Jesuits in Europe

The British Jesuits have launched a  series of  Vocations videos, which will feature across social media channels. The videos look at a day in the life of several members of the Province, including both priests and Novices. The series of fascinating videos are accompanied by personal blogs, with signposting for viewers to find out more information. They are part of the Jesuits’ outreach to both men who may be considering exploring a vocation, and those who are more generally interested in the work of the Order. During the month of February these videos have appeared: The Servant Dermot Preston is a Jesuit priest serving the parish and the poor in Newcastle. He says of the experience: "Britain has become a yet-more fragmented place with strikes and industrial action, but the poor cannot strike or withdraw their labour to make their absence felt – they cling on, watching somewhat helplessly, as the powers of this world push them about like corks in a fast-flowing river." You can read the Blog by Fr Dermot Preston SJ here The Adventurer Fr Michael Barrow SJ was 91 years old when we filmed this interview, and had been a Jesuit for over 70 years. Like all Jesuits, his career has been incredibly varied, including stints as a teacher in the UK and as a parish priest in Barbados. Here he reflects on his life and his vocation. You can read Words by Fr Michael Barrow SJ here The First Vows After two years in the Novitiate, we see Mikhael Ahmad take his First Vows and become a Brother in the Society of Jesus. You can read the Blog by Br Mikhael Ahmad SJ here. If you are thinking about your place in the world, are interested in exploring your vocation or calling, or want to know more about the Society of Jesus, please visit the vocations page on our website
The on-going war in Ukraine has been causing destruction and suffering. The number of deaths, severe injuries, displaced people and homes destroyed would be unimaginable just a year ago, when the full scaled invasion started. The Jesuits and its collaborators have been in close contact with this reality since the very beginning. They have been accompanying, supporting psychologically and spiritually and providing shelter, food and other basic needs to thousands of refugees.   Today we are sharing 3 different testimonials of 3 Ukrainian citizens that were forced to leave Ukraine. They are currently settled in Poland. They had to leave almost everything behind.    – Always by her Parents’ Side -  Natalia’s Testimonial.  Natalia and her family chose to stay longer in Ukraine to take care of her elderly parents who were not able to move. Despite of the constant shelling, a destroyed freezing cold apartment, no water, no food, they stayed in town until there was an opportunity to safely transport her parents. Read the whole story here.   –  In Poland, with the Heart in Ukraine – Nadia's Testimonial  Nadia is a grandmother who left the family in Ukraine with the hope of creating conditions to receiving them one day. Her daughter is a doctor, and she is working at the frontline of war in Kharkiv. Nadia got precious support from JRS and was able to find a job in Poland. She can’t wait to be with her family again. Read the whole story here.   – A Vocation to Serve and Translate – Marta's Testimonial  Marta was forced to leave her home and go to Poland. Once there, she looked for ways to serve. She found the local JRS office and made use of her Polish-Ukrainian translation skills to help fellow Ukrainians who found refuge in Poland. Read the whole story here. 
On February 16th, Fellows, partners and friends of the European Leadership Programme (ELP) gathered at Press Club Brussels to celebrate the completion and achievements of the Fellows’ last 5 months within ELP. The evening began with beautiful speeches by JESC Director, Filipe Martins SJ, followed by Barbara Segaert, Project Coordinator at UCSIA, who have remained close to the Fellows throughout the whole programme. Heartfelt testimonials by current, Anna Taraczkozi, and former, Gianmarco Palermo, Fellows were shared, allowing the audience to get a feel of what it is like being a part of the ELP community. Before reaching the awaited certificate distribution moment, our keynote speaker, Pierre Gurdjian, board member and co-founder of Belgium's 40 under 40, took us to the top of a building through his speech, breaking down the importance of understanding the self through an assessment of the world and finding our place in it all. This memorable event ended with an “Irish blessing for the way” from Archbishop Noel Treanore, the new Apostolic Nuncio to the EU, and an apéro dînatoire where participants were able to mingle, catch up, and meet new friends of ELP.
