By A Elango and George Peter
New Delhi: The leader of Jesuits has urged his men to work hard to help people lead a dignified life amid refugee crisis, terrorist attacks and unjust social conditions.
“Every human being is holy and deserves respect. Such respect stems from our experience of God’s love,” Fr. Arturo Sosa said on February 19 during the first Mass he celebrated in India.
The superior general of the Society of Jesus arrived in the Indian national capital the previous day on an 11-day visit. He spent the night at the headquarters of South Asian Jesuits in Jor Bagh, New Delhi. Jesuits residing at the headquarters and at the nearby Indian Social Institute in Lodi Road attended the general’s Mass at the Jor Bagh chapel.
Father Sosa was on October 14, 2016, elected the head of the Society of Jesus, the largest Catholic religious congregation for men in the world. He chose India as the first country for his official visit. Indian accounts for the largest number of Jesuits in India.
During the homily, he urged his men to try their best to experience God’s love so that they can work hard to help all to lead “a human and dignified life” in the world.
The 68-year-old leader reminded his men that real conversion occurs only when people act according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and go beyond the law. “A profound conversion” happens when one is able to “turn the other cheek to” the evil, give it cloak or “walk extra mile with it."
Fr Sosa asked Jesuit to amend the way they normally relate to others so that they can experience this “profound conversion.”
The Venezuelan Jesuit reminded his Indian confreres that their religious life should be entirely dedicated to the promotion of justice, to the ministry of reconciliation among humans, to struggle to change social structures and establish right relation with creation.
The Mass was the Jesuit leader’s last engagement in New Delhi before heading for Jabalpur in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. He will attend the biannual meeting of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia comprising 19 provinces and two regions.
Fr Sosa’s last engagement on February 18 was a meeting with Jesuits of Delhi province at Navjivan Renewal Centre, a spirituality center at Raj Niwas Marg in Old Delhi.
During the talk, he spoke of certain important points in the life of a Jesuit. Every Jesuit, he said, is on a mission to find out God’s will through the discernment process taught by their founder St Ignatius of Loyola. This helps a member of the Society of Jesus to lead a consistent life of commitment for the Kingdom of God and its values.
The general also stressed the need for Jesuit communities to make Eucharist as its center and unifying force so that it could become a mission in itself while it works for God’s mission.
The Jesuit leader also emphasized the need of “affective and effective affinity” toward the poor. “We need to ask ourselves the basic question whether we work for the poor or if we are with the poor.”
The head of Jesuits, who are known as the schoolmasters of Europe, urged his Indian men to strive for “solid intellectual formation” not just for intellectual curiosity, but for the apostolate and to become effective witnesses of God’s Kingdom.
Fr Sosa stressed the need of networking and collaboration with people of good will. “We need to relate with our collaborators as companions in our mission, and not just co-workers in order to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. It is possible only when we are united with Christ in deep prayerful communion,” he added.
Jesuit Father Sunny Jacob, a resident of Jor Bagh, described him as a “very warm, friendly and welcoming” person.
~By Arul Elango
Delhi: The head of the Society of Jesus has urged members of his congregation to help humanize the world.
“It is the primary mission that is given to us,” Fr Sosa at Vidyajyoti, the Jesuit superior general, widely known as the Black Pope, told his men in India after arriving in the country in the early hours of February 18.
In his engagement in the country, the 68-year-old mustachioed priest, the first Latin American to head the largest Catholic religious congregation for men, addressed the staff and students of Vidyajyoti, the Jesuit theologate in the national capital.
He told them that they will receive the wisdom and strength to humanize the world when they contemplate Jesus and the Gospels.
The 45 minute talk was followed by interaction. Underscoring that the world is interdependent, we stressed the need for humans to root ourselves in spiritual values and deepen their scientific thinking to move forward with a shared mission.
Fr Sosa urged higher education centers managed by Jesuits in India to participate and collaborate and network in the mission of creating a humanized world. Jesuits manage 54 higher education centers, including theology and philosophy colleges.
He reminded the Jesuits that they can help in the mission only if they deepen their faith by experiencing Jesus.
