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         Accompany young people and create for them a hope-filled future.
  1. In the past few decades (not centuries) we have created a wonder world with so many new appliances and applications. Steven Kotler says that we have produced more such in the last few decades than in the past 150,000 years of human history. Who made these miracles happen? Super-human geniuses? Not really, but by a good number of men and women, who had a fairly good share of human endowments just as most of us have. What then was the mantra action that helped them to redefine the impossible and create the wonder world of today? They remained eager learners in a knowledge-intensive world.  Alwin Toffler’s insight would provide an answer: “The illiterates of the 21st century are not those who cannot read and write but those who are unwilling to learn, to unlearn and to relearn. In this post-modern era, more and more people are asking new questions and seeking new answers to life and its conditions – not only those in the technology sector but also those engaged in other institutions such as schools, hospitals and many other kinds of institutions. It is also causing great discomfort to the tradition-bound persons. But for those who are willing to learn, to unlearn and to relearn, their new creative endeavour of making the impossible possible and turn dreams into realities for everyday use fills them with new energy, as they create a new world order and a new paradigm for life and living.
  2.  “A life without meaning is not worth living” Accompany the young and help them to create a purpose-filled future. Evoke in them the desire to ask life-related questions and search for answers- questions such as: who am I? What is my great desire in life? What is the contribution I want to make that will make a difference to life and its conditions to people? Make them dreamers of their future. Make building a Dharma Rajya (a Kingdom world) the mission in life of a growing number of the young. That will make our secular ministries authentically spiritual. Help them to identify concrete goals and purposes they want to pursue in their life. Once concretized, get it written and posted in a place where they can see it daily and which will provide motivational energy to pursue those goals.
  3. In the post-modern world of today, there is more and more demand for freedom to make choices and a growing demand to discard the many rules and prescriptions that have become outdated. Can we then de-bureaucratize? Provide open spaces to try new and untried approaches? Allow failures and let them learn from them. A new way of being school? Through discussion and reflection, let them accept the fact that life is difficult and so they will face many adversities, failures and losses and will therefore experience some of the painful aspects of life. But help them also to see that such experiences can become great stepping stones to learn to improve one’s life and performance, rather than get disheartened and lose hope about the future.
  4. Let them discover that the mantra for success lies in collaboration and teamwork, which will produce far greater results than destructive competition. Attempt the impossible of making everyone a winner. Making 80 percent winners can be considered as having achieved success. So inspired and goal-focused, let them be empowered to believe and say with assurance:  I can, We can; I will, We will.

        Tom Kunnunkal, S. J.

18 Mar 2019 - 05:28

The arrival of Fr. General for a visitation is always a time of excitement and hope. The Jesuits of India created a video to capture Fr. Sosa’s arrival at Vinayalaya, a Jesuit complex in Bombay Province, India. Vinayalaya is not easy to translate but the name implies a place of residence, the “home” of human virtues such as humility and good manners, and also accompaniment and accomplishment. On the campus of Vinayalaya you'll find the province offices, a retreat center, the Juniorate - the stage of formation that immediately follows the novitiate - and an infirmary. A majority of the Jesuits of Bombay Province were present to welcome Father General and celebrate the Eucharist with their brothers.

15 Mar 2019 - 06:20

St. Alphonso Rodriquez, Jesuit brother and Saint of the Church, is an important figure in the history of the Society of Jesus. As the patron saint of the Jesuit brother, Alphonso’s example of simplicity of life and dedication to his work has brought “sanctity through service” to centuries of brother vocations. It was in that vision of service that the 165 Jesuit brothers of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia met to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Alphonso. With a series activities and events designed to support their spiritual formation, the brothers shared their common heritage and promoted the ministries across India that depend on the brother vocation. One of the highlights of the program was the meeting they held with Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa, on March 7 in Pune.

Addressing the brothers, Fr. General reaffirmed the importance of the Jesuit brother vocation, reiterating decree 7 of General Congregation 34 (1995) that states, “in some ways the religious brother embodies religious life in its essence, and so is able to illustrate that life with particular clarity.” Fr. Sosa went on to call out the many examples of Jesuit brothers, as diverse in their backgrounds as in their ministries, who have played crucial roles in the Society of Jesus through the years.

