Jesuits in Europe

“Pilgrims in our common home, a journey with the universal apostolic preferences”: this was the title of Ejif 2020, a three day meeting due to the extraordinary circumstances that have changed the times and ways. I will give a brief summary of the topics touched, then I will conclude with what surprised me about the experience: the form. The conference was opened by Fr. General Arturo Sosa SJ who helped us to look at apostolic preferences as a single element: like four fingers of one hand, the fifth finger of the hand is collaboration, necessary to implement any project. The General reminded us of the next Ignatian year, Ignatius and his first companions were able to listen to each other and try to move as a body. The Society is large, it has a complex structure that needs to be efficient. The word "collaboration" cannot remain just a word, we understood this from the speech of Fr. Franck Janin SJ, President of the Conference of European Provincials. Fr. Janin showed us the many and different initiatives of the Society in Europe. In the following time, day after day, we journeyed with the apostolic preferences, through the perspectives of the speakers: the theologian Theodora Hawksley, Fr. Augusto Zampini (who currently works at the Dicastery for integral human development) and the Jesuit economist Fr. Gael Giraud SJ. Overall, a picture was made up, a single image. Youth ministry, our interventions in areas of poverty, the current environmental emergency, the necessary predisposition to contemplation in order to be free to make decisions: everything appeared to be deeply interconnected. How can we call young people to conversion without being converted, without being authentically rooted in the need to defend Creation, and with it the weakest? How can we do all this without the conversion of the Spiritual Exercises? But now I would like to go back to the beginning, the form of the meeting. The structure that EJIF 2020 was given by its coordinating committee was a synodal method. What does it mean? Fr. Zampini replied: the synodal method is the method of dialogue, there is dialogue where there is listening. The synod is listening. The speakers had a relatively short time, immediately afterwards a personal prayer time for participants was scheduled, and after that a small group conversation, with each group having a moderator.  What was said was listened to by the others in prayerful silence and finally, as the fruit of each group, questions emerged which were proposed to the speaker, in the conference again, gathered in full. Collaboration between Jesuits can arise from listening, but the ability to listen in this way is a capacity that comes from a life of prayer. Thanks “Co-Co” (Coordinating Committee), thanks to Christopher Brolly SJ, Bartłomiej Brzóska SJ and Janez Gorenc SJ, as well as Carlos Chuquihuara SJ (their technical support). The emergence of the pandemic led us to a successfully done streaming of the meeting, combined with our ancient spiritual traditions. All this has shown us something of the future rooted in the past. Nello Brunelli (EUM Province)
In the days and weeks after the massive explosion of August 4, 2020, the people of Beirut have been sharing stories. There has been a collective need to speak about this horrifying experience, and to feel the solidarity that comes with that sharing.  We now count 178 dead, and over 6,000 wounded.  There are over 300,000 people whose housing is now insecure as a result of this one explosion.  We are happy to report that all the Jesuits are safe.  Many had cuts and scrapes from broken glass, and one bad fall, but there were no major injuries, thanks be to God.  "Bibliothèque Orientale" Unfortunately, several people who were part of the Ignatian family in Lebanon have died as a result of this tragedy.  Alumni of our schools and University, members of Ignatian groups, and beneficiaries of JRS, this explosion did not discriminate. Please keep them all in your prayers. All the Jesuit works of Beirut were severely damaged: St. Joseph Church, University St. Joseph, the Bibliothèque Orientale and Hôtel Dieu Hospital as well as the Jesuit communities of St. Joseph, St. Ignace, and St. Gregoire.   Each of them was shattered.  The rebuilding process will be long and difficult, and we  will need to rely on friends to help us rebuild.  JRS Damascus sends a note of solidarity to the people of Beirut. All the Jesuits in Beirut are grateful for the concern and solidarity that so many have demonstrated.  In this difficult time, it is good to know that we are not alone.  The reaction to this tragedy has been wonderful to experience.  While there is tremendous anger at the government and concern about the future of the country, thousands of people have been out in the neighborhoods cleaning up the debris, feeding the hungry, and trying to put some order in this chaos.  Perhaps it is part of the tragic beauty of Beirut that the city knows how to clean up well.  University St. Joseph and Scouts clean up a building after the explosion. It has been especially beautiful to see the Ignatian family rallying to respond.  Two days after the blast, St. Joseph Church was filled with Scouts and Offre Joie groups, preparing meals to distribute, and cleaning the church and offices.  Like benevolent locusts, they removed every piece of glass or dust, and returned the building to order.   In the weeks after the explosion, however, we are beginning to face the larger difficulties.  After the cleanup, we can now assess the very real structural damages to buildings.   More profound even than those damages, however, are the psychological and spiritual wounds caused by this. Those will take far more than groups of energetic young people. Students from University St. Joseph on a clean up team in Gemmayze, Beirut. My own prayer since the explosion has been thoroughly Third Week.  It has focused on the broken body of Christ.  The Lamb of God is broken, and the pain is real.  Like Veronica, we can wipe the sweat and blood away, but the wounds still exist.  It is that radical accompaniment that we aspire to in our Ignatian tradition; it is our response to the accompaniment that is the Incarnation.  "Offre Joie" and CJC (with Dany Younes SJ) preparing meals for those who lost their houses and the clean up volunteers. The relief is on-going, the reconstruction will take a long time and many resources.  The Jesuits of the Middle East are very grateful for any help that can be shared.  We will need to advocate for the rights of displaced people and migrants as well as vulnerable Lebanese.  However, there is a deep sense that this brokenness is not the end.  As people inspired by Ignatius we are called to be agents of that deep sense of hope, we are called to preach the resurrection in all we do.  Read also: JRS stands in solidarity with the people of Beirut
From July 23rd to August 1st, the Jesuit community in Amsterdam welcomed a group of young people from the ‘’Living Stones’’ community to the 'Krijtberg' church dedicated to St. Francis Xavier. The richness of the content and the artistic beauty of the church allowed the group to carry out its apostolic activity. Living Stones is a community of young people that was created out of the desire to announce the Gospel by offering free guided tours of places of Christian art. The service is carried out as a Christian community based on prayer inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The activity in Amsterdam was considered as a real-life Spiritual Exercise that begins with prayer and leads to prayer. The service always begins with waiting. The waiting time is meant to be a moment of petition for grace where the volunteer asks the Lord: “Lord, what do you want me to say to the person who is coming?” This moment of preparation for the visitor is followed by welcoming the visitor and giving the actual tour. At the end of each visit, the volunteer invited the tourist to stop in silence at a prayer corner that was especially set up for them. In this corner the tourist could rest in adoration of the eucharist accompanied by the voice of a Living Stone singing. The volunteer himself reflected on the experience asking the Lord, "Lord, what did you say to me through this person?’’. He also prayed for the person who was entrusted to him for that short time by handing them back to the Lord. We are very grateful to this time in Amsterdam where we experienced how the heart of this city – very much like the heart of every man – has a deep desire for beauty that needs to be nourished. We also experienced how the encounter with beauty moves one's heart to the point of childlike astonishment. By showing people beauty, we allowed people to return, even if just for a small moment, to their childhood. “If you do not convert and become like children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven''. Rita Prota (Livingstones Rome) The "Pietre vive"/"Living stones" web site