Fr. General, Arturo Sosa, has appointed Fr. Dalibor Renić as President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials.   Fr. Renić, age 46, was born in Travnik (Bosnia and Herzegovina). He joined the Society of Jesus in 1996. After the study of Philosophy at the Jesuit Faculty in Zagreb and Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, he was ordained priest in 2005. In 2010 he completed a doctoral thesis in philosophy at Milltown Institute in Dublin (National University of Ireland). From that year on he served as professor of philosophy, and later as the vice-dean at the Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Studies (University of Zagreb). He was also vice-superior of the Jesuit Formation Community in Zagreb (2009-2017). He did his Tertianship in Manila (Philippines) and took final vows in 2016. In 2017 he was appointed provincial of Croatia. He was also a member of the JCEP consult (2017-2020).   Fr. Renić will take office of JCEP President on 31 August 2023

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Finding God

For some weeks now, the series of podcasts “Juego de espejos” (Mirror Games), an initiative of SerJesuita, has been available on different audio channels. These are audios of just ten minutes in which, after an introduction to the historical context of each figure, a review of his life is made and a reflection is offered on what this figure can teach us today.  Without a doubt, the podcast is an increasingly promising tool. The offer is multiplying every day, and there are very popular and high quality options for leisure (fiction, humor, sport, cinema), learning (history, literature, psychology), or reflection (politics, thought, prayer).  We all like to listen to a good story. And if that story leaves us with something to reflect on and learn from, we have a double prize.  In the case of “Juego de espejos”, the biography of each saint is complemented by additional chapters “Mirarse en”, in which, in the form of a discussion, we reflect on the reflection that each of these saints can have in our lives.   You can listen to the episodes here in Spotify  Jesuitas España 
For the process of spiritual discernment that we are promoting in the Province on the transmission of faith - and which will have an important moment in the next Provincial Meeting - the reflection team proposed several weeks ago a prayer of contemplation. It wants to help us take the temperature of our personal relationship with God. It invites us to ask ourselves key questions: Where is God in your life? Is he the centre or not? Where do you notice Him? Where do you really have your heart? Do you feel and live like Jesus and like His Gospel?  And why? Because we cannot transmit the faith without having re-appropriated it, without asking ourselves how we are living it personally. The aim of the exercise is to delve into your own person understood in a holistic way (body and spirit, interrelated but distinct) to answer how you are in general and how your faith is in particular.  The Faith Transmission team wants to collect the experiences of this exercise in order to continue deepening its discernment process and has therefore created this inspirational video.     Jesuitas España 
Jacek Siepsiak SJ was in Ukraine praying for peace and reconciliation, together with representatives of various religions. He witnessed that people in Ukraine don't only need generators and weapons. They also need closeness, prayer and gestures of solidarity. Here is his testimonial.  On returning from Kiev When accepting the invitation from "Europe, a Patient Association" (a Pan-European association that aims to be the voice of the least powerful against harming greed and short-term interests) to pray in Kiev together with representatives of various religions (in practice Abrahamic), I had some concerns. It was not just a question of security. I did not want it to be war tourism. Therefore, I wondered if it would be better to pray remotely, online. But I became convinced that the people affected by this war need proximity. I recalled the image of Amelka, a little girl singing a song from 'Pocahontas' in the Kiev metro during the air raids to bring some comfort. She later sang the Ukrainian anthem in Poland at the opening of a huge concert of solidarity with Ukraine. How must a child have felt in a bombed-out shelter? Wasn't it like Abel when he realized that Cain was going to kill him? How enormous was the loneliness? Can it only be answered online?  I was also concerned whether it was too soon for the ministry of reconciliation. This ministry, which is fundamental for Jesuits, could be perceived as urging capitulation in the place where it is common to hear not about the Russians, but about 'Rashists'.  Discussions are underway about what is most needed in a Ukraine attacked by Russia. There, on the ground, one hears most about generators. And indeed, there is a shortage of electricity every now and then (as it was during the meeting with Archbishop Shevchuk). Although Kiev, for example, is perhaps not blacked out, but dimmed. The sight of a huge metropolis with wide multi-lane streets called "prospekts" and great slabs of concrete, next to which ours buildings seems only like tiny blocks, drowning in almost total darkness, makes a surreal impression.  There is no electricity there. Not only in the shelters, to which, unfortunately, one has to descend almost systematically. This is more tiring than the raids themselves. One could say that it is not too dangerous. That the rockets in Kiev itself rarely kill. Yet the prolonged sense of danger takes its toll on the psyche. How much can one bear?  