, life to the plants, feelings to the animals, understanding to the people. And so it dwells in me when it gives me to be, to live, to feel, and to know; he also makes me his sanctuary, for I am created in the image and likeness of his majesty of God.” This is exactly what I want for readers to be aware of the beauty of life and God's presence in us.
Appointments of Father General. Father General has appointed Fr. Jaroslaw Paszyński (49) as the next Provincial of Southern Poland. He has been the socius of the current Provincial since 2014. A Doctor of Philosophy since 1996, he joined the Society in 1997 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2005. He has taught philosophy in Krakow and has been spiritual counsellor to the scholastics of the College of Krakow. As is our custom, he will take office on 31 July.   Father General has appointed Fr. Miran Žvanut (49) as the next Provincial of the Province of Slovenia. After completing his studies in wood technology, pharmacy and theology, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1999 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2006. He studied philosophy and theology in Dublin, then spirituality at Santa Clara University (California, USA). Since 2014, after serving as student chaplain in Maribor, he ministered as a parish priest in the Jesuit parish of Dravlje, Ljubljana. He will take office on 27 June.
Visit of Fr. General from Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th October. Upon arrival, p. Sosa met with the Slovenian Jesuits at St. Joseph in Ljubljana. He listened to the presentation of the province by Fr. provincial Ivan Bresciani, then introduced himself and answered the companions’ questions. The evening concluded in a friendly and Slovenian traditional manner, singing brindisi to the Society and other songs. In the following days Fr. general visited the rest of the Ljubljana community at St. Jacob ,in Dravlje and those in Radlje ob Dravi (he also met the parish community at Holy Mass on Saturday 26 October) and Maribor. In brief but friendly, spiritually and work-oriented talks, he was received by the Archbishops of Ljubljana and Maribor (in the latter, Msgr. Alojz Cvikl SJ) and the Apostolic Nuncio for Slovenia and Kosovo, Msgr. Jean-Marie Speich. Along with the Slovene provincial, Fr. Sosa was accompanied by the assistant for the Southern Europe Assistany, Fr. Cipriano Diaz, and a spokesman for the Roman SJ Curia, Fr. Pierre Belanger. The latter was particularly interested in Slovenian Jesuits’ work with students and spouses (The Way of the Two of Us). The highlight of the visit took place on Friday 25 October in the parish church of the Christ’s Incarnation in Ljubljana Dravlje, for a two-purpose meeting. “The purpose of the visit is first of all to express our gratitude for 50 years of independent activity. Compared to other Jesuit Provinces, we are small and young, but in the course of 50 years we have achieved a lot in Slovenia through our spiritual, pastoral, cultural and intellectual apostolates" wrote the Provincial fr. Ivan Bresciani. Referring to the present challenges of the province, he added: “Today we are aware that the structure of the Church is changing, especially in the Western world, because of the scarcity of religious vocations and other challenges that await us. The Society of Jesus is therefore organizing itself in new ways by forming unions among the Provinces.” In gratitude for our service to God, the Slovenian Jesuits, with friends and colleagues remembered the past (1969-2019) in meditation of Fr. Marjan Kokalj and celebrated a solemn Holy Mass under the leadership of Fr. Sosa. The second purpose of the visit and the latter meeting in Dravlje was that Fr. General personally invited the Slovenian Jesuits and their associates to a synodality promoted by Pope Francis looking, reacting, listening and conversing. Before the Holy Mass Fr. Sosa outlined the four universal apostolic priorities for Jesuits and associates in 2019-2029.  We then talked about these priorities in small groups before asking for blessings at Mass to become part of our lives and work. Fr. Sosa summed up the meaning of this process, saying: “Discernment invites hope, because it sees what happens as an invitation to be unveiled, as a great opportunity to know how to better serve society and the church, while freeing us from the temptation to believe that problems are so complex that they become almost impossible to solve. The art of discernment is to learn to read the world looking for the last heartbeat, God's heartbeat" (cf. audio of the homily on discernment during the holy mass).