Jesuits in Europe

One year after the Social and Ecology Congress in Loyola, the group of JCEP Social Delegates met in Lisbon (in Seminário de Almada, just across the beautiful Tagus river), from 14th to 18th May, for their annual gathering. During the intensive four days, the Delegates exchanged good practices from the different Jesuit Provinces, reflected together on pressing issues such as the Ignatian identity of the sector or the new structures to serve the mission, and also prayed together so to discern where the many needs and the Spirit are calling the social sector to move towards. Engaging visits to four social works that the Jesuits have in the Lisbon area (Centro P. Amadeu Pinto, JRS-Portugal, Centro Social da Musgueira and Centro Cultural Brotéria) were also organised, with animated dialogues between the teams. As one delegate shared at the end, “the amount of needs may sometimes look daunting, but also friendship and collaboration helps to keep hope alive.” The next meeting will happen in Budapest in the Spring 2024, and more about the meeting can be read here.     Filipe Martins JESC 
Insights from the joint meeting of Vocation Promoters and Young Adult Ministry delegates European Jesuit vocation promoters and young adult ministry co-ordinators met in Rome last week for our annual meeting. Like all good Jesuit meetings, it started with prayer and what followed was a fruitful blend of business and pleasure.  Small groups and plenary sessions allowed for good sharing of best practices, i.e. “we tried this and it worked!” Charlie and Fonfo presented the fruits of several years of investment by the Spanish Province in vocation promotion. Their vocations website is an exemplar of how to communicate with young men who have vocational questions. The three sections, Know, Discern and Choose provide the information and resources that enquirers need at every step of the journey, and the website also makes communication with the vocation promoters easy. The website is already serving as a template that other Provinces are following. The dynamic Iberian duo are also certain that having two Jesuits working together as a team multiplies their creativity and fruitfulness.  We had an excellent sharing on the ministry of the Spiritual Exercises with young people. Jesuits are being very creative in this ministry, packaging the Spiritual Exercises in various ways that also meet other pastoral needs such as catechesis, personal development, and contact with nature. Some Provinces want to make the Exercises available to more young people while others, like St. Ignatius, are trying to be more discerning and selective about who they give the Exercises to and for what reason.  We all agreed that it makes sense for vocation promoters and young adult ministers to meet together. Many of us are actively involved in both fields and there is a lot of overlap in our work. During the meeting it became apparent that we also benefit from talking about the shared context of our work. Young people are simultaneously living in two realities: the physical world and the digital world. For them, growing up in the eras of liquid modernity or liquid post-modernity, has meant growing up in societies which are increasingly unmoored from the natural world, from dependable family and social ties, and from faith communities. Understandably, many young people now experience significant personal insecurities and doubts. We Jesuits want to help them find the human, spiritual and religious foundations and points of reference which, for the longest time, most people have taken for granted.  UAP 2 has set the Society of Jesus on a course of creating a hope-filled future for young people. I sensed a lot of hope in this group – a generative and energetic hope which keeps us moving outward and forward. Let us continue to have great hopes for our young people and great Hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.    Niall Leahy 
Communication officers from the various European Jesuit provinces met in London from 8 to 11 May. What challenges do they face?  In a pale London spring sunshine, small groups of communicators of the Society of Jesus in Europe put their chairs together to exchange what Jesuit communication is about. They are meeting in London for the annual JesWebCom three-day event. The first day is dedicated to Ignatian spirituality, with speakers including Damian Howard SJ, Paul Nicholson SJ and Nikolaas Sintobin SJ.  Communication in consolation  Paul Nicholson began the morning session with a guided meditation, an Examen, as it is called in the Ignatian tradition. This form of prayer is in a sense a training to discern daily where God is at work. The prayer asks: where have I experienced consolation; peace, joy, love, hope. And where desolation; emptiness, confusion, suffering. Without ignoring desolation, perhaps communication within and about the Society of Jesus can be about comfort? Telling stories about where God is at work and so helping to build the Kingdom of God. As Ignatius asked the Jesuits he was working with: write me letters about the work you are doing. Letters that were often circulated in large numbers and whose testimony moved many hearts, not the least of young men to become Jesuits and share in this mission.  Communication in desolation  But what to make out of desolation? With the suffering? With the evil? That question became painfully urgent and relevant when communicators of four provinces shared their experiences of communication around (sexual) abuse in their province. What important lessons have been learned? Three lessons were shared by all involved.  Victims always come first. Believe them, invite them to speak and listen to their stories. When communicating externally, invite other victims to come and tell their stories. Be proactive. Don't wait for journalists to come forward with stories. Know about the abuse cases in your province. Tell those who are responsible to keep you updated. And communicate transparently about it. The French-speaking province comes out with an update every six months on any new and ongoing abuse cases. Be humble. Admit mistakes were made. Recognize that Jesuits are no better than other people. Using social media  Another challenge widely felt is: how do we communicate on social media? Particularly on Instagram and TikTok. It all starts with a strategy, became clear in the experience of head of communications at JRS Britain and the workshop that followed. The first question is: what do we want to achieve on social media? What is our goal? In teams of five, the communicators enthusiastically set to work creating Reels, short videos for Instagram. A lot of lessons were learned in just an hour. It now is only a matter of time before Jesuits everywhere in Europe go viral.  Heartfelt farewell  The most emotive moment of the meeting was the announcement that Philip Debruyne will stop serving as webmaster of JCEP after 16 years of excellent work. The group honored with him a standing ovation for several minutes.   Overall, the meeting served as a platform for exchange, learning, and reflection on the challenges faced by Jesuit communication officers in Europe, with the goal of improving communication practices and fulfilling the mission of the Society of Jesus. Surely, everyone left London to their offices with fresh ideas, new cooperation possibilities and renewed energy.    Rick Timmermans  (Final remark by JCEP team) 