Earlier, a team of the Delhi Jesuit province welcomed the superior general at the airport. He will remain in India until February 28. He is accompanied by his three General assistants – Fathers Vernon D’Cunha, Tomasz Kot and Lisbert D’souza.
After the talk, the general had a guided tour of Vidyajyoti Academic block located near the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi on Raj Niwas Marg.
The general and his counselors proceeded to Vidyajyoti Residence for noon prayer service and fellowship meal where Archbishop Kuriakose of Faridabad joined them. The prelate had earlier worked as a Vatican diplomat in Venezuela, Fr Sosa’s native land.
In the afternoon, the general attended the ordination of 23 Jesuit deacons by Archbishop Anil J T Couto of Delhi. The theme of the liturgy was “Rowing into the deep to Reconcile and Heal.”
In his homily, the archbishop remembered the terrorist attack in Lahore of Pakistan and exhorted deacons and others to work for reconciliation and heal the world with works of mercy and compassion.
Father Sosa ended his day’s engagement with an address to the members of Delhi province and other Jesuits working in Delhi.
Father Felix Raj, SJ, the principal of St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata is the first vice-chancellor of St. Xavier’s University.
“As vice-chancellor, my first task will be to form the Governing Board of the university, which will consist of 36 members,” Felix Raj said, adding that he would take over the reins of the Rajarhat University with “immediate effect”.
Father Jeyaraj Veluswamy, SJ, the chancellor of the university who appointed Fr. Felix Raj as VC, also appointed professor Ashis Mitra as registrar.
The bill for setting up the university, which is operational from February 8, the date of notification, was unanimously passed by the Assembly on December 15. Governor K.N. Tripathi gave his consent to the bill on January 16.
The Governing Board, which will include a state government nominee and a UGC representative, will meet for the first time on the University campus on April 28.
“St. Xavier’s College, which gave birth to the University, kept its quality for 157 years and has become the number one college in India with 3.77 CGPA out of 4. The university will emulate that. It will in no way compromise on quality,” Fr. Felix Raj told the press.
Teachers, to be drawn from both India and abroad, will be paid on a par with that of state universities. According to the St. Xavier’s University Kolkata Act, all St. Xavier’s colleges in the state can become constituents of the new institution.
“We will initiate the process (of adding colleges as constituents) only after we are properly established, which will take three to five years,” said Felix Raj, who joined the Jesuit Order in Calcutta in 1973 and has been associated with St. Xavier’s College Calcutta since 1984 in various capacities — lecturer, vice-principal, rector and principal.
The university will start its journey by offering the B.Com, BBA, M.Com, MA in English, Masters in social work and MA in journalism courses.
The academic block, a six-storied building with provisions to add another six floors, can accommodate 5,000 students in the first phase and is ready. It will house the offices of the VC, registrar, finance officer and the controller till the administrative building is ready.
In the first phase, the campus will also have the Jesuit residence, which will include the VC’s quarters, a library-cum-research block, the first phase of the hostels for both girls and boys and a utility building which will house a bank, an ATM, indoor games facilities, a cafeteria, a gym and staff quarters.
Also in the first phase, the campus will have an auditorium with 3,000 seats and a central assembly hall for students to meet for various activities, prayer and workshops.
By 2020 the campus will have two Halls of Fame, which will highlight the 500-year history of the Jesuits with a special focus on their work in the field of education across the world, history of St. Xavier’s, which has shaped luminaries such as Rabindranath Tagore and Jagadis Chandra Bose and an artistic museum showcasing Bengal’s culture.
A management development programme block is also on the cards, which will house the alumni office and also include conference rooms and residential facilities.
“In the second phase we would like to start a law college and a sports academy,” said Felix Raj.
Firdausul Hasan, honorary secretary, St. Xavier’s College Calcutta Alumni Association, said: “The university is the materialization of Father Felix Raj’s visionary dreams. We are thankful to him for giving us the chance to play our part in Vision 2020 and do something for our alma mater.”
