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Vidyajyoti Center for Christian-Muslim Relations (VJ-CCMR) and the Islamic Studies Association (ISA) organized an interfaith iftarMuhabbat ka Paigham  at the Vidyajyoti Jesuit Residence, Delhi, on 16th June, 2017.  Some 50 Muslim friends and a little sister, Fatima, the granddaughter of the local imam, accepted our invitation and graced the occasion.  The local organizer welcomed the visiting Muslim brothers and sisters and introduced them to the Jesuit community. He had a double task at hand! To his fellow Jesuits, the Christian hosts, he explained the place of Ramadan in the life of Muslims and the significance of iftar to help them get into the spirit of the occasion.  Secondly, he reminded them that Nostra Aetate invites them to hold Muslims in high esteem since they share in the faith of Abraham, like Jews and Christians.

 

Thereafter, Mr Masroor, assistant in the Vidyajyoti Library, read out the Message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to Muslims for the month of Ramadan and ‘Id al-Fitr H. 1438 H / 2017 CE. In the message, Pope Francis drew the attention of both Muslims and Christians to recognize “the harm our lifestyles and decisions are causing to the environment, to ourselves and to our fellow human beings”. He reminded all that the world is a “common home”, a dwelling-place for all the members of the human family and so everyone should take serious efforts to save the planet. Thus, Pope Francis appealed “for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet…since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affects us all”. Further, he emphasized that “Our vocation to be guardians of God’s handiwork is not optional, nor it is tangential to our religious commitment as Christians and Muslims: it is an essential part of it”.

 

After listening to the Papal message everyone slipped into some moments of personal prayer. On behalf of the gathering, both Muslims and Christians, Imam Dilawar Sahib addressed the Almighty with many petitions: ranging from world peace to Christian-Muslim relations, and at the appointed time, he told the people to break their day-long fast. It was time for iftar. Then, he issued the call to prayer.  All the Muslims in the gathering including the little Fatima fell in line in the hall and offered namaz. This was an important movement for the members of the Jesuit community, since it was for the first time ever that Muslims had iftar and offered namaz in the Jesuit Residence.

 

A Jesuit student who felt inspired by the event said that he drew two lessons from the evening: “One, personal meeting with Muslims disarmed me of the rustic sword of polemics. We need to make friends with followers of other religions. Secondly, I recognized that by giving and receiving hospitality one moves from hostility and animosity to generosity and love”.

 

 Victor Edwin SJ, the director of VJ-CCMR and the secretary of ISA, noted that these two bodies are committed to promote national integration of all Indian cultural, social and religious groups and to support Government efforts for this purpose.  They strive to work towards harmonious relations among Muslim, Christian, Hindu and other religious and social communities. They also promote study, research and teaching regarding the history, religion, culture, socio-economic conditions and other aspects of Muslims.

 

~Victor Edwin SJ


 

20 Jun 2017 - 07:14

The first ever beatification in Ireland, that of Fr John Sullivan SJ, took place at 11 am on 13 May, 2017 in Gardiner Street Church, and it was a truly joyful and moving occasion. The principal celebrant and homilist was Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and he was assisted by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, was also present on the sanctuary.

The ceremony, attended by almost two thousand people in the church, church garden marquees, and Belvedere College, consisted of a mass during which a formal request for beatification was publicly made. In an unprecedented ecumenical gesture, this request was made by the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Archbishops together, reflecting the fact that Fr John was an Anglican for the first half of his life and Roman Catholic for the second. In fact, the entire event is unprecedented, as there has never been a beatification ceremony in Ireland before.

In his homily, Cardinal Amato quoted often from the submissions of ordinary people to the cause of  Fr John. “Witnesses in the diocesan processes often repeated that Fr Sullivan was ‘a poor man among the poor’, ‘the personification of the spirit of poverty’. Even though he came from a rich family, once he became a religious he was oblivious to comforts and contented himself with that which was purely necessary. Faithful to the vow of poverty, he gave immediately to others every gift he received.” He described Fr John’s room at Clongowes: ” …he had as his furniture a hard-word chair, a broken pitcher, a kneeler, some books, a holy water font, his crucifix from which he was inseparable, a little table, and a bed, even with few covers when the weather was colder.”

Cardinal Amato also referred to an incident when Fr John, on one of his customary visits to the sick, encountered a priest already in the cottage visiting. “The pastor asked him to leave, fearing a dangerous opponent in the ministry. Upon his brusque command, Fr Sullivan knelt down and asked forgiveness. The pastor was profoundly moved.” He referenced also his upbringing in the Anglican tradition. “Rooted in a deep spirituality already as a young Anglican, he sought and journeyed in his faith and in his life. He had a deep appreciation of the scripture which was nurtured from a early age at his school in Portora, and inspired within the rich faith life and prayerful tradition of his Anglican formation.”

Archbishop Michael Jackson said John Sullivan “had a special place in the hearts of all of us who are members of the Church of Ireland and of all of us who have an association with Portora Royal School and Clongowes Wood College.” He said the day was one of celebration and joy. “We mark with the Jesuit Order in Ireland and world wide, along with the Christian Church everywhere, the beatification in the Roman Catholic tradition of John Sullivan SJ. We do so mindful of the unending need for reconciliation in Ireland and expectant of the abundant grace of God.”

Fr John Dardis SJ, General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning and former Provincial of the Jesuits in Ireland, spoke on behalf of Fr Arturo Sosa, leader of the Jesuits worldwide. He referenced Fr John’s Anglican background and paid tribute to the Church of Ireland today.

