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At their General Assembly in Rome this coming October,
Jesuits from across the world will reflect on their mission in today’s changing world
Who are the Jesuits?
The Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits, is a religious group of men in the Catholic Church. It consists of priests and brothers, committed to the integral development of all peoples, irrespective of caste, creed or origin, through lives of selfless service.
Today Jesuits can be found on all five continents, working in collaboration with other like-minded organizations, to further a vision of world peace and harmony. Central to their means is the struggle for justice, that is, a right relationship with God, other human beings and the cosmos.
Ever so often – usually on the death or resignation of a Superior-general – representatives of the whole body meet to take stock of the life and mission of the entire organization. This is known as a General Congregation (GC), and on October 1, 2016, a group of about 220 elected members will do this work on behalf of the rest – 16,376 Jesuits worldwide.
In its 476 year history, the Society of Jesus has had only 35 such General Congregations. Most of them were convened to elect a new leader on the death of the previous incumbent, but the forthcoming General Congregation (the 36th) will accept the resignation of the present Superior-General, Adolfo Nicolas, elect a new one, and also provide a road map to the organization for implementation in the immediate future.
The GC is the highest legislative body in the Society and much painstaking groundwork goes into its preparation, execution and follow up.
A corporate, forward-looking exercise
The 36th General Congregation will convene in Rome, at the Jesuit headquarters. The South Asian Jesuit delegation which represents India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan, comprises 46 members, and will include all the provincial superiors (20), and elected delegates with Fr George Pattery, SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia.
The assembly will begin with the election of a successor to Father General Adolfo Nicholas, who is stepping down after nine years in office. Thereafter the work of the congregation will continue to deliberate upon the state of the world and the works undertaken by the Jesuits, to see how it can improve upon the quality of its service to the Church and the world. The presence of Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit, at he helm of the Church, will add special significance to this General Congregation.
No organization can survive if it does not keep adapting its goals, structures and strategies to present needs. Given the fast pace at which the world is changing, Jesuits can ill afford to implement yesterday’s solutions to the challenges of the future.
To take just one example, digital technology has revolutionized not just the way we communicate with each other, but also the way we behave: think, feel and act. Though evaluation and discernment is built into the very structure of the way the Society of Jesus functions, there are moments when a corporate discernment, leading to a fresh mandate for mission, is called for. In this light GC 36 will focus on, revitalizing the life and mission of the Jesuit body, in keeping with the world as we know it today.
What to expect
As the Society is a body led by the Spirit of God, GC 36 is sure to spring some surprises with the decrees and perspectives it comes up with. Nevertheless, going by the discussions held so far, there are some things we can expect the congregation to make its mind clear on. Two major areas come to mind.
First, the internal life of the organization, where it will have something to say about how to renew the lives of individual Jesuits and the communities they live in. It will call for a more thorough assimilation of the inspiration of its founder, St Ignatius of Loyola. Are the founder’s values still relevant ?
It will also call for structures of governance that are prompt to respond as a corporate body to exigencies that crop up on a routine basis, as well as those that are emergency situations, like the April 25, 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
Another important area is that of the formation or training of younger Jesuits to keep pace with the changing contours of mission across the world. The challenges of the 21st century are digitalization, globalization, consumerism, growing nationalism, fundamentalism, compromises made on value-based choices, a genuine concern for the poor and marginalized, etc. A ‘new formation’ will invite trainees to expose themselves to these challenges; cultivate a critical, analytic mind; and prepare them to commit themselves to work alongside mixed teams of people: religious and non-religious, men and women, believers and non-believers.
Meeting challenges from the world
Yet another area in which the GC could show the way is by pointing out the challenges coming from outside the Society and how they are to be met.
It will surely have something to say about how we must be more ecologically pro-active, to save and protect our common home – Mother Earth. How we need to adopt ways of living, and insist on the need to go beyond mere rhetoric and get down to action on behalf of the environment.
Another major issue is that of the exponential increase of migrants and refugees across the world in the last decade, with every war and area of strife.
It will reemphasize the need for collaboration, with those who are partners with the Jesuits in mission, and not just paid colleagues. It will at the same time indicate the need to extend collaboration within the Society itself through inter-provincial and inter-conference common ventures. Thus newer frontiers will be opened, and the universal dimension of the Jesuit vocation taken more seriously.
There is a demographic shift taking place within the universal Society, wherein a majority of the Jesuits now live and work in the continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America. This will surely call for a different approach to formation and the way it addresses the challenges of mission.
It will undoubtedly point to the need to refocus on the option for the poor. In the context of South Asia these consist of the dalits, tribals, the unorganized sector, the women and children, the migrants (Internally Displaced Persons) and the refugees. All of them easy victims of unscrupulous elements and exploitation in society, whether from indiviuals, groups or from systems.
The GC will draw our attention to the growing threat of religious and political acts of terror being perpetrated in our world, causing untold suffering, insecurity and leading to mistrust among peoples. There will have to be a renewed effort at dialogue with all religions to get them to desist from using religion as a means of division; and work towards building a world safe for all peoples, based on justice, love, mercy and amity, for all.