Impressions after the JECSE Ignatian Leadership Programme  Silence on the bus after our visit to the JRS Telyani school in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. The group, consisting of 16 participants and the 5-person planning team, was lost in thoughts. The images of smiling children in the dark classrooms with sprayed heating and electricity (built 10 years ago to be temporary), the cheerful quotes on the walls, the powerful commitment of the school management moved on to the desolation of the infinite refugee camps around the school, the poverty in the streets, the tense relations between politicians and the population, between Muslims and Christians, the unsustainable mobility of the Lebanese pound. We were in a VUCA world par excellence (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity).  The meeting with the refugee school children and later with the workers of the Arc en Ciel sheltered workshop confronted us with our own limits and forced us to push them back, to broaden our vision. For this step into the unknown, we needed courage and confidence... And that's what this ILP was.  Theoretical models and practical tools  Our road to Lebanon started about three years ago and would guide us through four modules. Each module gave us theoretical models and practical tools, drawn from the rich experience of the planning team. Between modules, we also met regularly online.  The first module took place in Rodizio (Portugal) in autumn 2021. We began by exploring how to integrate Ignatian leadership in our school contexts. Nikolaas Sintobin SJ prompted reflection on the norms guiding us: the path of evil or the path of Good? Antonio Allende, education delegate in Spain, shared his journey in Ignatian leadership, emphasizing the patient construction of Ignatian history, brick by brick.  Called to lead others   In spring 2022 at Loyola, we embraced leadership through reflection, prayer, and mutual support. We focused on social and emotional intelligence, emphasizing active listening to build trust within the team. Mark Desmet SJ spoke about fragile leadership, adaptability, and unity in a changing world. We practiced spiritual conversations and aimed to apply them in our school context.  In autumn 2022, during our gathering in Gozo (Malta), we shared our faith conversations and discovered a newfound hunger. We explored leading a Spirit-led organization, addressing the connections within our school team and navigating opposing viewpoints. Jimmy Bartolo SJ, the Rector of St. Aloysius College, enlightened us on creating an Ignatian school culture that fosters men and women with and for others.   Grow in confidence and courage  Spring brought us to Taanayel in Lebanon, into the unknown. We wanted to grow in confidence and courage to dare to lead our team into this unknown as comforting leaders. Not only the meeting with Charbel Batour sj, rector of the Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour in Beirut, and Michael Zammit SJ, regional superior, clarified the tensions in the Lebanese society.  Meeting the bus driver, the kitchen princesses in Taanayel, the sheltered workshop workers, the guide in Baalbek and Anjar, the hospitable woman and her husband in Deir Al-Qamar (Come in and have a coffee) showed us, alongside the despair, small glimmers of kindness, hospitality, hope. This brought us seamlessly into the meaning and power of adaptive leadership (Heifetz). How can we mobilise our team to take on innovative challenges in our own contexts?  The Ignatian Leadership Programme abled us to grow in Ignatian leadership. By going together, we strengthened our vocation to push the limits, to lead the team entrusted to us in a comforting way, and to put Ignatian spirituality at the centre of this leadership.  Anne-Sophie De Decker, Fr Bart van Emmerik SJ 

Search articles

Finding God

The musical song Camino – Christ, You Are My Future has been selected by the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference as the official song for the Papal Visit to Hungary.  The song has been premiered for a crowd of young adults on 28 April 2023, in the Papp László Sports Arena, immediately preceding the arrival of Pope Francis. The Hungarian stage musical (2022) on the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola by Márton Vizy and Dávid Ágoston Tóth features the song that was arranged for the event in a new, symphonic version. Its lyrics reflect Ignatius’ perseverance and victory over darkness, depicting his hazardous pilgrimage through the mountains of Spain. “My feet are muddyMy back is wetThunder’s chasing me.But fears are fading cloudsAnd I’ve crushed the pain by mightIn this true-epic, angelic-demonicQuest for Light!” Hungarian celebrity singers joined the call of Pope Francis who had asked people of goodwill to promote peace. The song is available with English subtitles at this video. More information on the musical: In 2021, “Jezsu”, the Jesuit High School of Miskolc, Hungary wanted to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the conversion of the founder of the Jesuit order, Saint Ignatius. Teachers and students agreed that a new musical would suit the conversion of Ignatius of Loyola the best. The authors of the popular musical play I, Attila József (Madách Theatre, Budapest), Márton Vizy and Ágoston Dávid Tóth, were approached to create a two-act musical. Despite the raging coronavirus pandemic, a year later the musical play was performed by more than 120 students on stage, with 59 main character-roles and a 90-strong choir singing. The students from Miskolc twice filled the largest musical-theatre in Hungary, the Erkel Theatre in Budapest, in the summer and autumn of 2022 to great acclaim. The Director of the show was teacher Klára Velkey; the producer was Domonkos Kajtor SJ. The Hungarian Provincial responsible for the show: Elemér Vízi SJ. The creation of an English-language version of the musical is underway.