They want us to know Such tension is exhausting. But loneliness is also hard to bear. And it's not just that the front takes away fathers, husbands and brothers. It is also experienced what I think Abel suffered. Cain was his older brother, and so his natural guardian. When someone like that is going to kill you, you feel extremely abandoned. In Abel's case it lasted a while. In Ukraine, many people have a lengthy feeling that someone who declared himself a brother, a relative and a loved one is now sending rockets and tanks against them. This is difficult to understand.  That is why Ukrainians need not only generators and weapons. Not even just bullet-proof vests, helmets and special bandages (which they expect from clerics who refuse to provide rifles). Proximity, prayer and gestures of solidarity are also needed. There, in the place, not just over the internet.  As I mentioned, going there I was afraid that it would be war tourism, that I would feel like in a zoo. But even though there were a lot of inter-religious meetings with hierarchs there, these are people immersed in a 'field hospital'. Often under-shaven. It is a telling image: unshaven nuncios, bishops and priests of various denominations, imams, rabbis... Also, members and staff of parliament. Unshaven, but grateful for our interest.  But all my fears were allayed when I met people from the destroyed houses of Bucha, Borodyanka or Irpin. Some we met in a container settlement brought from Poland. Others appeared spontaneously among the ruins. They told tragic stories of death, torture, hiding. About helping each other. About hiding loved ones and local priests. But they wanted us to know about it too and to pass it on. And there were times when they were not able to finish their stories, not only because the curfew interrupted them, but because the wounds were too deep.  It is about the wounds And it is precisely about these wounds. Already the curia is organising spiritual healing retreats, led by clergy and psychologists. Not only for those who survived the nightmare of occupation and evacuation. They are also needed by soldiers who for months have been in zone zero, that is at the front line. The constant sense of danger changes people and their reactions. But killing also changes, and seriously. It is not enough to explain that it is for a just cause. The commandment "Thou shalt not kill!" protects not only Abel or Cain, but also those who would like to kill the wandering Cain. In killing we also kill a part of ourselves.  The ministry of reconciliation is also about helping people to reconcile with themselves. War leaves behind a society in need of inner healing. I do not mean to criticize anyone for sending arms to the Ukrainians. However, we must remember that as we send weapons (to defend ourselves by killing), it will then be necessary to help heal those who used the weapon, and their families.  Modern, democratic states invest heavily in programmes geared towards restoring to balance those hobbled by killing. The West helped and is helping Ukraine to build a modern army. Will we help the veterans of a war that aims to protect us from war? 
Aurélie Blondel is a member and the vice-president of the Diony's Voice choir, in the northern suburbs of Paris. She shares her musical journey and how she discovered spirituality thanks to this association. On June 21, 2017, on World Music Day, I took an unusual route to return home. Passing in front of the church, I heard a choir and I was magnetized by their voices and energy. I thought about it all summer, I hesitated, then I finally auditioned in September. Diony's Voice was created in 2016 in Saint-Denis (north of Paris) by Fr. Louis Lorieux sj. The choir brings together students and young professionals around a repertoire of spirituals, gospel and African songs. It’s an opportunity for many young adults to access a musical culture and especially to meet people, open up to others, and find their voice – and their way – and I found mine there. I had never heard of the Society of Jesus before. When I joined the choir, I did not know that it involved a few Jesuits and members of the Ignatian family, which could have made me give up on it, as I had kept my distance from religion for years. But meeting them was a real gift. I was welcomed as I was, with my doubts and reluctance, which gradually gave way to trust. Choral singing revealed the world to me like a choir, showing me that, united, with our singularities, we can live as one. Although it is non-confessional, Diony's Voice has been my source of spiritual "awakening", and I am grateful for the people I met, who have gradually become dear friends. It has been the first step on a path of hope that I am now taking, led by the Ignatian spirituality which I am learning to discover step by step. Pictures: © Damien Tomezzoli

Promoting Justice

Through the One Proposal programme, Jesuits provided over 82,000 assistance activities in areas such as emergency aid, shelter, psychosocial support, education, and integration.  Since the start of the international armed conflict in Ukraine, the organizations of the Jesuits have served and accompanied 56,042 people fleeing violence. Coordinated by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe and the Xavier Network, and in collaboration with JRS country offices, NGOs and local partners, the Society of Jesus has provided 82,111 short-term and medium-term assistance activities in areas such as emergency aid, shelter, psychosocial support, education, and integration. The data comes out of the Annual report of the One Proposal, the programme of the coordinated response of the Society of Jesus, published on Thursday.  Alberto Ares Mateos SJ, the regional director of JRS Europe, expressed: “Since the beginning of the conflict, we have been responding in Ukraine, but also in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova, and Slovakia. We have also expanded to many of our JRS offices around Europe, where we now offer long-term programmes to promote and integrate refugees in countries such as Spain, Ireland, and Croatia, among others. It is really moving and encouraging to hear the testimonies of so many refugees with whom we walk and who express their pain and concern, but also their hope. These efforts are possible thanks to the continued solidarity of so many generous people, foundations and other organizations who trust in the work of the Society of Jesus.”  