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~ P. A. Chacko S.J.

Jharkhand Governor Droupadi Murmu’s returning unsigned the CNT-SPT Amendment Bill of the state legislature appears to be another milestone in the long string of successful tribal movements these past two centuries have witnessed. The ‘cauldron bubble’ set in motion by the rightwing BJP led Raghubar Das government has been quarantined at least for the time being due to the tsunami wave of protests from the Jharkhandis. On July 3rd the government announced the withdrawal of the provisions which were meant to empower the government to convert agricultural land into non-agricultural, read commercial, purpose. Whether the state government’s tactical move is a temporary truce to douse the tribal anger and will the BJP cauldron bubble again are to be seen.

 

With a wafer-thin majority in the 81 member House the Das government passed the Bill by voice vote on Nov. 23, 2016. The fractured opposition was taken for a ride as its weak-lunged dissent was drowned in the voice vote.  It is also reported that the Tribal Advisory Council, consisting of most of the tribal legislators, had earlier passed the government’s proposal after discussing it. That was where the tribal politicians went napping and woke up later when the wave of common people’s fury began to engulf Jharkhand.

Joining hands with the common cause of the Jharkhandi adivasis were men and women of different walks of life, voluntary agencies, various religious communities and student organisations. Cardinal Telephone Toppo of Ranchi headed a delegation to the Governor pointing out the human right aspect of people’s resistance. It was a timely response of the church which felt that in this sad predicament people cannot be left in the lurch.

The tribals have every reason to resist the bulldozing state. Their tribal homeland is not BJP’s or Sang Parivar’s patrimonial bounty. Two centuries of tribal unrests and uprisings against exploitation of money lenders, land grabbers and cunning business conglomerates had not gone in vain. The blood of tribal leaders like Sido-Kanhu, Birsa Munda and other tall leaders still runs in the veins of today’s tribals.

 

The indigenous people know very well that the alien world of exploiters in the garb of modern rulers and their business gangs is out to displace and decimate them. Already the indigenous population which was claimed to be over 70% a few decades earlier has been reduced to 26% in the state. In order to reduce this number further the Das government has introduced the local residential policy by granting residential permit to outsiders for flimsy reasons. Many adivasis also realise that the move of the state government to dispossess them of their ancestral land is within the agenda of the national federal government to create Hindu nation. In many ways the indigenous are told that they are fallen away Hindus and, hence, ought to get back to the family fold (Ghar Wapsi) or face the consequences. Anti-conversion propaganda and ban on beef-eating, beating or killing people suspected of beef consumption are terrorising tactics.

 

In a recent post Jharkhand-based Jesuit colleague Stan Lourdusamy points out that, ‘From the time of independence up to now a staggering of 2.4 million acres of land has been forcibly acquired all in the name of development. Consequently 1.7 million adivasis have been displaced. The sad fact is not a single adivasi person or community has ever been rehabilitated... Only minimal cash compensation was thrust upon them and after that they were neatly forgotten.’  In addition, illegal mines and quarries dotting Jharkhand by hoodwinking innocent tribals and in connivance with the bureaucracy are monuments of mockery.   The wealth of Jharkhand with its 40% mineral wealth share in India is appropriated by non-adivasis in connivance with the bureaucracy-politician complex. According to Jharkhand-based news agency, Prabhat Khabar of June 2017, more than 1000 fake land deeds of past 16 years have been unearthed.’ This is but a tip of the iceberg!

The state governor being a tribal could very well understand the harm such a bill poised for legislation will do to the tribals. No wonder, even as she had her political affiliation to the ruling party, she justifiably expressed her tribal sentiments by returning the bill with the appropriate query: “How will it benefit the tribals.”

If the BJP cauldron bubbles again, one can be sure that the unanimous wave of emotional bond to their ancestral land demonstrated by men, women and children spilling out on to every public space and crying foul will take Himalayan proportions!

 

{The author is the in-charge of Arrupe Tibal Culture Centre & Mission, Bhognadih, Shaibganj, Jharkhand}

 

 

 


 

12 Jul 2017 - 14:42

Xavier Centre for Historical Research (XCHR) inaugurated its Jesuit Studies South Asia programme with a Conference entitled Towards a History of the Jesuits in South Asia: Post-Restoration Period. The Conference was formally inaugurated by the Provincial of Goa, Fr. Rosario Rocha SJ, on June 29th in the presence of around 30 Jesuit and lay participants from the four South Asia administrative zones (North, South, West and Central). The Conference presentations and discussions highlighted the rich and complex Jesuit narrative in South Asia.

 

 

 

The 16 formal paper presentations, ranging geographically from Nepal to Kerala, showcased the vast Jesuit involvement in South Asia. The papers covered topics such as, Jesuit archival sources in India and Rome; Adivasi outreach in Central, Southern and Western India; research in botanical and physical sciences;  education, art and architecture; missionary activities and interfaith and intra-faith relations, etc. Open house discussions, break-out group sharing, and one-on-one campus encounters made for exciting intellectual exchanges and possible collaborative ventures.  The participants were pleased to discover (some for the first time) the multi-cultural Jesuit heritage across South Asia. The papers will now be edited for publication in 2018.

 

 XCHR, proved to be a fitting venue for the Conference. The well laid out infrastructure within a green, clean and quiet campus provided the right atmosphere for intellectual and social exchanges. Our sister institution next door, the Konknni Language Centre, served as an excellent venue for hospitality and social exchanges. A cultural performance of song and dance by the neighbouring villagers of Socorro regaled the entire conference audience.

 

Finally, following in the footsteps of Francis Xavier, the Conference climaxed with a Eucharistic celebration at the mausoleum of the Saint at the Basilica of Bom Jesus, in historic Old Goa.   

 

The newly inaugurated Jesuit Studies South Asia programme, has plans to expand its activities through seminars, study, research, conferences, publications, etc. The primary aim of Jesuit Studies is to promote research and the publication of scholarly articles for wider circulation world-wide. Should you or others you know be interested in the Jesuit Studies project kindly get in touch with us at:

 Jesuit.studies@xchr.in  or   xchr.studies@gmail.com
 
 
 
 
Savio Abreu SJ, Rinald D’Souza SJ, Anthony da Silva SJ                                                                    
Organizers,  Jesuit Studies South Asia.

8 Jul 2017 - 07:39

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

~Victor Edwin SJ


 

20 Jun 2017 - 07:14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Jesuits in Ireland


 

2 Jun 2017 - 07:44

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

~Mita Mukherjee


 

9 May 2017 - 08:09

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read the story, click at the link below:

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


 

2 May 2017 - 06:49

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

[ Loyola College, Chennai]
 

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

 

The ranking conducted by NIRF is based on 5 parameters:

1. Teaching Learning Resources(100)

2. Research and Professional Practice(100)

3. Graduation Outcomes(100)

4. Outreach Inclusivity(100)

5. Perception(100)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


 

[ St Xavier's College, Kolkata]

 

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

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


 

25 Apr 2017 - 07:25

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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


 

25 Mar 2017 - 07:12

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

We will not stop.

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

 

Courtesy:  Jesuit Superiors of Madagascar (JESAM)


 

22 Mar 2017 - 06:31

By A Elango

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

1 Mar 2017 - 07:12

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