This is the testimony of Elena and Marcello, and their 4 children, who have been affected by the flood that hit Emilia-Romagna. They are responsible for the project “Le Querce della Porrettaccia” of the Ignatian Family Network, and since 2021 they have formed part of the board of the Centre for Ignatian Spirituality as guides of the Spiritual Exercises for Families. On Monday at lunchtime a danger warning was transmitted through social media. They would close educational services and schools. ‘It rained intermittently from that night to Wednesday at lunchtime,’ Elena said. She is married to Marcello, with 4 children, and since 2006 they have been involved in a shelter project ‘Le Querce della Porrettaccia’ in Predappio Alta, 20 km from Forlì. The country house owned by Marcello’s family had been redesigned and had gradually become a space for people and families in need or in search of shelter, facing the challenge of sharing. “The first landslide on the hillside occurred as early as Tuesday during lunchtime, while in the valley the danger warning was set off that the rivers were flooding. Since Tuesday evening, we have been without electricity and telephone lines. But we, and only we, have never lacked water. In the valley, water is still being supplied by tank trucks. From Wednesday onwards, there were tremors everywhere. I was evacuated by a Civil Defence bus down the valley. This time, unlike 23 years ago in Kosovo, I was not sitting on the side of the rescuers, but on the side of those in need of help. I prayed throughout the journey to entrust my fear to the Lord, passing through a dark valley with ravines that had opened in the earth, the mud covering the road for long stretches, as the bus tried to bypass the cliffs. I prayed that He would lead us to the valley floor, over grassy pastures and still waters, my favourite psalm. Read more: Naming the feelings - An unimaginable change - Choosing the essentials – Consolations - “The Lord precedes us” - Recollections Jesuits EUM
Fr. Bartholomew Przepeluk SJ about the situation in Khmelnytskyi (Ukraine). On the evening before the start of the Russian aggression, together with a group of friends from the young and adult ministry, we decided to celebrate at a Georgian restaurant. Over delicious food and wine, we shared our dreams, planned the development of the ministry, and talked about future vacations. When we were heading back home, none of us could have imagined that the next morning we would witness the beginning of a war. Around five o'clock, we were awakened by the incomprehensible and ominous roar of enemy aircraft engines flying low over our cities, destroying the times that were once peaceful and calm. On the first day of the attack on Ukraine (Thursday, February 24, 2022), I was hallway through individual Ignatian retreats that I was leading for two priests. Interestingly, one priest was reflecting on the theme of the First Week, which focuses on personal sin and its consequences, while the other was praying with the theme of the Third Week, accompanying Christ in his suffering. After a conference, I decided to go for a walk to pray and collect my thoughts. I wanted to somehow support the people and show them that I was with them. So, I put on my Jesuit cassock and went to the city centre. On people's faces, I saw fear, uncertainty, and surprise. A gloomy silence hung everywhere. At one point, the realization came to my mind that refugees would arrive in our city any moment - people we don't know, with whom we have no connection, and whom we would have to take care of and help somehow. On my way back from the walk, I stopped by our parish café where the young people from the ministry had gathered. In a sombre mood, they were following the latest news about the advancing invasion. I sat among them and suggested that we could get involved in this war by helping people in need. We can try to overcome evil with good. I proposed that we jointly reorganize the Jesuit retreat house for the needs of refugees who would be seeking shelter while on the move or a place to wait out the war turmoil. The young people understood the idea and immediately decided to put it into action. Perhaps their involvement stemmed from youthful enthusiasm and heroism, or from a desire to escape and forget about fear and uncertainty, or from a desperate need to take action when we actually feel helpless and don't know what to do. However, what matters is that from the second day of the war, we have been working tirelessly, 24 hour per day, seven days a week. It has been more than a year since the war began, and so much has happened... Our city is an important transportation hub, and as a result, many people come to us for help. We respond to everyone to the best of our modest abilities. Most of those who come forward are parents with children. It is not uncommon for them to bring pets with them. They wish to spend the night or stay for an extended period of time in a safe place. House guests During the first month and a half of the war, we hosted people who stayed with us for short periods of time (1-5 days). The people coming to our house were subjected to security checks to ensure their safety. Our home cooperates with the police, which allowed us to protect ourselves from incidents. We have accommodated over a thousand such individuals! Many of them showed visible signs of how much they were affected by the war and their escape. Some looked like shadows of their former selves: sad, withdrawn, and frightened. By providing them with spiritual and psychological support, we helped them open up and simply pour out their suppressed emotions, and then patiently listened to their stories. I am still impressed by the expressions of solidarity, selflessness, and self-organization from our parishioners who rose to the occasion in this time of trial. As volunteers, they took care of cooking, laundry, cleaning, security, and logistics. In a word, they did it all! At the beginning of April, we started accepting people for longer stays. We didn't know how our guests would cope with the hardships of the prolonged war and living in a relatively small house. There were many eager to stay - up to 60 people. The living conditions provided relative comfort for 30 residents. Despite personal discomforts, we decided to help a larger number of people. One of the real challenges was sharing including many spaces, such as rooms, bathrooms, recreation hall, dining room, and kitchen. Our residents patiently and understandingly went through the tense process of discovering the strengths and weaknesses of their neighbours, with whom they were bound by fate. Over time, as the Ukrainian army advanced on the front lines, some of our residents started leaving. Some returned to their hometowns after ensuring that the hostilities had ceased. Others found accommodation in the city or other parts of the country and moved away. Some decided to stay with us and eventually formed a real community of families who support each other in need. What could I compare this experience to? Maybe to a very long sea voyage that doesn't seem to have an end. We are sailing on a crowded little vessel that resembles Noah's Ark. There are animals on board, as you can find a cat or a dog in every room. The journey is not easy for various reasons, but we are motivated to sail together until the end of this war. The ministry for refugees As I mentioned earlier, along with starting my ministry as the director of the retreat house, I had a desire to create a home-shelter where every guest would have a chance to begin their journey with Jesus or find strength on their path. It was important to me that our house would be a significant point on the map not only of the region but also a place known throughout the country. Interestingly, through the policy of hospitality and open doors to needy to some extent, we have been able to realize the guiding ideas. The fortunes of war brought people of different religions and beliefs to our home. Just imagine: Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims living under one roof. People united by common suffering, helping each other and sharing a little kindness. It's a foretaste of the Kingdom, where there is no Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all (Colossians 3:11). Writing these words reminded me of a funny incident. It happened that after a few days of hosting a Jewish father and son, they threw a shout-out to me: "Praised be Jesus Christ." I was speechless and I admit I didn't know what to say. Disoriented, I blurted out, "Amen!" We experienced Easter deeply. Its date coincided with the arrival of many people who decided to stay with us for a longer period of time. All the guests in our home were invited to celebrate Easter in the Roman rite together with our parishioners. To facilitate participation in the liturgy for those who were not familiar with the Roman rite, we organized a series of meetings for the interested ones. Anything "new and different" attracts attention. Everyone was very curious (even the nonbelievers). They asked many questions, compared our customs with Orthodox rituals. Many encountered Roman Catholics and a different Christian tradition for the first time. After the Triduum liturgy, we celebrated together through the night. Although war spread fear and claimed deadly tolls, we were celebrating the victory of Good over evil there; Life over death; Christ over the prince of this world... Other significant, spiritual and unifying