In the first year of the One Proposal implementation, 60% of the services were under the umbrella of the first key strategic objective “Welcome”, which focuses on short-term and emergency aid through shelter and emergency aid. Meanwhile, 30% of activities were medium-term help in areas like psychosocial support, health, education, and housing, which fall under the second strategic objective “Protect”. The last 10% were shared between the “Integrate” and “Promote” objectives which aim to provide long-term support through employment, awareness raising and integration activities.   The One Proposal, which was presented in July 2022 after an in-depth needs assessment, encompasses a wide range of services to be provided to a projected 73,168 people over the course of 3 years. It addresses the needs of forcibly displaced Ukrainians across Europe, from immediate humanitarian response and emergency assistance in Ukraine and its neighbours, to long-term programmes to promote and integrate refugees. Therefore, it will benefit internally displaced people, refugees of Ukrainian nationality and refugees of other nationalities, displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.  The report, as well as dozens of stories of the people being helped through the One Proposal, are available at You can also find more information about how to donate and/or take action to help refugees and other forcibly displaced people.  JRS-Europe
A call to Jesuit Gerald Baumgartner, who is coordinating emergency aid for earthquake victims in Homs, Syria.  How did you experience the earthquake?  I woke up from it at night, the earth shook for about two to three minutes, it already felt threatening. Then we all ran into the street, just like the other people in Homs. But nothing was destroyed here. Nevertheless, people did not dare to go back into their houses for fear that the quake could be even stronger. Most people spent the night outside in sub-zero temperatures. Then came heavy rain the next day, there was a dead silence everywhere, it was already an apocalyptic situation.  When did you start your aid?  We quickly learned that the epicentre was in the north of the country, about 200 kilometres away from us, and how severe the damage was in Syria. Our first impulse was to go to Aleppo immediately and help with the search work there. But the idea that we would go there and just start digging was a bit naïve and also premature, and I am glad that I was able to restrain our youth leaders. After all, we were much more urgently needed here in Homs.  In what way?  Already on the second day after the earthquake, we received a call that two families who had fled Aleppo needed the most basic necessities: Blankets, mattresses, bread, which we then brought with our minibus. From then on, it didn't stop: more and more people came to our house who had fled the earthquake region, without identity cards, without money, without warm clothes. Some of them were standing in front of us in their pyjamas. Then it was clear to us: something huge is coming!  What did that mean for you?  My superiors were not in the house, so I decided that we would cook for twenty people. The next day there were 50, the third day 150, and today (16 February) there were 800 people. We cook in the small kitchenette, we eat outside, luckily it hasn't rained much in the last few days. And people are still arriving daily from Aleppo. We check at night how many new ones have arrived, so what quantities we have to cook the next day. In addition, our minibus is on the road around the clock, bringing relief supplies to the people: Clothes, hygiene articles, blankets, medicines. Many of the relief goods that are delivered to us are also passed on to other organisations such as the Red Cross or the Red Crescent.  How willing are the people in Homs to help?  Huge! People give everything they have: on the first day we were suffocating in mountains of clothes. The people here have nothing themselves after the years of war. Nevertheless, there is enormous solidarity. But that doesn't mean that it can't change. That's why we make sure that we also feed the needy locals. Of the 800 meals today, 600 went to refugees and 200 to the people who take them in.  How do you actually manage that?  50 to 100 volunteers support us day and night, many have taken leave for this. Students help us even though they should be preparing for their exams. I myself have not sat down for the last 10 days, I was on my feet every day from eight in the morning until two in the night, then sleep for six hours, then start all over again.  Don't you easily lose track of things in such a chaotic situation?  It's a challenge, but we already tried to organise our aid as strategically as possible after our first spontaneous impulse to help dig in Aleppo. We joined forces with the other Christian churches in Homs and founded a coordination group to offer help together and as systematically as possible. Our community has become a kind of hub for this.  What does systematic mean in such a situation?  We have put together assessment teams that determine the objective needs of the families and assign priorities. These are qualified staff with psychosocial training. Our goal is to provide emergency aid, i.e. clothing, hygiene articles, blankets, medicines, medical care and also food, as quickly as possible. The people should quickly be put in a position to look after themselves and cook where they are accommodated. We will certainly continue to distribute food parcels for a while for this purpose. After that, we want to look at what the refugees need in the longer term: Housing, rent support, education for the children, psychotherapeutic care.  You will continue to coordinate that?  