“The Church of Ireland was the place where John Sullivan’s Christian faith was initially nurtured at home and in Portora Royal School. I pay a special tribute to that community of believers today. I mention The Book of Common Prayer through whose collects John would have learned to approach the Father of Mercies in reverence, humility and trust. Whatever theological differences we may have, our  common belief in Christ is fundamental.  We believe together that Christ is the answer that humanity longs for, the incarnate expression of the love and compassion of God. I pray that this beatification will lead to ever closer collaboration and cooperation between our two Churches. I pray that together we can work to show that Christ is risen, that Christ is alive, that God’s mercy is for all, that God’s Word of forgiveness and love is spoken today, here, now, to us and to our friends and families just as it has been down through the centuries.  I pray that, through this ceremony today, all of us can know ever more deeply this love, forgiveness and mercy. This is what John Sullivan himself would want.”

He said that Fr John was a man who was held in great affection by Irish Jesuits. “He was a teacher in Clongowes, where he was known for his compassionate attitude towards the students and also towards the local people especially those who were ill or those who were poor. The 1930s in Ireland was a time of great suffering and hardship – a time of great poverty.  In this time of difficulty and poverty he stood out as a man preaching the compassion and mercy of God – themes close to the heart of Pope Francis.  A central part of our role and mission as Christians is to be witnesses of mercy at a time when, our world, all too often, lacks a sense of forgiveness.”

Beatification, which confers the title ‘Blessed’, means that a man or woman is considered to be truly holy and worthy of veneration at a local level. The next stage after beatification is canonisation, sainthood, which is a recognition of this holiness by the universal Church. For this process a further miracle is required, one which is confirmed to have taken place after the beatification. (See interview with Fr Toni Witwer SJ, Postulator for Jesuit causes.)

Blessed John Sullivan’s reputation for holiness stemmed in great part from his untiring attention to the sick and the poor. Most of his priestly life was spent in Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare, and it was mainly in the towns and villages around this school that he spent so much time walking and cycling to visit those in need. After his death on 19 February 1933, devotion to him continued to spread. It remains lively in many places around Ireland, so a large crowd is expected to attend the event, including the sick and the elderly.

Other dignitaries in attendance included: Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland; Fr Toni Witwer SJ, General Postulator for Jesuit causes; John Dardis, General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning, who will be representing Fr Arturo Sosa, Jesuit Father General; Fr Leonard Moloney, Irish Jesuit Provincial; Victor Assouad SJ, Regional Assistant for Western Europe; and Brendan Carr, Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Also in attendance were members of Fr John’s family, most of whom travelled from England. Peter Lloyd and his wife, Sarah, and their two sons Hector and Joyelln spoke to RTE TV’s Six O’Clock News. Like Fr John, Hector, though from London, attended Trintiy College Dublin. He bears a striking resemblance to his forbear, a fact commented on by many present. Representatives from Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, which Fr John attended in the 1870s, and Trinity College Dublin, where he studied Classics and Law, were also present.

Music during the liturgy was provided by students from Clongowes Wood College. Also, soprano Rachel Croach sang the Ave Maria and Panis Angelicus. There we trumpeters and timpanists and they gave all present a heart-lifting moment during the Mass when a lartge portrait of Fr John was unveiled, just after he was declared ‘Blessed’. A new relic of his hair, which was kept by the Jesuit, Charlie Barrett, who acted as barber and cut his hair, was brought to the altar also at that point, along with the traditional relic card that holds a tiny piece of his very shiny, worn and frayed cassock.

After the ceremony there was time for quiet reflection, during which the hundreds of people present queued to receive a blessing from the Fr John Sullivan cross and the new relic and to venerate his tomb, the gates of which were opened specially for the occasion.
Copies of A MAN SENT BY GOD: Blessed John Sullivan SJ  were on sale on  the day. The book was published by Messenger Press to mark the beatification of Fr John SJ. It’s a new illustrated biography by former Messenger Editor, John Looby SJ. The book is available to purchase for €9.95 here.

Watch the Video: https://youtu.be/JHtFbsaOUq4

Source: Jesuits in Ireland


 

2 Jun 2017 - 07:44

May 6: What St. Xavier's College has been doing for several years; other colleges will be asked to do in future. The state government will adopt the Xavier's model for student union elections to keep campuses free of mainstream political parties, West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee said on May 6. West Bengal Government is set to cleanse campuses of party politics.

"We don't want the involvement of political leaders in student body elections. Student bodies should function as apolitical units. We will adopt the St. Xavier's model for conducting student polls," Chatterjee said.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, had in an interview to ABP Ananda in March, recommended the St. Xavier's model as "good". She had said she would request the education minister to see if the same model could be adopted in state-aided colleges.

 

“Amar mone hoy proti bochhor election-er naam-ey shaktir opochoy korar kono maney hoy na. Aami shiksha mantrike bolbo St. Xavier's College -ey je bhabe election kora hoi seta kora jay ki na. (I think having elections every year is a waste of energy. I will ask the education minister to consider if the St. Xavier's model can be adopted.)," Mamata had said. Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi had also lauded the Xavier's model.

At St Xavier's, student organizations with political affiliations have no role to play in student council elections. Students decide how they want to contest the polls, independent of leaders outside. Polls are conducted to elect class representatives (CRs). The CRs, along with the secretaries of Bengali Literary Society, Hindi Literary Society and Theatrical Society among many others, elect the general secretary, assistant general secretary and a working committee. The principal is the president of the students' council.

Father Felix Raj, the principal of St. Xavier's College and the vice-chancellor of St. Xavier's University, had told Metro: "We have a students' council instead of a students' union. Students have an important role to play and what we want is an integral and holistic formation of students."

