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ECO POLICY STATEMENT- JEA SA

22 April, 2019

Hearing the call of the Lord of History for serving and protecting His creation, our Mother Earth, through various recent documents and deliberations, JEA, with the help of a task force, has formulated the following eco policy for immediate implementation in our institutions.

I. Call for Ecological Action:

  1. More than half of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), adopted by the international community in 2015 through the UN focus on or address concerns of sustainability. It would mean that without particular attention to the implementation of the environmental dimension these goals cannot be attained.
  2. Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Laudato Si, calls for education towards ecological citizenship which will “bring about deep change” as “certain mindsets do influence our behaviour.”
  3. Several General Congregations (GCs), have called for our commitment to the defence and protection of nature and environment. GCs 35 and 36 have called us, Jesuits, to promote a right relationship with creation, the same way and with the same urgency with which we handle our relationship with God and other human beings.
  4. By integrating Ecology with the Social Justice Secretariat, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, our former General, confirmed that Ecology is an integral component of Jesuit mission today.
  5. Fr Arturo Sosa, Superior General, in his address at the International Congress For Jesuit Education Delegates [JESEDU-Rio 2017] in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 20th, 2017 stated:

      “…respect and care for our “common home” demands that our institutions train our students in the environmental dimension of reconciliation. All human beings share responsibility for our planet, for its future viability, beyond our national, local or generational interests. It is important that we join in the efforts of many to create a sustainable society and economy, so that human beings and the environment are both protected. Our institutions should reflect this attitude in their actions and their physical Structure”.

In response to Fr General, the Education Delegates from the six Jesuit regions of the world along with others in Jesuit educational apostolates articulated in their Action Statement:

“The delegates commit to promoting an environmental and social policy for each of our schools and to proposing ways regional networks can clearly integrate justice, faith, and care for the environment within the curricula of the schools… highlighting critical thinking, political awareness, and social engagement – all to be reflected in classroom and school practices” [JESEDU-Rio 2017, C #8, p.3].

II. Action Plans:

A. Assistancy/Zonal Level:

  1. Organise at least one training programme a year for school administrators and selected lay collaborators, to be held preferably in Sacred Heart College, Shembagannur, Attappady Bio-reserve in Kerala, Tarumitra, Patna, GJEM (Gujarat Jesuits Environment Mission) or Goa.
  2. Create a resource centre: design, develop resource materials (posters, videos, films, clippings, books, booklets etc.) for dissemination; they should be easily accessible.
  3. For a core team to plan, monitor and evaluate, act as a think tank for all the ecological initiatives.

B. Province Level:

  1. A core cum resource team to be appointed to plan, monitor, evaluate and do periodic green audit (water, energy, waste, land, air, food etc.). This team will visit all the institutions and assist the implementers with practical helps and guidelines. This team also can conduct the annual orientation to the Jesuits, collaborators, students, etc., and evolve action plans collectively.
  2. The Provincial writes to all superiors/ work directors regarding the implementation of this programme.
  3. Provinces or Zones move to setting up bio reserves or ecosystems for eco-education.

C. Institutional level:

  1. The Jesuit community to be a model, eco-friendly community; lifestyle of the individuals and community to be in harmony with nature.
  1. Actively employ alternative energy sources like solar energy.
  2. Model in conservation measures, such as rain water harvesting, waste water recycling, judicious use of electricity, etc.
  3. Waste reduction, appropriate disposal and recycling.
  4. Farms/ gardens to be fully organic.
  1. Institutions:
  1. A core team to plan, execute, monitor and evaluate in a time-bound manner. Evolve an accountability structure locally.
  2. Ecology action plan to be displayed in prominent places in the campus.
  3. Expose the students to some of the positive, best alternative practices like organic farming, compost making, bio-gas production, waste recycling, sewage treatment plants etc.
  4. Each institution to ensure conservation and efficient management of energy especially water and electricity: maximum utilization of solar energy for heating, cooling and lighting, rain water harvesting, waste segregation and disposal, compost pits etc.
  5. Promote clean, green, plastic-free, and litter- free campus.
  6. Greening of the campus: creating herbal gardens, planting local varieties of plant species. Involve students in the nurturing of the saplings for the first few years.
  7. All students, irrespective of their religious affiliations, to be exposed to eco-spirituality and thus made to feel and personalize their interconnectedness and interdependence with nature and with one another. Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm with its spiralling experience-reflection-action cycles is best suited to this as pedagogy.
  8. Resource materials available for eco-spirituality and eco-education in Jesuit circles can be accessed and teachers trained to utilise these materials creatively and effectively.
  9. At least one day a week/ month, no-vehicle-day could be observed, all to use public or shared transport or bicycles.
  10. Mark one week in July (or another rainy month) as eco solidarity week or nature harmony week: competitions, exhibitions, plantations, field visits, debates, special assemblies, parents’ meetings, cultural programmes, mass cleaning programmes, prayer services etc. be conducted during this week.
  11. Monthly thematic focus: themes like plastics, afforestation, rain water harvesting, noise, water conservation, energy conservation, ozone protection, climate change, environmental audit, agriculture etc.
  12. Organise plantation drives within and outside the campus; clean-up of public places in the vicinity of the institution; rallies and campaigns to create public awareness on eco issues.
  13. School annual day celebration to focus completely or partially on this theme.
  14. Awareness to the parents on eco issues thorough PTA meetings.
  15. Identify a local problem, which can be taken up for involvement and collective action.
  16. Identify, actively network and collaborate with other religious or secular groups, organizations and NGOs at the local level and collectively take up programmes for the protection of the local environment. (Identify and join hands with at least one such group).