Father Sosa acknowledged that the brother vocation doesn’t receive the attention it deserves, saying then when Jesuits speak of vocations we, “do not give enough importance to the promotion of vocations of brothers in the Society. We tend to talk first about the priesthood and when we meet someone who seems less gifted at the intellectual level for historical or sociological reasons, we promote the vocation of a brother. The brothers in the Society - at least some of them - have lost hope and say that the vocation of a Jesuit brother will gradually disappear. But I can assure you, my dear brothers, God willing, the vocation of brother will remain forever.” As if to punctuate the importance of the brother vocation, Fr. Sosa revealed that it was the Jesuit brothers at his school who had been the source of his religious vocation.

After Fr. General’s talk, Brother Siluvainathan, the coordinator of the year of St. Alphonso, presented a report to the assembly that catalogued both the joys that Jesuit brothers have taken from their Jesuit vocation as well as the disappointment experienced by many who feel that they are not fully recognized as Jesuit companions. While awareness of the brother vocation HAS improved over the years, the consensus is that too often the brother is seen as an “incomplete” Jesuit, or a Jesuit who was unworthy of ordination.

These concerns were brought directly to Fr. General during a Q&A in which he was asked why the formation of brothers lacks the same basic foundation and roadmap that exists for Jesuit approaching ordination, but instead stops after the Juniorate. In response, Fr. General promised to bring this concern to the formation leaders of the various Jesuit Conferences as well as asking his new General Councillor for Formation, Fr. Mark Ravizza, to determine how the Society can better support the brother vocation.

15 Mar 2019 - 06:17

The young Jesuits at De Nobili College – their “selfie”

Most people wouldn’t be able to locate Pune, India on a map, but it’s a city of major importance to the Society of Jesus. Located in this city of 6.8 million inhabitants, medium-sized by Indian standards, is the largest Jesuit scholasticate in the world. 138 Jesuits from the South Asian Assistancy call Pune their home as they study philosophy and theology at De Nobili College. Come and see their “day in the life in the Video section.”

Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth – The Papal Seminary

De Nobili College isn’t the only seminary in the city of Pune, India, nor is it the only one run by the Society of Jesus! Since its inception in Sri Lanka in 1893, and through its move to Pune in 1955, the Papal seminary Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV – Enlightenment of Knowledge) has been run by Jesuits. Twinned with De Nobili College, the largest Jesuit scholasticate in the world, JDV teaches seminarians from 62 dioceses around India. Father Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, is the Chancellor of JDV. The Rector and two members of the faculty tell us about their institution, where both Jesuits and Seminarians study philosophy and theology.

Video in video section

15 Mar 2019 - 06:05

Address of Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ to Alumni Bandra, 3rd March, 2019

MAR 7 , 2019 SPEECHES

 

It gives me great joy to be with you to share our ideas and reflections together. Your presence here this evening is a sign of your attachment to the Jesuit institutions you studied in. It is also a sign of your ongoing commitment to the values and ideals you imbibed during your years in school and college. I appreciate the time and trouble you have taken to be here setting aside your many pressing commitments to work and family.

My address to you today can be broadly divided into three parts. The first will outline the mission of the Society of Jesus in today’s context. The second part will touch on how the Alumni and Jesuits can be partners in taking forward this mission. Finally, I will offer some observations on the role of Alumni Associations.

A. The Mission of the Society of Jesus today

Before talking about the mission proper, it is necessary to first situate the context. In other words, we need to first look at the situation our world is in today. Without elaborating, I briefly mention the chief issues confronting us today.

  1. Poverty and inequality: Technological advancements have resulted in an explosion of material goods and a wide variety of services. These however remain far beyond the reach of the poor, millions of whom wage a daily battle for survival.
  2. Large scale displacement of people: Poverty, violent conflicts and natural disasters are causing a large number of people to flee their homes and build up a new life elsewhere. These migrants and refugees have to face huge challenges along the way. We cannot remain indifferent to their plight.
  3. The Ecological Crisis: Our wasteful use of material resources has caused a rapid degradation of the natural environment. The poor and marginalized are the most affected by this crisis. We are called upon to heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, doing all we can to care for our common home.
  4. The Rise of the Right Wing and Fundamentalism: Religious identity and national identity are becoming tools in the hands of extremists. These fundamentalist groups are whipping up a sense of fear and insecurity. The result is that minority groups often become victims of violence and policies of exclusion.
  5. Virtual reality: Information technology has completely changed the world and governs our lives today. It has undoubtedly bestowed on us many benefits. A concern however is that this new way of life has affected our ways of relating. It is paradoxical that new means of communication have reduced our capacity for face-to-face interactions.

