Jesuits in Europe

The Symposium of the Austrian Province of the Society of Jesus (April 3 to 6, 2018) got the theme "Central Europe - Our mission as Jesuits". After the official welcome by Fr. Robert Deinhammer, Fr. Provinzial Bernhard Bürgler and Fr. Christian Marte informed about the current state of access to the Province ECE (Eastern and Central Europe). Then we exchanged views in small groups and gave a summary of our requests in plenary. To 48 fellow companions of the Austrian Province (including our two novices!), 3 from the German Province (GER) and six studying Jesuits in Innsbruck from various other provinces joined the confreres. Through their experiences in their home provinces, some of which have already gone through unification processes, they brought with them additional perspectives. The lecture of the ambassador Dr. phil. Johannes Wimmer on "Societal Developments, Historical Sensitivities, Political Challenges in Jesuit Central Europe" made it clear on Wednesday that the political events of countries such as Lithuania, Latvia, Switzerland and Hungary are much less present in the Austrian media than the ones of Germany. In the "Café of the Future" we once again reflected in small groups on possible apostolic priorities of the new Province of ECE. The “Gouter” on Wednesday evening included profound thoughts of Gerhard Polt, a confusing comet story by Otto Schenk, the most amusing table talks of the community Vienna Lainz as well as an advertisement of Krumpendorf's Strandbaddirektor, who personally moderated the evening and gave us an insight into his increasing acquaintance with the peculiarities of the Viennese language allowed, which are sometimes "zan krenreibn" for him. The Jesuit "Kombi-Chor", newly founded by Benjamin Furthner for the occasion, complemented the contributions musically. A highlight was the trip to Hungary on Thursday. Since our two Provinces ASR and HUN were celebrating their symposium at the same time, almost all the fellow companions of the two Provinces were present at this meeting. At the beginning, the Hungarian and Austrian Provincials, supported by other fellow companions, presented their Provinces. Provincial Bernhard Bürgler and Father Christian Marte allowed their presentation by sweetening Mozartkugeln sweeten. After the delicious lunch we went on with a tour of the Cathedral of Györ, in which bishop Vilmos Apor is buried in a representative marble tomb. Its importance to the population of Győr and Hungary was previously unknown to many of us. After a prayer, Fr. Provinzial laid down a flower wreath at the grave of the Blessed Bishop. With a celebration of the Eucharist in the former Jesuit Church of Györs, we ended this special "Hungarian Day" together. On Friday morning Father Provinzial announced some new destinations according to the "Status of the Province of ASR", which was partly accompanied by an impressed murmur ("Oohh") in the ranks. He thanked the fellow companions who had received a new destination for their readiness and availability, as well as Gernot Wisser, Thomas Neulinger, Robert Deinhammer, Christian Marte and Klaus Schweiggl for the preparation of the symposium. In the evaluation, mostly positive feedback on the design and theme of the symposium was raised. Following the Provincial Symposium, all "pre-tertiates" met for the first time from Friday afternoon until Saturday noon together with the Provincial. A joint walk in the Lainzer Tiergarten as well as an intensive exchange were the focus of this first meeting, which led to a stronger bond among the younger fellow companions and the home province, especially for those who study and work abroad.
Thirty-four Jesuit communicators from nineteen countries around Europe and further afield held their annual meeting in Brussels last week.The JesWeb group was started in 2005 by a group of Jesuits and co-workers responsible for maintaining province websites.  Philip Debruyne SJ, Communications Officer for the Jesuit European Conference, is the longest standing member of JesWeb, this year attending his 12th meeting.  What changes has he noticed over the years?“At the beginning it was more charismatic and less professional. Webmasters were often scholastics who had built the province website in html and wanted to exchange technical information and solve problems.  Now almost all provinces have employed professional communicators. Our meetings are now more about strategy, creativity and collaboration.”By contrast Pia Dyckmans was attending her first JesWeb, having joined the comms team for the German province just last year. Pia commented “I have found it creative, constructive and inspiring. I hope to be back next year.”The meeting was launched with a personal video message of encouragement from Fr General Arturo Sosa SJ, who reminded delegates that “for Saint Ignatius communications was almost an obsession. It is in our DNA…. Our mission is to “go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News”.  JesWeb was preceded by a meeting in Rome of communications representatives of each of the six Jesuit conferences worldwide (Jesuit conferences roughly equate to continents).  Patrick Mulemi SJ, Head of Communications at the Jesuit Curia in Rome, observed, “At last week’s meeting  in Rome of the six conferences’ comms managers, four were lay women.  I say a special prayer of gratitude for our female collaborators.” The Jesuits in Britain were represented by Jane Hellings, Director of Development and Communications, Frances Murphy, Editor of Thinking Faith and Emma Holland, Producer of Prayasyougo daily prayer podcast. Martin Stark SJ, Socius of the German Province, has been the Chair of JesWeb for the last three years. “The digital communications world has changed so much since 2005,” he observed “and to reflect the new professionalism of integrated comms the committee proposed to change the name of the group to JesWebCom.  So 2018 was the last JesWeb, but welcome to JesWebCom next year!” As well as sessions on reaching young audiences and compliance with new data protection laws, delegates took part in practical training  to improve their skills in video making and photography. Patrick Mulemi SJ concluded “It is such a good idea to have opportunities like this to share best practice and ideas. This year is important because of the message from Father General missioning the group.  Comms is in the DNA of the Society and using all tools available to us is what St Ignatius would have wanted.”