Members of the Eco policy Drafting Team

  1. Dr. John Kennedy, S.J. (MDU)
  2. Dr. Lancy D’Cruz, S.J. (GUJ)
  3. Lumnesh Swaroop Kumar S.J. (KAR)
  4. Dr. P. J. James (HAZ) (Coordinator)
  5. Robert Athickal S.J. (PAT)
  6. Simon Fernandes (GOA)
  7. Stephen L. Pragasam, S.J. (MDU)

 

Sunny Jacob SJ

Secretary, JEASA

23 Apr 2019 - 07:04

The calm of Easter Sunday was shattered by gruesome bombings that killed at least 290 people and injured more than 500 innocent people, in Sri Lankan churches and hotels.

Though it's not clear who's behind the eight explosions that forced the country of 21 million people to go on lockdown, they are "certainly acts of terror," said Manisha Gunasekera, high commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK.

An intelligence memo warning of a possible attack had circulated 10 days earlier, raising questions about whether more preventative measures could have been taken.

"Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored," Sri Lanka's Minister of Telecommunications, Harin Fernando, tweeted along with a photo of the memo. The document, titled "Information of an alleged plan attack," is dated April 11 and signed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Priyalal Dissanayake.

The explosions blew out the tiled roofs of churches and hotel windows, killing worshippers and hotel guests in the process.

Images and footage showed bloodied pews, broken glass, and plumes of smoke.

"You can see pieces of flesh thrown all over the walls and on the sanctuary and even outside of the church," Father Edmond Tillekeratne, social communications director for the Archdiocese of Colombo, told CNN from St. Sebastian's Church, one of the explosion sites.

He estimated that more than a thousand people had come to the church for Easter Sunday "because it is a special day." Many came from villages afar, he said. 

"This is an attack against the whole of Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka is (a) multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country, and the whole country comes together in celebration of Easter Sunday," Gunasekera said.

The violence punctured a decade of relative peace in the country following the end of its civil war in 2009 -- where attacks were common during the 25-year struggle. (Curtesy CNN)

The POSA, Fr. George Pattery SJ, and the entire Jesuits in South Asia condemns the brutal attack on innocent people on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka and appeal all to pray and work for peace and reconciliation.

A view of damage near the Dehiwala zoo in Colombo.

 

23 Apr 2019 - 06:36

A set of small posters that reminds you about the preferences:

 

Poster 1 Poster 2
Poster 3 Poster 4
20 Apr 2019 - 15:12

Welcome to a series of short guides designed for those who wish to enter more deeply into the journey of renewal offered by our new Universal Apostolic Preferences. Each guide offers brief selections taken from one section of Fr. General’s letter on the Preferences. These excerpts are meant to be contemplatively read and pondered in conjunction with companion texts from Scripture and our recent congregations. After each selection, questions are provided as aids for personal prayer and communal spiritual conversation. The hope is that these guides can serve as first step to inspire individuals and communities to listen to the Spirit in their local context, and to begin to imagine how they might respond in their own unique way as they embody the preferences in their own lives and communities.
[Read More]

20 Apr 2019 - 14:42

POSA SPEAKS

Electing a Government that cares The word ‘election’ has special significance for Jesuits. The Spiritual Exercises is oriented towards making the right choices, and a good election. “In every good election, insofar as it depends on us, the eye of our intention ought to be single. I ought to focus only on the purpose for which I am created... anything whatsoever that I elect ought to be chosen as an aid towards that end” [169, 2-3]. Certainly, ‘election’ in the Spiritual Exercises is oriented primarily towards one’s way of life or choices within the chosen way of life. These elections have much to do with personal or community lives. Can we stretch Ignatian election, which focuses primarily on personal choices, to bear upon elections in public life and governance? Has it got any bearing on political elections? India is facing a crucial election in a few weeks. It is crucial because ‘powerful corporate and communal lobbies, for partisan and vested interests, polarize societies plagued by eroding identities, a sense of alienation and ridden by individual and collective fears.’ The Jesuit Provincials and Regional Superiors of South Asia reflected on the situation and have mandated to themselves and to the Assistancy, to effectively respond to the forces of fundamentalism through all their ministries. “Any Jesuit response is founded on our mission to promote justice and reconciliation in our broken world of which dialogue with the poor and with people of other cultures and religions is an essential part. Our mission as Jesuits in South Asia is to build counter-cultural human communities of solidarity that will be instruments of peace and reconciliation to respond to the danger of this region turning into a region of hate and violence” (JCSA Statement on ‘Contesting Hindu Rashtra” July 2017). We focus on our end: to promote justice and reconciliation in our broken world. We make choices accordingly. We collaborate with men and women of goodwill through networking with civil society and other organizations that share our common values. ‘We shall join all people of goodwill to defeat the forces of hate and violence by promoting a politics of pluralism and inclusion that ensures justice, equality, liberty and fraternity.’ As Gandhiji advocated and practiced, the means that one employs should be in conformity with the end. If our end is ‘reconciliation’ in the deepest sense, then the means that we adopt should reflect the same reconciling, non-violent and compassionate way.

20 Apr 2019 - 09:26

Rev. Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, appointed Fr. Dr. Ranjeet Tigga SJ, current Director of XIDAS Jabalpur, as the New Provincial of MAP. JCSA wishes him all the best and assures him all our prayers.

3 Apr 2019 - 19:35

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

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