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In terms of distance, there is little that separates India from Sri Lanka. At Park Strait – what is also termed as Adam’s bridge or Rama Setu, the distance between Rameswaram (the South Eastern tip of Tamil Nadu - India) and Talai Mannar (on the North Western side of Sri Lanka) is only 50 kms or 18 nautical miles. Prior to the 15th Century (1480) when a cyclone broke up the land mass the route was passable on foot.

For the JCSA a small hop into neighboring Sri Lanka turned out to be a giant step. It connected us not only to Sri Lanka but the other countries that constitute the South Asian Assistancy – Pakistan to the North West and Bangladesh to the North East of India.

In a historic meeting representatives of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh were able to present before the JCSA: The Secular History of their countries; The History of the Jesuit presence there; and The Challenges and Opportunities they faced. For Fr General Arturo Sosa, three of his general councellors and the JCSA members, it was a time out from their busy schedules to listen attentively to the needs and aspirations of the Jesuits in these countries. It was also a time to discern what and how the Lord was calling them to respond to the apostolic needs there.

The presentations threw up many avenues for apostolic collaboration and networking. Let it suffice here to present one significant area from each of the countries. For Sri Lanka it was in the area of Reconciliation: After the long drawn out 30 year civil war, there is a crying need for reconciliation based on justice and forgiveness, to restore the shattered trust between the communities. For Pakistan it is the need to feel supported amidst the threats of being engulfed by majoritarian politics, but at the same time without playing the victim card, reaching out to build bridges of peace, non-violence, and amity with the Muslim majority. For Bangladesh it is finding their footing as a Jesuit mission. Through a good strategic plan; building themselves up as a united team scattered as they are around the country; and emphasizing more strictly on the Jesuit way of proceeding.

Fr General’s presence was stimulating and encouraging. He spoke to us on rededicating ourselves to the goals of GC 36 and had pertinent guidelines for a couple of other issues related to governance. Fr Victor Assouad (the General Councellor for Western Europe) and a native of Alleppo – Syria, gave us a good picture of what has happed and is happening in Syria and the Middle East these days.

In all the meeting enabled us to reach out in solidarity to the South Asian Countries on the margins. To include them and express the will of the JCSA to engage in the development of the Jesuit mission there.

Report: Fr Keith Abranches, SJ (Socius JCSA).

3 Mar 2018 - 08:34

Mangaluru, March 01, 2018: The Superior General of Society of Jesus Rev Fr. Arturo Saso, visited St. Aloysius College on his tour to coastal city of Mangaluru, here on Thursday.

Addressing the gathering Fr. Arturo Sosa said, "We need to focus on three types of reconciliation namely reconciliation of humans, reconciliation of nature and reconciliation of god. We need to make our roots stronger by excluding violence and hatred." "Biological sensitivity and sustainable development is a important orientation", he added. His also touched upon several other topics such as education, sense of collaboration and practicality of life.Fr. Sosa was greeted according to the Indian tradition with a garland, tender coconut and cultural procession. Later the students of St. Aloysius Institutions rendered an array of coastal folk art and dance form. His delegation included Fr. Stanislaus D’Souza Provincial of the Karnataka Jesuits, Fr. Lisbert D’Souza, Regional Assistant South Asia, Bombay Province and reverends from Rome.. Fr. Sosa was joined by the Rector of Aloysius institutions Fr. Dionysius Vas SJ, Principal of the college Fr. Dr. Praveen Martis SJ for a formal function.

 

For Photos of Fr. General's Srilankan Visit and JCSA meet go to the Gallery

2 Mar 2018 - 05:52

Thirty three Jesuit Scholastics of the Vidyajyoti College of Theology from 13 Jesuit Provinces of South Asia were ordained Deacons on Saturday, 24 February by Archbishop Anil JT Couto at the Millennium Hall, St Xavier's School, Delhi. The men who were ordained chose "prophetic shepherds for transformation" as their theme for the Eucharistic liturgy. 