A direction, not a template
The GC will complete its work in a matter of six to eight weeks. It will not define everything in solid stone, but will provide pointers and guidelines to possible solutions. On returning from Rome, the delegates will have to initiate a process of reflection on its decrees ; elicit the support of the Jesuits in the provinces, and translate the guidelines into concrete plans of action for the next few years.
*It’s an old joke but it still elicits smiles all around: Which are the three things that even God doesn’t know ? First. Where do the Don Bosco fathers get all their money? Second. How many nuns are there in the Church? And third. What will the Jesuits do next ?
For more information , contact Fr William K. Abranches, SJ, Secretary to the Provincial of South Asia, New Delhi. email@example.com
Dear Friends PCEs / Jesuits/ Teachers
This is to inform you and invite you
for the West Zone Jesuit Educators Seminar on Ecology.
The Seminar is named as INTEGRAL ECOLOGY, INTEGRAL PEDAGOGICAL PARAGIGM
As suggested by POSA the seminar will be held jointly by JEA & JHESA .
It will be held at PG block , Pune from 26 – 28 November ,2016.
The Seminar will be for the Jesuit Principals and Staff of the West Zone.
It is a joint venture in collaboration with the Dept. of Interreligious Studies, St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.
West Zone schools and colleges are hereby encouraged to book your place as early as possible.
There are 10 seats for each of the West Zone Provinces.
The total number of participants is restricted to 40. Hurry Up! Register your name.
INTEGRAL ECOLOGY, INTEGRAL PEDAGOGICAL PARAGIGM
Dates : 26 – 28 November 2016 ( arrival before 5 pm on 26th )
Place : PG Block , JDV PUNE
Resource Persons :
Dr. Barry H. Rodrigue (USA), Dr.Mojgan Behmand (USA),
Dr. Orla Hazra (Mumbai)
Registration fee : Rs. 2500 (Pay at the registration Place)
Coordinator and Contact person :
Fr. Mario Fernandes, SJ (PCE, PUNE)
~~~~~~~SUNNY JACOB, SJ JEA Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
The Annual Meeting of the Assistancy Coordinators was held in Indian Social Institute, Bangalore from 3 to 5 August 2016. The first two days were allotted for the Spiritual Animation Process conducted by Frs. Julian Fernandes, R.C.Chacko and Raj Irudaya. Some members of the ISI community also joined the SAP. The participants were quite open and enthusiastic about vibrating with the call of Fr. General and GC 35 on the need of Restructuring in the SJ, in particular in our Assistancy. It was a moment of renewing ourselves in the very spirit and charism of the Society to prepare ourselves for the universal mission of the Society.
The third day was devoted to the sharing of the annual report of the commissions. Their joys, concerns, dreams in their ministry of being an Assistancy coordinator were frankly shared. We had fruitful discussions on the common issues that emerged from our sharing. They also came out with two models of restructuring the 14 commissions which will be forwarded to the Sub Commission on Governance. Fr. POSA attended the proceedings of the third day, encouraged and inspired us. We were also happy to listen to him about the various preparations going on for GC 36. The entire meeting was organized by Raj Irudaya, the Convener of the Forum of the Coordinators of the Assistancy Commissions. We are extremely grateful to the ISI community especially to Fr. Selva, Director and Fr. Francis, Administrator for their warm hospitality.
Report by Fr Raj Irudaya
The JCSA Meeting held in Secunderabad with Fr. General in February 2016 deliberated on the theme: “Intellectual Apostolate – A Learned Approach to all Jesuit Ministries”. Laudaoto Si was taken as a model for a learned approach and it was studied. The socio-pastoral and theological dimensions of Laudato Si were presented respectively by Fr.M.K.George, Provincial of Kerala and Raj Irudaya, ADF. In the deliberations that ensued the presentations, it was also discussed how South Asian Assistancy could respond effectively to Laudato Si. Several approaches and action plans were proposed to be implemented in respective provinces. In order to give a boost to this apostolic venture, a catchy phrase was formulated as Green and Clean South Asia: JCSA for GCSA.
ADF organized a competition among the Scholastics of the three common houses. From the very few entries we got, the Logo designed by Sch. Deva Arockia Stephen, a second year Arul Kadal RTC Scholoastic won the first prize. Hope this Logo will inspire us to put into concrete actions Laudato Si, the landmark and timely encyclical of our dear brother Jesuit Pope Francis.
~Raj Irudaya, SJ Assistancy Delegate for Formation (ADF)
Guided by Maneri contains the fruits of a Sufi wisdom tree whose seed was planted in the fertile soil of the heart of a Jesuit. The seed of Sufi wisdom is from Sharafuddin Maneri, the revered Sufi saint of Bihar, and Paul Jackson is the Jesuit in whose heart this seed was sown. In this book, Jackson shares the fruits of the spiritual wisdom of the Muslim saint that nourished him over many decades.