The list above is not exhaustive but it highlights the major issues that shape our reality today. It is within this context that the Society of Jesus discerns its mission and the means for carrying this forward.

In humility and sincerity, the Society of Jesus sees its own mission as part of the larger Mission of God. This mission beckons all men and women to be partners with God in creating a world of justice, love and peace. This mission remains essentially the same, but can be approached from different angles depending on the concrete circumstances. In the light of today’s reality, the Society of Jesus has discerned that God is calling us to a Mission of Reconciliation and Justice. We have further identified three dimensions of this mission: Reconciliation with God, with humanity and with Creation. All three are interconnected and inseparable.

Our faith and our experience tell us that God is the source of our life. It is in union with the Almighty that we taste the fullness of life and understand better our purpose on earth. Today, more than ever, humans need to unlock the liberating potential that lies at the heart of spirituality and religious traditions. Jesuits and Jesuit institutions offer Ignatian Spirituality as a powerful way of helping each person arrive as his/her own personal encounter with God.

The immense suffering and injustice in our world is a scandal that goes against the Divine plan and offends the very concept of human dignity. Our Jesuit institutions are committed to forming ‘men and women for others’ – a phrase so dear to the heart of Fr. Pedro Arrupe. We endeavor to build up structures that will support marginalized communities and help them rise to a reasonable standard of life. At the same time, we seek to form the conscience of individuals and promote a culture of fraternity and acceptance.

Reconciliation with creation has taken on a new urgency in recent times. This requires a multifaceted approach that challenges the dominant models of development and promotes a greater respect for God’s creation. At the macro level, we join hands with other experts to identify the roots and solutions to the ecological crisis. We also recognize the challenge to examine our own consumption patterns and adopt lifestyles that reflect our commitment.

B. Alumni engagement in Mission

The Jesuits form one group among many others who are committed to carrying forward God’s mission. We are happy to see that our alumni are also part of this commitment. I shall briefly touch on ways in which alumni contribute to our common mission.

  1. Involvement in Jesuit institutions: This is one way in which many of you give concrete expression to your commitment. Several among you have worked to upgrade the facilities in your Alma Mater while others have contributed through offering much needed professional services. I am told some of you reach out to assist in other Jesuit works in the rural areas. For instance, the Loyola Alumni Association, Goa has reached out to our school at Manmad. The Stanislaus Association has been engaged in a variety of projects at Talasari and Uplat. We are truly grateful for your generosity.
  2. Involvement in diverse services: Jesuit institutions are not the only locus for expressing one’s commitment to mission. Many alumni are involved in a variety of religious and secular organizations that serve the poor. It would be selfish of us to ask that you leave these engagements aside and assist in our institutions. Rather, it gives us great joy to see that the vision and values imparted by your Head Masters and teachers have remained an integral part of your lives.
  3. The witness of daily life: While appreciating your generosity in service, I am aware that the major part of your day is dedicated to your professional career and to your family commitments. Among you present here this evening, there will be lawyers, engineers, doctors, chemists, bankers, etc. Your busy schedule will leave you with very little time to engage in acts of social service. Please remember that your primary field of mission is your workplace and the home, be it interacting with colleagues, reaching out to clients or taking care of little children. In all these interactions, let your actions and choices be guided by professional competence and deep human values. In this way you participate actively in God’s mission through the witness of your words and deeds.
  4. Civic and Political life: We witness today a crisis of leadership in the public sphere. Political leaders have filled us with empty promises and we are often left lamenting the lack of good governance. Perhaps, this is our fault as well and our lamentations from the sidelines will not improve the situation in any way. There is a crying need for men and women of integrity to set aside their personal careers and plunge into public service. Yes, I would dearly love to see many more of you taking up the challenge of providing administrative and political leadership in Mumbai, Maharashtra and India.

