Jesuits in Europe

From Monday 2nd August to Monday 9th August 2022, the Jesuit Novitiates of Birmingham, Innsbruck and Lyon gathered together in-person for an inter-novitiate meeting for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.  The meeting took place at the Rue Sala Jesuit Novitiate in Lyon and included a three-day visit to the Jesuit community in Lalouvesc, at the shrine of St Jean-François Régis SJ. The theme for the meeting was that of the religious vow of poverty, in response to Fr General’s recent request that the entire Society of Jesus review how we live poverty as individuals, communities and as a Society as a whole. Our reflection began with novices sharing experiences they have had of living the vow of poverty, or working with those on the peripheries. Presentations were thoughtful, articulate and prayerful, and were received in an atmosphere of deep listening to one another. This was to set the tone for the entire gathering. Later, each novitiate was invited to share an experience of a social apostolate in which novices had encountered. In addition to listening to each other's experiences, the group visited Fr Jean Noël Gindre SJ at Coup de Pouce Université in Lyon, which translates as the University of the Helping Hand. We learned of both the efforts to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds access university education, and also the motivation for undertaking such an apostolate. A wide-ranging discussion ensued, exploring what made the apostolate distinctly Jesuit, to the tensions involved in holding together the promotion of faith and justice in such a religiously and culturally diverse setting. We learned, also, about the Christian history of the city during a visit to Antiquaille, the Cultural Centre of Christianity, and the story of the development of Sources Chrétienne which was presented engagingly by Fr Dominique Gonnet SJ. A highlight of the trip was the visit to the shrine of St Jean-François Régis SJ in Lalouvesc. The parish priest, Fr Michel Barthe-Dejean SJ, guided the group through the basilica and the museum dedicated to the St Jean-François. For most members of the group, this was the first time they had heard of the saint. It was also a delight to join the parish community for Mass and a festive meal during the parish feast on Sunday 8th August. The group also enjoyed a visit to the Lake of Devesset, swimming and sailing in pedalos! On our final evening in Lyon, we enjoyed a barbeque cooked by the novices, and each person performed a song, mime, dramatic performance or led the brothers in a game during our final gaudiosa. The blessings of the week were manifold, not least daily Mass animated alternately by each novitiate. All appreciated hearing about the insights and experiences of the others on the theme of poverty, but, as Novicemaster for the EOF province Fr Arnaud de Rolland SJ put it, it was the ‘simple brotherhood’ that was perhaps the greatest treasure we uncovered during our time together. Eamonn Walls SJ (Prov Hib)
From Friday September 16 to Sunday the 18th, the Passion for Europe event took place in the La Pairelle Spiritual Centre, in Namur, Belgium. About 60 participants from more than 20 nationalities gathered to reflect on issues relevant to Europe, including the state of democracy and some of its threats, the growing presence and influence of technology in our lives, the values that are meaningful to us, the importance of dialogue, and the role of Christianity in today’s society. The event was made up of sessions in which leading experts in the field of European policy gave presentations to the general audience, and then engaged in debates with other panellists and the public. Additionally, participants were divided into small groups, in which they were able to delve deeper into the topics being discussed. Each group summarised its main conclusions in a document; and then all the groups’ conclusions were consolidated into one overarching text. The Passion for Europe event was a unique opportunity for participants to look at Europe with some perspective, to reflect on its challenges and opportunities, on what it means to each of us, to listen to others with openness and respect, and to practice the complex but necessary art of dialogue. The programme included expert and renowned speakers like Herman van Rompuy, former President of the European Council, who gave the keynote speech; Msrg. Franco Coppola, Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium and Luxembourg; Paul F. Nemitz, Principal Advisor in the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers of the EU Commission; Fr Paolo Benanti T.O.R., Professor of Moral Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University ; Sébastien Maillard, Director of the Institut Jacques Delors; Victoria Martin de la Torre, Press officer of the S&D Group in the European Parliament; Clemens Ladenburger, Deputy Director-General of the EU Commission’s legal Department; Sigrid Marz, Board member of UNIAPAC; Andreas Kolodziejak, Economist at the European Commission; and Gyula Ocskay, General Secretary, CESCI (Central European Service for Cross-Border Initiatives) Victoria Reynal
A tough hike, a spiritual retreat and an experiment in sober living all in one. This is the Loyola Walk in a nutshell. For decades, this trek has provided unforgettable experiences for many of its participants. This hike through northern Spain, from Loyola to Javier, connects the birthplaces of two of the founders of the Jesuit order, Ignatius and Francis Xavier. In the intervening 164 walking kilometres lie both an outward and an inward journey with many peaks and valleys. With daily conferences and periods of silence along the way, the walkers follow the dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises.   This year, however, saw substantial changes compared to the previous edition, which dated back to 2014. The most fundamental difference was that the organisers had now opted for cooperation with the Interdiocesan Youth Service (IJD), the youth ministry of the joint Flemish dioceses. The main concrete consequence of this was that it could be advertised in a much wider sphere. It was estimated that as many as half of the participants came from IJD circles. Another important consequence of collaborating with the IJD was to relax the asceticism involved in the trek. For instance, walkers no longer had to carry their own luggage. Although the organisers had clearly announced that participants were allowed to carry only 10 kg of luggage, most took noticeably more.   However, much also remained as before. For instance, the organisation chose to still use as accommodation the gyms which are widespread in the region, called "frontons". In a few places, we were also allowed to sleep in church buildings.   In addition, this edition included the 'arrow team' again, the trailblazers who left earlier each day to cut down the vegetation with machetes and to indicate the route with orange arrows attached with staples to tree trunks and branches.   We were very lucky with the weather. There was just one drizzle during the walk; otherwise the weather was dry during the day. Temperatures rose to around 35° C on the last walking days, but thanks in part to the extra supplies, we had plenty of water to drink. The biggest challenge was the wind. Especially in the mountains, sometimes fierce gusts of wind blew in, threatening to blow away equipment and even toilet tents.   The group of more than 50 people was too big for everybody to get to know everyone well. The exchanges and many contacts therefore happened in the five walking groups plus the arrow and logistics team. This gave extra weight to people who stood out, such as spiritual leader Walter Ceyssens, practical leader Nick Hannes, nurse Rita Kerckhofs and Wim Van Laer, the ever-cheerful guitarist who came to wake us up every morning with an instrumental serenade.   Highlights of the journey were clearly the arrival at Javier's imposing castle and the visit to the smiling Christ on the Cross, the reconciliation service on a mountaintop, the openness and depth in the exchange talks, the Eucharistic celebrations and sunset prayer services, and the many surprises that nature and culture had in store for us. However, many of the impressions we will carry with us for a long time to come are difficult to adequately express in words. I can only recommend to join us next time: come and see!  Wouter Blesgraaf SJ 