The view from my room at Monte santo di Lussari/ Višarje/ Luschari (Italy, province of Udine) opens to three adjacent valleys: Drau in Austria, Sava and Soča in Slovenia. Behind my back is the valley of Bela/ Fella, a tributary of Tagliamento in north-eastern Italy. For centuries (660 years to be exact) this shrine has been the destination for pilgrims from these valleys. (Did I mention that the water from “my" part of the building flows into the Black Sea whereas the other half of the roof feeds the Mediterranean Sea?) Geologically, we are a dividing point, a continental divide. Spiritually, we are a meeting point of three major European ethnic groups: Slavic, Germanic, and Latin peoples. Their encounters were not always peaceful. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers died during World War One along the Soča front line (Isonzo) of Hemingway’s fame. Benito Mussolini, Erwin Rommel, and Rudyard Kipling all had an intimate knowledge of this battle line. After Italian occupation of the Kanaltal (and Lussari), thousands of German speaking inhabitants opted for the Third Reich and resettled — every summer their descendants come to the shrine to remember the fateful decisions of their ancestors. Over these passes, countless refugees fled the communist terrors. The start of a joint pilgrimage In the 1980s, when the iron curtain hung over the Predil pass 10 kilometres from Lussari, the bishops of Udine, Klagenfurt (Austria) and Ljubljana (Slovenia-Yugoslavia) started a joint pilgrimage. They prayed for a free and peaceful Europe. No-one could have imagined, then, that one generation later the three countries would be members of a single European Union. Less than a generation after that, we have gotten so used to not having border checks and ideological police that we take it for granted, as our birth right as it were, as something that is owed to us. We could not be more mistaken — a minuscule virus brought back both the border checks and nationalist egoisms. Why am I writing this? Since 2016 I have been responsible for pastoral activities at the shrine. That is made easier by the fact that we are 1800 meters above the sea level, which means that the pilgrimage season lasts from June through September. This summer, after a five-year hiatus and in the middle of the pandemic, I proposed to the successors of those bishops to make a pilgrimage to Lussari, to pray for their peoples who are threatened not only by the corona virus, but also by the virus of nationalism and egoism. They responded without hesitation and together they prayed on this holy mountain. The youngest of them made the pilgrimage the traditional way, on foot from the foot of the mountain (1000m elevation). Lending a hand to Our Lady Personally, I see my service here in very simple terms. I lend a hand to Our Lady, making sure that their children are well taken care of. Every one of them, without discrimination, and all together as one family. I greet them in languages that they speak (my deep gratitude goes to my Jesuit education and to all people who made it possible). Our masses are multi-language. In my homilies, I liken God to the sun whose rays got caught in the mantle of Our Lady (the fresco above the ambo): His warmth sustains us in life, His light enlightens our search for happiness. I absolve them from their sins. I pray for them and offer them a bed if they ask for it (mostly to pilgrims who do the 6-8 day "Cammino Celeste” on foot). I am not doing this alone. Other priests and religious do their service here, including my Jesuit brothers. Every summer, between six and ten seminarians from local seminaries are sent here for their pastoral experience. And there is always a room available for a priest or religious who wants to do a retreat or vacation.

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Finding God

José de Pablo will be the new CLC World Vice-Ecclesiastical Assistant. On Friday, August 28, the Christian Life Community announced the appointment of José de Pablo, SJ as the new Vice-Ecclesiastical Assistant for the world. This appointment will take effect on September 1. In a published letter, the community announces the profile of its new assistant, a Spanish Jesuit who will combine this dedication with his recent assignment to Manresa, where he will collaborate in the Sanctuary of Santa Cova during the time of celebration of the centenary of the conversion, Ignatius 500. Fr. José de Pablo and the CLC-Exco The main task entrusted to José de Pablo is to accompany the World CLC Executive Council in its discernment and decision-making processes. To this end he will participate in the bimonthly meetings of the World ExCo - which are held online - as well as the annual meeting of the Council. He will also participate in the next General Assembly - scheduled for 2023. As part of his role, he will be available, in contact and dialogue with the World Ecclesiastical Assistant (Father Arturo Sosa). He will also have to maintain a regular dialogue with the President and Executive Secretary of CLC. Finally, the Vice-Assistant is expected to help deepen CLC's institutional dialogue with the Society of Jesus, and to accompany CLC's relationship with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. We wish CLC the best of luck and we wish José the best of luck in accompanying this lay and Ignatian apostolic body in his mission and his following of Jesus.
Lorenzo loves to fly up high. Since 1995 he is an airline pilot, now experienced and in responsibility. During his flights he loves to take pictures of the horizons that he can see above the clouds and post them in rotation on his whatsapp profile. Married, 3 children. An experience with the “Movement of family love” at a certain stage interrupted. "I felt I was lacking times of encounter with the Lord. I was looking for retreats, pilgrimages for couples or families but I had not found any. I had discovered their importance in the movement. Then too many distractions had taken me further and further away: work, family, various commitments with the consequent change in our family relationships, both as husband and father. Then a vacation in Selva di Val Gardena and a meeting with the Jesuits. A few months  later, at the parish I found one of them, who had come for a training meeting with parents of the scout group, of which my children are part. So I gradually learn about Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. I felt a strong urge to rediscover that daily relationship with the Lord that I was missing. I searched the web for more information. I discovered the different ways to experience them: as singles, couples, families, consecrated persons. Family management did not allow us to experience them at first as a couple. My wife, understanding this strong desire of mine, encouraged me to experience them individually. My work often takes me away. Taking 6 days off for this experience would have led me to stay further away, with a consequent sense of guilt. In December I had a long 4 days shift:  I decided to give it up and make those days into parental leave. I added one day of vacation and one of childbirth leave. Villa San Giuseppe in Bologna is a fairly isolated structure with plenty outdoor space, for times of silence and peace. Accommodation is organized and very well cared for. I discovered there that we would remain in silence. I did not know and I was pleasantly impressed to be able to do without all the noises that distracted me every day. In the morning, in the Chapel, the meeting for Lauds. Everyone expressed their resonance on a word or a sentiment or what Scripture suggested. In a hall our guide then introduced us to moments of prayer: 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. I realized we were very different people gathered together: businessmen, couples, singles, priests, parish priests, nuns, consecrated persons. All together along the same path, along which each one walks in his or her uniqueness. At first there were perplexities and doubts, even my own. Then, always in silence, on the following days I met new looks, new gestures. The days literally flew by while I saw once again what the Lord had done for me, even when I did not know Him. I come from a disordered and distant life. I realized that He was always there waiting for me. I saw Him looking over  me, His outstretched hand, always welcoming and patient even after mistakes and falls. The moment I finally met His look and welcomed His hand, my life changed. And this new look I brought home, a merciful look, that I felt on me and that He has on everyone. I also wanted my look to be the same. I remember that every person I met was wonderful to me. Every person pure, despite his mistakes. I would suggest everyone to make this experience: couples who cannot participate together, can join individually; and then I recommend it to young people. Without fear, especially at the beginning, in order to be able fly higher in this great adventure.  