moments were the celebrations of the sacrament of reconciliation, baptism, and confirmation that we administered in our chapel to all those willing and in need. I will never forget the Muslim lawyer who brought a confused Orthodox person to confess and reconcile with God. I will never forget the hundreds of painful stories that people released while staying in our home. I recall with fondness the baptism and confirmation I administered to a young girl. The baptism was organized hastily, and the godparents were quickly gathered volunteers who henceforth referred to each other as "godfather/godmother”. For our guests, staying in the retreat house is a somewhat unexpected, but extraordinary experience. The residents are aware that they are living in a monastery located next to the parish church, with a communal cemetery surrounding the entire complex. Most of them people are from the former Soviet Union. Although they were baptized formally, they were brought up in a spirit of state atheism in their families. Moreover, in their home countries, they did not have the opportunity to meet and experience what a Christian community is like. On the other hand, the local communities they had access to seemed to them too conservative, closed, and inaccessible. Unfortunately, this is a result of insufficient evangelization and catechesis, a problem present in Orthodox churches. Many of our residents, having plenty of free time, started asking important life questions. Some of them are slowly discovering the presence of God, whom they experience in conversations with our volunteers and parishioners. Encouraged by the hospitality and openness of the locals, they begin to participate in the life of the retreat house and the parish, in liturgies and prayers. Over time, they go to confession. Moreover, the residents are discovering the value of community, opening up to others, and learning to cooperate. Everyone has their duties and helps with keeping order or in the kitchen. Currently, over half of the 30 people living with us have started practicing the faith in the Church. I can say that, in their case, the war has turned into a great retreat. How am I experiencing all of this? Currently, I strongly feel the action of the Holy Spirit, and the war has accelerated Ukraine's process of maturing and unifying. Yes, the Holy Spirit is "condensed" here in a powerful way. People pray every day. Church leaders tell people not to harbour hatred, to pray for enlightenment and conversion for the enemy, and for endurance and God's protection for us. Soldiers on the frontlines ask us to pray for them because they are experiencing things that are humanly impossible, bullets miss them. I see how rapidly this nation is maturing, how motivated it is, how conviction is growing deeper, how it increasingly understands the values it is willing to defend at all costs, and how its identity is strengthening. And I want to participate in this and contribute in some way. I consider it an honour to be able to participate in all of this. For me, Ukrainians are now like Christ, going through their own Stations of the Cross, being betrayed, tortured, whipped, killed, but ultimately resurrected. I am proud of them, and it is an honour for me to serve Christ present among them in such a time. People are united and in solidarity, they have grown to love each other. This war has brought this nation together in a way I have never seen before. We have Mass in the chapel every day for those who are willing to attend. The Word of God nourishes and guides us. We know what to do, and we certainly don't rush to flee. On the contrary, we have a strong willingness to serve those in need. To anyone who reads this text, I would like to ask for prayers. Evil has its limits, and we overcome it with goodness. Bartholomew Przepeluk SJ
A group of young people of Italy accompanied by Fr. Francesco Cavallini SJ arrived in Iskenderun in Turkey on 2 April and left after Easter. Maundy Thursday We celebrated the Chrismal Mass in the morning in the small hall of the Vicariate converted into a chapel, since the cathedral has collapsed. The priests, focolarini, nuns, and the consecrated together make up a dozen or so people, but they have the energy and cheerfulness of a thousand people, thanks also to the vital contribution of the Caritas volunteers who have devoted themselves body and soul to bring the Church of Anatolia back to life. The day continues with the unpacking of food donated by the Spanish army. The food is sorted out by type to make it easier to reuse the parcels that Caritas have prepared. And it is already evening time… The first liturgy of the Triduum, by the grace of God, can be celebrated in the small church of St George, one of the very few – perhaps the only, although fractured – Christian churches left standing in the city. To the profound joy of Bishop Paolo Bizzeti SJ, the authorities have declared it accessible and can be used for celebrations. Between Italian and Turkish, and the languages of the local community and of the people present in the Vicariate these days, we experience with pathos this profound ancient liturgy, which has one of its strongest signs in the washing of the feet. Fr. Paolo is a tall man, with a profound gaze, great charisma, strength, wisdom, long experience and intense love for the communities entrusted to him. That is why it is even more striking to see him bending to wash and kiss the feet of the twelve chosen people. Good Friday After morning prayers, they ask us to tidy up a little and load a civil defence tent onto a van: they will take it to a deaf and mute family who have requested it. This is part of a village inhabited by Afghan and Uzbek refugees, located in the Antioch mountains, about 45 minutes from Iskenderun. We are struck by the distances that Caritas covers here on a daily basis and are intrigued by this experience. So, we ask to accompany them for the delivery and there we spend three hours setting up the tent, and also distributing food and basic necessities to various families, learning that in these villages there are many children who gladly run to meet us and with whom we exchange smiles, play a little, and to whom we show a small sign of closeness. Their village, which has suffered so many damages due to the earthquake, has definitely collapsed: it will take a lot of energy to build it again, but these people have serene eyes and, inexplicably for us, they transmit peace. They live in abject poverty, and yet… It is Good Friday, a day of fasting…and given the tight schedule, we really do! A warm, fragrant loaf, bought in the village, was our shared lunch: it has a very special taste…it tastes good. On our return to the Vicariate, the Stations of the Cross awaited us, which some of us had prepared. It was an intense moment with great participation, thanks to the contribution of the priests, the cloistered nuns who live here, the Caritas people and the Italian volunteers. Once again, a sense of community stands out, and the communion around the Lord, the desire to live these Easter days together with intensity. Holy Saturday We plunge into the rubble of the cathedral and bring out furniture that can be salvaged and give it a good cleaning. We need an intense shower. We store them in some rooms that are still standing in the structure. In the afternoon, we start preparations for the Vigil which is the greatest of all vigils to make it more beautiful for a community that has suffered so much and needs more than usual to feel accompanied and loved. We have Dinner and then off we go for the rehearsals of the hymns… The mass must be beautiful, these people have experienced death and are still trembling with fear. But tonight, the celebration is about the Resurrection and must convey celebration! We are almost ready, people are slowly beginning to arrive…there are more of us than on previous evenings, people have smiles on their faces and a little sadness in their eyes, but they seem happy to be here. Mgr Bizzeti, with the invaluable help of Fr Antuan SJ who translates into Turkish, starts his homily with the earthquake, mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, linking it to the earthquake that people experienced here eight weeks ago and of which they are still so afraid. He invites people to have faith and hope in the One whom the Father has resurrected, to look forward, to believe in life, which is also slowly being regenerated here. Easter It was decided to celebrate the Eucharist, by the grace of God and the concession of the civil authorities, in the most symbolic place hit by the earthquake, in Antioch, the site of the oldest Christian tradition in the area, the Church of St Peter, what is believed to have been the first Chair of Peter. This is why Bishop Bizzeti opened the celebration by recalling the words of the Gospel: ‘The Angel of the Lord, that is the Lord, is above the earthquake and it is very significant for us to be here today to celebrate the Easter Resurrection, to celebrate for the living and the dead’. The occasion was even more significant by the presence of an Armenian priest, who concelebrated in the Eucharist. It is a big grace for each of us to have been able to share such a special Holy Week, in the hope of taking with us the joy of Christ, whom we have encountered here, and to be witnesses of it to those whom we meet. To our Turkish brothers, Christians, Muslims, non-believers, my wish is that they will soon live again in fullness, as they are already doing.