Yes, the JRS asked me to do this because I was already organising the emergency aid. I will therefore hand over my tasks in youth work, continue the emergency aid for as long as necessary, and then develop the second phase of our aid for the people who will be in Homs for longer.  Do you expect that the refugees will not be able to return soon?  Yes, many will possibly stay in Homs for years. Either because their houses have been destroyed or because it is unclear whether they are still habitable. In Aleppo, teams of engineers are currently inspecting house after house to decide which ones people can move back into. As long as this is not clarified, the refugees will probably stay here.  How are you feeling about all this?  The last few days have been very draining for everyone in the team, and we have to remain mindful that we also give the helpers rest days. But at the same time, it is incredibly comforting and motivating to see how people get involved. Just one example: like every year, the 50 women of a prayer group collected money for a celebration on Valentine's Day, which is called the Feast of Love in Arabic. They collected 200,000 Lira, not 30 Euros. They gave us this money: this year they want to celebrate the Feast of Love in this way. That gives strength.  Interview: Gerd Henghuber  Jesuits ECE 
The situation remains dramatic after the Turkey and Syria earthquakes that occurred on the night of 6 February. JRS staff in Syria reports significant damage in Aleppo, with collapsed or uninhabitable hospitals, lack of electricity, and broken or very difficult connections. People are shaken and frightened, with many who preferred to remain outdoors in the cold and rain fearing the aftershocks. The Jesuits have opened their building in Aziziyé, which was declared safe, where displaced people can find shelter and support. We remain in solidarity with the people of Syria who have long been suffering because of the war and socio-economic consequences, with millions of displaced people. As the weight of multiple traumas makes the future seem daunting, we pray that the Syrian people may soon find healing and peace. Read more:  SUPPORT JRS IN SYRIA
The first week of February Fr. Franck Janin, our JCEP President participated at the Assembly of Major Superiors of Asia Pacific at the Seven Fountains Spirituality Centre in Chiang Mai (Thailand).  the JCAP Migrants and Refugees Network proposed there a statement "We stand with Myanmar", two years after the military coup in that country. Download the statement "We stand with Myanmar". On the picture: Conference Presidents Fr Franck Janin SJ from (Europe), Fr Tony Moreno SJ (Asia Pacific), Fr Brian Paulson SJ (Canada and the United States), and Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ (Africa and Madagascar) 

Youth & Media

In October 2020, the Iñigo House was officially born, at the same time as the creation of JRS Luxembourg. Backed by the Jesuit chapel, the House aims to be a place of welcome and outreach, and to be open to the questions of the world and of each human being. In the Church, it is complementary to the parishes, integrated in diverse social realities, open to ecological, artistic and fraternal creativity. The charter of the House defines its vocation around the four universal apostolic preferences of the Company. Like bees around a hive, groups of children, young people or adults come to the Inigo House: JRS welcomes a hundred refugees each week for French lessons and organises activities (creative workshops, discovery outings, creation of a network for internships and summer jobs). The association accompanies young refugees who often arrive without their families. 150 people from Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM) and 100 children take part in catechesis. Around 30 young professionals in the MAGIS team meet every month. A children's theatre company brightens up the hive and its garden. On Saturdays, a “Laudato si’ garden team” of a dozen people gets together to bring life back to a green space that is just waiting to unfold its full potential each season. Ecological lunches are organised after mass, once a month. There are meetings in the evening: Council, Christian Life Community, liturgical team, Laudato si’ in Action team, baptisms, Families & Co, etc. Hundreds of worker bees bring their skills, joys and difficulties, creating a beautiful dynamic. However, an objective remains: to create more bridges between the various groups. New projects will undoubtedly arise! Christian Motsch SJ and Patricia Jamar
52 heads of Jesuit schools from France and Belgium met on January 18, 19 and 20 at the school La Providence in Amiens, France. All of these principals are secular. They meet regularly by country or by region, and between Belgians and French, once every two or three years. This was the case in Amiens, in January. We benefited from a newly renovated auditorium and colourful decorations in the corridors of the school thanks to the Jesuit Week which had taken place a few days before. These three days, around the theme of discernment, were animated by a team from the Ignatian Pedagogical Centre. Fr. Pascal Sevez sj had invited Patrick Goujon sj for an intervention which immediately set the tone: the art of Ignatian discernment must help those in charge in the school world; take the time to discern when circumstances push for quick decisions; devote this time to getting back into indifference; do the exercise of giving weight to the alternative towards which we do not spontaneously lean. Obviously, these words seemed to hit the bull's eye with the heads of establishments. On the second day, Fr. Nikolaas Sintobin sj, a Flemish Jesuit, presented parts of the Exercises of Saint Ignatius. Lastly, we discovered Amiens’ cathedral thanks to a local clergy guide whose enthusiasm and culture made it possible to forget the freezing cold of the evening. It was good that the Jesuits could share what is at the heart of their experience; it was good to see how lay people appropriated this experience; it was very good for French and Belgians to meet and share their qualities. The next seminar will take place in Belgium, probably in two years. Fr. Thierry Dobbelstein sj, Coordination of Jesuit Colleges and Schools (Cocéjé), and member of the Jesuit community of Namur