Summer special: on holidays with Ignatius. Munich - Since for many the classical vacation is cancelled this year, the Jesuits have come up with a summer action. We give you an Ignatius bag filled with good reading for tasting, because the motto of the bag is: "Tasting things from the inside". The bag is filled with Ignatius quotation with different exciting suggestions from the social, church area, with spiritual impulses or something especially Ignatian. Let yourself be surprised what lies in your Ignatius Bag. Our Ignatius Bag is Fairtrade. First of all it is more expensive than a conventional bag, but with it we make a small contribution to make the world a better place. Through ecologically certified production garbage is avoided. But what is almost more important: People get fair wages for their work. This creates justice and makes the world a better place. That is what this bag stands for and that is what drives us Jesuits. Here you can order the bag for free
The thematic orientation of the Jesuit Order is divided into four so-called preferences. What exactly this means and which contents these are, we present here in the course of the year preference for preference. It shall be shown what the preferences generally mean and how the order fills them with life. The first one concerns mainly the spirituality of the Order and how the Ignatian spirituality helps people to find God. When a young man decides to become a Jesuit, he initially enters the novitiate for two years. There he learns what it means to be Jesuit and above all he gets to know the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Thomas Hollweck SJ explains how to teach young men spiritually "to be Jesuit". He is the novice master at the Nuremberg Noviciate. The way to the noviciate When someone knocks at the door of the novitiate and comes in, possibly to become a Jesuit, I tell him somewhat pointedly: "I do not want you to become a Jesuit. My wish for you is that you can find your personal way in trust in God and make a good decision, whatever it may be in the end. If that becomes possible, that will be cause for celebration." The spiritual formation in the novitiate consists in this respect in a certain paradox: the young and sometimes not so young men should be able to discover, develop and appreciate more and more clearly their own personality with all its gifts and limitations, with head and heart, body and spirit, also with its quirks and possibilities, without being "made a Jesuit" by a program. If, however, in the course of the novitiate, someone has discovered and accepted himself more and more, and thereby - with inner peace and a lasting feeling of coherence - notices that his path in the order, that is, in a community with common projects, continues, then the novitiate should have contributed to his formation in such a way that he can credibly show himself and others that he is a Jesuit. Spirituality, not only the Ignatian spirituality, but every spirituality that breathes the Christian spirit of freedom of the children of God, gives room for a person to develop and in his own way - as he is just created and wanted by God - to find more and more the contexts of meaning in his life and to live "contact with God", which both are closely connected. Spirituality is nothing elevated, no whispering above the clouds, but to a large extent the way to deal with the immediate. What light or dark feelings someone is feeling right now; whether he has a lively access to his body or whether he neglects it in a top-heavy way; human openness and inner resistance; the questions that are currently on your mind; a memory from your own biography that is just becoming painfully or joyfully conscious; a hopeful daydream for the future or a disturbing dream from last night; how community life goes and how I deal with loneliness - whatever comes up and speaks to me is current "material" for spiritual life. Because everything belongs to my reality and belongs in the relationship with God, ideally wants to belong to it. The willingness and the feeling for it may grow in different contexts: - In the novitiate there are retreats built into several places, monthly days of reflection, daily times of explicit prayer and silence, also exercises in perception. When it becomes quieter around me and in me and my hearing grows, new things can become audible, but also old things that have long since wanted to tell me something. Encountering myself (which is not always easy and fun) and "God encounter" (even if it is often only groping and tedious and always incomprehensible) may follow a common path. - Likewise, the novitiate includes "experiments", that is, times when "experimentation", trying things out, being allowed to discover. Nothing must run perfectly or be crowned with success. But the willingness is needed to enter and to go further, to learn, insofar as life always teaches you something, if I do not block it. What does it show when you spend eight weeks in hospital helping out in the care sector and make sure that you meet people with respect and attention? What happens when two novices go on pilgrimage together for four weeks without money and have to ask for food and accommodation? How does loving go in meeting homeless people, the abandoned, speechless, prisoners, open-minded, church critics? How do I get in touch with young people, old people, sympathetic people and the others I meet? - And then there is the community. Not the easiest "spiritual place" for (prospective) Jesuits who understand more spontaneously the art of individual development and personal relationship with God. And yet (loosely based on Dietrich Bonhoeffer): Christ in others sometimes recognizes more than Christ in me. It is good to listen to him and to get involved with him. Moreover, there is the word of Jesus - probably spoken just for people who want to call themselves Jesuits and his companions: "Where two or three ...". Living with each other, the discussions in the group, working together, thinking, planning, wrestling, celebrating the Eucharist, organizing leisure time, also practicing to give honest and appreciative critical feedback, all contribute to the development of more personality, more self-confidence, more trust, more openness, more clarity. A convincing religious community does not work in single mode. What comes out in the course of the novitiate? It is always exciting. A living person, always, I hope. Sometimes a Jesuit at the same time. It should happen more often. Probably it would be a worthwhile way of life for many more people if they came up with this good idea. Thomas Hollweck s.J.

Promoting Justice

Our heartfelt condolences go to everyone affected by the massive explosions that rocked Beirut on the afternoon of 4 August. Although JRS offices in Beirut sustained damage, we are relieved to report that all staff are safe and accounted for. We continue our commitment to accompany refugees in Beirut and to respond to their needs during this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and its impact on our programs and the refugees we serve. We stand in solidarity with the people of Beirut and Lebanon during this devastating time and pray especially for those who have lost family and friends. JRS response To respond the needs of displaced Syrian households and host community members in the Bourj Hammoud neighbourhood of Beirut, JRS established the Frans van der Lugt centre where it provides a range of services including emergency and basic assistance, psychosocial support, early childhood education and learning support, and adult education. Since May 2020, JRS has also provided COVID-19 relief in the form of food, hygiene and cash assistance. Help recovery of JRS Lebanon Programmes The refugee community in Beirut has experienced significant loss. JRS offices and the Burj Hammoud social center and school were all badly damaged as a result of the explosion in Beirut this August. As an immediate emergency response to the blast, JRS plans to provide emergency assistance over an initial period of four months to affected households in both Bourj Hammoud and Karantina. The response focuses on three modalities: Food assistance: JRS prioritises the provision of in-kind food assistance to address the unmet food security needs of the most vulnerable families. Basic food baskets will be tailored to support the needs of a family of five for one month. Non-food items: Affected households who need to pay for repairs or the replacement of essential household non-food items (e.g. beds, mattresses, cookers etc.) will be provided with assistance Mental health and psychosocial support: The JRS psychologist and social workers have already been in contact with beneficiaries who had been receiving this services from JRS before the explosion took place. JRS will extend this support to up to 500 families in Bourj Hammoud and Karantina. Consider a gift so that we may respond to the needs of refugees we serve in Beirut and click here Read also: Jesuits in Beirut after the Explosion
In response to news of the death of a child who attempted to travel across the English Channel to seek safety, Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK said: “This is terrible news. He was just a child. What an awful way to die. In amongst the news coverage, we must remember that he was someone’s son, brother, and friend. We pray for all who loved him and who will grieve for him.  “This terrible tragedy tells us again that governments have to act. We have systematically closed down the safe managed routes for people to travel to claim asylum. In doing so, we force people into ever more perilous journeys, with the inevitable consequence that someone will lose their life.” According to the Independent, the 16-year-old Sudanese boy’s body washed up on a French beach, after he drowned in the English Channel while trying to reach the UK. French authorities announced the death with “immense sadness”.