C. The Role of Alumni Associations

I have outlined above our shared mission and the ways in Jesuit Alumni are engaged in it. Alumni Associations can play a key role in sharpening and expanding this engagement. In order to do this, Alumni Associations should seek to do the following …

  1. Provide an opportunity for bonding: It appears that most Associations are doing this well. Regular meetings enable the alumni to renew old school friendships and relive the beautiful memories of student days. This is a valuable outcome in itself, but I think there are further benefits that accrue as well. The renewal of old friendships among students also fosters a deepening of their bond with the institution. When they recall the ‘good old days’, alumni are put in touch once more with the values imbibed at that time. They also recall the inspirational role played by certain teachers and are motivated in some way to be a source of inspiration to others.
  2. Provide a platform for discerning and planning: Valuable as the above outcomes may be, I hope our Associations would go one step further by adopting a reflective and planned approach to mission. Associations could offer alumni an opportunity to come together and share on one’s personal mission. Such a sharing, done in a spirit of mutual support and trust, enables a person to better understand his/her mission in daily life. The sharing can also open up greater possibilities for collaboration. Alumni become more aware of the pool of expertise that exists amongst themselves and can better channelize their services to assist the institution or support the good work of a fellow school mate. These meetings can also be used to plan an outreach activity together, to evaluate an ongoing project or to chalk out strategies for wider involvement in society.
  3. Provide a forum for ongoing formation: In most discussions on mission, the focus is on what the alumni can contribute in service, paying back so to say a debt they owe to the institution. This needs to continue of course but it should not remain a one-sided relationship. I urge our Alumni Associations to explore ways whereby the Society of Jesus can continue serving you, especially in the area of ongoing formation. The riches of Ignatian Spirituality can be of immense help to you in navigating the complex paths of adult life. Alumni Associations could undertake to organize sessions wherein Jesuits share with the alumni life-changing tools such as Discernment, Spiritual Conversations and the Awareness Examen. Familiarity with these spiritual practices would surely be an invaluable help in your personal and professional life.

Conclusion

Keeping in mind the great importance of Alumni Associations, I urge you to continue doing all you can to promote them. Do invite many more of your classmates to join in as members. You can be great ambassadors for your Alma Mater, identifying where your batch mates are and bringing them in contact once more with the institution. Networking among Associations is another way of growing in strength. It is good to know that you are active members of the Jesuit Alumni Associations of India (JAAI) and also of WUJA, with Mr. John Nellankavil being an office bearer of WUJA. I am also happy to hear of efforts to strengthen the bonding between Associations in the West Zone. Do keep moving ahead in this direction. Some efforts could also be made to promote Alumni Associations in the rural schools. I am glad that some of you have already visited Talasari and Manmad to encourage the process of setting up local Alumni Associations. Finally, I ask that at least one Jesuit be actively involved with each Association, paying special attention, among other things, to the aspect of ongoing formation.

My special thanks to the organizers of this evening. I know you have spent much time and energy in putting up a programme of this magnitude. And to all of you present here … Thank you for being here, thank you for the service you do and thank you for the great love you show towards us. May we all continue working together for the Greater Glory of God.

8 Mar 2019 - 06:05

One of the many fruits of the two-year discernment in common by the Society of Jesus on what was to become the Universal Apostolic Preferences, is a respect for the power of collaboration. It has long been a staple of ministry for Jesuits worldwide, but with the UAP discernment came a profound realization that collaboration with our lay colleagues and “people of good will” is no longer a nicety of ministry, but an absolute necessity. The simple reality is that it is now impossible to continue the mission set out for us without training, supporting, and DEPENDING on those who share the Ignatian vision.

It is with that sense of collaboration that Fr. General continued his visitation through India, starting with institutes of higher learning in Goa. Fr. Sosa visited the Xavier Centre for Historical Research, founded in 1979 at the height of tension between India and Portugal, and the Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr, dedicated to the studies of languages - mainly Konknni - and regional cultures. Joining Fr. General were his brother Jesuits from the Province of Goa who presented him with a summary of their works and commitments. Father Sosa took the opportunity to speak with his brothers about the universal apostolic preferences and how it could inform their life, prayer and ministry.

 

 

After a three-hour trip to Belgaum, a city in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, Fr. General continued his push for collaboration by celebrating the Eucharist in the Fatima Cathedral with the relatives, friends and ministry partners of the Society of Jesus in the region. Fr. Sosa stressed that living a Christian life, mean living a life with and for others. From Ecclesiastes, he pulled the phrase “Give not your heart to money”, a path that leads to a false sense of self-sufficiency that separates you from fruitful relationships with other people of good will and, of course, God. Preaching on the Gospel, Fr. General acknowledged that Jesus’ admonition, “If your hand pushes you to sin, cut it off”, was harsh but important as it pointed to the moral humility that Christ’s disciples must pursue. As an example of what happens when we allow the lessons of the Gospel to remain in Scripture rather than being the basis of our lives, Fr. Sosa asked the congregation to recall that Mahatma Ghandi, the father of the great nation of India, was deeply inspired by the life of Jesus in the Gospels, but not by the lives of the Christians around him.