New Commissio mixta reinforces solidarity. On the occasion of the plenary meeting of the JCAM (April 26-28) – the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar -  in Nairobi, Fr. Franck Janin (President JCEP)  and Fr. Johan Verschueren (ELC) participated on April 24 at the “Commissio mixta”, the six monthly  joint meeting of representatives of both Jesuit Conferences.  Previous meeting was last  October in Ludwigshafen (GER). Actually the commission mixta is composed by the presidents of the Conferences, accompanied by one member. There was also a meeting with some members of the International Solidarity Commission, an new initiative since General Congregation 36. On the picture in the heading also Fr. Paul Hamill (BRI, Treasurer JCAM) and Fr. Francisco Gismondi (ARU), next to Fr. José Minaku (ACE).
Everything that has existence has a vocation! God created the world and its inhabitants, and by creating them he called them and missioned them. This was the introductory idea of Fr. Timothy Radcliffe’s input which was the highlight of our gathering this year in Frankfurt, as promotors of vocations for the European Provinces of the Society. This year 15 Jesuits attended the meeting and I can happily say that we all took a lot out of it. Many thanks to all those who contributed to its good planning and organization, not only the steering committee but also those who generously helped us on the spot! The meeting started with a day of reflection, with personal time to think about our mission, to get in touch with ourselves and become aware of how we are doing, as vocation promotors. We also had time to share this in a personal way, by forming groups of three and embarking on an Emmaus walk from Sankt Georgen to the city centre. The highlight of the walk was coffee and black forest cake in a local cafeteria which, according to Clemens, has the best coffee in town!! On the second day we had the luxury of sitting back and listening to a master in Religious life speak to us about his experience in the promotion of vocations. Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, who very willingly accepted to be with us, gave us a very inspiring input which brought out very clearly the spirit of the religious vocation and how we should promote it. After his input we had ample time to ask questions, reflect personally, and share in groups. At the end of the day, we all felt blessed to have had the opportunity to meet such a great man and to have received so much wisdom which will inspire us in our delicate but beautiful mission as vocation promotors. We then started to reflect on a job description of the vocations promotor. When we, the steering committee, had started preparing this meeting way back in October, we strongly felt that we need clearer guidelines to what is expected of us as vocation promotors. More and more Provinces in Europe now have full-time promotors, and this is a huge step forward. At the same time, it is common that we feel lost and alone in such a difficult mission. During our meeting we did not get anywhere close to having a concluded final copy of the job description, but we opened a very healthy discussion on a draft proposal, which will continue electronically among us promotors and our Provincials. This is a big step forward and we are definitely moving in the right direction. During our meeting we also had some time to share a few examples of best practice going on in our Provinces, even though time was limited for this part and we all felt that during future meetings we can dedicate more time to sharing what we are doing and what is helping our promotion of Jesuit identity and vocation. Also we shared our different approaches to our work in each province. To strengthen our brotherhood we celebrated eucharists with lovely music, we shared our personal spiritual experiences and very helpful was also a wine tasting in the beautiful wine region‚ Rheingau‘.  This experience has been a very rich one and we look forward, as vocation promotors, to continue working together and supporting each other.

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Finding God

From 6 to 8 April 2018, 16 European Jesuits involved in the Charismatical Renewal met in Paray le Monial for an annual meeting. Were present: an Irishman, a Congolese doing a PhD in Paris, a French, a Walloon and Flemish Jesuits. A Polish, a German and an English Jesuit were absent due to the train strike, among other reasons. We prayed together and shared our charismatic experiences with retreats, inner healing and exorcism. Among us were three exorcists, IET professors, retreat leaders and a brother responsible for CRIABD, the religious comic strip supporting association. We have concelebrated, once in the chapel of Saint Claude de la Colombière, and once with the Sisters of the Visitation, each time with a full church, pilgrims for the Sunday of Mercy. Since 1977, we have come together to share or listen to conferences. Many of us have been appointed by the bishops to be responsible for diocesan prayer groups. Cardinal Suenens had asked Fr. General Arrupe for Jesuits for discernment in prayer groups and communities. On the picture we are staying behind the shrine of Saint Claude de la Colombière and Saint Margaret Mary in the background. There is a publication available with testimonies of 30 Jesuits from the Charismatic Renewal.