A Jesuit's impressions of the meeting with Francis in Astana. It has already become a tradition that during his travels abroad, Pope Francis allocates time to meet with his brothers from the Society of Jesus, to talk with them on various topics, to learn about their work. This happened earlier in Poland (during the World Youth Day in 2018), in Slovakia, Malta, Canada, and most recently in the capital of Kazakhstan, where the Holy Father participated in the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. The Jesuits do not currently serve in the territory of Kazakhstan (although we were present in several places there in the past and even built a church in the future capital - Astana, which later became the cathedral; Pope Francis prayed in it, too, during the meeting with the clergy and the religious). For this reason, members of the Society of Jesus from the region to which this Central Asian country administratively belongs were invited to meet with the Pontiff: in addition to Kyrgyzstan and Russia, it is also Belarus, so the two Jesuits of Vitebsk were among those who received an invitation to come to the meeting. To be honest, at first I doubted whether such a long journey was worth it: can we really be called "local Jesuits" after traveling 3,000 km? But Jesuit obedience prevailed and we bought plane tickets. In addition to us, 17 other Jesuits who serve in Moscow, St. Petersburg, various places in Siberia and Kyrgyzstan responded to the invitation. Together we represented 11(!) different nationalities. Excitement and anxiety The meeting took place in the nunciature on the morning of September 15, on the last, third day of the Pope's visit. Of course, there was both excitement and some anxiety before such an event: such an occasion happens, perhaps, once in a lifetime. How to behave, what to say?... But Pope Francis does a great job of breaking the ice. He arrived almost 20 minutes early and greeted each one individually. I was lucky enough to be one of the translators, so I took a seat next to the Holy Father and was so close to him during the entire meeting that it was almost hard to believe. Such an experience certainly leaves a strong impression: the charisma of Pope Francis is felt almost physically. It's not just that one is next to a person whom billions of people listen to, but that this person is a real moral and spiritual authority, thanks not to his formal position, but to the fact that he consistently embodies in life what he believes and what the Holy Spirit inspires him. At the same time, there is an awareness that the Pope is a person who has his own imperfections and limitations, starting with his physical health: it was impressive how, because of a knee problem, he has to allow to be transferred from a wheelchair to a chair and back, how it is hard for him to stand… Along with all this, the Pope behaves very simply and directly, jokes and laughs heartily: he really knows how to break down the walls. The mystery of the Kingdom of God The matter of our conversation with the Pope is, of course, top secret. Just kidding. In fact, there was no revelation of any special mysteries, except, perhaps, the awareness of the mystery of the Kingdom of God, which is very close, but hidden from ordinary perception. First of all, the Holy Father reminded us to be close to God's people, to be able to hear their affliction and suffering, especially in our difficult times. It was certainly impossible to omit in our conversation the tragic events of recent times - the war and its consequences. When one of those present asked the Pope what prayer is most often in his heart, he answered that it is a very simple invocation to God: "Lord, look at your people!" Francis shared his conviction of the importance of intercessory prayer with courage and persistence (parresia), with trust, but at the same time "importuning" God, as Abraham did when he prayed for the inhabitants of Sodom. The Pope stated that without the practice of talking to God, staying before God, there can be no authentic vocation. The Holy Father also reminded his brothers in the Society that one cannot be an expert in something in the first place, and then be a Jesuit: one must first of all live one's vocation, really feel that one belongs to the religious family, and then look at what to do and in what area to specialize. In the context of an interreligious event, during which a strong appeal for peace was pronounced once again, the Pope also taught us in the spirit of ecumenism to build bridges, to look for what unites, not divides. I hope that these impressions of mine helped convey the atmosphere of the meeting with the Jesuit Pope. May the Lord preserve him and guide him with his Spirit for the good of the whole universal Church. Victor Zhuk

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Finding God

Caring for our Common Home is one of the four “Universal Apostolic Preferences” of the Society of Jesus. Integral ecology is therefore a priority for the Jesuits, and their Spirituality Centres also take it into account, especially in Châtelard and Penboc’h centres in France, and La Pairelle centre in Belgium. Let’s see how they contribute to contemplating Creation, caring for it and preserving it. Caring for Creation is a spiritual experience. So that everyone can seek and find God in Creation today, Spirituality Centres offer various types of sessions related to ecological reflection, gardening, and even flower arranging. Participants are invited to take a break, contemplate and improve our relationship with ourselves, Creation and God. “Questioning our relationship with nature helps us discover the deep joy that ecological conversion brings”, explains Jean-Brice Bigourdan, director of Penboc'h Spirituality Centre (Southern Brittany, France). Spirituality Centres La Pairelle and Penboc'h, offer sessions that combine gardening and Ignatian Pedagogy. The goals are to show participants that nature and spirituality are linked, and to (re)discover virtues such as patience and contemplation. Among the newest sessions, the "bouquets and spirituality" retreat aims to link contemplation, floral arrangement, meditation and prayer. Participants discover how arranging flowers into a bouquet can be a prayer. Last but not least, families, which are the first place of relationship and education, are also a place of ecological conversion. Some spiritual sessions are especially dedicated to them. Flore de Langle, Communications Officer
The Jesuits in Britain have been assisting in helping London’s Ukrainian Catholic community to respond to the challenges posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Since the start of the war, more than 86,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Britain, many to join family members already here, some coming for the first time under a government sponsorship scheme Many have inevitably gravitated toward the Church, and in response the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family has opened a Welcome Centre, to give advice on issues ranging from housing to children’s education. Deacon Ihor Dyahyk (centre) alongside Fr. Vitaly Feolun (left) and Fr. Taras Ditchuk (right) Several clergy have also joined the cathedral, but many do not speak fluent English. The Jesuit Fund for Social Justice has been able to help by providing funding for language lessons, and a stipend for one member of clergy. Deacon Ihor Dyahyk, who was visiting London when war broke out, is now learning English, which will enable him to take a more effective role in the life of the cathedral. He particularly works with younger members of the congregation, organising trips and other activities. ‘I want to be a full member of British society so I must be fluent in English’. ‘The bishop has also given me responsibility to work with the Chancellery, where most of the documents are in English’. Ihor, along with priests who have also arrived from Ukraine, is providing practical and spiritual support to members of the Church, which is seeing a huge demand for its services. Last year 15 separate Easter services had to be scheduled to satisfy demand, and the growth in worshippers in central London has led the Ukrainian Catholic Church to explore a mission parish in Brentwood. Overall, the Church maintains 26 parishes and missions throughout Britain.