--Rev. Fr. J. Felix Raj, SJ Principal
St. Xavier's College(Autonomous)
30 Mother Teresa Sarani
Kolkata - 700 016
Tel: 033-2255 1231 / 1230(D) Tel/Fax: 033-2287 9966 Res: O33- 2280 2800 / 2255 1235
Hospitality and Dialogue: Meeting Muslims in Ranchi
~Sch. Vimal Shishir Kerketta, SJ
Ranchi- Recently we did a course on Christian-Muslim Relations at Tarunoday, RTC, Ranchi. Victor Edwin, the instructor of the course made presentations on the faith and life of Muslims in India. He pointed out that religion can be studied from the texts of the particular religion (Textual Approach) or it could be done by understanding the religion from various human contexts (Contextual Approach). While emphasizing the importance of both approaches he suggested that the useful starting point will be learning from the people who practice a particular faith.
On a Friday, we set out to meet Imam Muhammad Misbahi at his madrasa. He is the Imam (faith leader) of the Muslim community in Bariatu, Ranchi, What impressed us most was his heartwarming acceptance and hospitality. Indeed dialogue and hospitality are complementary. We were reminded of the words of Pierre Francois De Bethune as he emphasized in his book: “Interreligious Hospitality: The Fulfillment of Dialogue”, that the words spoken within a hospitable environment take on their full force and meaning. Certainly hospitality is the environment that is best suited for any fruitful effort in dialogue. We recognized that exchanges, in hospitable tone, are given full and due consideration and thus leads to mutual enrichment. We were greatly impressed by the deep knowledge of the Imam on the faith and customs of the Muslim believers. He knew well the significant closeness that exists between Christianity and Islam. With great passion and enthusiasm, he narrated to us the deep spirituality of Islam.
During our interaction we reflected with the Imam on a number of issues that touch upon Christian Muslim Relations and Indian Muslims. The Imam was courteous in clarifying our doubts. He answered our questions with conviction, commitment and clarity. The media narrative of Islam should be taken with a pinch of salt as media has its compulsions, said the Imam. He encouraged dialogical engagements between believers: Muslims and Christians, for a fruitful learning about one another and loving one another. He highly appreciated our initiative to visit the mosque. He also admitted that we must come together to carry forward the efforts to build bridges between us to better our relationship.
Though the visit was short, yet, it had a lasting impression on us. We learnt that Islam is not what media-based pre-knowledge told us, but it has deep spirituality to offer to the world. The dialogue opened our eyes to see the significance of interreligious dialogue in this turbulent and restive environment in and around us. For us, it is one way of showing our solidarity to our wounded Muslim brethren who are attacked in various ways.
During our theologizing we picked up two important insights from our interaction with Imam Misbahi: first, conviction, clarity and commitment are at the heart of any serious religious conversation with other believers, secondly, hospitality, both receiving and giving, is an antidote to hostile relationships. As Christians we learn a lot from Muslims how to build up strong community relations between Christians and Sarna religious followers in the Tribal heartlands of Jharkhand and Chathisgarh. We felt dialogue with Muslims can deepen and purify our faith.
Islamic Studies Association and Indian Social Institute organizes the First Victor Courtois Memorial Lecture
The Islamic Studies Association and the Indian Social Institute jointly organized the First Victor Courtois Memorial Lecture at the Indian Social Institute on 27 January, 2017. Jesuit Father Victor Courtois was a pioneer in Christian Muslim Relations. He was a member of the Calcutta province. He worked tirelessly to build bridges between Christians and Muslims. He emphasized that Christian approach towards Muslims should be marked by respect and love and the gospel love. He anticipated the spirit of Nostra Aetate even before the document was born in the Vatican II. He regularly published The Notes on Islam a periodical that provided reading material that were scholarly as well as pastorally significant helping the readers to know Islam and to love Muslims.
Prof. Edward Joseph Alam PhD (Notre Dame University, Louaize, Lebanon) delivered the lecture entitled: Yousf /Joseph in Scripture and Tradition: Symbol of breaking violence of revenge in the three Abrahamic Religions. In his lecture Prof. Edward, in the the context of a René Girard-ian account of the origins of human culture, pointed out that in addition to Judaism and Christianity, Islam also has resources (found in the story of Joseph in the Holy Qur’an) for overcoming the contagious cycle of violence. Through a Girard-ian analysis of imitation and desire, rooted in an Aristotelian reading of these two categories, both similarities and differences are revealed between Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and the story of Joseph in order to underscore how, in the latter, the innocence of the innocent victim is revealed and protected resulting in a staunch refusal to allow the tricks of parasitic violence to continue its brutal cycle. Though the emphasis is on the resources found in Shiite Islam, other traditions of Islam and other religious traditions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, also contain similar resources.
