Interview with Father General, Arturo Sosa SJ. In this interview with Educate Magis, Fr. General starts by pointing out how Jesuit Schools have undergone an incredible, creative and bold process of renewal, how this process is still happening today in an even more challenging context, and how wonderful it is to witness the growth of communication and collaboration within the Education Apostolate.
The annual meeting of Jesuit Faculties Forum in South Asia was held at De Nobili College, Pune on 28 January. The principals/presidents, rectors of the Faculties of JnanaDeepaVidyapeeth, Vidyajyoti and SatyaNilayam along with the other members of JFFSA attended it. Fr. P.R.John conducted an inspiring short prayer to begin with. Fr. Raj Irudaya, secretary of JFFSA welcomed the members and presented the report of the meeting of the last year.
Frs. Konrad, Dinesh and Shiju presented in a nutshell the findings of an elaborate study JDV had conducted on the appraisal of the teaching staff. The study was much appreciated by the entire forum. It was suggested that this module could be made as a standard one for the other Faculties too and the group offered pertinent observations and suggestions. A team was formed to work at the standard module of Staff Appraisal taking into consideration the unique nature and needs of the three faculties. Frs. Selvarathnam, P.R.John and E.P.Mathew presented the initiatives and efforts taken last academic year in JDV, Vidyajyoti and SatyaNilayam respectively. It was quite enriching to listen and learn from one another.
The issues and concerns that emerged from the presentations and discussions were taken up for further deliberations. Social involvement of the institutes with rigorous intellectual reflection on it was highly recommended to enhance the philosophical and theological formation. Networking with other academic centres in the country and collaboration with the global Jesuit centres of higher education were also discussed. It was also pointed out that our Faculties could creatively respond to the rising socio-political scenario of our country and could come out with relevant statement and guidance which would be of service to the Church in India.
Fr. George Pattery, POSA conducted the final session of fruit-gathering through spiritual conversation. He highly appreciated and encouraged JFFSA for its steady progress and functioning. It was decided that the next JFFSA meeting would be conducted in VJ, Delhi on 20 January 2019.
- Raj Irudaya SJ
MAGIS South Asia! What would be the best metaphor to capture the core essence of this youth movement? That metaphor could be- a butterfly! A butterfly which is first a larva, then a pupa in a cocoon, then a beautiful winged creature. Although sometimes butterfly represents the ephemeral beauty, it is also a symbol of transformation and resurrection, of new life arising of the old, of both delicateness and the umpteen possibilities of life. It signifies that life is worth living, even though our own personal contributions to making the world a happier place may be both fleeting and fragile. MAGIS, in essence, imparts this core message- there is a lot of difference between being a human being and being human! That in essence was the theme of MAGIS 2018- “Youth ambassadors of peace and reconciliation”.
MAGIS South Asia, a movement for the youth was initiated about 6 years ago, under the leadership of Fr Brian Pereira, JYMSA Secretary. Every year, the youth from different Provinces of South Asia take part in MAGIS to celebrate God, godliness and goodness. MAGIS convention offers a challenge to youth who are involved in a labyrinth of perplexities and are enamoured by the cushy aspirations of the corporate life with ‘I love me, my selfie, myself’ which obviously makes them thin-skinned to the social realities. MAGIS aims to reprogram youth with much wider perspectives towards life- you are what your driving desire is, as your desire is so is your will, as your will is so is your deed and your destiny. The purpose of MAGIS is to inculcate a holy desire to create a worthy beautiful human race, in order to take care of our precious planet. With these lofty aspirations, about 800 youth from most of the States of India gathered at Loyola College, Chennai, from 12 to 15 of January to participate in MAGIS South Asia - 2018.