Moving from outward religious practice to trustful surrender to God. Learning to recognise the angels he sends. Learning to identify the good during bad times and treasure it. To embrace gratitude which in itself becomes prayer and renewing that of others, a blessing to recompensate God. Between 20 and 27 August in Selva, Villa Capriolo, about twenty families experienced the very interesting program organised by Fr. Stefano Titta "in the footsteps of Tobias” and assisted by Maria Grazia Prandino who prepared the reflections on the theme, to discover a new vision and confidence in the future. An important part of the program was the morning praise and the shared duties in the running of the house, the excursions to the mountains and in the afternoon the Bible course and the children's activities. Around 20 volunteers were present. It was a precious time as individuals and families to rediscover hope and a renewed vision. The Spiritual Exercises are in progress. 50 participants were accepted among those who requested them. This program will conclude the summer activities for 2022 organised in Val Gardena: from short courses to weeks for young people, to family camps. "An undoubtedly positive balance," the director, Fr Beppe Lavelli highlighted “and one that gives hopes".
The conclusion of the Ignatian Year saw a new beginning as well in the Hungarian province of the Society of Jesus. On the 31st of August, the official closing ceremony of the province did not take place in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, but in a tiny village called Székelybő/Beu in neighbouring Romania. This settlement near the Hungarian-Romanian town of Marosvásárhely/Targu Mures was among the places where the Jesuits had carried out their mission in Transylvania before the order was suppressed and dissolved in 1773. It was also the Jesuits whose presence in the village resulted in getting back the local church from the Protestants, then the building was extended in Baroque style in the 18th century. In present day, there has long been a need for a house in the neighbourhood for prayers, retreats and other community events. After a search with the local parish priest, the Hungarian province has found a suitable house in Székelybő, whose German name, Betendorf – meaning The Village of Prayer – also symbolizes a return to the spiritual roots. On the 31st of August, this house, named after Saint Ignatius, was blessed by Elemér Vízi SJ Hungarian provincial, accompanied by his fellow Jesuits from Szeklerland (the Hungarian area in Romania) and Hungary. It was also the occasion when the Hungarian Jesuits, following the request of Arturo Sosa SJ Superior General, renewed the dedication of their Society to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jesuits in Hungary

Promoting Justice

From 25 August to 1 September, the second edition of the ECO Summer Camp took place at Lassalle Haus in Switzerland. This is a format of the conference house where young adults spend a week dealing with sustainability and the challenges of the future. The aim is to contribute to rethinking and change in environmental and social issues. The more than fifty participants from twenty countries not only benefited from the lectures and discussions, the Lassalle House, its special architecture and location also stimulated reflection, relationship and spirituality. Valerio Ciriello had prepared the programme for the event. He hopes that the ECO Summer Camp will create lasting relationships and networks among the young volunteers. Joining the young adults this time were slightly older participants who shared their experiences on the topics with the younger ones, such as economist Fr Gäel Giraud, who offered an innovative perspective on understanding the economic system and the tools needed for ecological transition, and the director of the Jesuit European Social Center Fr Peter Rožič, who offered individual coaching sessions to the participants throughout the week.
It was on the evening of September 6th that many partners and friends gathered in the gardens of Collége Saint Michelle to wish well to the former JESC director, Fr. Peter Rožič. The first surprise was the wonderful Slovenian food and wine that Peter’s family had sent from his hometown. Everybody was then presented with some joyful folk songs sung by Peter (who also played the concertine!) and his brother Robin. After, it was time for some words of farewell and thankfulness by fellow Jesuits (including Fr. Franck Janin, President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials), the entire JESC team, other lay friends responsible for partner organisations, and also some young European Leadership Programme (ELP) Fellows whom Peter directed. The evening ended with a short shared moment of prayer leaded by Peter, in thankfulness for all that has been achieved together during these last years in Brussels.
The Synodal Way recently spoke out in favour of a reform of church labour law in its fourth plenary assembly. In the works of the Jesuit Order, too, private life plans and the sexual identity of employees should play no role in labour law. These personal aspects should neither be an obstacle to employment nor any reason for sanctions. The Provincial of the Order, Fr Bernhard Bürgler SJ, made this clear in a letter to all the works of the Central European Province of the Order. To this end, the Order would use all existing leeway in the Church's labour law. The "Out in Church" initiative, which went public at the beginning of 2022, and the accompanying television documentary "How God Created Us", in which two Jesuits also came out as homosexual, prompted the Jesuit Provincial, according to his own words, to make a fundamental statement on the subject of diversity, first in a letter to his confreres, and now also in a letter to the works of the Order. It was preceded by several webinars with the heads of the works, who very much welcomed the clarification by the Provincial on this issue. The Jesuits will also support the ongoing efforts to reform church labour law in Germany accordingly, as also called for by a large majority of the Synodal Way.