In the spirit of Farther Courtois, the Islamic Studies Association honored three Muslim scholars: Associate Professor Khursheed Khan of the Delhi University, Associate Professor Waris Mazhari of Jamia Millia Islamia and Janab Ghulam Rassol Dehlvi, a research scholar in the department of Peace Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia for their deep commitment to interfaith Dialogue. A short video program on the life and work of Victor Courtois too was screened on the occasion.
Report by Victor Edwin SJ
Tarumitra, a movement initiated by a group of children and Patna Jesuit Society under the leadership of Fr. Robert Athickal, SJ in 1988 as a Forum for Environment with wide network across the country (India) has made remarkable contributions in the protection of environment. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations has granted a Special Consultative Status to Tarumitra from Jan 2005. Tarumitra as an organization and movement has been networking with students across the country creating awareness and action on issues such as water, organic farming, vehicular pollution, green belts, eco-spirituality, conservation of bio-diversity, conservation of electricity and promotion of renewable energy.
Tarumitra has initiated several bio reserves and eco centers. The Jesuit Province of Kerala’s Tarumitra wing organized Eco-Fest in Attappady on 18-19 January 2017. Hundreds of students, environmentalists and social activists from across the country participated in the fest. One such fest just is concluded.
Ms. Devopriya from Tarumitra along with two volunteers Ms. Neha and Rishad were part of the resource team.
Thanks to Fr. Lenin PS and Fr. James Morais and all associated with Tarumitra Family for such a successful and impactful eco-fest.
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/tarumitra.india
~Fr Siji Noorokariyil, SJ
Behind every show of zest and enthusiasm radiant at a gathering of the young, there lurks the mounting hope and tiring attempts of persons to create moments that matter and memories that endure. As Pilgrims poured in from all the Jesuit Provinces and Regions of South Asia; the resultant mélange of Ignatian youth and youth Animators brought to life: MAG+S 2016. A true festivity of faith, in which the Church`s great heritage of communion was mirrored in and beyond the portals of St. Joseph`s College Bangalore.
Between the 3rd and 7th of November, numbers nearing 900 responded to the vocation of ‘Giving without counting the cost” through creative service and discerned responses to life situations: ‘En todo amar y Servir’
In an Atmosphere of Fraternity the gathering welcomed the pro-tem Provincial of the South Asian Assistancy Fr. Keith Abranches, and founder of the New Ark Mission or Home of Hope Mr.T .Auto Raja who inaugurated the event on the 3rd evening. The presentation of Magis Flags by the representatives of different Provinces dressed in their traditional best set the tone for a spectacular evening. After the MAG+S Oath was administered, participants leaned in rapt attention as Mr. Auto Raja engaged with a panel of youngsters responding to their queries and sharing the profound motivation for his mission of service towards the dying and the destitute. His convictions were a testimony of the gospel which transformed and later helped him live its call magnanimously on the streets of Bangalore. A thunderous applause rose to meet him as he encouraged the participants to ‘Live More’ and ‘Be More’ for others.
With Praise and worship led by Mrs. Corrine Rasqhuina and her team - long standing friends of MAG+S a dint of prayerfulness was palpable in the air. Pilgrims devoutly welcomed and venerated the MAG+S Cross; their life - support for the journey, a symbolic replica of the WYD cross handed over to the youth on April 22nd 1984 by St. John Paul II.
Later that evening she cut the ribbon at the entrance of the Prayer Garden, a silent spot for Contemplation and reflective seclusion for all pilgrims. Many were in awe of the giant Labyrinth extending its invitation to walk closer with the Lord, even if it meant walking in circles.