Students at the Jesuit Elementary School in Gdynia are participating in an international Erasmus project focused on uncovering the mysteries of the world of trees. The project, which began last year, will last until May 2023. Below we publish a brief description of the activities carried out under the project by students from Gdynia together with students from Lithuanian, Greek and Latvian schools.  As part of the project, we create inspiring activities on the topic of trees: games, creative works, research, facts and cultural aspects. The works of our school and partner schools are posted on the website, you can see them HERE.  A Camp in Lithuania  The project also included two international meetings. The first meeting was a Camp in Lithuania in July 2022. The Camp was held under the theme: Surrounded by forest.  The camp was full of activities related to the theme of trees: walking with a map, visiting natural history museums with trees characteristic of Lithuania, learning how to light a fire, making medallions in wood, playing theater, dancing, visiting wooden monuments, etc.  Young scientists  The second meeting was held in October 2022 at our school in Gdynia under the theme "Young Scientists." The program of the visit to Gdynia included workshops and field games, as well as a workshop conducted by students of the Jesuit High School under the guidance of Mr. Blazej Kochanski of the Gdansk University of Technology entitled. "How to weigh a dog with a ruler," sightseeing in Gdynia, Gdansk, and Toruń. There were also games and creative works in the theme of trees: making wooden jewelry, painting on glass, etc. We ended the project with a Holy Mass, games and dinner together. Such meetings are an intense, joyful time, full of attractions, interesting ways to gain knowledge and international friendships.  Each international meeting brings together representatives of partner schools: 4 students and 2 teachers, a total of 24 people.  Our next meeting will take place in May 2023 in Greece, and then we will start preparing for the international online conference that a school from Latvia is preparing for us in the fall.  PMA Province Magdalena Gruszka / Jesuit Schools in Gdynia 
A pilgrimage to Syria took place from 28 December to 8 January, just weeks before the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria. It was an all-embracing experience that deeply involved 30 motivated young people led by Fr Francesco Cavallini SJ.  The Stages of the journey  The flight landed in Beirut. The Syrian airport does not cater for scheduled flights. Then we travelled by bus to the Bekaa valley and arrived in Damascus. After an initial visit we continued to Hama and Aleppo and then south to the splendid archaeological site of Apamea. On our way we saw the castles on the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean. We arrived at Homs, at the monastery of Mar Musa, and back again to Damascus to the archaeological site of Bosra. Finally, we returned to Beirut, passing through Damascus again.  A country in the cradle of civilisation devastated by war.  These stages of the journey are extremely rich in spiritual, cultural, social and political challenges. "Syria is largely a country devastated by war," explains Fr. Cavallini. 'The people live in gutters that can neither be demolished nor rebuilt because of the Western embargo. Electricity is rationed. Diesel is expensive. Oil wells are in the hands of foreign powers. Mafias and the corrupt get rich running the black market at the expense of the people. Young people have no prospects of work and sufficient income to support themselves with dignity, and they all try to find their fortune abroad by emigrating in the best way they can.  Testimonies of the existing good  Despite everything, there are many signs of hope. "First of all, there are many Christian Churches: Syro-Catholic, Syro-Orthodox, Greek-Catholic, Greek-Orthodox, Maronite, Chaldean, Latin. They are different but capable of peaceful, respectful, and collaborative coexistence. There is also the presence of the Franciscans with their schools and parishes. They collect charity and everyone flocks to them for help.  The Jesuits of Homs, who had one of their companions, Fr Frans Van der Lugt killed by Isis, have resumed their many activities for young people, including those of other Christian Churches and Muslims, in a city strained by war with many deaths and destruction. Particularly significant is the testimony of the Jesuits in Damascus, who have built a beautiful and modern youth centre, the Hurtado Centre, in a poor and overcrowded suburban neighbourhood because of the refugees inside Syria.  There is also the Mar Musa monastery in the desert north of Damascus, founded by Fr Paolo Dall'Oglio together with Fr Jaques Mourad, who was appointed Bishop of Homs for the Syro-Catholic community.    Maalula is a Christian village where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken, in the mountains of anti-Lebanon. The village is devastated by rebel troops. To the question: "how do you deal with grief for dead family members, anger and resentment?" they replied: "the pain of loss will remain forever, but we are children of the Resurrection, and we want to be in the world seeking good and not evil, loving and not hating, rebuilding and not running away". We concluded with the Lord's Prayer recited in Aramaic in an atmosphere of deep emotion that we still hold, and which spurs us to carry on.  Future proposals  It was meant to be a spiritual and cultural pilgrimage... it was much more. The initiative is part of a series of pilgrimage proposals in the Biblical Lands offered by the Jesuits to young people in collaboration with Percorsi di Vita and AMO Friends of the Middle East. Not only pilgrimages are being offered but also service experiences and voluntary work, the Spiritual Exercises, and cultural trips.  Jesuits EUM 