MAGIS 2018 began with the inaugural march with the drum beats of traditional music of Tamil Nadu. The praise and worship led by Ms. Corrine Rasquina and team was spirit-warming and heart-elevating, and the procession that followed with the MAGIS Cross held high made the participants to walk closer with the Lord. The presentation of the MAGIS flags to the representatives of various provinces dressed in their traditional attire was a spectacular event. The excellent inauguration address by Fr Joe Arun, Fr Jebamalai Raja and Dr Chinnapan was followed by the icebreaking session which helped the participants to cross the their regional boundaries and connect with each other. The five MAGIS pillars- personal prayer, Apostolic Experiences, Eucharist, MAGIS circle and Ignatian Examination of Consciousness were the source of spiritual nourishment.
Then there were those magical moments of praise and worship under the open sky. The solemn Eucharist presided over by Most Rev. George Antonysamy. Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore who inspired the participants to be the catalysts of social change. A new MAGIS family was formed by dividing the participants into various groups. Then there was a motivational talk by Mr. George Ebenezer which evoked a thunderous applause. The penitential service led by Fr Arul Raja helped the participants to grow in close union with the Lord.
Wah - the Pongal festival – a celebration of joy and prosperity! The festive aroma that started with the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Fr Jayapathy Francis, Rector of Loyola College lasted throughout the day. The day was also marked by social outreach programme, an important component of MAGIS. The participants were charged by the spirit of giving, and giving more without counting the cost. Each one returned with a heart-moving experience which transformed many of them.
Oops! then the final day! MAGIS began with the pilgrimage to San Thome Church, Chennai which culminated with a meaningful Eucharistic celebration, presided over by Fr Danis Ponniah, Provincial of Madurai Province. The eastern sea of Chennai was beckoning, so the participants had a relaxing walk on the Chennai marine drive. The valedictory address was given by Fr. Jerry Rosario, the famed dynamo of care and concern for the anawim. Fr Paul Raj, the local coordinator of MAGIS 2018, gave a thoughtful vote of thanks. The organizers of MAGIS event, Fr Brian Pereira, Fr Paulraj, Jesuits of Loyola College Community and others left no stone unturned to make this event a phenomenal one. The participants left the portals of Loyola College Chennai, being formed and transformed to be the true ambassadors of peace and reconciliation.
MAGIS has come here to stay, because tomorrow it will be the Church of the youth. We need to understand that. And soon!
Sch Ashwin Cordeiro
On 8 December 2017, the Jesuit General Curia marked 90 years of presence at the current location on Borgo Santo Spirito 4, close to the Vatican. Here is an entry from the annals of the house for 8 December 1927:
On December 8, Father General (Wlodimir Ledochowski) wished to bless the new Curia under the auspices of the Immaculate Virgin, according to the formula of the Roman Ritual "pro nova domo benedicenda". The ceremony took place this way:
Starting from the lower floors, Father General gradually ascended to the higher floors. All the Fathers and Brothers of each floor, after having received the blessing, also went up following Father General upstairs.
On reaching the top floor, in front of the image of the Sacred Heart, placed at the head of the staircase, the consecration of the whole religious family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was solemnly renewed.
The JCSA Core Team held its third meeting on 13-14 January, 2018, at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, to take stock of the prevailing socio-economic and political situation in South Asia and articulate a Jesuit response to it. The meeting began with rich tributes being paid to one of its members, Dr. Ambrose Pinto SJ, who passed away on 3rd January. While paying homage to Dr. Pinto, the members felt that his life should inspire us to work with greater zeal for justice peace and reconciliation in the South Asian peninsula. The highlight of the meeting was the presentation on the "Assessment of the Socio-Economic and Political Situation in the Aftermath of Gujarat elections and their Implications on the Rest of India" by Dr. Lancy Lobo SJ, Director of Centre for Culture and Development (CCD), Baroda. The members expressed satisfaction at the progress made in popularising the JCSA Statement issued in July last year and the positive responses received from several Provinces in South Asia. The meeting considered the mandate of JCSA to formulate an effective response to the rise of extremism and fundamentalism in the South Asian region and has decided to organise workshops during the year to raise awareness and devise effective strategies to promote justice, peace, harmony and reconciliation in the region.