The state higher education department has been entrusted with the responsibility of framing the new election rules. A report on the proposed rules will be submitted to the chief minister for her approval soon, Chatterjee said on the sidelines of a programme at Dinabandhu Andrews College in Garia. The new rules will be implemented from this year itself.

Student body polls are scheduled to be held between October and December. "A team of higher education department officials will examine the St. Xavier's model as well as other institutions where student bodies are apolitical," said a senior official of the education department.

~Mita Mukherjee


 

9 May 2017 - 08:09

Fr. General Arturo Sosa SJ at the common "Provinzsymposion" of the five European Provinces GER/ASR/HEL/LIT/HUN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read the story, click at the link below:

https://jesuits.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=346:five...


 

2 May 2017 - 06:49

Loyola, Chennai & St. Xavier's, Kolkata among top 10 Colleges in India

 

Prof. Partho Mukherji,  St. Xavier's College, Kolkata

 

 

 

Loyola College, Chennai and St. Xavier's College, Kolkata are the two Jesuit Colleges which feature among the first 10 Colleges in the country ranked by the National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF), MHRD, Government of India.

 

[ Loyola College, Chennai]
 

The 'India Ranking 2017' was announced by the MHRD Minister Mr. Prakash Javedkar on April 3 at a Press Conference. A public function has been arranged by the Central Government on April 10 to felicitate the top rank holders.

 

The ranking conducted by NIRF is based on 5 parameters:

1. Teaching Learning Resources(100)

2. Research and Professional Practice(100)

3. Graduation Outcomes(100)

4. Outreach Inclusivity(100)

5. Perception(100)

 

Loyola College, ranked number 2 scored 68.68 and St. Xavier's Kolkata, with a score of 59.12 is at number 6 in the country. 

 

Six Jesuit Colleges figure among the top 50 Colleges in India. They include: Andhra Loyola College, Vijayawada (rank: 24), St. Joseph's, Bangalore (rank: 29), St. Xavier's Mumbai (rank: 40) and St. Aloysius Mangalore (rank: 44).

 

In January 2017, St. Xavier's College Kolkata was accredited with A++ Grade with a CGPA of 3.77 on a 4 point scale- this score is the highest in the country by any College undertaking the 3rd Cycle of Accreditation conducted by the National Accreditation Body(NAAC), UGC.

 


 

[ St Xavier's College, Kolkata]

 

Rev. Fr. Felix Raj, Principal of St.Xavier's College, Kolkata observes -

"We are pleased to be ranked 6th in the country by the National Ranking Framework of MHRD. Every assessment is an Audit that identifies for us the strengths and weaknesses and lays the foundation for opportunities to prosper further with our purpose of imparting higher education to greater sections of society. We are therefore thankful to the Ranking council of MHRD. We pledge to strive tirelessly towards our motto of NIHIL ULTRA-NOTHING BEYOND".


 

25 Apr 2017 - 07:25

Fr. General’s visit to Ambikapur, the land of Jatangi flowers, on February 25-26, 2017 will be engraved in gold in the history of Madhya Pradesh Province. Fr. Arturo Sosa, the 31st Superior General of the Society of Jesus, made a historic journey by 10-seater chartered plane PC-12 NG from Jabalpur, popularly known as Sanskardhani, a city of culture to Ambikapur, 441 kms east of Jabalpur in Chattisgarh State. Ambikapur is the heart of Surguja District predominantly inhabited by tribals.

 

 

Landing at Darima airport, 17 kms west of Ambikapur, in low light was a major concern for the pilots because there is no night landing facility. Though the take-off from Jabalpur was already late, the pilots planned the trip so skilfully that there was a perfect match between the touchdown at Darima airport and the sunset. Fr. General and the team kept their fingers crossed and released a deep breath of ease at the successful touchdown and applauded the pilots for the safe landing.

Fr. General was accompanied by three General Counsellors - Fr. Vernon D’Cunha (Bombay), Assistant ad Providentiam and Regional Assistant for South Asia, Fr. Lisbert D’Souza (Bombay), General Counsellor and Regional Assistant for South Asia, Fr. Tomasz Kot (Greater Poland), General Counsellor and Regional Assistant for Central and Eastern Europe.

On de-boarding the plane, Fr. General and the General Counsellors were received by a big group of Jesuits, Religious Sisters, lay collaborators and government officials including Dr. Ajay Tirkey, the Mayor of Ambikapur. The 35-minute drive from the airport to Ambikapur through fields and small hamlets was fascinating. Along the road there were many hoardings in welcome of Fr. General by different organizations both government and non-government.

 

The sight in the campus of St. Xavier’s School cannot be captured in words. The school children were standing on both sides of the road from the main gate to the school building, almost quarter-of-a-kilometre, waving colourful flags in welcome of Fr. General. The students of B. Ed College performed beautiful tribal dance at drum beat. The drum beat was so captivating that Fr. General could not remain non-responsive; he joined the jubilant group with a slow and graceful swing matching with the drumbeat.

 

Keeping the traditions of tribals, the feet of Fr. General and General Counsillors were ceremonially washed at the entrance of the Jesuit Residence. This marks the highest honour given to the guests in tribal culture. The evening was coulored with colourful tribal exhibits. The students of St. Xavier’s’ School, Teacher Trainees and the Koraku Tribal children of Dhanwar performed seasonal Oraon, Chhattisgarhi and Sondo dances. Fr. General, in his brief address, drew some similarity between our tribal culture and the culture of his country, Venezuela.

St. Xavier’s campus houses St. Xavier’s Elementary, Middle and Higher Secondary Schools, Minor Seminary, B. Ed. College, and Loyola Hostel for college students. It is one of the oldest educational hubs in the town.