A significant academic event that brought together academics, the representatives of the Catholic and Lutheran church and people of different walks of life, was the presentation of the Latvian translation of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola. The event took place on March 27 in the Library of the Latvian University in Riga. The publication, equipped with a scientific introduction and footnotes, was issued by the University with support of the Jesuits in Latvia. The translation was based on its original Spanish version which initially was translated by Ēvalds Ikaunieks (professor of mathematics and member of CLC), and then edited and developed by linguist professor Jānis Priede.   Amongst many people interested in the book there were guests who were sharing their own experience and joy for having this spiritual classic translated to the Latvian language. During the presentation two archbishops took the floor: Catholic Zbigņevs Stankevičs and Lutheran Jānis Vanags, who shared their personal experience of an Ignatian retreat as life transforming experience. The provincial of the Lithuanian - Latvian province Vidmantas Simkunas SJ emphasized that the book of the Spiritual Exercises is not easy accessible, being a kind of "instruction manual" for the retreat guide. But the extraordinary results of the Exercises practiced in retreats have transformed it in a universal and  an important tool for spiritual change and development which is used not only by Catholics, or Christians, but even other religions and "non-believers". Evidence of this is the growing popularity of the Ignatian retreat method in Latvia, where the Lutheran Church leads even the spirituality courses for people preparing them to accompany retreatants. At the same time the Jesuits are organizing ecumenical meetings in the st. Peter Faber Jesuit residence in Riga in order to forge friendships and collaboration amongst people interested in Ignatian spirituality. As stated by the Rector of the University of Latvia prof. Indriķis Muižnieks, present at the presentation of the book “, a man cannot forgo without spirituality and needs it even in such technique-dominated epoch as ours.”
"Inter-religious dialogue has become a priority for the Jesuit migrtants centres (SJM) across Spain. In order to promote knowledge in this field, the existing centres have decided to create a network around this topic with the goal of encouraging dialogue and to reduce the prejudice and stereotypes existing in our society.” The experience of an Interreligious Space has been working well for some years in Barcelona. Now they are working to open new spaces in other cities. In April the SJM Valencia has presented "València Interreligiosa" a space with photographs, texts and cultural objects and rituals of the main religious traditions that coexist in the city of Valencia.
The parish of Satu Mare, the only Romanian-speaking Parish in a city where Catholics are predominantly Hungarian and entrusted to the Society since 2013, is a meeting place of people coming from different realities in search of meaning and sustenance for their lives. A solemn via crucis was organised on Palm Sunday praying the meditations of Blessed Vladimir Ghika with profound moments of classical music played by the musicians of the city. The parish community offers Bible study, the administration of the sacraments and catechesis for children and adolescents. There are about 50 participants every Saturday morning. On 8 April, the octave day of Easter, 16 of these participants received the sacrament of confirmation by the local bishop Mgr. Jenő Schönberger. As from 1st March Fr. Iulian Budău SJ is being helped by Fr. Iosif Şandoru SJ in his Pastoral work which also includes two villages located 25km from the city where material and human poverty is very present.

Promoting Justice

Defend the Right to Peaceful Protest. April 23, 2018 — In response to ongoing protests in Nicaragua and the senseless killing of a Jesuit high school student there, the Jesuits of Central America, the Conference of Provincials of Latin America and the Jesuits of Canada and the U.S. released statements calling for an end to violence in the country after several days of protests to proposed social security legislation. Citizens began protesting April 18 after the government announced changes to the nation's social security system. The proposed overhaul, which would have increased pension contributions while reducing benefits by 5 percent, was canceled by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on April 22 in response to the protests. The protests led to the deaths of more than two dozen people. Álvaro Manuel Conrado Davila, a 15-year-old student at Instituto Loyola, the Jesuit High School in Managua, Nicaragua, was among the victims killed while peacefully protesting on April 20.   According to reports, Conrado was shot by police with a rubber bullet that struck him at close range in the throat, and he died later while undergoing surgery at a local hospital. The Instituto Loyola community gathered for Conrado’s funeral on April 21, which was attended by an approximately 400 people. The Conference of Provincials of Latin America said in its statement, “We profoundly lament the acts of violence against the people who gathered in a peaceful manner to oppose the social security reform. We condemn as anti-democratic all the violent repression on the part of state agencies and individuals and groups organized by the government.” The Jesuits of Central America called for a national dialogue that will "peacefully lead in a direction of integral development and social and environmental justice."    Picture: Álvaro Manuel Conrado Davila's funeral on April 21. (photo: Ingrid Orozco) The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S. released a statement saying they “stand in solidarity with our brother Jesuits, their lay collaborators and all the people they serve in Nicaragua. “We pray for peace in the country and hope that all sides will engage in truthful dialogue. We pray for calm between all of the parties and we remind government leaders of their responsibility to protect those who have lawfully gathered to seek redress from their government.” Pope Francis also called for end to violence in the country. “I express my closeness in prayer to that country and I am united with the bishops in asking that every form of violence end, that a pointless shedding of blood be avoided and that open issues be resolved peacefully and with a sense of responsibility,” he said on April 22. Read the statements by the Jesuits of Central America; the Conference of Provincials of Latin America; and the Jesuits of Canada and the U.S.   [Sources: Catholic News Service, Ignatian Solidarity Network] 