Promoting Justice

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice Annual Lecture 2023 focused on the theological underpinnings of the Centre’s homelessness advocacy. The lecture was held on Tuesday, 25th April in the beautiful surroundings of the Ignatian Chapel of St Francis Xavier Church on Gardiner Street, Dublin. Dr Suzanne Mulligan », a moral theologian from the Pontifical University in Maynooth drew on Catholic Social Teaching (CST) in addition to the work of theologians from the other Christian traditions, to make a persuasive argument for why homelessness in our society affects not only the dignity of the people enduring it, but of us all. Human dignity In Catholic Social Teaching, the notion of human dignity is rooted in the belief that all human beings are made in God’s image, therefore possessing an innate dignity that is not dependent on race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or economic status. One of the most interesting elements of Dr Mulligan’s lecture was her framing of the idea of ‘vulnerability’. Vulnerability, she argued, is inseparable from human dignity and is necessary as the basis for ethical action. Without vulnerability, we cannot fully engage with the other, in this case, people who are homeless. Solidarity arising from a deeper awareness of our shared vulnerability and our shared precarity could act as a catalyst for change in relation to homelessness. The refusal to be vulnerable to the vulnerable other ultimately produces a callous society. Integral human development The second theme of the lecture was that of integral human development “a framework that allows us to critique the conditions, the attitudes, and the values that either support human dignity or detract from it.” Spiritual accompaniment Beyond the necessary work of striving for social justice and an environment in which people can thrive, the third theme of the lecture explained the need for spiritual accompaniment of people who are homeless. Homelessness erodes a person’s dignity in many ways, and can have a “profoundly negative spiritual and psychological effect on people”, often leaving them with feelings of shame and eroding their sense of self-worth. Because of this, it is vital that the spiritual needs of homeless people are attended to in addition to their material requirements. It is only in this way that they can receive the healing, reconciliation and God’s love that they need. Jesuits in Ireland
For six months, Fr. Helmut Schumacher SJ worked with young prisoners on Rikers Island, New York. The island in the East River between the Bronx and Queens is home to a complex of ten New York City prisons. With up to 17,000 prisoners, it is the largest prison in the world. Up to 80 men share a huge dormitory, each with only one bed and a box for personal belongings. Everything can be seen at all times, there is no privacy at all. The project "Thrive for Life" has two pillars: behind and beyond prison. "Behind, that is, behind the prison walls, we visit the people in custody as pastors, offer talks, pray with them," explains Fr. Schumacher. "We see our task here first and foremost in giving people hope so that they can get through their time in prison." "'Beyond' means that we offer a perspective for the time after prison. The Ignatio House was converted for this purpose, and released prisoners can move into it if they want to pursue vocational training. Some of them even study. It's supposed to be a safe place after the bad experiences in prison and at the same time a place where we accompany them on their way back to what we consider normal life." Schumacher consciously went to the margins of society to be close to the people there. "I've met so many wonderful people in prison. Despite the terrible circumstances and despite the difficult biographies, especially in the Beyond project after prison: they really want to do something new with their lives, to set out and find their place."
In the last week of April, JESC’s Future Generations project held its first workshop at the beautiful Maison Notre Dame du Champ d’Oiseau in Brussels. A two-day open and creative discussion among environmental professionals and high-level civil servants from the main institutions of the EU discussed some theoretical questions with very practical implications: Does it make sense to set up an office that has the mission to ensure long-term thinking in the EU? In case it does, should it work in the legislative procedure, or should it be a watchdog focusing on implementation? What would be the best way to make it a legitimate and efficient actor? These are questions that will continue being addressed in this project’s next workshops, and a short summary of the findings will soon be available. This month, JESC has published its 2022 Annual Report which provides a detailed overview of the 2022 developments and achievements that have taken place within JESC. Read all about the efforts focusing on promoting the vision and values of Europe through a range of activities, publications, projects, and events here.