The comments by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD at the launch of the 2021 Annual Report of the Irish Prison Service at Limerick Prison are alarming, and indicative of the Government’s commitment to an agenda which is contrary to what we, in the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, believe to be necessary for the welfare of prisoners and a humane and compassionate society. Speaking with prison staff and management about the prison’s new construction projects, McEntee repeatedly referred to the need for ‘adequate capacity’ in the future and how this will be ‘central to the development of the new Irish Prison Service Capital Strategy 2023.’ When completed, the expansion will consist of a new accommodation block for male prisoners — with an additional 90 spaces available — and a new separate female prison which can accommodate ‘a minimum of 22 additional prisoners.’ Keith Adams, Social Policy Advocate at the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice says: “As a policy centre which has long advocated for an approach of penal minimalism and restraint, we understand that the development of modern prison facilities is important as sections of the Irish prison estate are outdated but modernising the prison estate must only replace existing capacity and not expand it.” Experience teaches us that increased prison capacity always results in more prisoners. Adams responds: “A commitment to continued Government investment in more prison places and the significant increase in committals under sentence in 2021, particularly sentences of less than six months, means we will see the prison population increase, ensuring more decades of penal excess. The Government should commit to an agenda of planned prison reduction by investing in non-custodial sanctions and a suite of social supports to combat poverty, homelessness, mental ill-health and addiction among offenders.”

Youth & Media

The Jesuit university chaplaincy has offered experiences of service this summer to 25 young Maltese university students.  There were various possible destinations: Sighet and Bucharest in Romania, in Oulx, Turin, with the “Attraverso” programme, organised by “Alle frontiere”, a volunteer project with asylum seekers, refugees and migrants set up in 2015 by the European Christian Life Community (CLC) and Scalabriniana Agency for Development Cooperation (ASCS), and finally in Zejtun, Malta.  “Experiences that decentralise and allow people to review reality and their own lives,” Fr Patrick Magro explains. “Young people are very generous and this year we chose to support the work of JRS in Bucharest and Sighet because of the crisis in Ukraine. Some CLC students also participated in a project in Italy and others in a summer camp organised by the Paolo Freire Institute in Zejtun, Malta. These are experiences that give young people a special formation that will remain with them for a lifetime, thanks to their encounter with the most vulnerable”. Hundreds of young people have taken part in volunteer experiences over the years. Among the young people who left for Bucharest to help Ukrainian refugees are Adam, Andrew and Martina.  Adam: “bringing love and dignity to persons with disabilities”  Working with the other volunteers from Malta and Italy in Sighet was an experience which brought to light humanity in its rawest form. We went up there with a group from the University chaplaincy to help the Jesuit mission there: bringing love and dignity to those with disabilities.  It was a very challenging experience with issues ranging from language barriers and the carers preventing us from entering the homes on a whim.  However, it was an experience that perfectly demonstrated the most basic, yet possibly most substantial human need: love. We did not do anything special, did not cure their disabilities. Their problems persisted while we were there and after we left. But in those weeks, we saw a genuine transformation in the patients, one which is simply beautiful. As they became accustomed to our presence, they would open up their hearts to us. People who would remain isolated in their interior shell suddenly started participating in activities with joy, doing things they previously seemed unable to do. They would laugh, smile and be joyful, all the fruit of something so easy to do, yet so uncommon: sitting down, smiling, and being present.  Andrew: Feeling part of a bigger project  Travelling to Romania to help Ukrainian Refugees has been an incredible learning and grounding experience for me that has helped me understand how grateful I should be for things that I take for granted.  Arriving at the JRS centre in Bucharest and meeting the very helpful team of people who I would be working with during this experience really allowed me to feel like a part of a greater picture and made me feel like I was merely a small part of a large body of people all within a common goal, to aid. The sense of community I felt with my fellow volunteers as well as with the Jesuit community in Bucharest who welcomed us with open arms was extremely strong and is a feeling that I had personally never felt before.  During this experience I also felt a strong spiritual Prescence and connection with God, especially during the daily reflective sessions every night before bed.  To conclude, I feel that this experience was incredibly fruitful in not only aiding and support the incoming refugees, but also as a personal experience to better my connections with both people and God.    Martina: don’t take anything for granted  Going into this voluntary experience in Romania with the University Chaplaincy, I was a bit nervous as this was my first voluntary work experience abroad, and I did not know anyone from the team.  However, I came back having learned lots of important values, made new friends and with great memories. Working with Ukrainian children at JRS, I’ve learned to live life in a more simple way and enjoy the things that you have and the people around you, even when you are going through a tough time. I am very grateful that I was able to be part of a community filled with people with big hearts that were willing to make an impact on the lives of these children and refugees.  Jesuits EUM 
Service and training camps in 3 countries.  “As Abraham or Moses or many others teach us, the life of each of us is a true pilgrimage, and the challenge that God offers us is to always set out but, even more, he gives us others: the gift of crossing, truly and intensely (even if only for a short time), the path of another man who, like you, is on a quest, is thirsty for life, has the same doubts and questions as you, is a priceless gift that enriches you, changes you profoundly and gives you the strength to set out again, backpack on your shoulders, toward the goal that is Him”: speaking is Saverio Gabrielli, coordinator of the Pietre Vive group in Rome. He participated in the service camp organized by Pietre Vive this summer in Santiago de Compostela (August 1-8).    Santiago: backpacking toward the destination  The summer camp in Santiago de Compostela, Saverio explains, is a service camp that consists of “welcoming pilgrims from all over the world and anyone who comes to Santiago and proclaiming the Gospel to them through free visits to the Cathedral, narrating the Beauty of faith through the Beauty of art and architecture. This year, specifically, Living Stones were involved in organizing and participating in the PEJ (European Youth Pilgrimage) event, which was held right in Santiago.”  An initial time was devoted to training and studying the history and artistic heritage of the city and the magnificent cathedral; and then devoting the remainder of the time to welcoming young pilgrims, together with four hundred other volunteers.  “This gave us the tools to get in touch with, meet and get to know the thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe (and beyond) who ended their journey there, filled with a strong experience and a great desire to tell the story of the walk and its meanings as told by the bas-reliefs in the church porticoes”.    Santiago was not the only summer experience. Other camps were held in Greece (9-17 July) and Amsterdam (17-24 July Round I, 24-31 July Round II). And each camp, or shift, was attended by around 25 young people from different countries in Europe.  Amsterdam: serving the Word  Some 20 young people from all over Europe gathered in Amsterdam from 17 to 31 July for an experience of formation, prayer and service. “For a few days, Pietre Vive were the welcoming face of their host Jesuit community. They kept the doors of De Krijtberg open and offered passers-by a word about the works of art in the church,’ says Caterina Bruno, coordinator of Pietre Vive in Naples. “We were struck by the light in the presbytery, filtered by the testimony of the saints portrayed in the stained glass windows. Someone stopped, and the visit became a dialogue between different confessions, many Muslims, Jews. The beauty of these encounters that let light through remains”.    Greece: bringing to fruition  Finally, the Pietre Vive camp in Greece aimed to study the link between classical culture and the origins of Christianity, through training lessons, individual study, group sharing and visits to significant archaeological sites. “An atmosphere of prayer, both personal and communal, punctuated the days, culminating with mass,” says Maria Velia Gianfelici, from Pietre Vive Bologna. “Beyond community relations, it was important for me to experience how Christianity came into contact with every human reality, even the pagan one, bringing it to fulfilment”.  ‘Pietre Vive’ is a communion of youth communities born to proclaim Jesus Christ, Beauty of the Church, to those who look upon the beauty of churches. Through welcome, prayer and free guided tours, the ‘Living Stones’ proclaim the Gospel as that ‘Invisible in the visible’ that art reveals. They experience the Christian sacred space as a place of encounter with God.  Jesuits EUM 
A participant tells us about his experience.  This summer, a group of young adults walked for 13 days in Spain, following the footsteps of Saint Ignatius, between Loyola and Manresa. The goal of the pilgrimage was to discover the basics of spiritual life, meet others and celebrate together. Lievin Kierremans, one of the participants, tells us how this spiritual adventure has changed him.  I have only just got back home, but I want to leave again. What has happened? I feel changed.  It all started with these words:  “Hello Liévin, You often look for peace and quiet, you like to walk, to spend time with young adults and to have deep conversations; here is a holiday proposition you might like. See you soon. Dad.”  I read the pilgrimage description and I completely related to this quest for meaning, faith and sharing a spiritual life. The title was “beginning again”.  This Camino shook me from the inside. Beyond the people and the landscapes, what struck me the most was nothing less than a reconciliation with God and his Church. The place was symbolic – Montserrat, a jewel between heaven and earth. I was the first to be surprised... and it was one of the greatest moments of joy during this pilgrimage.  Today, I know that I want to make more room for God in my life and continue the path that has only just begun again.  Here are the words I wrote in my notebook:  “I was thirsty… You give me water. I did not know that I had this thirst in me. On this Camino, you are here through the people I meet… I feel reconciled a little more each day. I feel that I have an active part to play in listening to you. It calms me down and gives me confidence.”  Liévin Kierremans 
In the spirit of the Ignatian Anniversary, the Ignatian Formation Team wished to help staff at St. Aloysius College to rediscover the roots of the Ignatian family in Malta, Ignatian spirituality and the life of Ignatius.  So, a pilgrimage to first Ignatian sites in Malta, was organised for all the members of staff of the three schools as their annual Ignatian formation day. The running theme was also linked to the theme of the year ‘Seeing all things new in Christ’. 15 pilgrimages in all were held throughout the year.  The first stage of the pilgrimage was a visit to Sarria Church in Floriana. This site was chosen as a starting point because it was a Church built in thanksgiving for the end of the plague. After the meditation on the theme ‘Seeing all things new in Christ’, the pilgrims set off on foot to Valletta, each of the three schools adopting a different path.   Valetta  The second stage was the Jesuit Church in Valletta. The team introduced some history about the coming of the Jesuits in Malta, about their mission and the Collegium Melitensiae, the roots of the University of Malta.  The theme focused on was ‘Seeing our Mission as Educators with the Eyes of Christ.,’ through the painting of the Vision at La Storta. Educators were invited to reflect about how their mission as an educator is a continuation of Christ’s mission in the world.   The break was organised at the YMCA a local NGO. The connection between the educational apostolate of the Jesuits and their social apostolate was made linking it to the Camerata area and the work with the prostitutes.  The third stage was ‘Casa Manresa’, the first retreat house built by the Jesuits which is now the Archbishop’s Curia. The session here focused on ‘Seeing Education Anew with the Eyes of Christ’ focusing on the mission of Education in our Society today. The primary school teachers were then given very short workshops about Education as a Collaborative Mission, Education as a Mission of Hope, and Education as a Mission of Reconciliation and Dialogue. The secondary school teachers had a discussion session led by Mark Cachia from the Diocesan Commission of Peace and Justice on Education as a tool of Reconciliation and Justice in our country. The Sixth Form Teachers were addressed by His Grace Rev. J. Galea Curmi, Auxiliary Bishop who spoke of a Church that listens, that welcomes, that accompanies and that goes forth and how education is part of that mission. The session ended with dialogue.  This experience was a moment of grace for the staff and many now yearn that we visit places closer to Ignatius like Rome and Spain!  Jesuits EUM 

In-depth Reflection

Cristianisme I justicia publishes booklet 185. Why has it been so difficult for the Catholic church to reach out to LGBTQ people? Why does the church lag so far behind secular organizations, and even other churches, who have made this community feel more welcome? And why is the church so slow to try to help and protect a group of people who are often at risk of harassment, beatings and violence? Why is it so hard for Catholics to see LGBTQ people as beloved children of God? … Pastoral outreach to LGBTQ Catholics is not simply a fad, or a passing trend, or even something responding to “pressures” from the culture, but a constitutive work of the church and a mission that finds its ultimate roots the Gospels. (From the foreword by James Martin sj.) Read more and download