In-depth Reflection

Cristianisme I Justícia, Virtual Collection number 5. The word “reconciliation” is a word with a diverse set of meanings that can encompass many different perspectives: religious, ethical, political and juridical. The author concentrates in this text on the religious perspective and on its Christian version., placing himself clearly in the point of view of victims. From that come all of the questions that recur in these pages: Is there a God who reconciles and who reconciles us with so many victims in this world? If that is answered in the affirmative, what does that reconciliation look like? In what does it consist of? How does it concern us Christians? Download this brochure
In the increasingly international and competitive context of higher education and research, the Centre Sèvres – Jesuit Faculties of Paris continues its development as a formation centre on a European scale, providing solid training to the students who come from the Jesuits, the Ignatian family as well as other congregations. The Centre Sèvres is well known across the Provinces of the Society of Jesus for the quality of its teaching and pedagogy, even though they sometimes surprise students who are accustomed to a very vertical transmission of knowledge. The academic team wants to improve those links and continue to share its formation project. A symbolic and user-friendly material The Management Board has created a new newsletter sent to superiors of Jesuit communities around the world and of some other congregations. Published in three languages (French, English, Spanish), this printed material uses the codes of a newspaper with briefs, testimonials and in-depth articles. Its name, Paris Buzz, recalls the centre’s location in the heart of the French capital, a key city in the formation of Ignatius of Loyola and which still vibrates with intellectual, cultural and spiritual life. A Professional and unifying material Intended for people in charge, the content focuses on academic subjects – pedagogy, research news, key topics of student sessions, etc. In addition to its informative role, this newsletter plays a unifying role internally: many contributors, among teachers, students and members of the administration, participate in its development (editors, translators, photographers, etc.). Clémentine MONOD (Communication of the Centre Sèvres)
The Jesuits and all those who have worked for the magazine in recent years met one last time on Friday 20 January in Carouge/Geneva. "We are not here to celebrate a funeral. And we are not here to rewrite history," exclaimed the magazine's director, Father Pierre Emonet SJ. "We are here to celebrate years of exchange and friendship." He continued: "Choisir is suffering the same fate as many cultural magazines of general interest. Habits and needs have changed, the very notion of culture has evolved, information and technology have pushed reflection and literature to the margins." The future remains open and the Jesuits will continue to engage in their mission of information and sharing of reflections, otherwise. He recalled that "Choisir does not disappear completely from the media landscape in Switzerland. All 705 issues are going to the National Library, where, from 2030 onwards, they will be digitalised and integrated into the public catalogue of the National Library (BNS). These journals will remain the witnesses of a bygone era, and an eloquent indication of the Jesuits' apostolate in French-speaking Switzerland.  Forerunning signs to be discerned  Can we fear that the disappearance of "Choisir" will mean the disappearance of the Jesuits' apostolic presence in this country? "That would be forgetting that, as the Spiritual Exercises have taught us, life is always forward, promising newness as long as we try to discern the forerunning signs. And there are some!" He particularly welcomed the presence in Geneva of JWL-Jesuit Worldwide Learning, which enables thousands of students around the world to benefit from education organised and delivered from the offices at 18 Jacques-Dalphin.  Pierre Emonet thanked those who believed in this wonderful adventure, especially the editor Lucienne Bittar, the journalist Céline Fossati, the documentalist Stjepan Kusar and the collaborator of the administration Geneviève Rosset-Joye. All the Jesuits in French-speaking Switzerland were present, demonstrating - if there was any need - the place that the magazine "Choisir" holds within the Community and the Society of Jesus in Switzerland. A booklet containing messages from authors and readers who were touched by the end of "Choisir" was distributed to them. Also present were the magazine's faithful printers, the Fiorina family, who had travelled from Sion, in the Valais, with impressive boxes of customised chocolates: who will dare to bite the first one in the choose cocoa logo?   Jesuits ECE
"Two events intertwine: that of the mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro: his arrest, the press conference and the people applauding.  On the other, the procession through the streets of Palermo crowding around the coffin of Biagio Conte, a person who spent his life helping the poor. There were thousands of people who attended the long vigil, which was moving and heartfelt, in the cathedral.  Two parallel lives. 30 years on the run and avoiding arrest on the one hand. 30 years on a Mission of Hope and Charity on the other. A sterile life, which has generated evil and loneliness, and a fruitful life, fully realised, which has promoted good, and created community.  Violence gives rises to a commitment to justice, in charity. This was the widespread feeling of the people accompanying Biagio Conte to the cathedral yesterday.  Two opposite paradigms and the profound meaning of life. Many wanted to carry Biagio on their shoulders, even for a few steps. It was always he, being the giant that he is, who carried us on his".  Francesco Cavallini SJ, Palermo 