On Sunday 23 April, Fr Patrick Magro SJ and four other Maltese - Sarah Meli, Andrew Meli, Lisa Muscat and Francesca Montalto - tackled the 42.2 km London Marathon to raise funds for the valuable work of Jesuit Missions UK, with a focus on educational projects in South Sudan. To raise awareness, University of Malta chaplain Fr Patrick, 53, ran the entire route wearing a rather bulky costume, of the Womble, which represents the mascot of the Jesuit Missions UK marathon team. "It takes courage and stamina to run the whole distance wearing a 6kg costume, but Jesuit Missions UK always sponsors very worthwhile projects and I was really happy to do my bit by running the marathon dressed like this! It was tough but worth it! The most interesting aspect was the awareness we generated . The Wombles are a very popular TV series in England and the costume is iconic: everyone loves to have their picture taken with the Wombles. This slows the pace, but gives the opportunity to learn about what has been achieved through the work of the Jesuits," stressed Fr Patrick. One of the main objectives of this year's marathon was to promote education in South Sudan, the youngest and poorest country in the world. In South Sudan, only half of the teachers have completed secondary school. School infrastructure is poor and many students study in inadequate spaces. A former rector of St Aloysius College for ten years, a former Jesuit provincial and currently a chaplain at the University of Malta, as well as running Dar Manwel Magri - a Jesuit residence that in recent years has been transformed into a drop-in centre for university students and other young people -, Fr Patrick is truly grateful to all those who have supported the cause. "We have so far raised € 13,000. But the race continues." Videos of the event are online on Facebook "ChaplaincyUni" To join the fundraising effort

Youth & Media

“The first days of May saw the conclusion of the Living Stones  international meeting in which almost 200 young people were involved from all over the world during a weekend full of testimonies, visits and meetings.  Naples, the venue of the event, welcomed the different communities from many European and non-European counties a the Gesu Nuovo, who delved into the theme of hospitality, chosen ad hoc for the year 2023, under many aspects.  The days were marked by a large number of workshops of all kinds, from philosophy to art, from juvenile detention to folk and classical dance as a form of acceptance of one’s own body.  The event ended with a great feast in which one could experience joy and brotherhood, but not before getting to know artistically the churches where the Neapolitan Pietre Vive carry out their service, visiting the oldest preserved baptistery still standing in the West, and walking on the beach of the archaeological park of Cumae to discover the pagan roots, being certain that, in the shadow of Vesuvius, between a sfogliatella and a painting by Caravaggio, some brothers and sisters have certainly found each other (Mk 3:31-34).  Jesuits EUM 
Every year in Liège, the Choose Life Festival offers secondary school students four days of celebration, joy, sharing and prayer to discover God in a different way and to experience a young and joyful Church. Let's look back at the 2023 edition, whose theme was "Focus on the essential", with Xavier Léonard, one of the organisers.  We chose to reinvent ourselves by taking a long weekend and the only compatible one was May 1st. We also changed the venue to avoid unfavourable comparisons. The college of Liège opened its doors to us, as well as the Jesuit community of Liège, on which we were able to rely by taking advantage of the Loyola space. What a joy it was to be able to get together like this and bring the festival to life, even if it was too short, as we were two full days short!   A young and joyful Church   Every year, the slogan changes and points to the theme we want to explore during the festival. Choice and discernment accompanied us this year. This was reflected in all the doors in our decor, all the possibilities before which we do not always know how to choose. How can we get out of this uncertainty in order to be able to choose life? (Dt 30 - "Choose life").  The festival is also a young and joyful Church, animated by songs and concerts. On the first night, we had Shining, who gave us a Christian rap concert. On the second night, we had Luc Mathues (from the pastoral ministry of Liège and the MEJ), who formed a singing group for the occasion in the MEJ style. But the festival band, our in-house choir, was not to be outdone, making us sing at various moments and especially enlivening the final Eucharist with the theme songs of the last few years, ending with a beautiful choral fireworks display.    Xavier Léonard SJ 
From April 13-15, 2023, Asian Jesuits and Salesians of Don Bosco in the Philippines organized an International Conference on Youth Ministry in Manila. The Loyola School of Theology and Don Bosco School of Theology hosted the event. The participants sought to answer the question, “What do young people need in order to live Church?” The speakers were experts in theology, sociology, and psychology. Speaking to the participants, mons. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, the President of the Commission for Young People of the Bishop’s Conference in the Philippines, pointed out that the call to synodality is a call for ecclesial conversion. He said it was not only a conversion of individuals but also of communities and, in fact, of the whole Church. Mons. Alarcon reminded us that Pope Francis calls us to humility, the heart of synodality. Fr. Roger Anecito L. Abais SJ, Dean for International Affairs of the Loyola School of Theology, invited the participants to share personal experiences because when we serve young people and various cultures, we can enrich each other and have more fruitful ministries. The Dean of the Institute for Pastoral Formation, Salesian Martin M. Macaseat, said that teachers and those who work with young people should not be lecturers so much as companions of young people and support them on their way to the fullness of life. One of the ten workshops titled Jesuit Youth Ministry in Croatia was prepared by Marija Selak, Mateja Potroško, and Marina Grubišić from SKAC (Student Catholic Centre) Palma in Zagreb and by the Scholastic Mate Žaja SJ, currently doing his undergraduate studies in Manila. Around 70 participants watched and listened eagerly to discover the summer program in Modrave that SKAC organized, tasted olive oil from the Modrave garden, and experienced how Jesuits work with young people in Croatia. Finally, it was announced that more similar conferences would follow in order to connect and care for young people in the whole world. Luka Ilić SJ