He has a blue hat that he cherishes for its shape and colour, and a great passion for star-wars, art-house films and pizza margherita. Fr. Gabriele Gionti, of class ’67, flips through his big square notebook. “I have to redo this calculation. Here I made a mistake, see….’. I try to compare his notes with what is on the big black board in his study. There’s nothing to be done…I just can’t help him. “I’m from Capua,” he tells me in a very pleasant Campanian accent, ” from where Spartacus started!” “I had my first telescope when I was 12. We used to go up on the roofs of houses to see the starry sky: the moon, several planets, Jupiter and the Medicean satellites, Saturn, the Lyra nebula… huge, fascinating. After high school I wanted to study astronomy, but I realised that I was more inclined towards theoretical physics”. He graduated in Naples and won a doctorate at the Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati in Trieste. “For my dissertation I worked on gravity and Einstein’s theory. In Trieste I worked on the quantum theory of gravity”. A long discernment In the corridors of the Specola, he indicates to me a collection of meteorites. “This one came from Mars, nobody knows how, it landed in the Moroccan desert”. Events. Some were fundamental for the maturation of his vocation. “I was baptised in the church that used to belong to the Jesuits then passed on to the Capuchins. During catechism I remember feeling happy. I will never forget the freedom of Fr Roberto who spoke of respect and love for the Muslim religion. In the oratory, I experienced the closeness of the Lord”. Then the tumultuous years of adolescence followed, high school, the Marxist philosophy teacher “who said that religion is a superstition”, the search for a new identity, the inability to find concrete answers, everything seemed groundless. “I was changing affectively and relationally. At university I also enrolled in physics to see if studying science could challenge my faith. On the contrary, the more I studied, the more I realised that the God of love I believed in was reconcilable with science. And I understood this more through my heart than through reasoning. In physics I found people with whom I shared certain interests, but I continued to feel the pressure of society: that idyllic world I had been told about was not functioning”. This was during the 1980s. “I was confronted with materialism, hedonism, and I couldn’t reconcile it with what I had experienced as a child. In the 4th year, during the theoretical physics course, a friend who was discerning his vocation told me about a God who was speaking to me, answering my questions. Immediately my heart was opened. He gave me a book Prayers to the Heart of Jesus during the month of June“. The fall from the horse “Something started to change. I was trying to finish my doctoral thesis. It was all very interesting, but I realised that my thesis research would lead to nothing. I looked for a second, more competent supervisor, to write a thesis and research that would lead to something, but I was afraid that this second project of mine would be rejected. It was my fall from the horse. The Lord made me realise that my road to fulfilment was not only through my thesis. Despite serious problems with the first supervisor, out of the pride of both of us, I managed to finish my thesis, which was accepted. It combined quantum gravity and general relativity. But it became clear that science and an academic career were no longer the centre of my life, nor did they only fill my heart. In search of a true vocation, on the web More questions started to surface. “Which vocation should I choose? Marriage? Consecrated life? I was 30 years old. I searched the web: I browsed from the site of the Dominicans to that of the Franciscans and so on. I felt that I would fit into religious life. I found the site of the Italian Province of the Jesuits, set up at that time by Fr Francesco Tata. I was attracted to their spirituality. A book by Teilhard de Chardin helped me understand that the Catholic Church questions itself on significant issues and manages to give profound answers. In the past, I had the impression that the Church gave pre-packaged and dogmatic answers without any regard for contemporary culture. I went to the Gesù Nuovo church in Naples. I contacted Fr Sibilio, then vice provincial of the South. He entrusted me to Fr Armando Gargiulo, who had been the first provincial of Italy. In the meantime, I won a postdoctoral scholarship at the University of California at Irvine. An American Jesuit followed me there for spiritual direction. I returned to Italy for the experience of the Spiritual Exercises in Naples in the Cappella Cangiani house. I spent some time giving service by assisting the sick. Fr. Sibilio also introduced me to the reality of the Vatican Specola. On 4 October 2000 I entered the novitiate”. An arduous journey Those years confirmed the vocation. “I experienced some tensions in community life due to the difference in ages and backgrounds of those present. I matured progressively from a human and affective point of view. I still had questions to which I had found no answers. I went through my philosophy years, then 2 years of Regency in Tucson, Arizona at the Vatican Specola, and 4 years of theology, 3 of which in Berkley and one in Naples. It was a long road, full of ups and downs, in constant dialogue with the Superiors”. My greatest dream “By now my dreams of vainglory had been unmasked and my world view was deeply changed. I used to think that the vocation itself depended very much on me and my decisions, attempting constantly to combine personal interests and possible routes, in reality fearing total reliance on God. Then I became aware that it is God who is choosing and giving me a gift. My affective maturity meant that I could give proper weight to things, for what they are worth, in the knowledge that the Lord’s vocation is worth much more than any dream one might have. I was helped through prayer, the Spiritual Exercises, carefully interpreting the events of life through which God speaks to me and which show me how things stand”. Contemplating the skies There are 15 Jesuits engaged in the research of astronomy and astrophysics at the Specola: 8 at Castel Gandolfo and 7 in Arizona. This mission was entrusted to the Society by the Pope in 1906. The research activity is preceded in the morning by prayer. Then follows the reading of the articles, writing and the contacts with scientific collaborators. “We don’t teach, so we have more time for research but also less incentive and questions to trigger us”. Community life consists of the ‘the 10 o’clock coffee break, meals, the 7 o’clock mass’ and giving service to the inmates of the Velletri prison. Every now and then the eye returns to scrutinising the sky. The domes of the Specola open up and the powerful telescopes take the sight far into the distance. In search of the beginning “We are studying the first instances of the universe after the Big Bang, when the universe is assumed to have been as small as a dot, dense and having very high temperatures. The speed of light is 300,000 km per second. We assume that the maximum speed at that time was zero. We can say very reasonably that the laws that governed the universe in its beginning were those of quantum physics,’ he explains, as stated in the recent theory developed by Don Matteo Galaverni and published in Physical Review D. Science and Faith “To seek and find God in all things. This is the last exercise proposed by St Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises,” he recalls. “Scientific research is this search for those laws by which God works in nature, in which His Son became incarnate, as we find in the Contemplatio ad Amorem. In this way, science becomes a prayer and a way that helps men and women to come closer to God”. The dome protecting the large telescope closes. “Studying the universe reminds me that we are not its centre, that other realities, civilisations, forms of life are possible. It shows me the beauty of this earth, which we are in danger of ruining, and restores the wonder present in the cosmos, creation and its incredible order”. Our sight moves back to earth and sweeps through the simple window, but much brighter and more grateful.