While seasoned pilgrims effortlessly shook a leg at ice-breakers and caught up with their companions, some strut around the stage whispering “What is MAG+S?” In The Subsequent days, albeit to their delight, they would not merely come to know but learn to live the spiritual dictum of “More” embodied in the “Five Pillars Of MAG+S”
- Personal Prayers +
- Apostolic Experiences +
- Holy Mass +
- MAG+S Circle +
- Ignatian Examination of Consciousness
From its Inception in 2012, MAG+S South Asia has accompanied thousands of youth using this modus operandi charted by the “Sinner turned Saint’ –Ignatius of Loyola. It has opened many a youthful hearts to the promptings of the spirit that awakens.
On the Morning of the 4th, Personal prayer for the participants was enriched by sonorous praise and worship under the open sky. They were exultant when, pro-tem POSA father Keith Abranches celebrated the inaugural mass during which he submitted at the altar, a Diversity of petitions coming from all corners of the Assistancy. These culminated into one single prayer to the Lord for the success of MAG+S 2016 and the fruitfulness of our personal pilgrimage.
The gradual unfolding of the five pillars on a daily basis was as solemn and arresting as was it varied. While play-offs between different groups through Games, fun and frolic and cultural programs were the highlights of the evening, the better portions of the day were dedicated to community service and social outreach. Pilgrims actively attended to the terminally ill at Aids wards, leprosy Hospices and Cancer hospitals, some with tears in their eyes. Many were left mum and reticent at orphanages and old age homes, and quite a few returned to their dwellings exhausted after hours of cleanliness and awareness drives. Such display of generosity and selfless giving when strength and energy both were stretched beyond breaking point mirrored an outpouring of grace.
One of the Jesuit Co-coordinators emphasized the importance of the Ignatian Experiments in the following words. “…They encompass various activities that will lead to the participant’s personal and spiritual development. One gains the experience of living in community, of working with others, and of reflecting on these experiences. Therefore, the aim of these experiments is not to evaluate success or failure, but to help the participants discover themselves”
To this effect the Penitential Service on the eve of the first Experiments, bolstered the apostolic vigor of the pilgrims A score of priests administered the sacrament of Reconciliation , which was conveniently multi-lingual. A miniature MAG+S cross was handed to each in absolution. The Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was simultaneously arranged at a different venue. A dash of fervor was seen when creative liturgical celebrations were held outdoors and in different languages. Pilgrims were energetic even at first light as validated on the 5th morning, when they joined Bengalureans on a ‘Fight against Cancer Marathon’ in Cubbon Park at 5:30am. Late in the day they undertook the cleaning of the infamous K.R Market premises, drawing the adulation of the BBMP mayor and the paparazzi’s. To shift our focus slightly, this year’s MAG+S brought to the fore an aesthetic rendition of “Laudato Si” through an inventive Sound and light program. It was delightful to see pilgrims adorning various roles as part of their Art and Theater Experiment. Talk about finding God in all things.
Between their Spiritual and Apostolic Demands, participants had a fair share of talks and presentations to attend. In some sessions the crowd flew into splits of laughter and at others they squirmed in their seats. The catechesis intended therefore was impactful and the dialogue enriching. In contrast to the commonplace chatter, MAG+S Circles gave the members time to draw positively form the experiences of one another. Day after day pockets of pilgrim would gather around their animators and reminisce gratefully - the newness of their encounters. Perhaps this was complemented by the Daily Examination of Consciousness. Conducted after supper around the MAG+S cross, at times guided and at times personal, the Cross tugged on organizers and participants alike as they turned towards Gods Presence in remote preparation for the day to come.
One might have expected the exuberance to wane on the sunny 7th morning. “Is it the last day? So soon? Does it come to an end now?” … But the answer was a candid NO. Rangolis and charts dotted the campus, as participants prepared for a final competition thematically titled “More – For the Greater Glory of God”. In effect, they managed to leave an impression of the vitality and color that MAG+S has come to represent. Post the concluding mass, Participants avidly received their awards at the valedictory. The organizers took center stage eventually and the efforts of Fr. Brian Pereira, Mr.Ebenezer Sam and their team of Ignitors were lauded. A few minutes later, the MAG+S after movie thrilled the audience.