Annual General Meeting JRS-Europe in Belgrade More than 50 members of staff from over 18 different countries gathered in Belgrade at the end of March for JRS Europe’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). "The AGM is an important occasion for exchange on how each national office accompanies, serves and advocates for refugees," says Jose Ignacio Garcia SJ, director of JRS Europe, "And to learn more about what it means to accompany asylum seekers in Serbia, a country on the doorstep of the European Union, where forced migrants feel 'in transit' even if they end up staying for increasingly longer amount of time."  The first day of exchanges included a discussion with Tvrtko Barun SJ, director of JRS South East Europe, Marija Vraneševic, from Philanthropy – a charitable organisation of the Orthodox Church, and Milenko Nikic, a representative of the Serbian government. The speakers highlighted in the discussion how the situation in Serbia, and the broader Western Balkan region, changed before and after the EU-Turkey deal and the closure of the so-called 'Balkan route' bringing fresh challenges for the present day context. On the second day, Marko Štambuk from the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and Jovana Gašic, from the Psychosocial Innovation Network, presented facts about the Serbian asylum system and research findings on the effect of trauma that people experience throughout their migration journeys - in home countries, on the route to Europe and upon arriving in Serbia. Similarly, to the theme of the AGM, the research focused on the psychological impacts of being ‘in transit’ for a prolonged period. Several of the speakers stressed that Serbia kept its borders open in 2015, when many forced migrants crossed the country to seek protection in Western Europe. This is remarkable, as the country was not prepared to receive such numbers. Despite the difficult economic situation of the country, the government considered this the right thing to do, bearing in mind the recent history of conflict and forced displacement in the region. As Vraneševic said, “Everyone in Serbia has either been a refugee or has a refugee among their family or friends.” Despite efforts that are still being made by the local authorities, helping people transiting through the Serbian territory is not the same as providing them with durable protection and integration possibilities. As the Serbian border with Croatia and Hungary is virtually closed, people are staying in Serbia for an increasingly long time without any possibility or perspective to leave. It seems that this reality is also not met by corresponding efforts from the authorities to encourage people to settle in the country. The absence of a long-term reception policy is demonstrated by the fact that asylum seekers are still accommodated in reception facilities meant as temporary accommodation, such as the Krnjaca Asylum Centre near Belgrade that AGM participants visited. Policy gaps in reception are also shown by the lack of adapted accommodation facilities for unaccompanied children, and so the government relies on initiatives such as the Pedro Arrupe House run by JRS Serbia. While it is true that the Serbian authorities must take responsibility for welcoming refugees, it is also important to underline the role, or rather the absence of action, of the European Union. The EU closes its borders and externalises responsibilities to countries such as Serbia that struggle to properly protect them. This has unmeasurable cost for the people concerned, as they may never fully recover from their trauma and society as a whole misses the chance of benefiting from refugees’ contributions. “As far as JRS is concerned,” concludes Garcia, “What we saw and heard during this AGM made us even more aware of the importance of our work in advocating for change and gave us renewed motivation to do it by serving and accompanying refugees.
Social Apostolate Delegates and Social Centres Directors Annual Meeting Milano, 8-11 April 2018 The delegates and coordinators of the social apostolate sector in Europe and Near East met this year in Milan at a back-to back meetings with the directors of the Jesuit European Social Centres. The meeting of these two networks provided a fertile venue to discern Universal Apostolic Preferences within the social dimension of our mission as well to determine the primary orientation for works and social projects that include a European focus. The meeting took place at the Istituto Leone XIII, an important Jesuit school that is known for its various educational, social and pastoral activities. Franck Janin, the President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, and Xavier Jeyaraj, the Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology at the General Curia in Rome, joined the meetings of the delegates and of the directors.   The first group, that is social delegates, had the chance to pray, think, discern and deliberate over the apostolic preferences through the lenses of both universal and European approaches. The profiles of the “delegate” and “coordinator” for social apostolate were also discussed. The method used was discernment in common through spiritual conversation. The second group, the directors, represented, among others, Social Centres such as Cristianismo y Justicia (Spain), Centre Avec (Belgium), Aggiornamenti Sociali (Italy) used a similar meeting formula in order to draw up the plan for the next year that is based on a common vision for the centres network. The journey ended with a joint preliminary statement: “We desire a life together in Europe that, inspired by Ignatian vision, bears witness to the values of reconciliation and promotion of the common good, and proclaims a message of liberation with those we serve.” Members of both networks had the chance to visit the magnificent city of Milan for one afternoon, starting with the facilities and projects of Aggiornamenti Sociali and San Fedele, followed by a visit to the surroundings of Duomo di Milano and ending with a pleasant meal at a local restaurant. The results of the Milan deliberations have been delivered to the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome and will be presented to the Conference Provincials for further discernment and approval at their next annual meeting in Barcelona. While the results of the discernment process need to be examined further and confirmed by the networks and the Provincials, the orientation towards working with and for vulnerable people on the move and integral ecology emerged clearly as a possible common path in the future. Next year’s meeting for the delegates is expected to take place between 31st of March and 4th of April, and for the directors between 5th and 8th of May 2019. Memories of the Annual Meeting: check this video made by Alberto Ares.