The principal concelebrants were Fr Michael T. Raj SJ, the rector of Vidyajyoti Jesuit Faculty who presented the candidates to the Archbishop and Fr. P.R. John SJ, the principal of Vidyajyoti College of Theology. 

Archbishop, himself a visiting professor at Vidyajyoti, in his homily reminded the candidates the giftedness and the demands of their vocation. He encouraged them to give themselves fully to the mission they are called. 

"While the choir sang mellifluously the litany of saints the deacons prostrated prostrated before the altar. I felt deeply moved to pray for many such wonderful vocations to serve the mother Church", remarked Mr. Vinay Kullu a friend of one of the newly ordained deacon. 

 

Victor Edwin SJ

26 Feb 2018 - 05:03

Holy Father Returns to Vatican after Final Retreat Meditation

February 23, 2018

 

Pope Francis returned to the Vatican on February 23, 2018, after the conclusion of the week’s spiritual exercise, but not before hearing challenges by Fr José Tolentino Mendonca, preacher of the retreat.

Echoing the Pope’s words, Fr. Tolentino urged those in the retreat to listen to the thirst of those living on the periphery, according to Vatican News.  In that way, “the Church will rediscover herself.”

In his talk the afternoon of February 22, Fr. Tolentino recalled that “the voice of God should always confront us with the primordial question: ‘Where is your brother’?”  And he reminded the retreatants that 30 percent of the world’s people do not have clean drinking water in their homes.

He suggested that “the periphery is in the DNA of the Christian.”  In fact, he pointed out that Jesus was born on the periphery, in Nazareth, “a name so insignificant that it is one of the rare places in Palestine that was never named anywhere in the Old Testament.”

In his final meditation, the morning of February 23, Fr. Tolentino spoke of the Beatitudes, calling them not just words or laws, but the key to Jesus’s life. In Jesus, we see a model of living out each of the beatitudes.

For Christians, the Beatitudes are a “self-portrait of the one who pronounced them,” according to Fr Tolentino. Jesus presents “an image of himself which he is constantly revealing to us and imprints on our hearts.” It gives us a model to “transform our own image.”

Sunday afternoon, Feb. 18, 2018, Pope Francis departed the Vatican to participate in his annual Lenten Spiritual Exercises at Casa ‘Gesù Divin Maestro’ (the Divine Master House) in the town of Ariccia near Rome. Originally, the Spiritual Exercises took place in the Vatican, but Pope Francis moved them to the retreat house, 16 miles outside of Rome.

Fr. José Tolentino Mendon, who led the meditations, is a Portuguese priest and Biblical theologian and vice-rector of the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon.

25 Feb 2018 - 13:30

https://www.ucanews.com/news/young-photographers-zoom-in-on-christian-life/81497

Magisbangla, a Jesuit-run youth movement in Bangladesh, held a photography competition and exhibition to feature Christian life that also attracted Muslim and Hindu photographers.

The event, titled "The face of Christ in the faces of faithful," was held at the Catholic Church-run Bottomley Home Girls' High School in Tejgaon, central Dhaka, on Feb. 10-11.

A total of 69 photographs were showcased in the exhibition out of 164 images submitted by 48 young photographers.

Magisbangla coordinator Jesuit Father Pradeep Perez said the initiative drew inspiration from the teaching of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

"St. Ignatius initiated the spiritual practice of finding God in all things. Artistic inspiration and expression are significant in Christian spiritual life. It is in this context that Magisbangla tries to give a new dimension of Christian life and living to all, especially young people," Father Perez said.

"The Jesuits were always great promoters of aesthetic excellence in images. Former Jesuit General Father Pedro Arrupe said an artist can touch the wellspring of the human heart and release energies of the soul that the rest of the world does not suspect."

MAGIS (Marching and Growing in Solidarity) is a global youth movement sponsored by Jesuits and active in up to 87 countries. Magisbangla started in Bangladesh in 2007.