The Jordan Project started in the Spanish Province in 2019, within the framework of UNIJES, investigating the structural causes of abuse in the Church from a theological-spiritual reflection. On 14 July the Jordan Project was presented in Barcelona to the General of the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa. Together with our Provincial, Antonio España, he was given a first-hand presentation of the work being done in the specific area of Universal Apostolic Preference 2: "To walk alongside the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated in a mission of reconciliation and justice [...] To contribute to the elimination of abuses inside and outside the Church". The meeting brought together the heads of the Jesuit research, prevention and intervention of abuse in the Church (Susana Pradera-Safe Environment and Valeska Ferrer-Jordan Project) and two members of the Jordan Project (JP) team based in Barcelona (Sandra Racionero and Oriol Quintana). The meeting was a confirmation of the work being done. Father General expressed his satisfaction with the focus of the project, by addressing both causes and solutions from different disciplines, and was pleased with the international presence that is already being generated. Fr. Arturo Sosa stressed the importance of the cultural change to which we are called to overcome abuse, a change to which we can contribute from what we have already begun to glimpse in the Jordan Project: the necessary theological and Ignatian reflection of theological and ecclesial categories from the meetings with the victims themselves, offenders and members of institutions, through the instruments we are deploying such as the survey of the Province, interviews and successful actions in overcoming abuse based on scientific evidence of social impact.  In the words of Susana Pradera and Valeska Ferrer: "It was a meeting in which we vibrated in the same feeling, in a common resonance both in the concerns and in the hopes of the mission to which we feel called and to which we are called. It was a reason for serene joy, for sustained peace".
From August 3-6, nearly 400 presidents, faculty and administrators from Jesuit institutions and organizations across the world gathered at Boston College for the 2022 Assembly of the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU). The theme of this year’s assembly was ‘Discerning the Future of Jesuit Higher Education,’ which built on the theme, ‘Transforming Our World Together,’ from the inaugural IAJU assembly at the University of Deusto in 2018.  Participants at Boston College included members of IAJU Task Forces on Global Citizenship; Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees; Peace and Reconciliation; Environmental and Economic Justice; and the Role of Theology in Today's Jesuit University. Task Force members shared updates on their collaborative work to develop programs and initiatives that have been implemented at Jesuit colleges and universities across the world since 2018. Additional sessions included a pre-assembly workshop on ‘Democracy Under Threat’ and group break-out sessions on the Magis Student Exchange Program; Reinventing Jesuit Business Education; Best Practices in Mission Integration & Formation; Developing a Laudato Si' University Plan; Reconciliation and Peace Centers; African Jesuit Universities; and Secularism, Religious Pluralism and the Jesuit University.  A highlight of the assembly was a keynote address from Jesuit Superior General, Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., who delivered his remarks in Spanish. He said, “The members of the IAJU are called to discern from the ground of the identity that is their reason for being, the principle and foundation of their mission, and the bond that unites them. Many universities have been examining this identity in recent years. We have been invited to return to its sources during this Ignatian year. It is the same spring that fed the long and complex discernment in common of the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus, and it still flows to make fruitful the apostolic works that put the preferences into practice.”  On the last day of the assembly, members of each regional association that comprises IAJU had the opportunity to meet with Fr. Sosa for 30-minute conversations in which a group of representatives shared challenges and aspirations for higher education in their geographic regions. Later in the afternoon, one representative from each regional association gave a “report out” to all assembly participants that included recommendations for the next IAJU strategic plan.  You can find Father General’s Speech here.  ACJU 

Preparing for Mission

A special meeting for Jesuit brothers, to get to know each other, to share and to reflect together, took place in Rome, July 1-10, 2022, during the Ignatian Year. Thirty-four brothers were present, as delegates chosen by each Conference, to portray a broad picture of the body of the Society. They came from Chile to Canada, from Congo to Hungary, from Nepal to Australia, as could be observed by the many shades of skin, hair, age – from 30 to 70 – the different stages of formation and the activities of each one: from doctor to teacher, from nurse to vocation leader, from astronomer to student. The recurrent theme of the meeting “The first and most important contribution of a Jesuit brother is the gift of self, freely offered in the service of the Lord”. This is defined in Decree 7 of the 34th General Congregation (1995). “Through probation, which is not only formation, through the experiences he lives and reviews, through his presence and listening, the brother is called to become that prophet who can be a sign for the Society and for all the people he meets,” Giacomo Andreetta, representing the Euro-Mediterranean Province at the meeting highlights. “For the Society he can be a sign of that religious life which in its essence is the joy of proclaiming the Kingdom of God through his life, and for others he can be that bridge that brings one back to the concreteness of life, remaining a friend and, indeed, brother and companion of those who work with him”. There was time to get to know each other, to establish sincere and profound relationships by speaking a common language that was not so much English or Spanish, but the common call to the service of God and men in the Society of Jesus. We did this by having a drink together, visiting Le Camerette of St Ignatius, even sharing the songs of our homelands, in short, truly living a unity in diversity’. Through profound consolation, ideas, insights, and proposals emerged “We were welcomed for a week within the community of the General Curia, not as guests, but as Brothers, an integral part of a group of people who through their hidden work permit the body of the Society to be present in all parts of the world and in so many different areas. We did not end the week with the compilation of a written document, but with the experience of a great consolation. It was a time when the joy of being there and of being Jesuits increased, friendship was born among us, we looked to the future with renewed confidence and hope. We return to our Provinces with ideas, insights and proposals, but we can only share them because of this profound consolation that we received. The Pope’s visit and the image of the shared banquet “To cap it all, we were also graced, at the curia, by the visit of Pope Francis, who wanted to share with us some of his memories and reflections on the Jesuit brothers and the present call of the Society. A simple meal followed, enriched with the gift of an excellent Argentine wine. The Kingdom of God, in its final vision, is a banquet to which we are all invited: in part we have experienced it so that we can also extend it to the many services in which we are involved and to the many people that the Lord places and will place on our paths”.   