February 26 started with the blessing of the newly built Minor Seminary (Apostolic School) by Fr. General, Fr. Vernon D’Souza and Fr. Tomasz Kot followed by the deliberation of Fr. General and an interaction with the Jesuits working in Chhattisgarh in the new building. At the outset, Fr. Satya laid in a nutshell Fr. General’s works and achievements. Fr. Kalyanus Minj presented tribal jackets as tribal souvenirs to Fr. General and his Counsellors. The deliberation and interactions were very lively and enriching. Fr. General highlighted the important fruits of GC 36 in four words: life-mission, discernment, collaboration and networking.

 

Immediately after the interaction with the Jesuits Fr. General celebrated Holy Eucharist in the cathedral of Ambikapur diocese which was concelebrated by Rt. Rev. Patras Minj, SJ, the bishop of Ambikapur Diocese, His Grace Rt. Rev. Pascal Topno, SJ, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Bhopal and nearly 150 priests. “Rowing into the Deep” was the theme of the Holy Mass. Three groups of women with kharsa (pots decorated with ears of rice) on their heads led in procession the clergy from the entrance of the church to the altar. The Mass was celebrated in English but the singing was in Hindi. Homily was bilingual – Fr. General preached in English and Fr. Kalyanus Minj translated it into Hindi. At the end of the Mass many faithful flocked to have a handshake with Fr. General and many were seen with tears of joy after meeting him.

The afternoon was devoted to the collaborators. Fr. General told the collaborators that all Christians are collaborators in doing the mission of Christ. Underscoring the importance of the role of lay collaborators he said, “Future of the Catholic Church depends on laity. Therefore, the work of the Church continues through laity. This is why the GC 34 stated that we should continue the mission through collaborators.”

~Fr Jerome Minj, SJ & Fr Ranjit Tigga, SJ


 

25 Mar 2017 - 07:12

Voices of Faith 2017 Stirring the Waters – Making the Impossible Possible

I would like to thank Voices of Faith and the Jesuit Refugee Service for inviting me to celebrate International Women’s Day with you and all of those gathered here today. I take this opportunity to show my gratitude to the women who will be speaking today, women making a difference in their families and communities, especially in the most remote corners of the world.

 

These are difficult times in our world, and we need to stand and work together as women and men of faith. As you know, the global theme for this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day is Be Bold for Change. Here in Vatican City, physically at the center of the church, Voices of Faith and JRS seek to be Making the Impossible Possible. Especially here in Rome, that is a bold change! I would like to reflect on what making the impossible possible means to me as the leader of the Society of Jesus, as a citizen of the world, and as a member of the Catholic Church. We need to have the faith that gives the audacity to seek the impossible, as nothing is impossible for God.

 

The faith of Mary that opened her heart as a woman to the possibility of something new: to become the Mother of God’s son. JRS: Resilience As you may be aware, I come from Latin America, a continent with millions of displaced people. With almost 7 million, Colombia has the largest number of internally displaced people in the world, and a disproportionate number of them are women and children. I served at the border between Colombia and my native Venezuela for 10 years. I have seen first-hand the suffering of those forced to abandon everything to save their lives. In Colombia, for example, women and girls are among the most vulnerable due to widespread violence caused by decades of conflict. They are exposed to armed recruitment and are likely to fall victim to one form of exploitation or another, ranging from modern day slavery, to survival sex and human trafficking. Many of them flee to neighboring countries in search of safety, and often find themselves on their own in efforts to sustain their families.

 

I have also witnessed women’s resilience. Despite this traumatic reality, women often find their way to not just surviving, but also overcoming all the difficulties of exile and forced migration. Resilience is what enables us to move forward and think of the future. Resilience is essential for making the impossible possible. Let me offer an example. At the Venezuelan-Colombian border, the Jesuit Refugee Service has been present for more than ten years. During this time, JRS has brought refugee women from Colombia together by using their artistic expression as a starting point for rediscovering resilience. While expressing themselves creatively through art, women also share their experiences and create a network of support to improve their psychosocial well-being. This healing environment is a place for listening and coming together—in other words, resilience. Resilience empowers women and ultimately results in hope and the possibility of reconciliation with the past, with those who have harmed them, and with those where they now live. Reconciliation requires courage, and too often, even in 2017, women’s courage, women’s resilience, is unrecognized and undervalued. By building human connections resilience reknits the communal fabric. Some may say such resilience is impossible to discover: JRS and Voices of Faith say otherwise.

 

The World: Collaboration As a member of the human community, each of us is likely appalled at the situation of our world. Human displacement has hit an all-time high, representing incredible human suffering around the world. Ongoing conflicts are at the root of most of this forced exile. There are more than 65 million forcibly displaced among us: one in every 113 people globally is now an asylum-seeker, an internally displaced person, or a refugee. We have to think about the ways that we, as the human community can respond. I cannot put enough emphasis on this need for collaboration between women and men. I believe that only together we can achieve what today seems impossible: a humanity reconciled in justice, living in peace in a common house well kept, where there is room for everyone because we recognize that we are sisters and brothers, son and daughters of the same God who is Mother and Father of us all. We need to collaborate, support and learn from one another.

 

It already seems impossible to imagine peace in places like Central African Republic, or South Sudan, or Colombia. Can we have the audacity to dream that women and men working together will bring peace to these countries? I think these impossibilities can come closer to reality if women play a greater role in the conversation. I am not surprised that Angela Merkel has been the most courageous and visionary leader in Europe during this time of phenomenal forced migration. She had the compassion to look at those who were in need, and the vison to see that they would make a contribution to Germany and Europe.