22 Feb 2018 - 05:46

The Magis Bangla Team has arranged a new camp for this year. The camp will be for 6 days and 7 night.The members are very much excited about the camp. The place of the camp is Ranikhong, Birishiri which is about 300 miles apart from the city of Dhaka. And the location is on the side of Mymensing district. There are about 75 Young people will attend on the camp. This will be a another waving camp on the banner of the Magis Bangla Team.

22 Feb 2018 - 05:32

 

 

Father General is visiting the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (16 February - 3 March). He will attend the meeting of South Asia provincials in Sri Lanka; visit the Jesuits and works of the Society in the Jesuit Province of Sri Lanka, and then later travel to India to visit the Jesuits and works of the Society in Karnataka Province. He is accompanied on the trip by Fr Victor Assouad, the Assistant for Western Europe, as well as the two Assistants for South Asia, Frs Lisbert D'Souza and Vernon D'Cunha.

22 Feb 2018 - 05:05

 

A workshop on Discernment and Apostolic Planning was organized from 5-10 February in the Jesuit Curia, Rome by the office of the General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning with 28 participants from the six conferences across the world. The workshop convened to help the Society of Jesus implement GC 36’s recommendations​ r​regarding communal discernment and apostolic planning, highlighted in Father General’s requests to the whole Society in his letters dated July 10, 2017, September 27, 2017 and October 3, 2017.   

Opening the workshop, Father General noted that the Society is a multicultural apostolic body journeying in fulfilment of her mission in the Church. "We want to walk together, religious and lay people, to incarnate the Church-people-of-God (Vatican II). The Society across the world is facing key choices. There are many calls. And yet, we Jesuits and our mission partners cannot keep reaching out to an indefinite number of needs. We have to make choices. That is why discernment in common is urgently needed." Father General called on the workshop to "come up with key principles, tools and methodologies for discernment in common." He acknowledged that it is an enormous task, nevertheless, reminded the participants "if we have that common base, that common foundation, we can move forward."

 

The workshop was also intended to share tools and resources pertaining to discernment in common and apostolic planning in a more systematic way throughout the Society. Thanks to the presentation of these tools and the gathering  of resources in a common online database.

The first two days were dedicated to sharing of personal experiences, to inputs  regarding previous experiences of communal discernment in the Near East and  African provinces, the  history of the use of discernment in common in the Society of  Jesus and the presentation of principles, methods and tools for communal  discernment and apostolic planning modelled on the ISECP and ESDAC   2 3 approaches. During the remaining two days, participants met in their respective conference teams, spoke with the President of the conference and with the Regional Assistant  to hear about needs and to discuss possible ways forward, and drafted proposals  about possible next steps. 

Raj Irudaya, SJ, Brian, SJ, Siji, SJ and Ms. Astrid represented the Conference of South Asia. During the workshop the South Asian participants interacted with Fr. George Pattery, SJ (POSA) through skype and had direct interactions with Fr. Vernon, SJ (General Assistant).   Fr. John Dardis, SJ was the Chief Organiser of the programme. The Coference of South Asia has planned to take the learnings forward through engaging Jesuits and Collaborators though a sustained plan of action. The programme planning and design is underway.

By Siji Varghese, SJ

(Also included some inputs from http://www.sjweb.info)

20 Feb 2018 - 15:34

 

By Matters India Reporter

Mumbai: Jesuit Father Irudya Jothi, director of Udayani (awakening), bagged the “Social Activist Award” at a function in Mumbai, western India.

“I am extremely happy to receive an award called Modi Making Of Developed India from the Economic Times Now group along with World Corporate Social Responsibility groups at Taj Land Mumbai,” Father Jothi told Matters India after received the award on February 17. “The award was in the Individual category as social activist, he added.

Dr. R.L Bhatia, head of the World CSR day award who organized the event along with Economic Times Now and others said their full-time researchers came out with 1284 names after strenuous research among those innovatively contributing to the development of India. The jury then selected 184 individuals and companies for the final list of this award.