As the day drew to a close, Fr. General once again found himself surrounded by his Jesuit brothers. Joined by Curia Assistants Lisbert D’Souza and Vernon D’Cunha, with Goa Provincial Fr. Roland Cuelho, and the Jesuits of the region - including the 20 novices - Fr. Sosa celebrated the graces of the day at of St. Paul’s School, a prestigious institution of learning with 2000 students. Once again promoting the challenge that the UAPs present to ALL people who are part of the mission of the Society of Jesus, Fr. General thanked the assembly of parents and benefactors, and asked them to INSIST on collaboration, the way of the Society of Jesus going forward.

SJ Global

2 Mar 2019 - 07:12

Father General makes a pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Bom Jesus in Goa

As one of the first companions and a fellow student of Ignatius of Loyola in Paris, Saint Francis Xavier is a major figure in the history of the Society of Jesus. Soon after the founding of the Society, a providential call sent him to the Far East where his untiring missionary zeal spread to many countries. Landing in India in 1542, Xavier established his first ministry in Goa, then a Portuguese trading post. In doing so, Xavier became the proto-Jesuit-missionary, defining a process that used Jesuit discernment, trial and error, and missionary “best practices”, that would influence Jesuit works forever. So influential was his work that following his death his body was repatriated from the Chinese island of Sangchuang to where his ministry in Asia had started, Goa.

He is venerated in the Basilica of the Bom Jesus (The Good Jesus - or the Child Jesus), an important pilgrimage site in India. Among the pilgrims on February 26 was Fr. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

 

 

The day was not only an occasion for Father General to celebrate the Eucharist in a Church steeped in Jesuit history, but also for the Society to celebrate the final vows of two Indian Jesuits. Within the celebration of the Eucharist in the Basilica, Fr. General received the final vows Frs. Rinald D’Souza, SJ and Kelwin Monteiro, SJ. During his homily, Fr. Sosa highlighted three features that characterized St. Francis Xavier: his tireless zeal to do good, his great availability - only possible through the exercise of detachment from his own interests and conceptions, and his love for the Society of Jesus despite the distance between him and his companions. Father Sosa invited not only the two Jesuits who pronounced their vows, or even all the Jesuits in the Basilica, but everyone present, lay and religious alike, to live their commitments in the footsteps of the great missionary of Asia. [Click here to read Fr. General's complete homily].

The visit to Goa also allowed Father General to meet the entire Ignatian family of the region. It was an opportunity to thank those who are united with the Society of Jesus as partners in a common mission that should not be seen as a mission of “the Jesuits”, but of God himself. He also stressed the importance of collaboration, an essential element of his vision for the Society of Jesus in the 21st century, made even more important by the release of the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus: A document released on February 19th that will guide the Society of Jesus for the next decade.

28 Feb 2019 - 06:10

Final Vows of Frs. Kelwin Monteiro and Rinald D’Souza

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

We feel privileged to have many Jesuits saints – 54 of them and about a hundred and fifty four blessed—so many that we remember them with great pride, even if we cannot recall all their names! We remember them not to boast of our past glory, but to seek inspiration from them, and reflect on their extraordinary contribution to God and to his Church, in-spite of their own human weaknesses.

One of the most inspiring of our Jesuit saints is St Francis Xavier. The Jesuits of the Goa Province gather around the relics of our brother Francis Xavier at this Basilica of Bom Jesus every year on the feast of our founder St Ignatius of Loyola and on the feast of Francis Xavier himself, to thank God for these inspiring models, and to seek inspiration for each one of us to grow in our own love and commitment to God and his people. Like Mary and Joseph, and like Jesus himself, they responded to God’s plan for them with a bold surrender.

Hence, it is fitting that two of our brothers—Kelwin Monteiro and Rinald D’Souza—have chosen to take their Final Vows in the Society of Jesus near the mortal remains of Francis Xavier. The Final Vows are the most important moment in a Jesuit’s life; it is the time when a Jesuit is finally and definitively incorporation into and becomes a full member of the Society of Jesus. On this occasion of the Final Vows, we can reflect on the life of St. Francis Xavier and be inspired by his tireless zeal, his availability, and his great love for the Society of Jesus.