 

Another extraordinary leader is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia. Through her single-minded dedication and vision, she has brought peace and reconciliation to her war-torn country in a way that most men thought would be impossible. At the same time, the widespread reality is that women are not paid for the work they do, or are paid less than men for the same work. In the West, women earn on average 70 cents for each dollar or Euro a man earns. The gap grows larger in developing areas of the world Many of us are looking at the world through the prism of xenophobia and narrowmindedness these days, a prism which seems to feed on discord and marginalization.

 

In the Jesuit magazine America, political commentator Cokie Roberts, the daughter of two former members of the US Congress, puts the reality succinctly: “…Congress needs more women. Then maybe, just maybe, Washington would work again.” We can listen carefully to the experience of women in the public sphere, hear how they work together, and be inspired by their courage. These are stories of doing the impossible. The Catholic Church: inclusion The role of women in the church can be, and has been, described in many ways: keepers of the faith, the backbone of the Church, the image of Mary alive among us. We Jesuits are deeply aware of the roles that women play in our ministries: lay and religious women serve as presidents and headmistresses, retreat center directors, teachers, and every possible role one can think of. As you probably know, the Spiritual Exercises, the foundation of Jesuit spirituality, were first developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola before the Jesuits were founded. Our spirituality is open to all, women and men that want to become women and men with others and for others.

 

In the broader church, there are contrary currents about the role of women at this time. As stated by Pope Francis, women play a fundamental role in passing on the faith and are a daily source of strength in a society that carries this faith forward and renews it. Church teaching certainly promotes the role of the women within the family, but it also stresses the need for their contribution in the Church and in public life. It draws upon the text of Genesis, which speaks of men and women created in the image of God and the prophetic praxis of Jesus in his relationship with women. Pope Francis has been quite outspoken about women in making decisions and holding responsibilities in the church. He has also created a "Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate” to explore the history and role of women in this church structure. But if we are honest, we acknowledge that the fullness of women’s participation in the church has not yet arrived. That inclusion, which would bring the gifts of resilience and collaboration even more deeply into the church, remains stymied on many fronts.

 

One aspect has been mentioned by the Pope: we have to work harder to develop a profound theology of women. I would add that an ecclesiology…the study of the church…that includes women is equally needed if women’s roles are to be included as they should. Indeed, the inclusion of women in the Church is a creative way to promote the necessary changes in it. A theology and an ecclesiology of women should change the image, the concept and the structures of the Church. Should push the Church to become the People of God, as was proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council. Women’s creativity can open new ways of being a Christian community of disciples, men and women together, witnesses and preachers of the Good News. But perhaps more importantly, the inclusion of women will also be an outcome of the key concerns of the Pope. By bringing Vatican II to life and incorporating the poor into our church, Francis is giving women’s voices more opportunity to speak and be counted.

 

No one is more resilient that women building and supporting the church in the poorest parts of our world. In his efforts against clericalism and the elitism and sexism that come with it, the Pope seeks to open our future to voices outside of the Vatican, to bring the experience of the world into forming that future. The opposite of clericalism is collaboration, working together as baptized daughters and sons of God. These efforts have begun the process of deeper inclusion of women into the core of the Church.

 

As challenging as the refugee crisis or other world issues are, to some of us, this might be truly, the impossible. St. Francis of Assisi himself said: “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” In that spirit, we are here today to listen to Voices of Faith, to hear stories of resilience, collaboration and inclusion. We have more than started.

We will not stop.

Thank you very much. Arturo Sosa, S.I. March 8, 2017

 

Courtesy:  Jesuit Superiors of Madagascar (JESAM)


 

22 Mar 2017 - 06:31

By A Elango

New Delhi: Father Arturo Sosa, superior general of the Society of Jesus, on February 28 concluded his maiden visit to India.

During his 11-day stay in India, the general, popularly known as the Black Pope, addressed heads of 19 Jesuit provinces and two regions in South Asia.

The meeting was held at Jabalpur, a major city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Fr Sosa commended his South Asian confreres for their “honest search for better ways” to make the Jesuit mission more effective in the region. “I am aware of the many difficulties all of you are facing and the variety of contexts in which you are working,” he added.

He reminded the provincials that they are responsible not just for their provinces but also for the universal mission of the order. “We are first of all called to move from a province vision to a universal vision. A universal vision means a tension between the local and the global. The universal vision is impossible without local roots,” he explained.

The general also met all provincials in person as part of “Manifestation of Conscience,” where a Jesuit reveals intimate and personal matters to their superior who could guide the person more efficaciously.

The Jesuit general had arrived in India on February 18. Father Sosa is the first Latin American to head the world’s largest Catholic congregation for men.

Father Sosa and his counselors met Jesuits working in the Madhya Pradesh province that covers also Chhattisgarh state at Jabalpur, Ambikapur and Raipur.

Jesuit Father Ranjit Tigga, a research scholar and a member of that province, described the general’s visit as “a source of strength and encouragement.”

The general challenged his men in central India to be courageous in taking up new works to respond to changing situations in the region.

Fr Sosa also visited Indian Social Institute in New Delhi before leaving for Rome.

Social Institute director Father Denzil Fernandes explained its origin and current activities.

Its superior Father Joy Karayampuram said the general showed keen interest in knowing about the three pillars of Indian State, namely; the legislature, judiciary and executive as explained in the Constitution.

ISI showed the Jesuit chief the original copy of the Indian Constitution kept in its library. The general seemed impressed with the Constitution’s preamble that stresses equality of all citizens.

Fr Lisbert D’Souza, one of the regional assistants, said the general was “very happy” about the ISI visit.