During the confinement and the summer, JRS France - the Jesuit Refugee Service - was, against all expectations, very active. Volunteers and host families joined the association's teams, expanding the solidarity network in favour of asylum seekers and refugees. Of the seven programmes with which JRS France reaches asylum seekers and refugees, six continued their activities during the period of confinement. This was unexpected and unhoped-for! JRS Welcome, thanks to the dynamism of the coordination teams and the support of the national team, continued to welcome around 150 people. Welcoming during the period of confinement: what a symbol! JRS Youth launched online workshops. On the programme: a daily challenge to maintain the link or create new ones, launching around a hundred French conversation pairs. The French language school, via WhatsApp and Skype, maintained courses and personal support to learn the language, so much so that around forty students managed to apply for the Diplôme d'Etudes en Langue Française. Summer at JRS We have decided to remain open throughout the summer to ensure continuity of accompaniment and to avoid a forced break for asylum seekers and refugees. The organization of this period is, in part, the orchestration of the unpredictable. Who could have predicted that twenty or so volunteers would come to offer us their support for French conversations and workshops in the service of encounter and reciprocity? Who could have predicted how many asylum seekers and refugees would move to get out of the isolation and social exclusion imposed by their status as much as by the health risk? Who could have imagined that new host families would be knocking at our door to welcome just after confinement? In a word, this exceptional period reminds us of the grace of everyday life. We continue with it to accompany, serve and defend the forcibly displaced persons. Testimony of Dominique, volunteer for JRS France “Through JRS France, an association located near the coworking area where I work, I met a young refugee from Afghanistan. During the confinement this friend lost his home and there was nothing I could do to help. At the suggestion of a member of JRS we agreed to meet on Zoom once a day to learn French. This helped us to stay in touch, which was one way of simply being there for him. His story confronted me with the injustice of not having a place in society to live and work as a young refugee. However it is a source of hope to me that even if this situation was beyond my ability to act, our friendship was an isle of humanization.” Antoine Paumard sj, Director of JRS France The complete testimony of Dominique
Over 5000 families helped by the San Giuseppe Moscati Foundation In Naples, in via San Sebastiano 48, the activity of the San Giuseppe Moscati anti-usury foundation has now resumed after the summer break. This organisation was established in 1991 thanks to the commitment of Fr Massimo Rastrelli, parish priest at the Gesù Nuovo in Naples. Listening to the many sufferings of his people instilled within him the need to raise the awareness of the parish community, then to the determination to field an adequate response to this sad phenomenon. Thus, by obtaining financial help from banks, by applying for state funding and through charity, the Foundation now has a rotary fund of 12 million euros, 10 million for prevention and over 2 million for battling usury. “The pandemic has highlighted what had already existed for some time”  president Amedeo Scaramella, President of the Foundation explains, “through the loss of jobs and the closure of commercial establishments, this bubble has been inflated. It is unconceivable what difficulties people found themselves in until a few years ago.”   First time poor people, single-income families who were discharged from work or ending up unemployed and without any aid from the state, are among those most exposed to the risk of falling into the hands of loan sharks. On Tuesdays, volunteers receive candidates, listen to their need and carry out discreet checks. The next day, a committee examines the case and submits a recommendation to the Board of Directors. The Council meets on Thursdays and decides whether to support the loan application and decides also on the loan amount to be granted. One must keep in mind the order of request and its urgency, the number of family members, the gravity of the reason for indebtedness, the individual’s sense of responsibility, the assessment of the debt situation, the capacity of loan repayment taking into account that irregular income, salaries and / or pensions are directed towards the repayment of the usury. "We involve the family" Scaramella explains, " in order to address the case to a family member who has a minimum income willing to help the relative in difficulty.” Over 100 banking, financial and legal professionals work and collaborate within the Foundation.  They are all volunteers who give their service free of charge. No less than two and a half million euros are paid each year without any obligation to report those who overcharge loan interest. The commitment of Fr. Rastrelli was instrumental in the promulgation of the law on the prevention of usury. The Jesuit died in 2018, but his work continues and grows. Today there are 31 "centres" in Italy, each with its own legal status, represented by a "National Council". More than 5 thousand families, out of 12 thousand applications, are given assistance by the centre of Naples, which is strongly involved in education and prevention activities. The Foundation is part of the Jesuit Social Network which since 2004 has established a network of the 39 social activities promoted by the Society of Jesus in Italy.    

Youth & Media

Art workshops, spiritual trekking, bible camps are among the many initiatives which have taken place this summer for young people despite the limitations imposed by covid19. About 80 young people have been welcomed from July to August at Selva di Val Gardena. A protocol drawn up by professionals permitted 18 young people to stay at the Capriolo. Each were guaranteed a single room with bath facilities.  Thus, although the numbers were lower than usual, the initiative was not cancelled despite the emergency, offering the possibility for young people to make an evaluation of this particular time and for renewal. The program “beauty will save the world”, which took place between 19 and 25 July, included music, art, poetry, and theatre workshops led by professionals.  Another three-week program between 19 July and 15 August was based on the subject “starting all over again: from me, from you, from us”. This program which will be repeated for various groups provides in-depth studies on “by me”, with a psychological input, “by you”, having a reflection on prayer and reading of the rules of discernment and finally “by us”, giving a broader view of society. Some excursions and moments of sharing completed the program. “This year too, these initiatives were made possible thanks to the gratuitous availability of speakers and collaborators” Lavelli highlighted. Some Jesuits organised spiritual trekking for young people between the age of  20 and 30 in collaboration with the Journeys of Life Association.  Another activity consisted of a 5-day tour in Val Maira with reflections on Laudato Si, sharing insights, biblical reflections, contrasting lifestyles and good practices.  Another event took place in a camp at Malga Giuggia in Val Breguzzo, Trento, with the theme "What are you willing to live for. The initiative "100 fins, sea and the Bible in Ragusa", was a program for reading Scripture and for common life. In Val di Fiemme the theme of the program was "The Journey of the Pensive Christ". Finally, “The Miners' Journey” is scheduled in Sardinia from 29 August to 6 September and in October the “Trek a Scampia”, a program of exploration and personal experience with the social realities of the neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples. In San Giacomo d'Entracque, Cuneo 3 biblical camps were organised in August, a course in Frosinone and a study camp in Greece with the theme "at the origins of Christianity" starting from 30 August, till 5 September and led by the Living Stones Team.