Father Jothi got the award in the individual capacity as ‘Social Activist Award.’ He was the only one in this category who was awarded a trophy and a citation.

He also received another award “World CSR Congress Awards” on February 18 at the same venue, Certificate of Merit for Udayani. “We were selected I guess for our holistic approach in our intervention among villagers,” he added.

Father Jothi said they were selected for ‘Kolkata NGO Leadership Award in November 2017. “When we received it we were delighted and wondered how we were selected for such a prestigious award,” the Jesuit priest said.

The latest awards have made Udayani activists and women beneficiaries “extremely happy” and proud, Father Jothi said.

“Now when we are awarded for Social Activist and World CSR Congress award, our joy has multiplied. Honestly, we neither expected it nor worked for it,” he clarified.

The young Jesuit priest said he always encouraged his people telling them, “If Jesuit run schools and colleges are the best in the country, there is no reason why an NGO run by the order should not be the best. Such words enthused my activists and colleagues.”

The priest said he dedicated the recognitions to the Dalit and Tribal women “who give me strength and courage to move ahead. I thank the Lord who has been guiding us through all the risks.”

He also noted the awards came at a time when their women’s groups were registering as NGOs and hope to become independent in future. “This CSR recognition is very helpful for their future support and sustainability,” he added.

Udayani has programs such as ‘small savings’, ‘unity and peace-building’, ‘Rights-based Work.’ It played a key role in the making of legislation, National Food Security Act. It takes up ‘environmental issues’ by opening nursery and solar housing and solar lantern assembling projects. It also celebrates “Women’s Day’ and ‘Human Rights Day’, besides, taking an active part in tackling some of the corruption locally in the administration.

Udayani Social Action Forum is the social outreach arm of the Calcutta province of the Society of Jesus. It works with schools, parishes, spiritual centers, international immersion groups, NGOs, and other organizations to foster a faith that does justice. It also serves as a link between the Jesuit social apostolate in India and the priorities of the Jesuit Conference of the South Asian Assistancy.

19 Feb 2018 - 04:41
 

Some of the recent activities of Vidyajyoti Center for Christian Muslim Relations. In the first week of February 2018, we had a scholar visitor Dr. Adis Duderija (https://www.griffith.edu.au/humanities-languages/school-humanities-languages-social-science/staff/adis-duderija) from the Griffiths University, Australlia. He presented the Victor Courtois Memorial 2nd Lecture on “Islam and Gender: Gender Egalitarian Interpretations of Islam” at Indian Social Institute on 3 February 2018. Fr. Victor Courtois was a pioneer in Christian-Muslim Relations in India. Indian Social Institute and Vidyajyoti Center for Christian-Muslim Relations felt honored to organize a Lecture in Courtois’ honor by an international expert in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations.

The main aim of this lecture was to identify and outline a number of interpretational mechanisms which can be employed in developing what Dr. Duderija calls gender egalitarian interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunna.  Dr.Duderija started by outlining a brief definition of the concept of gender egalitarian interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunna. He then  move on to briefly discuss gender cosmologies in classical Islam and the presuppositions on which they rest, including  from the perspective of mainstream methodologies  of interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunna. In the main part of the lecture he discussed interpretational principles which are supportive of gender egalitarian interpretations of Islam including : interpreter-centered interpretational approach which emphasizes the role of the interpreter in arriving at meaning of texts; interpretational recognition of what Dr.Duderija  terms the   intrinsic contextuality of the ethico-legal elements in the Qur’an and the sunna/hadith that makes an interpretational distinction between what the Qur’an and Sunna reflected as opposed to what they  initiated; interpretational distinction between meaning and its significance; a thematico-holistic approach to textual sources based on the principle of inductive-corroboration; a non-salafi based Weltanschauung that is not restricted by the interpretational and ethical confines within with  classical and neo-classical Islamic law and ethics operate ; a purpose-based and rationalist interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunna that interpretationally privileges  the  spirit or the moral trajectories of the normative texts over their literal meaning; a non hadith- dependent Sunna interpretational approach according to which the concept of Sunna is independent of the concept of sound hadith and is  a broad , dynamic, ethico-behaviour  and rational concept. The lecture was an eye opener to many as the lecture helped to identify the egalitarian interpretations of the main sources of Islam: the Quran and the Sunna.