Three staff members, who have served the institute for more than 20 years, provided a guided tour to the general. The general honored them with a shawl and a citation.


 

1 Mar 2017 - 07:12

 

RESPONDING TO THE THREE DAYS OF INPUTS


 

I. General comments

~ I want to thank you all for the positive energy I have been feeling these days.

  • I am aware of the many difficulties all of you are facing and the variety of contexts in which you are working.
  • Therefore, I appreciate your honest search for better ways of being faithful to the Society’s mission and your full-hearted acceptance of your responsibility as Major Superiors.
  • -I also want to thank you for your patience in helping me understand the context of South Asia.

~ As Major Superiors, we share the responsibility for the Society’s universal mission.

  • -Each one of you is responsible not only for a Province but for the Society as a whole.
  • -A responsibility that is a humble service to our brothers in mission. We are not owners of the mission; neither are we owners of the missionaries in the field. We are their servants exercising cura personalis and cura apostolica
  • -All of you are collaborators in the universal mission of the Society. Each one of you has been missioned to maintain this tension between cura personalis and cura apostolica.

~ Ignatius was conscious of this complexity and tension.

  • -The Constitutions conceive of a universal apostolic body where the Superior General has full authority as head of the body.
  • -At the same time, each part of the body realizes its function through delegated authority, responsibility and frequent and clear lines of communication with the head. The Major Superiors of the Society of Jesus constitute these essential parts of the body.
  • -Each apostolic work and each Jesuit forms part of the body through the mission they are commissioned to and they are accountable to the head through the Major Superior.

~ We are first of all called to move from a province vision to a universal vision. A universal vision means a tension between the local and the global.

  • -The universal vision is impossible without local roots.
  • -The local apostolate makes sense in the context of the universal mission.
  • -Discernment is the key to mediate the relationship between the local and the global.
  • -The JCSA is an excellent forum and opportunity to carry out this common responsibility and for discerning how to concretise this universal mission for South Asia.

~ I am happy to hear about the process of “Re-Orienting for Greater Apostolic Effectiveness (REGAE)” started in 2015, with the hope for a long-term vision and widespread participation of the Jesuits of the South Asian Assistancy.

  • -Going back to our spiritual roots, charism and way of proceeding is a positive path to renewal.
  • -Consequently, what comes to my mind is the question of how to involve those who share our mission. Or perhaps a better way of putting it is, how to involve those with whom we share the mission.
  • -The JCSA has enabled collaboration among Jesuits and Jesuit institutions. Collaboration with non-Jesuits is another challenge we face in this process. An apostolic plan for the JCSA must include this core dimension.
  • -A process has been put in motion, please do not stop it. Processes need to mature. The kind of processes we are promoting come from the timely prompting of the Holy Spirit, and not from ourselves.

 

II. Life-Mission challenges

 

~ As you know, for GC 36, Life and Mission are deeply interconnected. For us, as Christians and Jesuits, Life and Mission are two sides of the same coin.

~The first step in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises is to imbibe the spirit of the Principle and Foundation. That is:

  • -To gain the inner freedom that enables spiritual indifference as a condition for discernment and decision-making.
  • -Indifference is necessary to be available for mission and is the result of a genuine spiritual life.
  • -The invitation to ongoing conversion and renewal of our spiritual life is a perennial reality.
  • -The Spiritual Animation Process (SAP) has taken care of this important dimension of our Life-Mission

~Discernment in common as a way of decision-making is a challenge.

  • -As you well know discernment is not only to search for God’s will in our individual lives but also to find God’s will together.
  • -Discernment was Jesus' way of proceeding during his life.
  • -The complexity and magnitude of the present context demand more and better discernment so as to be effective apostolically.
  • -The practice of discernment is a gift that we can share with others only if we practice it.
  • -The formation of collaborators in our mission begins by sharing with others the practice of discernment.

~The challenge is to create and maintain the conditions for common discernment:

  • -Time and energy for personal prayer and community life.
  • -The need for prayer is in tension with the demand for time and energy for apostolic engagements.

~GC 35 underlined how the Jesuit Life-Mission has plenty of tensions that cannot be avoided without putting at risk our very vocation.

  • -Are we willing to find a new equilibrium between all the dimensions of our Life-Mission?
  • -Are we available to a Life-Mission that necessarily involves a lot of tensions?

~ From my point of view, the Society of Jesus after the Second Vatican Council:

  • -Has systematically deepened the scope and capacity for inculturation. The Society has been well rooted all over the world, in many different contexts and a huge variety of cultures. As Jesuits we have learnt a lot in this process.
  • -The Society of Jesus has become a multicultural body. GC 36 was an example of this. Another such example are our communities in the International Houses in Rome. It has been a source of joy that we have learnt to live together.
  • -We are called to another step: to grow as an intercultural body that helps to challenge and enrich our own local cultures. Each one of us can contribute with his own culture and experience, and in turn can receive from others.
  • -The result is a universal sensitivity that transforms us into the image and likeness of God, a God who thrives on plurality and variety, in contrast with a globalization process that tries to create a uniform and standardized culture.

~ Another characteristic of our way of proceeding is what we call the Intellectual Apostolate.