Ambrose pinto’s death after struggling with treacherous cancer for about Six months on 3 January of 2018 made me feel that this year would be bad for Dalits. His smiling face, hopeful of change, keeps flashing through my mind.
I last met him when I gave a special lecture at Indian Social Institute Bengaluru on January 20, 2017, in memory of Fr.Henry Volken S.J, who founded the institute. That evening we had dinner at Akar Patel, well known journalist’s residence. It was at that dinner I was supposed to meet with Gauri Lankesh also. But she did not turn up. The whole nation knows what happened to her later.
Ever since I met Ambrose in the early 1990s he impressed me and our friendship continued. He was a scholar with great concern for the poor, human rights and human dignity. As director of ISI Delhi he converted that institute into place of pro-Dalit Bahujan activism, theory and social interactions.
Earlier and later as principal of St.Joseph evening college he turned that college into a totally reserved place of SC/ST/OBCs students by undercutting upper caste seats. The issue went to the Chief Minister of Karnataka, who called him and asked why that college does not admit upper caste students at all? As Ambrose told the CM “When we were admitting only upper castes, without observing reservation principle no Chief Minister asked us why were doing that? Now we have decided to admit SC/ST/OBC students more than the reservation quota principle, why are you questioning now?” He continued that policy till he was in that college.
Because of his committed transformative agenda in the Christian educational institutions hundreds of slum, village SC/ST/OBC students entered into high end jobs all over the country.
He trained those students to speak good English and earn high quality degree which would make them stand on their own legs all through life. He was doing the same at the St. Aloysius college that he was heading while he passed away.
Ambrose Pinto, a Jesuit by training, a dalit liberator by belief was uncompromising on Dalit human rights. Though a life time Jesuit he never looked at human problems within the framework of religion. He was secular to the core. Anyone who reads his writing in news papers ( he was a regular contributor to Deccan Herald and other papers) and journals like Economic and Political weakly, Mainstream, and so on he comes out as convinced Marxist, without proclaiming so.
But at the same time his commitment to the Ambedkar’s ideology and liberation of Dalits and Adivasis by using democratic instruments and Indian constitutionalism is unshaken. He was an excellent negotiator between Marxism and Ambedkarism with a Christian conviction of liberation theology at the core of his understanding. He would not refer to Bible as much as he refers to Marx and Ambedkar in his discussions and writings.
Ambrose has given a new definition to the concept ‘Jesuit’, a person who lives as whole time God man, only occasionally in the Jesuit garbs but most of the time in T-shirt and simple pant to work for the liberation of Dalits and Adivasis.
When he was in Delhi Ambrose expanded the public space so much that the ISI, Delhi became a place for new wave democratic movements, even at a time when the Bharatiya Janatha Party was in power. It became a place of everyday activity for progressives, nationalists and humanists. Though it was a short period of three years within those three years he became a noted person in all the progressive circles of Delhi.
Any new book in the market, that has a liberative message would find a platform for release, wherever Ambrose worked. Any protest meeting against injustice found Ambrose walking with a placard in his hand in the front row.
With Ambrose leaving us, of course a same smile India looks poor, as a friend of Ambrose said in an E-mail message. In the absence of Ambrose also we must continue our work, which is as much his work.
Prof. Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University.
> > > http://www.countercurrents.org/2018/01/04/ambrose-pinto-gods-man-walked-talk/
With his tall, lean and thin figure, wearing round glasses and carrying his prized possession — a cloth bag around his shoulder — Father Bob Slattery is not difficult to identify.
The Australia-born Jesuit, who has been in India for nearly 60 years, continues his work among socially oppressed Dalits and ethnic minority people in the Hazaribag region of eastern India.