While preparing for the VC Memorial Lecture it was decided that some of our colleagues in the field of dialogue could be contacted to explore possibilities of Dr. Duderija presenting lectures in some of the Delhi based institutions. The Indilogue Foundation (http://indialogue.in/) invited Dr. Duderija to present a lecture on the “Approaches to interfaith dialogue in Islam”. In his lecture on “Approaches to interfaith dialogue in Islam” Dr. Duderija highlighted the importance of religious and socio-political context in understanding the history and the debates pertaining to the nature of interfaith dialogue in Islam. The lecture started with Dr. Duderija outlining some of the factors that need to be taken into account when attempting to understand how the Qur’an and early Muslim community approached the idea of religious difference and more specifically the question of the relationship between the religious self and the religious other. In this context Dr. Duderija argued that interfaith dialogue in Islam is as old as Islam itself as Islam emerged and was forged in the context of a number of existing religious traditions. He continued by extending this analysis in both premodern and modern contexts and examined the issue of how influential Muslim scholars have approached the issue of Salvation of non-Muslims as example of one important debate informing the nature of interfaith dialogue in Islam. He made reference to how a number of influential Muslim scholars, both pre-modern and modern, have approached the question of Salvation of non-Muslims. In the premodern context Dr.Duderija noted a predominant but not the only tendency among Muslim scholars to not to extend Salvation to non-Muslims. In the final section of the lecture Dr. Duderija made reference to a number of contemporary progressive Muslim scholars who are strong proponents of religious pluralism and critics of religious exclusivism.

Along with some friends at JNU a lecture was organized at the School of International Studies where Dr. Duderija examined  the historical genealogy, meanings and function of the concept of Salafīsm in the Islamic tradition and  highlighted the intra-Muslim sectarian origins of the concept and hence its contentedness with the various intra-Sunni divisions. Dr.Duderija argued that the imperative of the preservation cultural memory of early Muslims and imitation of their beliefs, practices and values as symbols of true piety and virtue is a persistent and pervasive element of the very concept of the Islamic tradition (turāth) that has in the Sunni community been given expression in the concept of Salafīsm or following in the footsteps of the as-salaf aṣ-ṣaliḥ. It is also a crucial constituent of the idea of belonging to a salvific tradition of divine truth by subscribing to a regressive view of epistemology, history and time as embedded in the broader concept of the sacred past. Dr.Duderija argued that the concept of Salafīsm as it developed in Sunni Islam should be seen through this lens. However, given the numerous and traumatic schisms that emerged in the nascent Muslim community the concept of Salafīsm is also reflective of competing constructing and articulations of history, community, and authority among various Muslim groups.

Dr Adis also presented a lecture at Jamia Nazamudin Aulia the methodologies in Interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunna. This lecture was similar to the one that he presented at the Indian Social Institute.

I am grateful to Fr. Denzil Fernandes SJ, the director of Indian Social Institute, Mr. Behzad Fatmi (Indialogue Foundation) Janab Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi (Jamia Nizamuddin Aulia), Mr Saad Ahmad (JNU) for their encouragement and every help that they render to us at Vidyajyoti to organize these lectures. I express my gratitude to Fr. Thomas V Kunnunkal SJ, the president of Islamic Studies Association for his guidance and support. I am grateful to Father Tony Kurmann SJ for his encouragement and support.

Dr. Victor Edwin SJ

17 Feb 2018 - 05:15

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