Sharing, prayer, community, work, challenges, growth. This is how the novices in Genoa describe in a videoclip the two years of community life as they continue to discern their call to the Society of Jesus. Sharing things and spaces, thoughts and reflections, and the spiritual life is their style of life whether during prayer, in a time of intimacy with Him, during praise, adoration, mass, vespers and during periods of silence. Community life is beautiful and a means of discovering oneself and allowing oneself to be known by others. Work is also an opportunity to get to know oneself and others better. Living in community is a challenge because our weaknesses are revealed by others and we are invited to accept the weaknesses of others. It is a time of growing together, sharing skills and attitudes to build genuine relationships, in preparation for our mission.
World Congress of Alumni 2021 With little more than a year to go before Barcelona becomes the venue for the World Congress of Jesuit Alumni/ae, and after these days of confinement, reflection and a special feeling of solidarity, the organizers of the Congress want to share with all the alumni, teachers, members and friends of the Ignatian community, a message: "Values unite us, the future moves us". The Congress has already launched its web page where interested people will find information about the event and how to participate in it. Barcelona 2021 is presented as a process of reflection and dialogue on the value of the Jesuit Alumni collective and the actions to be undertaken. The objective is to vitalize the potential of our network and thus be able to respond to the challenges of today's society, inviting everyone to participate, to live reconciliation and to jointly promote the value of unity and action among all the alumni of the world and especially the young. The World Congress of Jesuit Alumni/ae will be held in Barcelona from 14 to 18 July 2021 and will be part of the commemoration of the 5th Centenary of the conversion of Saint Ignatius, Ignatius 500. The Congress will be preceded by a pilgrimage at dawn on 13 July from Montserrat to the Cave of Saint Ignatius in Manresa. It will be a moment of encounter to follow together the steps of the path that Saint Ignatius walked 500 years ago.        The next day, Father General Arturo Sosa SJ will participate in the opening of the Congress and will direct his reflections on the challenges and actions that the alumni have before them, in the framework of the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus. During the days of the Congress, the problems facing society today and the elements that help our action and its transformation will be addressed, combining the knowledge and experiences of speakers of significant relevance, with the debate and interaction of the participants of the Congress in co-creation workshops. Among the topics discussed will be ecology, migrations, the role of women in society and the Church, technology, the potential of religions in reconciliation or social innovation as a tool for social transformation. All of this, taking into account the tools for action and transformation such as education, the professional environment, the social and educational development of vulnerable communities or collaboration and networking.
The music of Ennio Morricone was for me, at that time little more than a child, the intense polyphonic opening theme played with drums, guitars, voices, whistles and trumpets that set off the long and ardent treasure hunt in the film "The good, the bad and the ugly”, as the protagonists travelled among caravans, through deserts, along moving trains and engaged in wars and duels. Inevitably, the music of that fascinating and ancient oboe instrument played by Jeremy Irons in the forest in the film ‘The Mission’, recalled to me the fact that music is capable of going beyond the impossibility of verbal communication with indigenous people. Finally, during that moving and impeccable theme of Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, played by the guitarist Pat Metheny with Charlie Haden, time seemed to stop for a moment. Ennio Morricone (Rome, 10 November 1928 - Rome, 6 July 2020) studied music at the Santa Cecilia conservatory and graduated in trumpet playing, but also as a music composer and conductor. He is recognized as one of the greatest composers of film music but, a study of his musical career shows that he dealt with almost all musical genres with art and professionalism. In fact, he composed songs that became icons of the 1960s, such as Gino Paoli’s "Sapore di Sale" and Mina’s "Se telefondando"; he later worked together with the Pet Shop Boys on their song script ‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’, or with Angelo Branduardi’s song script "Salmo" in his album "Infinitely Small", just to mention some interesting collaborations. He was also part of the "New Consonance Improvisation Group", where he experimented and improvised, taking music to the limit of its capacity. He received countless national and international awards, from the "Silver Ribbons", the "Golden Globe" and the "Oscar for Career Award". Among the most famous of his musical themes during the peak period of collaboration with the director Sergio Leone, are the soundtrack of "The good, the bad and the ugly", "Once upon a time in the west", and "The Untouchables” by Brian De Palma, or the remarkable musical themes of “The Mission”, and Giuseppe Tornatore's masterpiece“ Nuovo Cinema paradiso ”. Large audiences have always attended to listen to Morricone’s music because his music not only pervaded and highlighted cinema films but went beyond, becoming an autonomous and independent composition. Morricone's music, in fact, is capable of reaching the listener's soul directly because it is alive in a complex but simple way, and thus it is immediately communicated to its listeners. This is the result of a deep knowledge and study of the musical structures combined with personal intuitions and brilliance. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society, on 10 June 2015, the composition “Missa papae Francisci” , “mass for Pope Francis”, was played in the church of the Gesù. Thus Fr. Gianni Arledler, in his article in "La Civiltà Cattolica" comments on Morricone's willingness to compose this work: “The main reason that made him decide was the connection with the soundtrack of the film The Mission, which somehow recalled the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, a few years later the event was narrated in the film itself. "If somehow I participated in their suppression, now I will participate in their restoration" ". In an interview with Avvenire, the master recalled the origin of the composition of The Mass: "My wife Maria, to whom I have been married since 1956, has always asked me to compose a Mass. But I never did. Then one morning, as I was leaving home, I met Fr. Daniele Libanori, rector of the Church of the Gesù which is a stone's throw from my house in Rome and which I often attend. The Jesuit asked me to write a score to celebrate the two hundred years of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. It was 2012. I took some time to think about it. In the meantime, Pope Francis was elected, the first Jesuit Pontiff. I decided to do it and I thought I would dedicate it to him and also to my wife Maria. This is how the Missa Papae Francisci originated, the 200th anniversary of the Societate Restituta. This has an even greater value to me as I have always been a man of faith, raised in a Catholic family and this has always marked my life ». Claudio Zonta SJ The front-page photograph has been kindly granted by the courtesy of Vatican News

In-depth Reflection

How to reread the experience of the epidemic in the light of Laudato Si’? To keep together health, culture, society, economy; to enhance connections between different areas in view of a “transversal” understanding, able to keep the pieces together: this is Integral Ecology. Certainly not an issue to be reduced to the theme of the environment. "We still have a very twentieth-century mentality, with knowledge organized in closed sectors," said Fr. Mauro Bossi, who spoke in Trento last July 31 at Villa Sant'Ignazio. "The 2030 agenda has changed the paradigm, thinking about development in an integrated way. What the '900 has done with ideas, it has also realized with things: a hospital, as a container of care, a school, as a container of education, an  office, as a work container. The epidemic  has made us understand that containers can no longer function independently but must function as communicating vessels. It has also made some tensions evident: Center-periphery: the regions most affected by Covid19 are the centers of an unbalanced country system, where productive activities, services, institutions are disproportionately concentrated. Living at the center of an unbalanced system is no one's interest. The center needs to be related to the peripheries. Medicine-territory: the hospital cannot cope without an efficient territorial medicine. The healthcare assisted residences where we put the elderly to protect them, have become a place where they have died. Work-private life: all the opportunities and inconveniences of smart working have emerged, however, allowing to relativize the office container, no longer as the only way to work, and questioning the heavy dichotomy between work and private life for which one in three women in Italy abandons work, after maternity. We have a great opportunity: to rethink times and spaces of work. School-didactics at a distance: dramatic social distances have emerged but also possibilities. The “classroom container” is not the only possible way to learn. This is the form of contemporary thought: to understand connections between things, the intelligence of connections, as exposed in chapter 4 of Laudato Si’. The invitation is to look at our private life for the missing ones that open new possibilities of thought and planning. And, in the light of connections, to re-understand solidarity. The invitation to globalize it comes from Pope Francis, and to rethink it in