The 83-year old landed in 1958 in this area, now part of Jharkhand state, where the Jesuit Hazaribag Province is based.
“I volunteered for India because as a Jesuit I thought it would be good to serve the poor,” said Father Slattery, currently development director of the Hazaribag province.
His day starts early with prayers and he works late until night as his hands are full with planning and finding resources for the welfare of the indigenous and Dalit people.
The job is basically “to beg for funds, a challenging task,” he said.
Ever since he started his mission in Hazaribag, teaching at St. Xavier’s School, where most children are from Dalit and ethnic minority backgrounds, his priority has been education.
“I think my first feeling was of challenge and at the same time of being accepted by the students and the Jesuits here. I was happy because I enjoyed teaching,” he said.
Jharkhand has 32 small and big indigenous groups, with Santal being a major one. According to the 2001 census, these communities account for 7 million of the state’s population of 26 million.
Father Slattery speaks the languages of the indigenous Santal and Oraon groups, which he says helps him relate to them. He often visits villages, which also gives him an opportunity to meet village leaders.
He prefers to take public transport in the impoverished region as it gives him more opportunity to communicate with locals and know their problems, he said.
Australian Jesuits have been focusing on education since their arrival in India in 1951. Their mission has built up 13 high schools, seven middle schools, 12 primary schools and numerous small village schools.
The mission, spread across seven districts in the state, provides education to about 25,000 students from primary level to university education.
Jesuits also manage a university college and another college to train primary teachers. Plans are afoot to start another college to train teachers, Father Slattery said. It is his responsibility to find funds for the project.
Father Slattery, who has mostly served as a teacher and later as principal in various schools across the province, said he has always tried to maintain good relations with the staff and “I learned a lot from them.”
He has always cherished village life. “I liked it because the people were so good. We used to spend time in villages and stay around at night and rush to the nearby forest in the morning as there were no toilets in those days,” he said.
In 1978, Father Slattery was appointed as education director of the province. From 1993 to 1999, he was secretary for Jesuit education for South Asia and involved in launching schools in India, Pakistan and Nepal.
The priest takes simple meals like rice, Indian bread, pulses, vegetables and eggs. “I am blessed with good health, which I got from my parents. If you enjoy good health, naturally you will go ahead,” he said.
Father Slattery’s commitment to serve the indigenous and Dalit people in Hazaribag province was so intense that he gave up his Australian citizenship to become an Indian citizen in 1993.
“I thought if I got Indian citizenship I would have a good chance of staying in India,” he said, recalling that an Australian Jesuit was “evicted because he spoke up against the corruption in the country.”
The Jesuit priest keeps in contact with many of his students, even some he taught way back in 1958. He says it is great to meet them and learn that they are doing well.
Father Slattery says he enjoys being with students, teachers and fellow Jesuits.
“I will keep on working in the mission I have been given because that is what I am here for,” he said.
ROME - A pope is also the Bishop of Rome, and every once in a while, Romans expect to hear something special from their shepherd. On Sunday Pope Francis delivered, offering a New Year’s Eve homily expressing gratitude for his own Roman flock - although in terms, however, which will have resonance well beyond the Eternal City.
In effect, this was Pope Francis’s version of the famous 1969 “silent majority” speech by U.S. President Richard Nixon, suggesting that the concerns of ordinary people aren’t necessarily reflected in the rattle and hum of media coverage.
While Nixon meant the phrase as an assertion of support for his own conservative politics, Francis appeared to set up the silent majority in Rome as an alternative to politics of all sorts - meaning people, the pope said, who serve their communities not through noisy words, but quiet deeds.
The pope spoke during a vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica intended to offer thanks for the year coming to a close.
Over the past twelve months, Francis said, he’s felt “sympathy and gratitude for all those persons who, every day, contribute with small but precious gestures to the common good, who seek to do their duty as well as possible.”
“As the Bishop of Rome, I feel gratitude in my soul, thinking about the people who live with open hearts in the city,” Francis said.