First of all, Xavier had his tireless zeal for the salvation of souls. He was truly a man of the Magis; he was never content with what he had done for Christ or what he was doing for Christ. He always asked what MORE and HOW BETTER could he do it for Christ. For him the world was not enough; he tirelessly kept seeking new frontiers, he kept pushing the boundaries (using various means possible) to help more and more people to encounter God. When many of us are already slackening in our enthusiasm and zeal for our mission, Xavier keeps inspiring us towards the Magis – to give more, to bemore!

Secondly, Xavier was available to God and to his mission. His availability stemmed from his detachment to his own dreams and ideas, and to be ready to accept God’s dreams for him. A person of Xavier’s calibre would have been an indispensable asset for St Ignatius to have with him in Rome. Yet Xavier makes himself dispensable and available for mission on his 35thbirthday, with hardly any goodbyes to his loved ones, whom he would never see again! When we think of ourselves today as indispensable, holding on to our own dreams and ideas, Xavier inspires us to take a leap into God’s hands and welcome God’s dreams for us.

Finally, Xavier had a great love for the Society of Jesus. Although he was detached from his own dreams and wishes, he was attached to the cross. He was also attached to the Society of Jesus, an affection he displayed by cutting out the signatures from the letters he received from his companions in Europe and keeping them in a locket close to his heart. In his moments of loneliness and disappointments, Xavier was convinced that he was not alone in this mission – that his story was part of a bigger narrative. He knew that he was a spark from a bigger fire lit by Christ himself, who he passionately clung to! When we feel disappointed and alone in our endeavours today, or when we become very individualistic in our approach to our work, let us remember that we are not alone in this service, nor are we isolated stories; we are part of a bigger narrative which God himself is working in the world.

Let us seek God’s grace to keep alive the fire within us – the fire that was there when we joined the Society or got married; that we may be a source of warmth and light to those around us and that we be a fire that enkindles other fires, as Francis Xavier was. Our presence at the Final Vows of Frs. Kelwin Monteiro and Rinald D’Souza is an invitation to all of us to renew the quality of our response to our own vows: in religious or married life. We also pray that we may grow in the qualities that Francis Xavier had - of the Magis, his zeal to do good, total availability to God and people, and in a readiness to join others in efforts to create a more just world. All this for the Greater Glory of God. Amen.

28 Feb 2019 - 06:03

Pope Francis approves four priorities for the Jesuits’ next decade

 

Pope Francis greets Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, superior general of the Society of Jesus, before a meeting with editors and staff of the Jesuit-run magazine, La Civilta Cattolica, at the Vatican Feb. 9. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout) 

Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the Society of Jesus, today made public the four main reference points, known as “universal apostolic preferences,” that are to guide the life and work of the Jesuits over the next 10 years. He said Pope Francis has approved these four preferences and entrusted them to the Jesuits as their “mission.”

Father Sosa presented these four universal apostolic preferences in a letter to Jesuits worldwide, which was released today. They are:

  1. To show the way to God through discernment and the Spiritual Exercises;
  2. To walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice;
  3. To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future;
  4. To collaborate in the care of our Common Home.

The Venezuelan-born Father Sosa, 70, who was elected superior general of the Jesuits on Oct. 14, 2016, during the 36th General Congregation, explained the background and significance of the U.A.P.s at a briefing at the Jesuit Curia in Rome on Feb. 16.

He recalled that the 36th G.C. asked him to continue “a process of discernment” and to review the preferences that had been approved in 2003 and “to update their specific content and to develop plans and programs that can be monitored and evaluated.” His Dutch predecessor, Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., had carried out a similar discernment and in 2003, with Pope John Paul II’s approval, prioritized ministries in China, Africa, the intellectual apostolate, the Roman houses and among migrants and refugees.

 

 

“We have engaged in a common discernment on what reconciliation means as the common thread for the work of the Society in the coming years.”

Father Sosa reported that since October 2017 “we have engaged in a common discernment on what reconciliation means as the common thread for the work of the Society in the coming years” and “to see how to make this reconciliation concrete in our work we started this common discernment in the Society.” He said “the novelty” in the process was that “it involved all Jesuits worldwide and those working with them in apostolic works, including lay men and women, as well as men and women religious from other congregations who cooperate with us in apostolic works.”

He said he wrote letters to the Society to prepare Jesuits for this common discernment. The first emphasized that “the mission involves our whole life; it’s not just a job.” The second explained the two-year discernment process and emphasized that discernment was first of all “spiritual,” not just a process of “strategic planning”; its aim is to discern certain movements of the Holy Spirit that demand attention and resources. He said this entire process “involved the grassroots structures of the order in the provinces and the regions” as well as the places of formation, thus engaging the younger Jesuits and those linked to the Society’s apostolic works.