Undeniably, 5 days of fellowship and Ministry was coming to a close, but in hindsight, it was this send – off that renewed our pilgrimage towards Universal Service. Been formed – reformed and transformed by a collective experience. MAG+S has consigned to all, the Light that only Christ can give. Bearing a purpose under the banner of His cross now implies that we dazzle the world out of its omnishambles. Our last day together was allusive of embarking on our journey anew! And thus in the silence of our hearts echo the words that “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Ad Multos Annos
Sch. Reuell Paul S.J
The NAAC Peer Team visited St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata on the 9th & 10th of January 2017 to conduct the 3rd Cycle of intuitional accreditation.
The NAAC website has published the accreditation results today, January 24th 2017 and St. Xavier’s College has secured the highest Grade A++ with a CGPA score of 3.77 out of 4.
It is the highest grade awarded by the NAAC in the 3rd cycle in India. Only two other colleges have secured A++ with 3.76 CGPA, Cotton College in Assam and St. Joseph’s College in Kerala respectively.
Fr. Principal thanked the staff, students, parents, alumni/ae, benefactors and friends for their wholehearted cooperation. He congratulates all stakeholders and appreciates the success as the fruit of a collective effort.
Father Raj reiterated that this achievement is yet another milestone in our pursuit of our motto "Nihil Ultra" (Nothing Beyond).
The NAAC Peer Team handed over the final report to the Principal, Fr. Felix Raj on January 10th evening at the Exit meeting in the college auditorium.
--Rev. Fr. J. Felix Raj, SJ Principal
St. Xavier's College(Autonomous)
30 Mother Teresa Sarani
Kolkata - 700 016
Tel: 033-2255 1231 / 1230(D) Tel/Fax: 033-2287 9966 Res: O33- 2280 2800 / 2255 1235
Father General has appointed Fr Franck Janin as President of the Conference of European Provincials. Fr Janin is currently provincial of South Belgium and Luxembourg.
Born in France in 1958, Franck joined the Society of Jesus in 1984 in the Province of South Belgium and Luxembourg (BML). Part of his formation was in Toronto, Canada. He was socius of the novice master and novice master in the joint novitiate of North and South Belgium from 1995-2000 after which he joined the team in the spiritual centre of the South Belgian Jesuits near Namur, becoming the Director in 2002. He has been Provincial of BML since 2011.
“I am really honoured and humbled that Fr General has chosen me to take up this mission” said Fr Janin. “Europe is at a key moment in its history. Many people are wondering about its future. However Pope Francis recently said that Europe now “is called to rediscover its proper identity’ and that “this requires recovering its roots in order to shape its future’. I believe that the Society of Jesus, based as we are in so many parts of Europe has a valuable role to play in helping Europe recover these roots. Our spirituality, which helps people find God in their lives in a very personal way and be rooted in Him, which stresses the importance of dialogue between cultures, faiths and religions, which wants to promote reconciliation and justice (GC 36) has something precious to give. The question is how to offer what we have with humility but also with confidence. Europe is looking for a new vision. My hope is that we, European Jesuits and all of those with whom we share and carry the mission entrusted to us by Christ, together could be more and more a sign that unity and communion are possible.”
Key projects underway in the Conference just now include a project entitled Higher Education for Social Transformation, linking the Jesuit faculties and Universities with the Jesuit social centres. The CEP is currently also running an Ignatian Leadership programme as well as workshops on the safeguarding of minors.
“I am delighted that Franck Janin has been chosen by Father General to be the CEP President” said Fr. John Dardis, the current President. “He brings many great qualities including those of creativity, energy and real spiritual depth as well as expertise in discernment. The role of a Conference President involves building relationships among the Major Superiors and helping to promote a more universal vision. I pray that my successor will enjoy his new mission and that he will feel God’s closeness and love as he prepares to take up the role.”
The CEP is composed of 22 provinces and 2 regions and has over 4,000 Jesuits as well as thousands of collaborators. On July 31st, the provinces of South Belgium-Luxembourg and France will form one new province; Fr Janin has played a key role in this development.
Fr Janin will take office in late summer 2017.