A PERSONAL REFLECTION BY STEPHEN POWER SJ (BRI) The international meeting of Jesuit brothers was inspired by a long-term missionary to Central Africa, who implored more support for brothers in Africa and in isolated places.  My experience of taking forward that proposal in collaboration with brother delegates from the six Jesuit conferences from around the world was one of the Holy Spirit taking over in finding a way to make it happen.  Fr. General, Arturo Sosa, welcomed delegates to the central Curia of the Society of Jesus with the words, ‘this is your home’! These this is a very consoling sentiment which strengthens the now important understanding that we are all, first and foremost, Jesuit Religious together while some, even if the majority, have functions as priests.  This meeting has provided a rare chance for brother delegates from all around the world to share their experience and discuss improvements in their formation, in understanding their identity and in how better to promote this vocation. The fraternal welcome from all the Curia community has done much to touch the hearts of all the brothers attending, especially some who have a legacy of feeling marginalised in the past.  Already forty-two years in the Society, I am surprised how strongly this meeting with this body of talented Jesuit brothers has strengthened my faith that this vocation of life as a Jesuit Religious and my life-mission can be fulfilled without a need of ordination. The vocation of Jesuit brother can and should offer significant support to our fellow Jesuits who are ordained and who serve the Lord in that function, with all its present-day pressures.
The training Jesuits undergo can last more than fifteen years. In this blog, Christopher Brolly, who is at the midway point, reflects on the next phase of his journey.  Usually, when sent on mission, a fully-formed Jesuit remains for six years in a particular role or place. This is what is means to be missionary. For Jesuits in formation like myself, these timeframes are considerably shorter: two years preparing for vows in the novitiate, three years studying philosophy, two years tasting real apostolic working life in a placement we call ‘regency’, and so on…  Earlier in his life, Pope Francis was rector of Collegio Maximo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, responsible for overseeing young Jesuits in formation. One time he was asked about Jesuit life and whether it was difficult for his men to move on from one mission to another, having committed their time and energy to a particular place and its people. “If it does not hurt”, he said, “then it is not Jesuit”. He went on to explain that it is much better to leave a place with heartbreak, a sign that someone has fully committed to the mission they were given, than with the regret of having remained distant and unmoved.  This grateful pain or painful gratitude is something I have been feeling over the past few weeks, as I have said goodbye to my students and colleagues at St Ignatius College, Enfield, with great sadness but great gratitude. I have been teaching RE, assisting in the chaplaincy, and offering other pastoral support to the College community. It will feel strange not to be setting foot in the school corridors and classroom come September, and I’m sure I will be soon experiencing what some Jesuits describe as ‘regency widowhood’ – the sense of mourning the loss of my first taste of vibrant apostolic life.  Meanwhile, I now turn my heart and mind to the next stage of Jesuit formation: theology studies. I am enormously grateful for the opportunity to be sent to study at the School of Theology and Ministry (STM) at Boston College, a Jesuit university in the United States of America.  As I write this, I am beginning to meet my brothers in community for the first time, having recently arrived in Boston, and will discover what’s in store academically during the upcoming orientation week. It is moving to become part of a cohort of young men, all who have undergone the same formation pathway - with many individual articulations – and find themselves here with the same mission: to develop intellectually, pastorally and humanly so as to be of greater service to the Church and the world in the future.  God willing, I will be based here for three years, studying an MDiv (Master of Divinity theological qualification), as well as receiving training for priestly ministry (such as how to preside at Mass and administer the sacraments of the Church such as Baptism, Reconciliation and the Eucharist). Normally men are ordained deacons towards the end of this time of studies, which marks a transition towards the Catholic priesthood.  Thank you for all of your prayers and support as I embark on this next big step on my journey as a Jesuit!  By Christopher Brolly SJ 
The Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus (Women’s Commission), in partnership with the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC) of the Ateneo de Manila University, is currently implementing an exploratory study about the four objectives that Father General Arturo Sosa SJ raised in the charter of the Women’s Commission. This includes the evaluation and assessment of the appropriation of Decree 14 of the General Congregation 34 of the Jesuits in 1995. This study aims to look at the following:  perceptions about women’s roles and responsibilities in the Society of Jesus, how these translate into practices in the ways of proceeding within Jesuit institutions recommendations to support the further engagement of women in the Society.  The first part of the survey contains questions to the survey participant. Father General encourages you to help this Commission when the Commission asks you. Thank you very much! Cecilia Vanneste and Victor Assouad sj, members of the Women’s Commission for JCEP
First vows, last vows, diaconal ordinations and priestly ordinations.