Then in early January 2019, he said, the council of the superior general, aided by an external person, Dr. Christina King from Singapore, brought all this together in a document that he presented to Pope Francis on Jan. 17. He said the first Jesuit pope spent some time praying on the text and then handed it back to him on Feb. 9, entrusting it as a mission for the whole Society over the next decade. “In this way,” he said, “the preferences are not just our ideas; they are a mission given by the church through the pope to the Society.”

“The preferences are not just our ideas; they are a mission given by the church through the pope to the Society.”

He said Pope Francis, in an accompanying letter written in Spanish and dated Feb. 6, told him he was consoled that the U.A.P.s were the result of a journey of “dynamic discernment” and not made in “a library or laboratory.” Francis said the preferences “are in harmony with the present priorities of the church [as] expressed through the ordinary magisterium of the pope, of the synods and of the episcopal conferences, above all since ‘Evangelium Gaudium,’” the programmatic document for his pontificate published in November 2013.

The Jesuit pope went on to emphasize that “the first U.A.P. is fundamental because it presupposes as a basic condition the relation of the Jesuit with the Lord, his personal and communitarian life of prayer and discernment.” He told Father Sosa: “I recommend that, in your service as superior general, you insist above all on this. Without this prayerful attitude, the rest will not function.” Francis thanked him for “this work, which I approve and confirm as a mission.”

With the publication of the U.A.P.s, the superior general is asking each of the world’s 15,536 Jesuits, each Jesuit community, province and conference of provincials, as well as their colleagues in mission, to discern how to implement these four preferences in their respective areas of work. He is reminding them to hear in them the voice of the Holy Spirit and to take appropriate action.

In today’s letter, Father Sosa elaborates on the significance of each of the four U.A.P.s. Briefing journalists last Saturday, he emphasized that there is “a dual dimension” to each U.A.P.: “We realize that unless we live the Spiritual Exercises—if we are not persons who engage in discernment—we cannot help others or contribute to others in discernment. We have to live them deeply, and we have to have the creativity to offer new ways of doing the Exercises.”

Commenting on the first U.A.P. (“to show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment”), Father Sosa says in his letter, “we sense that secular society today profoundly challenges the church in its task of proclaiming the Gospel,” and “as believers we feel an urgent need to overcome both new secularisms and the nostalgia for cultural expressions of the past.” As Jesuits, he continues, “we resolve to collaborate with the church in experiencing secular society as a sign of the times that affords us the opportunity to renew our presence in the heart of human history.”

“We commit ourselves to help eliminate abuses inside and outside the Church, seeking to ensure that victims are heard and properly helped.”

He describes the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola as “a privileged instrument for making the life and action of the Lord Jesus present in diverse social contexts of today’s world” and says, “therefore, we resolve to gain a deeper experience of the Spiritual Exercises so that they lead us to a personal and communal encounter with Christ that transforms us.” At the same time, he says, “we resolve to offer the Spiritual Exercises in as many ways as possible, providing many people, especially the young, the opportunity to make use of them to begin or to advance in following Christ,” and “we also resolve to promote discernment as a regular habit for those who choose to follow Christ” and “to make regular use of spiritual conversation and discernment in our implementation of the preferences at all levels of the life-mission of the Society.”

Turning to the second U.A.P. (“to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice”), Father Sosa writes, “the path we seek to follow with the poor is one that promotes social justice and the change of economic, political and social structures that generate injustice; this path is a necessary dimension of the reconciliation of individuals, peoples, and their cultures with one another, with nature, and with God.” Furthermore, he says, “We confirm our commitment to care for migrants, displaced persons, refugees and victims of wars and human trafficking,” and “we resolve to defend the culture and the dignified existence of indigenous peoples.”

Father Sosa’s letter appears on the eve of the Vatican summit on the protection of children in the church, and he adds, “we commit ourselves to help eliminate abuses inside and outside the Church, seeking to ensure that victims are heard and properly helped, that justice is done, and that harm is healed.”

“We resolve...to collaborate with others in the construction of alternative models of life that are based on respect for creation.”