  • -All apostolic commitments of the Society and of the individual Jesuit come from a process of discernment and must be well thought out.
  • -The big investment we have made in intellectual formation is because we want Jesuits to be able to think for themselves in any situation they are missioned to.
  • -We need to be true intellectuals within the field of Higher Education, Social Analysis or any other apostolic work. Just because one is working in Higher Education or a research center does not make one an “’intellectual”. Becoming a thinker is an on-going process.
  • -To be an intellectual is to also have the ability to proclaim the Good News in a manner that is appealing and transformative. To be an intellectual is to be an effective instrument for the apostolate.
  • -I was happy to hear that during your discussions, you were thinking of establishing a permanent secretariat for higher education. This secretariat would help networking amongst your various institutions of higher learning (university colleges, social and research institutions and faculties of philosophy and theology). You were also considering the possibility of having a common thrust like that of migration or fundamentalism, to be the focus of your collaborative or networking efforts.

~One of the characteristics of our apostolate, a matter that was specifically entrusted to Fr. General by GC 36 is the protection and safety of minors.

  • -As you know, the Catholic Church, in different parts of the world, is suffering as a result of the lapses in this regard.
  • -All over the world there is a growing consciousness about the need to provide a safe environment for minors.
  • -Some of you may have noticed that when you have sent in proposals for new buildings, I have mentioned the need to put in place policies and protocols for the protection of minors.

 

III. Governance

A. General principles

~The government of the Society of Jesus is oriented towards the mission.

  • -It is personal, spiritual and apostolic[1].
  • -This is a golden principle that is not always followed.

~Governance structures of the Society of Jesus were created at specific moments of history to respond to concrete mission situations.

  • -Since GC 34 the Society has been searching for a more effective structure of governance.
  • -There is a shared perception that our present structure is not effective for the mission. GC 35 asked for an evaluation of the governance structures and reorganization of the Society’s government.
  • -GC 36 confirmed this mandate and proposed collaboration and networking as the way of proceeding after a process of discernment.
  • -Each level of our governance structure has the necessary delegated authority for achieving its goals. Do not be afraid to delegate if that is beneficial for the effectiveness of the mission.

~Discernment necessarily involves a tension between, on the one hand, seeking and finding the will of God and, on the other hand, apostolic planning.

  • -To seek and to find the will of God is the objective of discernment that seeks to put us at the service of the mission of Christ.
  • -Discernment is a way of making decisions that enables us to pay attention to the spiritual movements in relation to the issue that is being discerned.
  • -To pay attention to spiritual movements is to go beyond rational arguments which is a normal temptation for most of us.

 

~In collaboration

  • -The willingness to listen to the Spirit in discernment must, of course, include those with whom we work. They often teach us openness to the Spirit and their voices and experiences enrich our discernment.
  • -We realize that collaboration with others is the only way the Society of Jesus can fulfil its mission[2].
  • -The magnitude and interconnectedness of the problems that affect humanity and challenge the mission of the Church and the Society are such, that only by working together can we contribute effectively to their solution.
  • -Along the way of collaboration, we encounter people and organizations dedicated to the service of others. Some of these share the Christian faith, others faith in God, and yet others are men and women of goodwill, - all committed to the task of reconciling humanity.

 

~Collaboration leads spontaneously to cooperation through networks.

  • -Networks facilitate collaboration between the apostolic works of the Society and with the works of others, opening new horizons that go beyond those of a province or region in addition to mobilizing resources in support of the mission.
  • -Paragraph 8 of Decree 2 of GC 36 recalls some conditions for networking that involve sharing the vision of the mission.
  • -These include a "culture of generosity" as the basis of openness in collaborating with others and being effective leaders who are capable of maintaining a balance between local initiative and their own authority.
  • -GC 36 also recalls the challenge represented by the governance[3] of Jesuit apostolic networks that go, on the one hand, beyond the works and boundaries of provinces and, on the other, those networks that are established in conjunction with other (non-Jesuit) institutions.

 

B. Apostolic Planning

~What are we talking about? Apostolic planning is an instrument for putting into action the fruits of discernment.

  • -It supposes a long-term strategy (for example 10 years as you have proposed for REGAE), mid-term (5 years) and short-term (2-3 years) periods to evaluate and reorient. A good plan is always flexible.
  • -If this tension between discernment and apostolic planning disappears, apostolic planning degenerates from being an instrument of the mission to becoming an end in itself.
  • -If this happens, it obliterates the meaning of what we are and called to do.

~Planning is a way of improving the effectiveness of the mission.

  • -It is not only planning that is needed.
  • -What we are called to do is “apostolic” planning because it includes the tension between evangelization and the Ignatian magis.
  • -The aim of apostolic planning is to make present the Good News to every human being and every culture.
  • -Magis means that it is always possible to improve. We can do more and do it better if we make the best use of our resources, especially of the human capacities of those who share the same mission, Jesuits and non-Jesuits.

~We are aware of the complex relationship between the different levels of apostolic planning in the Society:

  • -The Society of Jesus has a very unique organizational set-up that combines a strong central government with a decentralized process for decision-making.
  • -Apostolic planning must take into account this organizational set-up.
  • -Apostolic preferences are universal, for the whole Society of Jesus. But they do not constitute a plan. They are mission requirements to be considered at all levels of apostolic planning. International apostolates need to be planned as a responsibility of the universal body. Some of them are part of the apostolic preferences (e.g. migrants-refugees, Interprovincial Houses and Works in Rome). Others are entrusted to the Society (e.g. Apostleship of Prayer – the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, Eucharistic Youth Movement) and yet others are in collaboration with an international lay movement like the CLC. The Conference Apostolic plans are not intermediary plans between a non-existent universal plan and province plans. Conferences are supposed to plan interprovincial apostolates and common projects under their responsibility. Therefore, a Province plan is not an attempt to accommodate a global or Conference/Zonal plan to a local situation. Provinces plan their mission and works in a concrete territory according to the mandate received from the Superior General/the Society and the Church.