As examples of that spirit, the pope began with a for-instance that will echo the frustrations of many a Roman resident - “those people,” he said, “who move in traffic with good sense and prudence.”
By consensus, the poor state of maintenance on Rome’s roads, the lack of accessible public parking, and the city’s paralyzing traffic, are among the top complaints from locals. For the last couple of decades, Rome has finished atop the list of European cities for both the highest number of auto accidents and fatalities. According to government estimates, the average Roman spends 227 hours every year in traffic jams, the equivalent of more than a week and a half, wasting a total of 135 million hours at a cost of almost $2 billion.
The pope then went on to cite other examples of heroism from the silent majority.
He praised “those who respect public places, and report things that aren’t right; those who are attentive to the elderly, and people in difficulty; and so on,” Francis said.
“These and a thousand other behaviors express concretely love for the city,” the pope said, adding that they come “without giving speeches, without publicity, but with a style of practical civic education for daily life.”
“In this way, they cooperate silently for the common good,” the pope said.
Francis also said he wanted to thank “parents, teachers and all educators who, with the same style, seek to form children and teenagers in a civic sense, with an ethics of responsibility, educating them to feel part [of the city] to take care of it, and to be interested in the reality that surrounds them.”
Francis offered thanks to all those who pursue those outcomes without fanfare.
“These people, even if they don’t make news, are the majority of the people who live in Rome,” he said.
“Among them are many who find themselves in economic difficulty,” he said, “but they don’t cry on each other, nor do they harbor resentments and grudges, but they try every day to do their part to make things a little better.”
Francis said that in offering thanks to God for the past year, he’s especially grateful for these “artisans of the common good, who love their city not with words but with deeds.”
In the opening to his homily for the vespers service, Francis said that New Year’s Eve breathes the “fullness of time,” not simply because a calendar year is closing, but because “the faith makes us contemplate and hear that Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, has given us the fullness of time of the world and of human history.”
Looking back to 2017, Francis said God gave humanity the year “whole and healthy,” but that once again, human beings “used it up and wounded it,” including through “lies and injustices.”
“Wars are the most flagrant sign of this persistent and absurd pride,” he said. “But so are the small and large offenses against life, against truth, against fraternity, that cause so many forms of human, social and environmental degradation,” the pope said.
Tomorrow, Francis is scheduled to celebrate a Mass honoring Mary as the Mother of God, followed by a noontime Angelus address.
On Jan. 6, Francis will preside over celebrations of the feast of the Epiphany, followed by his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican on Jan. 8. Those events are generally held to mark the end of the holiday season in the Vatican.
Full Text of Pope Francis’ 2017 Christmas Vigil Homily
“The faith we proclaim tonight makes us see God present in all those situations where we think he is absent. He is present in the unwelcomed visitor, often unrecognizable, who walks through our cities and our neighbourhoods, who travels on our buses and knocks on our doors."
Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7). In these plain and clear words, Luke brings us to the heart of that holy night: Mary gave birth; she gave us Jesus, the Light of the world. A simple story that plunges us into the event that changes our history forever. Everything, that night, became a source of hope.
Let us go back a few verses. By decree of the Emperor, Mary and Joseph found themselves forced to set out. They had to leave their people, their home and their land, and to undertake a journey in order to be registered in the census. This was no comfortable or easy journey for a young couple about to have a child: they had to leave their land. At heart, they were full of hope and expectation because of the child about to be born; yet their steps were weighed down by the uncertainties and dangers that attend those who have to leave their home behind.
Then they found themselves having to face perhaps the most difficult thing of all. They arrived in Bethlehem and experienced that it was a land that was not expecting them. A land where there was no place for them.