Referring to the third U.A.P. (“to accompany the young in the creation of a hope-filled future”), Father Sosa recalls in his letter that the recent synod said that the situation of young people, most of whom are poor, is “a crucial place from which the Church seeks to perceive and discern the movement of the Holy Spirit through this moment of human history.” He reminds Jesuits that since this is the time when individuals make “the fundamental decisions by which they insert themselves into society, seek to give meaning to their existence, and realize their dreams,” it is “by accompanying the young in this process, teaching them discernment and sharing with them the Good News of Jesus Christ, [that] we can show them the way to God that passes through solidarity with human beings and the construction of a more just world.”

He reminds his fellow Jesuits, however, “to accompany young people demands of us authenticity of life, spiritual depth and openness to sharing the life-mission that gives meaning to who we are and what we do.”

Reflecting on the fourth U.A.P. (“to collaborate in the care of our Common Home”), Father Sosa recalls that Pope Francis, in his encyclical “Laudato Si’,” “reminds us that all human beings share responsibility for care of creation.” He notes that “the damage done to the earth is also damage done to the most vulnerable, such as indigenous peoples, peasants forced to emigrate, and the inhabitants of urban peripheries.” As Jesuits, he says, “we resolve...to collaborate with others in the construction of alternative models of life that are based on respect for creation and on a sustainable development capable of producing goods that, when justly distributed, ensure a decent life for all human beings on our planet.” He reminds them that “the preservation over time of the conditions of life on our planet is a human responsibility of immense ethical and spiritual importance.”

Father Sosa concludes his 10-page letter by telling his fellow Jesuits, “With these universal apostolic preferences, we resolve to concentrate and concretize our vital apostolic energies during the next 10 years, 2019-2029. We accept them as a mission of the Church through Pope Francis, who has approved them by confirming the communal discernment that was undertaken by the apostolic body.” Moreover, he says, “it corresponds to us, as a body obedient to the Holy Spirit, to plan with diligence the implementation of the preferences in every dimension of our life-mission.” Finally, he reminds them that “the preferences seek to unleash a process of apostolic revitalization and creativity that makes us better servants of reconciliation and justice.”

19 Feb 2019 - 16:07

INDIA : Christians, Hindus, Muslims march for peace  - FIDES, Kathmandu (CNUA)  "As our journey of peace, harmony and fraternity began, about forty Indian soldiers were martyred in Kashmir. The intent of terrorists is to destabilize the context and relations between India and Pakistan, but also our current government is called to a greater commitment to peace. It is time to respect the human rights of workers, peasants, tribal dalits, minorities and women so that we can all walk on the path of peace, fraternity and protect our constitution and democracy. This is the mission of the Indian government": says to Agenzia Fides Anoop Shramik, human rights activist and organizer of the demonstration and march for peace launched on February 13 from Lumbini (Nepal) and will end in Magahar in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state. The journey of peace wants to highlight "harmony in diversity" and preserve the traditional pluralism of Indian culture. Lumbini (starting point) is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam Buddha, while in Magahar (point of arrival) Kabir Das, the great Indian poet of "composite culture", died. The five-day march, entitled "From Buddha to Kabir", intends to reflect on the necessary harmony among the different communities, cultures and religions present in India and put the accent on the Indian legacy of love and respect for others. About 300 people from different religions, Christians, Hindus and Muslims working for peace have joined the demonstration that will end with a cultural evening on 17 February at the University of Gorakhpur, in the north-eastern region of Uttar Pradesh. During the journey, the "Prerna Manch", theater group of the Vishwa Jyoti Communications, in the Congregation of the Indian Mission Society in Varanasi, performs theatrical dramas and street performances focusing on the theme of social and religious harmony and respect for others. The group sings hymns on unity, peace and love, thus leading the procession of peace. "Siddhartha Gautama Buddha is a symbol of peace, compassion and non-violence and Kabir is synonym of a composite and plural culture", says Father Anand Mathew, director of Vishwa Jyoti Communications, one of the organizers of the march which includes Vinod Mall, current general director of the police in Gujarat, committed to peace, pluralism and non-violence. Father Mathew, an Indian Mission Society member states that "it is a Christian duty to spread the message of peace and love". Vishwa Jyoti Communications is a group that has been carrying out similar peace events since 2005, when it led a six-month pilgrimage through 45 districts of Uttar Pradesh, spreading a message of peace, love of neighbor, respect for people of all faiths, peoples and cultures. Father Mathew and the Vishwa Jyoti Communications group carry out a service dedicated to promoting inter-religious harmony through dialogue with people. The best aspect of this dialogue is that it takes place in people's daily lives, with the active involvement of committed people of all castes and religions. 

19 Feb 2019 - 15:18

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