One of the busiest bins in London. An initiative put in place ten years ago outside the parish of St Ignatius in Stamford Hillis still sadly bearing fruit. A knife bin where weapons can be anonymously and safely discarded was recently emptied with over 400 weapons collected by plain-clothed police from the Met. The bin is emptied twice a year and last year in total 841 weapons were collected including 10 guns, making it one of the busiest such bins in London. The bin was put in place after two young people from the parish, Godwin Lawson and Marcin were stabbed and killed in 2010.  Fr Tim Byron SJ was then the chaplain of St Ignatius college and officiated at Godwin's funeral. The college then organised a meeting at the parish called, 'It takes a village to raise a child". The concerned mothers who attended discussed possible solutions. Following a parish AGM the then parish priest, Fr Peter Randall SJ  approached a Christian charity called  'Word 4 weapons', who specialized in placing knife bins around London. Fr Peter was told that 'yours is a good location and there are no cameras on it." London has recently seen a spike in such crimes again, and last week the Parish held a well-attended prayer service for those affected.  Fr David Stewart who organised it used quotes from Martin Luther King whose anniversary had just passed and also Archbishop Oscar Romero whose forthcoming canonisation has just been announced. It is hoped that St Ignatius will become a shrine for Archbishop Romero.

Youth & Media

On April 7, 2018 The Jesuit Province of Southern Poland held a province day in Krakow, with the theme "Vocations". We started the meeting with a Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The homily was delivered by Father Assistant for Central and Eastern Europe - Tomasz Kot, who pointed out the importance of returning to the roots - in our religious life, we should preach the Good News and the truth about the Kingdom of God. It is not the Society of Jesus that matters most to us, but God who has this Society. After the Celebration, Father Provincial Jakub Kołacz SJ presented at  the Ignatianum Academy some statistics on the dynamics of vocations in our Province. Formally, there are now 308 Jesuits in PME, of whom 243 priests, 23 religious brothers, 31 scholastics (seminarians), 11 novices (18 Jesuits are applied to other provinces). The pastoral model of vocations has changed over the last years. There was a time when one pastoral involved Jesuit was active at the level of the Province and he had contact with local promoters. There was a time when the vocational team (a Jesuit priest and a Jesuit in formation) was active. Now the youth-vocational model has been adopted, in which youth ministry and vocational promotion are combined (School of Contact with God, Magis, etc.). In the spirit of our Ignatian spirituality, the biggest challenges for now are: helping in discerning vocations, awakening great desires in people, showing Jesus as the one who calls. The Jesuits at various stages of formation spoke about discovering their vocation and about the experience of the vocational promoter. The discussion underlined the importance of authenticity, concern for the quality of our religious life, as well as the openness of our communities to lay people. The sign of the time of Jesuit communities around the world is openness to lay people - inviting our lay friends to our communities, including young people who recognize their vocation. This voice resounded on the Provincial Forum and was taken on the sidelines of the meeting. Father Eugeniusz Jendrzej gave a spiritual conference referring to the sources of our consecration, and thus to the work of Saint. Ignacius Loyola - especially the Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus. He reminded us of the call to conversion and discovery that there is nothing impossible for God, and that he gives us the courage to do what is unbelievable, and yet realistic. In addition the Province Day gave us the opportunity to stay together informally and talk, sometimes after years of having not meet each other. Finally some reactions of participants: Wojciech Leśniak expressed: “During the Provincial Day, I have been moved most by the conversations of my fellow brothers who represented different generations. Both the older and the younger Jesuits keep the importance of vocations in their heart and show that the continuity and mission of the Society of Jesus is important to them. " Prokop Janda from the Czech Province, studying philosophy in Krakow said: "As my Czech provincial metaphorically said - it is worth" wasting "time being together ..." And Józef Antos: "I was at the whole meeting and it helped me to think and consider my own calling."
The United Federation of Teachers, Irish-American Committee, and the American Irish Teachers Association have announced that they will soon screen A Jesuit with the People, a documentary about Michael O’Sullivan SJ and his ‘Christian faith that does justice’. Film-maker Peter McDermott, based in New York, intends to use this work as part of a full-length documentary on Jesuit priest John Corridan (1911-1984) who was the inspiration for the character of ‘Father Barry’ in the classic 1954 film On the Waterfront which won eight Oscars. In A Jesuit with the People, Fr O’Sullivan, known for his work for international human rights and social justice, recalls his time as a pastor in Chile in the 1980s. That country was then ruled by General Pinochet, whose military dictatorship had overthrown the constitutional government of Salvador Allende in 1973. Peter McDermott’s Corridan Film Project focuses on Fr Corridan, a Jesuit of Irish descent, who took on corruption, organised crime, and murder on the docks of New York City in the 1940s and 1950s. Fr Corridan’s small band of supporters on the waterfront, in common with his other friends and allies, knew a forceful and articulate leader who helped make waterfront labour conditions a national issue. Afterwards he became a teacher of economics in Jesuit third-level colleges and finally worked as a hospital chaplain in Brooklyn. The film-maker wants to explore the possible parallels between the lives of religious, in later decades, like Michael O’Sullivan, with those of Fr Corridan. Both advocated the preferential option for the poor, and worked for justice in often trying circumstances. Peter notes the turbulent rule of Pinochet’s Chile was often backed by murder. Those abusing power in Fr Corridan’s time were not averse to killing either. “Without pre-empting a discussion about what it is that links Fr Corridan with later religious like Michael O’Sullivan,” says Peter, “we can see that Michael’s commitment to social justice is faith-based -part and parcel of giving expression to the Gospel.” The final full-length documentary which Peter hopes to produce “is about someone going beyond his natural reserve and shyness to assume a leadership role in a community and finding his voice in the struggle for social justice. It’s also about the Jesuits. The hope is that by delineating threads and continuities, one can better throw into sharp relief a chapter in one man’s story from more than 60 years ago,” says Peter. In the documentary, A Jesuit with the People,  Michael speaks about his social justice work in Dublin and about his desire to be