~ In the current organizational set-up of the Society of Jesus, a province is a unit that administers human, economic and organizational resources for the local, regional and universal mission.

  • -Province resources are not exclusively for a Province but for the mission of the whole Society.
  • -It is important to recall that the Society of Jesus is not a federation of independent provinces but a universal apostolic body organized into provinces as a way of administering its resources.
  • -The Society of Jesus has been a successful administrative organization for hundreds of years because there exists an efficient system of communication and sharing of resources.
  • -The South Asian and Latin-American Jesuits cannot forget how the Society was born in these parts. Where and how was the Society of Jesus in South Asia before the emergence of the present 18 provinces and 2 regions? Who sowed the seed and how did it grow?
  • -We exist as Jesuits in these areas because other Jesuits, earlier on, shared their resources…
  • -Provinces are a provisional structure, existing side by side with other civil and church structures.

~ If we take seriously the mandates of GC 35 and 36, we need to evaluate all the structures of our Society and, in creative fidelity, align our structures with the intuition of our Founders.

  • -Imagine, for example, a group of catholic young people trained in the top Universities in different parts of the world. They come to know each other on-line and form a virtual community for sharing their life, their faith, their doubts, their struggles and future projects. They decide to begin the Society of Jesus in this moment of human history. How would they organize themselves for the universal service of the Church and the world?
  • -There is no doubt about the important role of provinces in the Society’s governance. The question is: are other structures possible?
  • -Maybe we are arriving at a moment when we need to take seriously what we have learnt in the novitiate: we enter the Society of Jesus and not the Venezuelan Province or the Delhi, Japan or West Africa Province…
  • -For example, the former 10 provinces in the USA founded 28 Colleges and Universities after the restoration of the Society of Jesus. They were administered by the provinces until 20 years ago when they realized that the Higher Education Ministry needed to be a nationwide ministry and could be better administered nationally, through an interprovincial structure…
  • -Can we imagine other ways of organizing the apostolates in South Asia with a better use of the resources we have, as you are doing with Jesuit formation?

 

C. General Counsellor for Apostolic Planning (CDAP)

~ The principal reason for appointing a CDAP is to help Fr. General and his Council to focus on discerning the Society’s mission.

~Therefore, the main task of the CDAP is to keep the General’s and the Council’s reflection in this level. How?

  • -Through the preparation of the agenda and materials for the ordinary sessions of the Council and, specially, the three tempi forti of the year.
  • -The council dynamics consists in two weekly ordinary sessions and three tempi forti a year. Each tempo forte is a five full day meeting. In order to enrich the discernment and coordinate the different levels of planning, the Secretaries and Presidents of Conferences of Major Superiors participate in these meetings.

~ With the help of the Secretary of the Society and the Secretary for Collaboration, the CDAP is responsible for the Apostolic Planning in the General Curia.

~The General Curia Apostolic Plan includes:

  • -The discernment about the universal apostolic preferences of the Society and the planning for their implementation.
  • -The evaluation of the General Curia structure: secretariats (how many and which), communication office…
  • -The road map to fulfill the mandates of GC 36 to Fr. General: Renewal of the organization of the Interprovincial Houses and Works in Rome, Promote a consistent culture for the protection and safety of minors and Revision of the Formulae of a GC and PC.
  • -In collaboration, that means, with the participation of all General Curia members (Jesuits and lay) and the International Apostolates linked to the Curia.

~The CDAP also promotes the Common Discernment and Apostolic Planning all over the Society of Jesus as an important component of our way of proceeding.

  • -In contact with Conferences and Provinces
  • -Looking for the creation of a network for discernment and planning.

 

IV. Some comments about Formation

~ Formation is for mission.

  • This is the reason for considering it a priority for the Society.

~ The Society of Jesus has a long experience in formation.

  • -Maybe, we are convinced that we know how to form young Jesuits.
  • -We cannot form them as we were formed.
  • -There is a new breed of youth entering the Society today – thanks be to God! We need to understand and appreciate their culture.
  • -We need not be afraid of this new culture. We need to face the temptations of distraction, superficiality…

~ The process of selection of candidates and preparation to enter the novitiate:

  • -Be concerned about the quality, and not about numbers.
  • -We want good people, whether they are few or many.

~ It is important to know the candidates, their culture, families and their personal histories well.

  • -There needs to be a discernment of their vocation before they are admitted to the novitiate. The main concern should be their qualities and their capacity to be a Jesuit.
  • -Knowing the persons who enter well, it becomes possible to know what to offer them during the formation process to fill in deficiencies (for example in previous studies).

~ Are we proud of our young fellow Jesuits?

  • -Why?

~ There is a tension between the amount of freedom given, personal responsibility and the role of formators.

~Jesuits need to be formed in collaboration and for collaboration.

~Formation of collaborators (partners).

  • -The importance of a thorough formation program for non-Jesuits.

~ Women sharing our mission:

  • -Their presence and sharing in our ministries is a necessity
  • -A sensitivity to the cultural ways in which we relate to women

~ Formation needs specific planning for the whole Assistancy and would need to take into account both the local and the universal mission.

~ Some times when I hear discussions about formation, the question that comes to my mind is: Are we proposing a never-ending formation plan?

  • -There are, surely, many aspects, dimensions and contents that must be included in the formation program…

~The formation in the Interprovincial Houses and Works in Rome facilitate:

  • -An experience of universality within the Roman context of the Church
  • -Academic quality, especially for the Licentiate and PhD
  • -Good formation programmes in the Gesù and the Bellarmino.

 

AS / February 23, 2017

 

[1] D2, 1

[2] D1, 35-38

[3] D2, 16


 

24 Feb 2017 - 07:41

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