an integral way. During the lockdown, we understood that solidarity can also pass through social distancing. It requires to protect public institutions. To understand this type of solidarity requires a cultural shift, an ascesis for each organization to go beyond immediacy, with respect to what it does. It is also a great challenge for the Church. In order to make the oratory and the center for the poor work,  a dialogue with institutions and professional expertise are necessary. It’s an important kairos to get rid of the illusion that things are right because we do them. It’s time for a conversion of mentality: not even the Church is a leak-proof container. There is a framework of social relations without which it can no longer conceive itself. Integral ecology is a method for reading reality (chapter 4), but also an experiential and spiritual process (chapter 6), both personal and communitarian: as the two lungs of Laudato Si’. Which spirituality is best suited for us to experience this process? A proposal in 3 stages follows: A spirituality capable of contemplation. The term  recurs 27 times in the document, and relates to the concrete world, the whole world, as a beauty wounded by unjust systems. To contemplate means to look profoundly at reality, letting ourselves be touched by it as it is and becoming aware of how the world resounds in us, in view of a personal transformation, in the sign of compassion. It means to renounce the overall control, to renounce having  a ready explanation for everything. To accept to let oneself be surprised and challenged. A spirituality capable of inhabiting complexity, where some, once important, categories are now outdated: profit/no profit, technology and nature, economy and ethics, market and gratuity, work time and free time. “Pillars of the past” that today fade into grey areas. How to understand what is authentic from what is not? Go deeper, discern. In some Catholics there is a need to draw boundaries to protect their identity. With Laudato Si’ we have entered into this conversation, let us continue with humility, willing to learn, without raising fences. A spirituality capable of making beautiful choices: to do good things (ethics), to make them beautiful (aesthetics), to know how to tell them (narrative). Often these levels are separated. Today marketing, the online world, are the places where the criteria of beauty are formed, just as the narratives that become meaningful for people. Even these worlds must be listened to without fear and prejudice to grasp what they have to tell us. Today the ethics of the environment must know how to use a language that also involves the body, gives pleasure, mobilizes imagination, and is challenging not only at the level of thought but also in the depths. Laudato Si’ asks for ecological conversion. There is a word in the New Testament, metanoia, which means: to change mentality. Today being ecological is not adding a new content to the many duties we have, but rather a transformation process that will be all the more effective the more it involves all the dimensions of our person.
Two institutions of the Kircher Network - the Jesuit Higher Education Network in Europe and the Near East - have launched two new innovative postgraduate programs: Postgraduate Certificate in Christian Theology (Loyola, Dublin) and New Diploma in Leadership and Management (Gregoriana, Rome). The Loyola Institute: New Postgraduate Certificate in Christian Theology Starting on September 27th, there is an opportunity to study a Postgraduate Certificate in Christian theology at the Loyola Institute, Dublin, Ireland. The program will enable participants to gain an in-depth knowledge of core issues in contemporary Christian theology. Students are introduced to historical scholarship and rigorous contemporary theological investigation. Thanks to the Loyola Trust (part-fee) Postgraduate Certificate scholarships are available. Hear all about the Program on the Online Open Evening WebinarGet more information here Pontifical Gregorian University: New Diploma in Leadership and Management The academic offer of the Pontifical Gregorian University for the year 2020/2021 will include a Diploma in management and leadership. The Diploma is an integrated training - a reflection on leadership and introduction to management - in creative dialogue with the human and social sciences to accompany and professionally guide organizations animated by an authentic spirit of service. The program seeks to respond to the management challenges inside the Church. It will integrate in-person and online learning methodology. For more information seeDownload the brochure here
How should we rethink the concept of citizenship? Is it still a value as it has been thought of so far? Giovanni Moro, Angela Taraborrelli and Ruper Strachwitz replied to these questions on 9 July during the first of a series of webinars promoted by Civiltà Cattolica and Georgetown University. Through the partnership between La Civiltà Cattolica and Georgetown University, a webinar series dedicated to "Civil Issues" was initiated.  This series will take place between July and December 2020. The first of the scheduled webinars - "The future of citizenship" - was held on 9 July. Global challenges have disputed traditional concepts of citizenship which were founded on nationalism. The crisis triggered by Covid-19 is just one of the most recent examples of the increase in trans-national interdependence, starting from health and the economy to politics and the environment. To what extent should we reconsider citizenship as a way of living within a cultural, religious and political ambience together? States and Citizenship During the webinar - introduced by the director of La Civiltà Cattolica, Antonio Spadaro SJ, and coordinated by the representative of Georgetown University in Rome, Debora Tonelli - Giovanni Moro (political sociologist, La Sapienza University - Rome), Rupert Graf Strachwitz (political scientist and historian, Maecenata Institute - Berlin) and Angela Taraborrelli (Associate Professor of Political Philosophy, University of Cagliari) discussed the future of citizenship starting from different disciplinary areas. Citizenship is a concept which was ignored until the early 1990s, its only identification being the passport. Then there was an awakening of interest in it, but it did not lead to a proper definition. «It is a device for the inclusion, cohesion and development of democratic society» Giovanni Moro highlighted «in relation to three components: recognition at a political, juridical and social level; the advantage of guaranteed and recognized standard of living rights and also the duty of solidarity; finally, participation in defining the standard aims and rules of competition within the political community ». Citizenship is also defined in the "deeds, sentences and contracts that characterize its substance and practices". The canonical model inherited from the 1900s, which is linked to national borders, is no longer relevant today. This was verified by migration, loss of state power, the mixture of identities, and the development of communication. "The concept of citizenship has not died out, but it is undergoing transformation", starting from gender identity, to forms of political participation, to European citizenship itself. National State and Cosmopolitan State "There are 10 million stateless people in the world," said Angela Taraborrelli, "and some states are unable to guarantee rights." Although world states have signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, often the individual has found no channels through which he can claim global citizenship rights. "It is a question of adding cosmopolitan citizenship to national citizenship and not replacing it," she emphasized. "The European model should be followed, a model which permits citizens without national protection to find protection not only as refugees but as cosmopolitan citizens, guaranteeing financial support through contributions made by the rich and not by the poorest strata of society". It is a challenge for states "to become cosmopolitan, recognizing the rights of migrants living in their territory, not relegating them to feudal privileges as is being done by some liberal states, which have accepted to support them financially but have refused to grant them the right of citizenship". Multiple citizenship Rupert Strachwitz spoke about multiple citizenship. «The world is not only made up of different nations. Many feel that they are citizens because of other realities such as religion or the way civil society expresses itself. Particularly, young people in reality identify themselves as associations, such as Amnesty and Fridayforfuture. European citizenship is very different from US citizenship, which finds its roots in the 1800s. If it is more open it will result in a stable society that includes differences, otherwise it will not work. " An important role in this process where some nations are more ahead of others, is that of religious communities. The outcome that finally emerged was the general dissatisfaction with old concepts of citizenship and the responsibility of the city to become more inclusive.  The challenge is that of building "communities with a common destiny", citizenship education and the fact that a large number of people are seeking answers. During the "Civil Issues" webinar series Italian and international experts will continue to discuss current issues in the fields of culture, society, politics and the Church. The partnership between La Civiltà Cattolica and Georgetown University has already produced the initiative of the China Forum for the Dialogue between Civilizations (