On 12 and 13 April, young people and adults belonging to the Ecoteam within the Jesuit schools of French-speaking Belgium worked on the ecological transition process of their schools, at the Collège-Saint-Paul in Godinne. "How many people do you think are enough to change a society?", Adelaïde CHARLIER asked the students in her introductory speech to the Ecoteam days. " 3,5 %. It is enough for a school of 500 students to be a very active minority of 12 students to make things change. The young Belgian activist, who heads the Youth for Climate Belgium movement, launched the Ecoteam days with an invitation not to wait to convince everyone to take action, "the best remedy for despair". 150 young people from 12 to 17 years old and about thirty mentors from nine Belgian Jesuit schools gathered in Godinne to meet, learn and get inspired. Based on the pedagogy of Catholic Action "See, Judge, Act", these two days were introduced by a climate fresk. The next morning, a striking conference on climate justice was given by Nicolas van NUFFEL, president of the Belgian climate coalition: this allowed the students to grasp the magnitude of the challenge that awaits them, to be carried into their schools and beyond. After that, the students were able to draw inspiration from the "secret boots" of other schools: organising an Ecoteam week, a cycling challenge, doing the carbon footprint of their school, obtaining the sustainable school label... then moving on to practical workshops: from sponges made from old socks to calculating one's carbon footprint, via the loudspeaker and the irrigation of low-tech seedlings. And since the aim was to make these days a starting point, they ended with a time of review and brainstorming on the next steps to be taken in each school, with the organising powers (Authority responsible for the educational activities carried out in one or more schools for which it is responsible.) coming specially to listen to the pupils. "Enthusiasm", "inspiration", "awareness" came up a lot in the sharing of emotions, but also the joy of meeting, sharing and even dancing together during a folk ball. The final word? A speech by F. Xavier de BÉNAZÉ sj (delegate of the EOF Provincial for Ecological Transition) on hope, a puzzle of their commitments showing Pope Francis' "Laudato si'" and the planting of three fruit trees symbolising the students, OPs and alumni working side by side to make their school grow towards a true ecological conversion. In short, this first edition of the Ecoteam days was a great success and marks the beginning of a beautiful tradition. Emmanuelle HUET(in charge of the ecological transition of the EOF Jesuits schools)

In-depth Reflection

Annual Meeting of Jesuit Cultural Review Editors in Europe Almost like each year, the editors met for their annual meeting. This time in Krakow, Poland, from May 18 till 21. What is the mission of our cultural reviews? What is the present experience in difficult times like ours? How do we see future perspectives, our ability to promote the dialogue on contemporary culture enriched by our Ignatian spirituality? These were the main topics of our conversations and sharing.  There were six of us representing our works. Pawel Kosinski SJ (internet portal – Poland), Antonio Spadaro SJ (La Civiltà Cattolica – Italy), François Euvé SJ (Études – France), Stefan Kiechle SJ (Stimmen der Zeit – Germany), Ulf Jonsson SJ (Signum – Sweden), Árpád Horváth SJ (A Szív – Hungary).  The circulation of these magazines reaches monthly almost 30.000 copies (paper and electronic version), and this list of them edited in Europe by the Society of Jesus is far from being complete. The polish portal, for instance, is entirely online, which means that it has no printed version. However, the number of readers who visit reaches more than 1.500.000 unique users monthly.  There are no Jesuit cultural magazines in Europe, which would be edited only in printed paper version. Every Jesuit cultural magazine is trying to be present also online. As it was stated by the editors, a cultural review today is not only the text, what is printed or edited in cyber space respectively, but also the Jesuit brand the review is representing.  As usual with this kind of meeting we try to invite guests and to have some ‘side topics’, which would enrich our conversation and help us to understand better the times we live and operate within.  Being in Kraków, Poland, we invited Adam Żak SJ (former PME Provincial, Assistant to Fr. General) who leads now the Centre for Child Protection, a unique institution for study and formation, recognized and endorsed by the Polish Bishops. He spoke about the situation of Child Protection in the Polish Church as well as about the accusations made in recent months to St. John Paul II in regard to what he knew and how he reacted to the sexual abuses by clergy in the catholic church.  The Second theme for the reflection was the war in Ukraine. We’ve had online conversation with Andriy Zelinskyy SJ and his insides about this matter, Artur Demkowicz SJ (PME Treasurer) with information about help to Ukraine organized and coordinated by the PME, and an online meeting with Wojciech Ziółek SJ (former PME Provincial, working now in Tomsk, Russia) about his impression on the global situation and its influence on their pastoral work in the Russian context.  Next Year’s meeting is planned in Sweden.  Paweł Kosiński SJ (PME) 
The School of Advanced Formation in Art and Theology (Safat) of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of Southern Italy (Pftim) in Naples is now online. In fact, at the beginning of the new academic year, it will be possible to attend online lectures to obtain the Diploma in Art and Theology. The formation will take place over a span of nine months, from October to June, with two online monthly meetings – Thursday and Friday afternoons, Saturday all day - and four weekends in person.  “The lectures can be followed by those who, due to distance or work-related reasons, could not enroll, given the compulsory on-site attendance required previously by the School” the directors Jean Paul Hernandez SJ and Giuliana Albano explain. There will be only four in person appointments, the weekends during which there will be no lectures but workshops, designed to delve into specific aspects – such as those related to colour theory – meetings with the leading figures of the art world – artists, museum directors, critics – and to grabble to read some of the works in the places where they are preserved”.  The formation course leads to a unique title in Italy, that of Expert in Art and Theology, awarded by the Congregation for Catholic Education. Those who will connect to the virtual classroom to follow the orientation day remotely will also have the opportunity to interact with the lecturers.  “In addition to being unique on the Italian and international academic scene,” explain the co-directors, “the School is a reality that makes dialogue between teachers and students a strong point for the improvement of its educational action. Among the new courses initiated are photography, film and audio-visual analysis, virtual architecture, digital image processing, and sound space design. 