in solidarity with the people of Latin America. He was eventually  sent on mission to Chile where he began to work with the people suffering oppression under General Pinochet’s violent regime. In speaking out according to his authentic self, he gave permission for others to do the same, all the time navigating the territory of danger, wanting to act for justice while not being “reckless”. Michael experienced real threats on his life and he did his best to stay alive for the sake of the people. At the same time, he had a deep peace knowing that his work had meaning and that he was prepared to die if needed. It is worth noting that the Chilean people were also loyal to him, advising him on how to stay out of harm’s way, and consoling him in their shared commitment to defeat Pinochet’s bloody dictatorship through following the example of Christ. Michael was forced to leave Chile after 25 months and it took him another five years to integrate his experience. He took solace with the ousting of Pinochet some years later and the election of a female President. He spent time in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and he returned to Chile on two occasions. His new mission was to promote an integrated theology and spirituality that encompassed the whole person, leading to, for example, a ‘Christian faith that does justice’. Today, Dr O’Sullivan passes on such a teaching to his students in Dublin and he writes broadly on authentic interiority, a universal dynamic process of consciousness towards ultimate values one perceives. He is the director of the Dublin-based Spirituality Institute for Research & Education (SpIRE) and works internationally in developing and spreading spirituality as an academic discipline. A Jesuit with the People has been described by those who have viewed it as a moving and inspiring faith-based story of authentic Christianity. It can be viewed on YouTube and Vimeo.
In Tomsk, Siberia, there is a Catholic school run by the Society of Jesus, whose teachers have been trained for several years by the Arrupe Centre in Warsaw. It is the only Jesuit school in the Russian Federation and the only Catholic school offering education at all levels. On Monday 16 April, nine teachers from Tomsk came to Poland. They were accompanied by Fr. Wojciech Ziółek, who has been working for three years in Tomsk. Our guests met with the management, teachers and students of the Gymnasium and the St. Stanisława Kostka school in Kraków and listened to exciting relationships from the first years of the school existence. On the picture, our guests in front of the school in with director Fr. Paweł Brożyniak. Russian teachers have been taking part in lectures and in a workshop on the Ignatian model of pedagogy and the characteristic features of Jesuit education. Classes have been held at the Media Center of the WAM Publishing House in Krakow run by dr Ewa Dybowska from the Ignatianum Academy and Fr. Wojciech Żmudziński. The teachers visited the Jesuit Education Centre in Nowy Sącz, and the Jesuit Schools Complex in Gdynia, where they will also have taken part in workshops conducted by the Arrupe Centre trainers. The study visit of the teachers from Tomsk is part of an international educational project implemented by the Association of Christian Education and the Arrupe Centre with funds of the Episcopate of the United States.
This year’s JECSE Formators Conference took place in the beautiful Old Abbey in Drongen, Flanders, and we welcomed participants (26) from Belgium North and South, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Spain and The Netherlands. The theme of our meeting was ‘being Ignatian in a secularised context’.  This was a continuation of the conversation begun in JESEDU in Rio last October; our purpose in Drongen was to explore how as Ignatian educators we can find new ways (and new words) to meet the ‘needs of the times’ in our European context. Helping us to ‘dive deeper’ into this theme was Renilde Vos who served as a most articulate and prayerful animator of the main part of the programme. She introduced the group to her work with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and to the innovative approaches that she had developed with largely secular participants in the past. Previously, Renilde worked both as a teacher of Religious Education and as Deputy Head of the parish connected to the Catholic University in Leuven, Flanders. During her study of theology her focus moved from an academic study of Ethics to a more mystical perspective, with Renilde paying ever more attention to the transcendental dimension of human experience. Working as a religious educator in an increasingly secularised and pluralistic context Renilde started to focus on the question of how to pass on Catholic faith in a more meaningful  and relevant way - that is to say in a way that is more connected to the existential experience of her students. Her aim was always how to help them ‘come home’ to their deeper selves. Renilde told us that she became  aqcuainted with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in the Old Abbey of Drongen itself. It was in this very place that, in her own words, the ‘monk in her was awakened’. This engagement therefore, with the formators from Jesuit schools present, had a special significance for her. She went on to tell us that she is passionate about the Exercises and convinced about the strength of their dynamics not only as a method for deep discernment, but also as a way to learn to be less self-centered and more connected to others and to God. In that sense she calls them ‘a method of the heart’, a ‘spirituality of love’, based on the pedagogical model of Jesus himself, helping us to grow into an ever more generous love. Renilde spoke  of her time as a spiritual guide with people coming from very different religious backgrounds, some of them struggling with the language of the Bible and the tradition. She started looking for an alternative, more open, way to work with the Exercises. That is to say, following their dynamics and opening up their language, to make the Exercises more accesible for people from diverse backgrounds so as to help them develop their interiority and to give words to their inner experiences. During the conference she explained her methodology and allowed us to experience part of her programme, using simple breathing and attention exercises and the imaginative meditation method published by Hieronymus Nadal. The focus was on the themes of passion and compassion. She also introduced us to a playful methodology for interreligious dialogue. A clear model for metareflection helped us afterwards to name specific spiritual competences achieved and to evaluate the pedagogical and professional relevance of the work done. Besides enjoying the strong and open atmosphere within the group participants began to appreciate how this methodology could be a very direct and powerful way to work with students and staff so as to help them move ‘into depth’. Some reported how the input offered a refreshing and deeper understanding of the process underlying the Spiritual Excercises, and the value of structuring and meta-communication as such. There was also an appreciation of the creative approach of working with art and poetry. With the kind permission of Renilde Vos we’re happy to share her resources.