In his foreword to the book, Christian W Troll, well-known Jesuit scholar of Christian-Muslim relations, writes: “I do not know of any outline of the spiritual path, in all its stages, of an outstanding Sufi that could in any way match the qualities of the present text. Maneri’s teaching is marked by an extraordinary balance, by a remarkable psychological finesse, and, most importantly, by sound and thoroughly reasoned spiritual judgement based on a life of prayer deeply rooted in faith and relentless pastoral service”. Troll highlights Maneri’s teachings in the following words: “[Maneri’s] teaching combines total God-centeredness with the constant emphasis on verification of genuine love of God by service, by the desire to bring comfort to hearts”.
Over the years, Jackson has deeply inherited and has been nourished by the wisdom of the Muslim saint, whom he addresses as ‘my saint Maneri’. Troll emphasizes this in the following words: “... Paul Jackson, since 1961, has shared the harsh climate and stark life-conditions of Maneri’s Bihar. He has emulated Maneri in rigorous study, sustained teaching activity and in relentless service of the people. Not surprisingly, then, that Guided by Maneri presents us with both a uniquely knowledgeable and empathetic insight into a truly great Sufi’s spiritual path as well as the inner striving to understand and emulate him by a congenial Christian disciple and scholar”.
As emphasized by Troll, one of the chief characteristics of Manerian spirituality is bringing loving comfort to aching hearts. Prof. Edward J Alam, of Notre Dame University, Louaize (Lebanon), too, draws attention to this point. In the back cover of the book, he says: “...by allowing the medieval saint to live again in these modern times, Jackson is able, via the message of Maneri, to offer consolation to so many aching hearts—wounded by senseless acts of violence committed in the name of religion”.
While giving the permission, the Nihil Obstat, to publish this book, the Provincial of South Asia, Fr George Pattery SJ, wrote: “The depiction of Maneri’s understanding of discipleship and its demands is well done. The language of the book is simple and makes easy for reading. It will be beneficial to a wide readership”.
The book is available with the Publishers, Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, as well as the Secretary of Islamic Studies Association. For copies, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
~ Victor Edwin SJ
Patna Province: St. Ignatius School, Aurangabad
St. Ignatius School celebrated the feast of St. Ignatius with great joy and enthusiasm. As a preparation for the feast, the school conducted special assemblies for eight days for the teachers and students. They took special interest to make the assembly more creative and meaningful. Each day one Ignatian theme was chosen for the assembly.
Day 1: Life and conversion of St. Ignatius.
Day 2: Need for Education
Day 3: Promotion of justice
Day 4: Respect for other faiths
Day 5: Care for environment
Day 6: Magis
Day 7: For the greater glory of God
Day 8: Finding God in all things.
All the themes were dramatized during the assembly by the students with the help of teachers, and through this they conveyed the message of Ignatian values. Though 99 % students in the school are Hindus and Muslims, the enthusiasm and interest among the students were praiseworthy. Through our assemblies we try to communicate to the students the values of Christ.
On 30.07.2016 the school celebrated the feast of St. Ignatius, the patron of the school. A spectacular cultural progarmme was arranged by the teachers and students on this occasion and all the Jesuits were well facilitated. Fr. Norbert the superior and secretary of the school delivered an inspiring message to the teachers and students. In his message he highlighted the theme of ‘magis’. He advised the students to do more in everything they do and not to be satisfied with minimum. ‘Develop your personality and excel in everything you do. He encouraged them to develop the attitude of to be more, to be a more loving and a caring person in the society. He also called the students and teachers to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. In his message he emphasized on the 4 Cs that is compassion, conscience, competence and commitment. Jesuit education always gives emphasis on these 4 Cs.
The students as a token of their love and appreciation to the Jesuit fathers contributed rupees twenty five thousand which will be used for special school activities. The teachers also felicitated all the Jesuits with gifts. Prior to the feast a number of competitions were held and the winners were given prizes on this occasion. Frs. Francis S.J and Michael SJ took extra effort to organize the special assemblies for the feast. Fr. Richard D’Souza SJ, principal expressed his gratitude to the teachers and students through a vote of thanks. Students were given snacks and the teachers had breakfast with the Jesuits.
In the school we give importance to tolerance and respect for all religions by celebrating festivals of other faiths. As I said that majority of our students and teachers belong to Hindu and Muslim faiths there is a bond of unity among the teachers and students. The teachers and students have been taking special initiatives to organize the feast of St. Ignatius and Christmas every year. The teachers and students look forward to this occasion very enthusiastically.
_ Fr. Richard D'Souza SJ
Darjeeling Province: St. Peter’s Higher Secondary School, Gayaganga
The feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, known as ‘Loyola Day’ in the school, was celebrated with lots of enthusiasm by the staff, students and the management. There was a two day- long celebrations on July 29: Classes 5- 8 (for 965 students) and on 30 July: Classes 9, 10, 11 & 12 (for 1150 students). The celebrations included a two hour long variety/cultural entertainment programme. The homilist during the Eucharistic celebration on the final day highlighted the life of the saint. Refreshment was served to all the students and a sumptuous festal lunch to all the staff. A week before the actual celebration of the feast, the Headmaster briefly explained to the staff and students various Jesuit themes and ideals such as Magis, A.M.D.G., the Examination of Conscience, Finding God in All Things, etc. Posters and sketches about St Ignatius were put up.
_ Fr. Cherian Maliekal, SJ