Inspired by the spirit of collaboration and networking, the Kircher Network proposed to the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) to develop a common project on "Best Practices in Jesuit Higher Education". The IAJU Board approved the proposal, and the project is going to be carried out by the six regional networks of Jesuit higher education (AJCU, AUSJAL, AJCU-AM; AJCU-AP, JHEASA and the Kircher Network).  The project is one of the initiatives of the first action priority of the Operational Plan of the Kircher Network (2019-2020). The priority seeks to promote academic collaboration among the Kircher institutions (Ad Intra) and with other Jesuit higher education networks (Ad Extra).  The "Best Practices in Jesuit HighEd Project" will be common service platform that will combine the publication of an Online Quarterly Newsletter on best practices and know-how on Jesuit higher education, with the organization of Webinars with the authors of the articles. The webinars will be open to all faculty and professionals of Jesuit higher education institutions around the world. The online letters and recoded webinars will be displayed in the "Best Practices" blog of this website, as well as on the webpages of IAJU and the other regional networks. The Online Quarterly + Webinars will focus on themes and management areas that are key for the Ignatian identity and mission of universities and faculties, as well as for the good management of the institutions. The first issues of the Online Letter + Webinars will focus on good practices on Pedagogical Innovation and Ignatian Pedagogy in Jesuit Higher Education Institutions around the world. Future issues will focus on other relevant topics for the mission and the management of Jesuit universities and faculties. The first stage of the project will be a two-year pilot experience, which will be coordinated by the Kircher Network. A global IAJU Steering Committee has been established for the general coordination of the initiative. The committee is integrated by representatives from IAJU AJCU, AUSJAL, AJCU-AM; AJCU-AP, JHEASA, Kircher Network and UNIJES. Given the spirit of collaboration, a delegate from Educate Magis has been invited to the committee. The Steering Committee met last June 11th and is preparing the next steps of the project.  The project will be officially launched this Fall, through a global webinar. The first issue of the Quarterly Online letter + Webinar is expected to be published this Fall.  The Kircher Network is currently identifying and developing a directory of faculty members and professional staffs working on pedagogical innovation and Ignatian Pedagogy in its member institutions. A Kircher network of peers on pedagogical innovation and Ignatian Pedagogy is expected to be established as a part of the project.  If you are faculty or a staff member of a Jesuit higher education institution and are interested in participating in this exciting global project, you can contact us.     

Preparing for Mission

Reflection of Fr. Gaetano Piccolo S.J. I love asking questions, but I never expected to receive answers. I am a curious person by nature. The first, "significant" question I asked was when I turned 14.  My curiosity was aroused by the generous witness of 4 nuns struggling with a large group of urchins in Naples: "how do you become a Christian?", I asked. "Through spiritual direction" Mother Superior replied, and she recommended Fr. Rotelli who accompanied me through a program which he gave me: “prayer and service”. I spent a long time discerning, sometimes even refusing to carry on. It was the poverty in my neighbourhood where together with other young people I committed myself to give service that gave rise to another question: "what if the Lord really asked me to become a priest"? Philosophy was a privileged place where I practiced this art of questioning. After graduation, I entered the novitiate, a privileged time to grow in my personal relationship with God. Then Regency in Albania was a precious experience of opening up to love. Then again I was in Naples for  theology, "incarnate" theology that originates from the questions, this time posed by people, on the street, in the parish, at parties, at lunches, in group meetings. Thus a void was opened that only Christ, the word made flesh, was able to fill. Sometimes this void raises its head again ... but the promise persists. Currently I live in Rome, where I teach at the Pontifical Gregorian University, devoting myself above all to examining the relationship between words and things, language that brings order and discovering that not everything can be explained in words.  There are three questions that are looming within me during this time: How can freer information channels be established? It is increasingly evident that the method of communicating important news is strongly marked by political agendas. It is difficult to find information that is free of any hidden agendas and free to give criticism. The way news is broadcasted seems to affirm government actions. This makes me reflect on how reality is presented, but also on the citizen's right to obtain objective information. As Jesuits we should have the strength to denounce this mechanism and try to generate new ways. When is the right moment to announce the Good News? I have the impression that the right moment to announce the Good News is no longer during adolescence. The Gospel speaks to those who have experienced failure, who have been hurt; it addresses people who have sought answers and experienced disappointment. Adolescents no longer experience these life challenges. Adolescents instead are still fully self-centred, giving free reign to their emotions, and pampered to the point of not being able to become aware of the hardship of life. This leads me to think that the favourable moment to proclaim the Good News is when people are older in age. Perhaps it is necessary to turn to those groups of adults, individuals or young families, who carry a significant existential baggage and are reflecting on their future. How can this vital attitude towards discernment be encouraged? After having explored this topic above all on a theoretical level and through my spiritual work, I am also trying to address it through my academic research, on the philosophical level. In fact, I think that discernment is based on the very nature of reality. It is how reality is constituted, in metaphysical terms, that is man inevitably requires discernment to find his real self.  Traits of uncertainty, complexity and of humanity can be found within reality: elements that should not only be spoken about but should lead towards a choice. Indeed, decision-making is the fundamental and vital attitude of human existence Gaetano Piccolo, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University, has online a the blog "Rigantur mentes"
The Jesuits in Central Europe found on April 27th 2021 a new Province. For this the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, appointed this Friday 31 July, on the Feast of St. Ignatius, a new Provincial, who will take up his office next year. The choice fell on Father. Bernhard Bürgler SJ, the present Provincial of the Austrian Province of the Jesuits. Munich/Rome, 31 July 2020 - Fr. Bernhard Bürgler SJ becomes first Provincial of new Central European Province. Jesuit Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, appointed him this Friday. Bernhard Bürgler will take office as the Provincial on 27 April 2021 upon establishment of the new province. It will replace the previous provinces of Austria, Germany, Lithuania-Latvia and Switzerland. Provincial in Austria Bernhard Bürgler is currently the Provincial in Austria and thus is one of the Jesuits who have been instrumental in preparing the merger over the past years. Consequently, he is well aware of the challenges awaiting him: ‘We can only convincingly present our way of life if we grow together to embody unity in diversity. To do so, we must shape our institutions and activities in view of the needs of our time and our limited resources’. He sees transnational collaboration as offering tremendous opportunities in this respect. “Our charisma as Jesuits is that we think in broader categories and act jointly. National differences will lose significance over time, which will enable us to more fruitfully disseminate the treasure of Ignatian spirituality in our engagement for faith and justice, in dialog with different cultures and in the quest for reconciliation.” Jesuit Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ emphasized in his letter of appointment that the new province will simplify apostolic planning: “The mission of the Society of Jesus has been universal and larger than the borders of countries or languages from its very inception. The structures of the order exist to facilitate this mission.” He also made reference to the universal apostolic preferences with which the order has defined the thrust of content matters for the coming ten years. The Superior General wished the future Provincial energy and vigour but also faith in God and serenity. A proven expert in the areas of spirituality, retreats, meditation and psychoanalysis Bernhard Bürgler is a proven expert in the areas of spirituality, retreats, meditation and psychoanalysis. The 60-year-old was born in Lienz in Austrian East Tyrol. After his secondary school leaving examination, he studied theology in Innsbruck. Upon completion of his studies, he worked in the German retreat house Haus Gries, which is operated by the Jesuits. After additional years as a religion teacher in Austria, Bürgler entered the Society of Jesus in 1991. After the novitiate he received his doctorate in theology and also received training as a psychotherapist. His activities in the order were that of Spiritual Director in the international Collegium Canisianum (Innsbruck), Director of the retreat house ‘Haus Gries’ (Wilhelmsthal), Area Director for spirituality and retreats in the Cardinal König Haus (Vienna). In 2014 he became the Provincial in the Austrian Province of the Society of Jesus. The rules of the Society of Jesus call for the Provincial to be appointed by the Superior General in Rome. As a rule, the term of office is six years. In addition to the administrative task of directing the province’s affairs, the central duties of a provincial include especially what is known as the “cura personalis”, or regular talks with each Jesuit about his work and life in the order. The new province will comprise 442 Jesuits at 36 locations in Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland.