Preparing for Mission

2023 marks the second year of the Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus. In the past two years, the Women’s Commission has conducted various activities to respond to the call of Father General Arturo Sosa, S.J. to 1) evaluate the appropriation of General Congregation 34’s Decree 14, “Jesuits and  the Situation of Women in Church & Civil Society”; 2) evaluate the participation and position of women and the structures of collaboration at all levels in institutions of the Society of Jesus and its apostolic works; and 3) make recommendations to the different levels of leadership in the Society of Jesus to strengthen the mission of the Society with the active participation of women. Between April 2022 and January 2023, the Commission with guidance from the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC) of the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines developed a global survey aimed to provide insights into the following questions: how are women’s roles and responsibilities within Jesuit institutions and activities perceived by women and men, including religious sisters and Jesuits; how are these perceptions about women translated into current practices and ways of moving forward in Jesuit institutions; and what recommendations can the Women’s Commission present to the Superior General of the Jesuits to enhance further engagement of women in Jesuit institutions. This work led to the in-person meeting in the General Curia in Rome in October 2022 which established a way of proceeding among a diverse global Commission in which the human and social justice dimensions are at the core of every reflection, discussion, and decision-making.  The Commission met with Father General Arturo Sosa, S.J., his General Council, and with members of the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology and of the Jesuit Refugee Service. Additionally, the commissioners held conversations with the under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Sister Nathalie Becquart, and with religious sisters representatives of the Union of International Superiors General. These meetings were of great relevance to the work of the Commission since they placed particular emphasis on women's experience in and with the Society of Jesus. The ongoing survey responds to the spirit of Decree 14 of General Congregation 34 and our current social reality. The survey is the result of a collaborative effort by the Commission and the IPC Team, as months of consultation, review, contextualization/translation, and pre-testing took place, not only between the Commission and the research team but also with each Commissioner's closest Jesuit colleagues, to create a survey that was culturally sensitive and globally acceptable. The survey has been already translated into nine languages to increase its reach. Cecilia Vanneste Download the proposals for prayer and reflection at the Second Anniversary of the Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus
It’s a tradition. Every year the Coordinating Committee (CoCo) of EJIF (European Jesuits in Formation) meets in Brussels to prepare the summer gathering. It responds to the need to do some planning work, but it is also occasion for team building by, together, learning a bit about the Conference and its works in Brussels and tasting some typical features of Brussels living, like the Trappist beer or the “frites” in Place Jourdan... For 2023, the members of the CoCo are: Eduardo Amaral, POR, studying in Rome and living in the San Saba Community; Francisco Delgado, ESP, doing his regency in the Jesuit Highschool in Oviedo; and Pavel Banďouch, BOH, also in regency in Prague. To experience a sense of companionship in the Society of Jesus that transcends national boundaries, languages, and cultures, and sets foundations for future apostolic collaboration and sharing in a common mission, these are the main goals of EJIF, one of the oldest (it started in 1986) and maybe most successful networks in the JCEP. According to Francisco, it worked again this time: “What surprised me the most was feeling at home from the very beginning in such a diverse group of companions. Different provenances, languages, ages, life paths... but all in the same ‘body’, sharing the work, the table and the Eucharist with such a good humour for a weekend. A real gift“. The actual preparation for the summer meeting was much simplified this year. EJIF 2023 in Portugal will include the MAGIS and WYD experiences, which covers the program part of it. Only the initial days of introductions and the time after the 8-day retreat to elect a new CoCo and choose the place for EJIF 2024 needed a bit of planning. Still, for Pavel, it “was very nice the experience of a productive work combined with the sense of community and sharing of information’s, lives, jokes etc. I would call it maybe as the experience of the ‘body’ of the Society.” For the JCEP office it was a great breath of fresh air having our three young companions here for a weekend, with all their energy and enthusiasm for our vocation. May EJIF continue to serve its objectives and contribute for a more integrated Jesuit mission in Europe. Herminio Rico sj. JCEP Socius
On 26 January 2023 Archbishop Lionginas Virbalas SJ was approved as the delegate of the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference for Lithuanian Catholics abroad. The pastoral mission of the Delegate is to promote and facilitate the spiritual growth of Lithuanian Catholic living abroad.
First vows, last vows, diaconal ordinations and priestly ordinations.