In-depth Reflection

Source for theology of the future. The German Edition of the Complete Works of Karl Rahner (1904-1984) was celebrated in Munich on April 19th. During the ceremony in the Jesuit School of Philosophy the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, honored the work of the famous Jesuit theologian and philosopher as a "great treasure and source for what we will do theologically in the future". The Edition comprises more than 27,000 pages in 40 volumes and is published by the Publishing House Herder (Freiburg). Marx said that Rahner taught him to think in the present day's horizon. A theology that does not confront the thought and life of its time is superfluous. A self-referential theological approach, which he occasionally experiences, has no future, said the archbishop of Munich and Freising. He wished that as many theologians would be inspired by Rahners works. Rahner is one of the most important Catholic Theologians of the 20th century and a bridge builder between classical and modern theology. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), where he was engaged in the preparation and as Peritus ("expert"), was highly influenced by his thoughts. Rahner found his themes in church history, the Ignatian spirituality and the tradition of the Jesuit order, and the questions that brought readers and listeners to him. So he was not only concerned with God's universal salvific will, but also with the railway mission or with the needs of parish libraries. Until now, his considerations of ecumenism, of some structural problems within the roman curia, priestly celibacy or ordination are discussed, and other hot-button issues. The Edition includes all writings published by Rahner himself, from encyclopedia articles to monographs, as well as his interviews and a few unpublished manuscripts, including a student essay, in which he describes the cleaning and tidying of his teachers at a School trip. The theologian was born in a teacher family at Freiburg and joined 1922 the Society of Jesus. The register of works includes about 1,900 independent publications. Philip Endean SJ (Paris) presented the French Edition „Œuvres de Karl Rahner“ (Cerf) including already 7 volumes.
The Cristianisme i Justícia Centre in Barcelona has just published in English this booklet on the Protestant Reformation. It is written by Jaume Botey, who was a member of Cristianisme i Justícia and a professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and who died in February 2018. We cannot understand modern-day Europe without understanding the role played by Luther in the Reformation of the 16th century. That event went far beyond the religious realm and revealed the existence of two cultures, two models of social relations, two manners of understanding political power, and even two economic systems. Many of the topics debated during the Reformation and the early Renaissance period are still being debated in our contemporary European society, which is as perplexed and perplexing today as it was in those days. The booklet is available here.
The First Volume Is Dedicated to Korea. A series of monographic issues in digital format will bring together, through key words inspired by current affairs, the great patrimony of the contents and reflections that the Review has accumulated over the years. “La Civiltá Cattolica” has launched a new series of digital monographs, entitled “Accents.” It will bring together, in a thematic way, its recent and remote reflections, putting the “accent” on a current topic or a “key word.” The series will be a way of assessing the great patrimony that “La Civilta Cattolica” has accumulated from 1850 to today. The volumes will be available free for our subscribers on our applications for tablet and smartphone; they can be acquired and downloaded by all  — from 12:30 pm in PDF format on the site and in paper format on Amazon. We attach the volume to this e-mail available to the press. The first Accent: Korea 10 days from the meeting between Moon and Kim. The Korean Peninsula is at the center of international attention. This land, so rich in harmonies and tensions, has become today the point of fracture and suturing of blocs: it is not only a strip of Oriental land, but a global political quadrant in which precarious international balances are at stake. That is why we have dedicated the first volume to the Korean Peninsula. The third summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is scheduled for April 27, 2018. To prepare itself for these developments “La Civilta Cattolica” — thanks also to local qualified voices –proposes reflections, from a very recent or distant past, creating connections and unveiling roots and motivations, to help one understand what is happening today and what can happen in the future. It is in these days, among other things, that Kim Ki-duk’s new film “The Korean Prisoner,” has opened in Italian movie houses. In the last section – “Inside the Culture” – of the first volume of “Accents,” we also suggest again a reading of the three previous works of the film director. The first issue of “Accents” is on sale – for non-subscribers – at the promotional price of one euro. Since February 2017, “La Civilta Cattolica” is also published in Korean. Its site is