In the St. Joseph Church of  Ljubljana - the Slovenian capital - on Saturday 27 June a holy mass has been celebrated, in which the Jesuits thanked God for the departing provincial superior, Fr. Ivan Bresciani and asked for mercy for the new Provincial, Fr. Miran Žvanut. In order to secure good health conditions the service was simple. Nevertheless, beside 23 Jesuits participated also 160 co-workers, relatives and friends. With the current Provincial fr. Ivan Bresciani (2014–2020) the office has completed for the socius Franc Kejžar and consultants Damjan Ristić, France Zupančič and Ivan Platovnjak. The new provincial Miran Žvanut will be accompanied by Fr. Marjan Kokalj as socius, and advisors France Kejžar, Janez Poljanšek and Milan Bizant. A conversation with the current and new provincial follows, an excerpt from magazine Slovenski jezuiti, prepared by p. Marjan Kokalj SJ. Photos by Žiga Lovšin and Rok Bečan SJ.   Fr. Ivan Bresciani SJ, Provincial 2014-2020 Fr. Ivan, how do you feel after six years of serving as Provincial; you seem to have had a good time, even though you probably know what fatigue is? Six years have passed quickly and this is also a good sign because it means there has been enough work, care and effort. I felt a lot of grace in those six years. I believe that God has guided me and despite my mistakes and limitations, I have often felt God close to me. I have learned a lot in these six years and the fatigue I feel now is of a positive nature because I am grateful for this rich period.  I think I can say that you were a provincial who managed to move a lot. Among other things, you focused your work especially on the youth apostolate by establishing two student residences (in Slovenian: Kolegij), gave a Jesuit to help the diocese of Maribor as pastor of the University Parish of Maribor, enabled one Jesuit to devote much time to work with scouts, reorganized the Institute of St. Ignatius and its buildings, you strengthened the parish team in Dravlje and founded a new Jesuit community in Radlje ob Dravi, tied to the parish, which is now prosperous. At the same time, there is certainly a lot of hidden work and problems that no one sees. How do you look back on the work done?  Looking back on my six years of work, I feel within myself a great deal of gratitude to God for the grace I have received. There were really a lot of moves, but I think they were necessary. The fact is, however, that by nature I don’t make my own decisions, but I need a lot of opinions and advice to help me to discern. Rarely have I followed just some of my thoughts from start to finish without listening to other advice. It often happened that I felt inspired in my brother and accepted this as my decision. I don’t think it’s the hardest thing to make a decision, but to bear the consequences of the decision. The hardest thing is to carry a cross that is not yours. If I capture these six years with one thought, I can safely say that I have been given the joy of the work done, not because everything would have been done well, but because of the faith that the Lord Himself will cleanse, change, and complete everything in His body. And that gives me deep inner peace. At the same time, I would also like to thank the consultants of our Jesuit province and the superiors, individual delegates and lay people for their cooperation. Myself alone would really fail to do anything.  What would you wish the new provincial on the road? I wish the new Provincial Miran Žvanut a lot of blessings. May he be accompanied by the image of a good shepherd who knows the voice of his sheep and they know his voice. A good shepherd gives his life for his sheep. Therein lies the heart of the mission.   Fr. Miran Žvanut, provincial 2020- Fr. Miran, Fr. general entrusted you the office of Provincial of the Slovenian Province of the Society of Jesus; what are the first feelings after the appointment and what are the first thoughts when you think of the province? When my current provincial Fr. Ivan Bresciani announced the news of the appointment, I was left speechless. I was surprised and shocked, even though I knew my name was on the list as well. Somehow, I thought “that chalice would go past me”. In the background, after the appointment, I felt gratitude, feelings of trust and, of course, the responsibility that comes with the new mission. However, I believe that the Lord who imposed this cross on me will also help me to bear it. Above all, a desire to connect and serve the province arises in me. These are the first thoughts that flight through my head; how and in what way, and on the basis of the experience I have in working in the parish, to put this into practice.  How do you see the Society of Jesus in the world today in general? I see the Society of Jesus as very dynamic and responsive. It adapts to the needs of the time and seeks ways to approach man, to give him dignity and hope. We also see this from the universal apostolic preferences of the Society of Jesus proclaimed last year: to show the way to God through spiritual exercises and discernment, to walk with the poor, excluded from the world, wounded in their own dignity, in the mission of reconciliation and justice, to accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future and to collaborate in the care of the Common Home or of the creation given to us.We Jesuits want to be active in all areas and co-shape today’s world, try to understand it and be actors, not just passive observers. I am proud, happy and grateful to be a Jesuit, to be a member of the Society of Jesus, working in such different fields and bringing faith and hope to the world today.  How do you see the future of the Slovenian province? It’s hard to predict anything. There are not many young Jesuits at the moment, which is a prerequisite for normal development and work, but I am an optimist and I believe that God will turn things around so that it will be right. The future certainly lies in connecting with other European provinces and working with the local church and bishops. The Jesuits have a lot of knowledge and experience with which we can help the Slovenian Church and we must realize this.  What would you say to our readers in the end? In the second point of the second introductory exercise of Contemplation to Attain the love of God, Ignatius wrote: “I will observe how God dwells in things: he gives abode to the elements, life to the plants, feelings to the animals, understanding to the people. And so it dwells in me when it gives me to be, to live, to feel, and to know; he also makes me his sanctuary, for I am created in the image and likeness of his majesty of God.” This is exactly what I want for readers to be aware of the beauty of life and God's presence in us.
First vows, last vows, diaconal ordinations and priestly ordinations.