A fragment of a robe of St Ignatius, the relics of St Pius X, Lorenzo Rocci’s diary, Ciampi’s report card, not only, but over 900 linear metres of documentation and 10,000 Jesuits’ personal files are now more easily accessible thanks to the online portal of the Historical Archives of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus, which preserves, protects and enhances the archival heritage of the Province.  The portal, completed according to the digital guidelines adopted by the EUM Province for a more user-friendly service, offers in particular in Italian and English a “showcase” of significant documents and stories:relics, memoires of renowned ex-alumni, particular testimonies of historical events and past eras, and a guide for a quick search for Jesuits and works, and frequently asked questions. Since 2018 Dr Maria Macchi has been the editor of a bimonthly column that recounts stories, subjects and testimonies to a wider audience through the Province’s social media.  After years of closure, the Archive reopened in 2017 and was refurbished in 2019. In recent years, the heritage has been enhanced with various projects and collaborations such as the documentary on Majorana and Rocci’s diary, the latter an initiative carried out in synergy with the University of Tor Vergata.  The Archives holdings consist mainly of the fonds of the former Provinces later united as the Province of Italy in 1978, with documentation on Albania and other missions abroad. The sources preserved are those that follow the restoration of the Society in 1814; only those produced up to October 1958, the end of the pontificate of Pius XII, can be accessed.  Jesuits EUM 
Starting from the academic year 2023-2024, will offer the new Diploma in the History and Art of Jubilees as a contribution to the preparation of the upcoming Jubilee 2025.  Instituted at the Faculty of History and Cultural Heritage of the Church, the Diploma in History and Art of Jubilees has the patronage of the Dicastery for Evangelization (Section for Fundamental Questions regarding Evangelization in the World) and the Fabric of St. Peter in the Vatican. The Diploma is also recognized as an accreditation title for the purposes of qualification for the service of guide in St. Peter’s Papal Basilica, in accordance with the procedures laid down by Fabric of St. Peter.  According to the words of Fr. Mark Lewis S.J., Rector of the Gregorian University, “The resources of the Faculty of History and Cultural Heritage of the Church provide us with unique tools to contribute to this important moment in the life of the Church. The Church of Rome is a custodian of a unique historical and artistic treasure, destined to draw people to ever deeper reflection on their faith through the experience of beauty.” 

Preparing for Mission

The 71st Congregation of Procurators has ended and the delegates have returned to their home Provinces. They came to Loyola, Spain - to the birthplace of the founder of the Society of Jesus - ostensibly to discern a single question: “Should Fr. General Arturo Sosa ask the Holy Father for permission to convene the 37th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus?” In the final session of the Congregation, after an 8-day guided retreat, hundreds of hours of sharing and reflection, and a full week of discussion and discernment, the Procurators voted “Non Cogenda”- an official recommendation to Fr. General that no General Congregation was required at this time. Other issues This isn’t to say that there are no vitally-important issues facing the Church and Society of Jesus. In fact, those issues formed the bulk of the agenda for the Congregation of Procurators. From concerns about vocations, to the safeguarding of minors, the vows, governance, the worldwide ministry of Jesuits and beyond - the retreat, reflections and Congregation gave the Procurators the forum to discuss an impressive slate of important issues with their brother Jesuits, as well as to learn both about what the Society is doing well, and what it COULD be doing better. The Procurators are now tasked with taking what they’ve learned from back to their Provinces to prayerfully spark discussion in local communities. In effect, they have been missioned to bring the lessons of CP71 to their brothers, to reignite fires that may have cooled. If you would like to have a better idea of what happened at CP71, the Curia Communications team has created a 4-minute video to give you a behind-the-scenes look of a Congregation of Procurators. Here is a short statement of one of the European “procurators”, Thierry Anne from the French speaking Western European Province, about his experience at this Congregation.
In collaboration with the Emmaus Mission Study Centre, the EUM Province is underway to embark on a transformative journey with the objective of restructuring the Province in response to emerging needs. The process of reorganising the Province continues in collaboration with the Emmaus Mission Study Centre. 36 Jesuits and 12 lay people are involved. After interviewing some members, the work continued in presence in 6 discernment groups, all of which worked on the  theme of “forms and figures of government”, and on one of the following themes: strategic planning, people and  community, communication.   “I report two simple dynamics that we experienced, Jesuits and lay people" Fr Paul Pace SJ said. "The first dynamic was the viewing of the video about NASA’s first space mission in which the man was able to see the earth as seen from the moon for the first time. The provocation of the video was precisely in this “reversal of gaze” from the moon, which was the starting goal of the space mission, to the new vision of the earth that was the real novelty that the mission left in human history. So, we are invited too not only to focus on a goal but also to discover “collaterally” how the journey (the EUM province journey) changes our perception of identity, as individuals and as an extended Ignatian family.   The second dynamic was a geometric exercise: in a sheet of dots that looked like a starry sky, we were told that there were isosceles triangles of the same size for each quadrant of the sheet. It seemed impossible to connect the dots in such a way as to find such recurring and equal figures, yet slowly, in blind faith that these triangles actually were there, we managed to find and draw them, at least some of them. It seems to me that this provocation explains well the role of “unconditional trust” in seeking and finding in a galaxy, again our apostolic body, recurring regularities, ways of being together in a coordinated and institutional way. The atmosphere in which we worked was serene, knowing that ours was a small contribution in a much larger journey, the EMMAUS Project, and that it was still difficult to understand, in its modalities and vague in the results, what we can expect in the future”. The discernment will continue for each circle in May with an online meeting. The results and the reorganisation proposals will then be delivered to the Provincial by June.  Jesuits EUM 
The Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr Arturo Sosa Abascal SJ, has appointed Fr Peter Gallagher SJ (66) to be the next Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Britain with effect from 1st September 2023.  Fr Gallagher, who is from Coatbridge in Scotland, entered the Society in 1973. After a period of training which included studies at Heythrop College in the University of London and at Centre Sèvres, the Jesuit faculties in Paris, he was ordained priest in 1988. He taught for three years at St Aloysius College in Glasgow before commencing doctoral studies in philosophy at King’s College, University of London. His principal apostolic work has been teaching philosophy at tertiary level, first at Heythrop College and for the last four years at Centre Sèvres in Paris. In both institutions he served as Dean of Philosophy.  Fr Gallagher has also had extensive experience as a formator of young Jesuits, as a superior, as a spiritual director and as an assisting priest in a number of parishes.    The current Provincial, Fr Damian Howard SJ, who has been in post since 2017, commented: “This is a wonderful appointment for our Province and for Catholic religious in Britain. Fr Gallagher is a wise and experienced man with a deep understanding of our vocation and a tireless fidelity to Jesuit life. I pray that he will enjoy his term in this demanding but fulfilling leadership role.”  Fr Gallagher said: “For more than four hundred years British Jesuits have been working for the Church at home and overseas. It is an honour to be asked, at such a moment in our Province’s history, to try to support the members and co-workers in the way expected. I look forward to the task.” 
First vows, last vows, diaconal ordinations and priestly ordinations.