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.