Islam is the religion that is expected to grow faster in the next forty years even though it is immersed in a profound crisis, which has violence as one of its most notable and worrying problems. In this context we wonder if violence can be considered as part of Islam; to what extent the justification for the use of violence that fundamentalist groups claim can find support in the Koran or if it is possible to reinterpret religious texts and history in a way that allows a peaceful Islam in the twenty-first century. At least as peaceful and positive as most of Muslims’ lives. Jaume Flaquer, presents this reflection on this topic. He is a Jesuit and coordinator of the Theological Area of Cristianisme i Justícia. Access here

Preparing for Mission

We, the European Formation Delegates, had our annual meeting as a Eurogroup of 19 people in Dublin from 15 to 20 of April 2018. It was a traditional meeting that fosters the relationships among the Provinces of the Conference, actually Europe and Middle East, on the formation of the Jesuits. This year we faced once again the question of the European Formation Centers, namely those we should run at interprovincial level since 2008: recently we got a letter from Father General pushing us to clarify our situation in order to share more through a process of discernment. Indeed the 4 Centers for Philosophy, 2 for Theology and 1 for both are under the responsibility of the Province that hosts the Center, and we still fail in sharing staff and money as we would do. The experience of Dublin has been very consoling on the will of more collaboration, because the main 2 themes that came to light were more collaboration and sharing of responsibilities. About going to Ireland for our meeting, we choose Dublin to become conscient of the changes a very catholic country did and is still doing in becoming a secularized society. We took also the opportunity to visit the only house of formation under the responsibility of the Conference President: the European Tertianship in Manresa House, the retreat house and spirituality center.
On the Good Shepherd Sunday Sergio Gadea has been ordained priest by Bishop José Cobo Cano in the Church of the Immaculate Conception and St. Peter Claver. For bishop Cobo it was his first ordination as bishop. He was delighted to ordain a Jesuit a he is a great admirer of two Jesuit Saints, St. Ignatius and St. José Rubio.  Concelebrating were the provincial of Spain, Antonio España SJ, the vicar of consecrated life, Elías Royón SJ, the rector of Comillas, Julio Martínez SJ and about 80 Jesuits and several priests. He gathered his family, friends and companions who came from the different places where Sergio has been training and serving: his Old Apiary from his childhood, Valladolid, Lleida, Innsbruck... And with them they brought their languages that enriched the liturgy of the word and the songs. In his homily bishop Cobo stressed that priesthood is a way to hapiness.   On Saturday, April 14, eight young Jesuits were ordained deacons, in the newly refreshed Saint Ignatius church in Paris. The eight new deacons come from 4 different continents : Youssef Abdelnour (Egypt), Vincent de Beaucoudrey (France), Jacob Hembrom and Vasanthakumar Irudayaraj (India), Innocent Kamanzi (Rwanda), Vedaste Nkeshimana (Burundi), Bryan Norton and Timothy O'Brien (USA). Seven of them are currently studying at the Centre Sèvres in Paris. The eighth one studies Arab in Lebanon. The ordinating bishop was Monseigneur Michel Pansard, Bishop of Evry-Corbeil-Essonnes.   Kaunas archbishop Lionginas Virbalas SJ ordained Eugenijus Puzynia SJ deacon on April 21, the first Holy Orders in the Vilnius University Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John Apostle and Evangelist, more than 100 years since the last ordination in this formerly Jesuit church. Bishop Emeritus Jonas Boruta SJ also imposed hands on the new deacon.
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.
Father Simon Decloux, a Belgian Jesuit died on Monday, April 9. in Brussels. Father Decloux was born in Petit-Rechain (Province of Liège, Belgium) on 30 November 1930. After his studies at the Collège Saint-François-Xavier in Verviers (East of Belgium), he joined the Society of Jesus on September 14, 1948. Ordained priest on August 6, 1958, he did a doctoral thesis in philosophy in Rome, on the thought of Emmanuel Levinas. After his formation he taught theology and history of philosophy in Eegenhoven (Leuven); he exercised various responsibilities in the formation of Belgian Jesuits, delicate tasks in the post-Council period: there he showed a wise and peaceful openness that earned him the equal esteem of his young confreres and his superiors. In 1970 he became Provincial of the South-Belgium Province. After five years of this mandate, he was called to Rome and became delegate of Father Arrupe for international houses. He assumed this task for eight years (1975-1983). It was at this time that he met the founders of the Sant'Egidio community, whose beginnings he accompanied and to which he remained very attached. At the 33rd General Congregation, in 1983, he became Assistant and Admonitor of Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach. In 1995 he was sent to the Central Africa Province and became rector of the scholasticate and the Faculty of Philosophy at Kimwenza. In 2001, still in Kimwenza, he moved from the scholasticate to the Spiritual Center where he was superior and director until 2009. Back in Belgium he collaborated in NRT (Nouvelle Revue Théologique) and gave spiritual Exercises with a very personal wisdom. Among his publications : many philosophy articles but also four "eight-day retreats" - listening to the four Gospels: Luke (2002), Matthew (2006), Mark (2007), John (2009). These books have been translated into English and Spanish.