And there, where everything was a challenge, Mary gave us Emmanuel. The Son of God had to be born in a stable because his own had no room for him. “He came to what was his own and his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1:11). And there, amid the gloom of a city that had no room or place for the stranger from afar, amid the darkness of a bustling city which in this case seemed to want to build itself up by turning its back on others... it was precisely there that the revolutionary spark of God’s love was kindled. In Bethlehem, a small chink opens up for those who have lost their land, their country, their dreams; even for those overcome by the asphyxia produced by a life of isolation.
So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones. In many cases this departure is filled with hope, hope for the future; yet for many others this departure can only have one name: survival. Surviving the Herods of today, who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood.
Mary and Joseph, for whom there was no room, are the first to embrace the One who comes to give all of us our document of citizenship. The One who in his poverty and humility proclaims and shows that true power and authentic freedom are shown in honouring and assisting the weak and the frail.
That night, the One who had no place to be born is proclaimed to those who had no place at the table or in the streets of the city. The shepherds are the first to hear this Good News. By reason of their work, they were men and women forced to live on the edges of society. Their state of life, and the places they had to stay, prevented them from observing all the ritual prescriptions of religious purification; as a result, they were considered unclean. Their skin, their clothing, their smell, their way of speaking, their origin, all betrayed them. Everything about them generated mistrust. They were men and women to be kept at a distance, to be feared. They were considered pagans among the believers, sinners among the just, foreigners among the citizens. Yet to them – pagans, sinners and foreigners – the angel says: “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).
This is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim. The joy with which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same.
The faith we proclaim tonight makes us see God present in all those situations where we think he is absent. He is present in the unwelcomed visitor, often unrecognizable, who walks through our cities and our neighbourhoods, who travels on our buses and knocks on our doors.
This same faith impels us to make space for a new social imagination, and not to be afraid of experiencing new forms of relationship, in which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth. Christmas is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity, into power for a new imagination of charity. The charity that does not grow accustomed to injustice, as if it were something natural, but that has the courage, amid tensions and conflicts, to make itself a “house of bread”, a land of hospitality. That is what Saint John Paul II told us: “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ” (Homily for the Inauguration of the Pontificate, 22 October 1978).
In the Child of Bethlehem, God comes to meet us and make us active sharers in the life around us. He offers himself to us, so that we can take him into our arms, lift him and embrace him. So that in him we will not be afraid to take into our arms, raise up and embrace the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned (cf. Mt 25:35-36). “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ”. In this Child, God invites us to be messengers of hope. He invites us to become sentinels for all those bowed down by the despair born of encountering so many closed doors. In this child, God makes us agents of his hospitality.
Moved by the joy of the gift, little Child of Bethlehem, we ask that your crying may shake us from our indifference and open our eyes to those who are suffering. May your tenderness awaken our sensitivity and recognize our call to see you in all those who arrive in our cities, in our histories, in our lives. May your revolutionary tenderness persuade us to feel our call to be agents of the hope and tenderness of our people.
For the past five years, Father Joseph Kalathil SJ has been deli-vering letters to students in India and Pakistan, despite deep politi-cal animosity between the regi-onal arch-rivals. And this year, the Jesuit priest based in Chandig-arh, northern India, arrived at the Pakistani border on foot.
He informed fellow Jesuits in Pakistan about his presence at Wagah border crossing, located 24 kilometres from Lahore, in Pakistan’s Punjab Province.
“After getting through the passport control, it was only a five minutes’ walk and I was in another country,” Father Kalathil told.
The director of his self-styled “Peace Mission” delivered hand-written letters from 32 students at three Indian schools to two Catholic schools in Faisalabad diocese in Pakistan during his Oct. 22 to Nov. 9 visit.
He returned with parcels and replies to the letters he delivered.
Since 2012, he has delivered hundreds of similar colourful letters between students at educational institutes in the neighbouring countries. “I wanted to start with children,” he said. “I do not discuss religion or politics. Instead we discuss human rights, peace and friendship.” Sometimes young people rejected him, calling India an enemy.
(Source: The Light of Truth)