SAAJNIssue 4 / Summer / May 2019
Mission: Audacity of the Impossible
From THE POSA’S DESK
Seminar on Interculturality, REPORT
Statement of JESAA in solidarity with Sri Lanka: People and Jesuits on Easter Sunday Carnage
JESA – GIAN meeting with Daniel Villaneuva. 17-18th April, ISI Delhi
JESA LokManch: New office Bearers
JEA repot on modules for Interreligous dialogue for schools
– Preparation of the final report of the SA Assistancy on REGAE II. 14-17 Aug, 2019, at ISI Bangalore
– SJES 50 years commemoration function & seminar at NRC Delhi
POSA Consult July 6-7 at JorBagh, New Delhi
JCSA October 21-28th, 2019 Ranchi
The devastating serial bomb blasts in Sri Lanka (Easter Week, 2019) and its horrible scenes still linger on in our memories. Hatred and violence continue to take gigantic proportions. The victims are always innocent, ordinary peoples. We search for words to express the unspeakable grief and sorrow of the people of Sri Lanka.
‘Religions cannot renounce the urgent task of building bridges between peoples and cultures.” Pope Francis said in Abu Dhabi (Feb 4th 209). These prophetic words acquire an urgency that cannot be ignored any more. We need to build bridges across cultures for humankind to survive.
South Asia prides itself as the birth place of major religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. It has rich resources of cultures, languages and traditions. The most significant non-violent movement in the history of the world was successfully carried out in India; Gandhi was the undisputed leader and moral force behind this. This same region of nonviolent struggles is witnessing today a culture of hate and divisions. In post-independent India, nonviolence and compassion were taken for granted. We did not teach our children the importance of non-violent communication. We did not instill in them the ethos of the independence struggle. We can’t wait any longer.
Creating Inter-cultural space is the challenge of our times. JESAA 2019 (Pune) gathered more than 200 Jesuits around the theme of interculturality. We recognized that as Jesuits of South Asia we inherit immense resources of cultures and traditions. Genuine secular ethos – providing a level playing field for all religions and traditions – is embedded in our Constitution in India. What is required of us is to create ‘common space’ where we partake of each other’s cultures and provide space for one another. Such a common place will be open to new pedagogies, different ways of knowing, and rich ways of celebrating our ‘cultural selves’. We don’t let the dominant group impose its culture on all; rather we let the ‘infinite variety’ of cultures find its resonance in us. “First and foremost, for me the Assembly was an intense experience of the depth and importance of Spiritual Conversations. The sense of Jesuit companionship was undeniable. There was the subtle movement of the Holy Spirit guiding this large group of 200 plus people,” commented one of the participants. We are challenged to create ‘common spaces’ where cultures are celebrated and appreciated. Let us be bridge builders across the many cultures to counter the climate of hatred and violence.
Fr George Pattery, S.J. – President, Jesuit Conference of South Asia.
25-28th April, JDV P.G. Block, Pune, Maharashtra, India
Two hundred plus Jesuits of South Asia gathered at JDV, Pune, on April 25-28, 2019 for the South Asian Jesuit Assembly (JESAA 2019) to explore ways to make their life and mission intercultural by viewing the whole idea of interculturality as an approach to promote reconciliation and justice. Interculturality defined as encounter between two cultures in which not only there is respect between cultures but the cultures concerned also go through inner transformation by this encounter.
On the first day, the Jesuits listened to Justice Kurian Joseph and Professor Shiv Vishvanathan who spoke on ‘ Challenges to Secularism’ and ‘Intercultural context of South Asia,’ respectively. Motivating Jesuits to move to uncharted territory in their mission, Justice Kurian invited them to start schools exclusively for the students from below the poverty line. Analyzing Constitutional provisions, he invited his listeners to take a sharp and incisive look at what really secular democracy was meant to be and how its tectonic plates were being shifted by narrow political interests. In the afternoon, Prof. Vishvanathan invited Jesuits to look at interculturality as memory that
makes people re-tell stories of encounter with nature, production of knowledge and invention of new democracy. Intercultural encounters must lead, he said, to cognitive justice, listening to oral traditions. More such encounters, he felt, must actually help look at the huge violence done to human bodies. That would in fact, for him, create intercultural space for reconciliation.
On the previous day, in the inaugural Eucharist, giving an intercultural reading to the passage on the Samaritan woman in the Bible, Fr. George Pattery, President of the SA Jesuit Conference, said that we needed to move to ‘common space’ where ordinariness ruled supreme and basic needs were met. This is the space in which intercultural encounters happen. After the Eucharist, Fr. Joe Arun, Convener of JESAA 2019, explained the agenda and dynamics of the Assembly, the objectives to be fulfilled and graces to be received during the Assembly.
On the second day, a panel of Jesuits, Frs. Jossie Lobo (KAR), Vinayak Jadav (GUJ), Ranjit Kindo (JAM) and Melvil Pereira (KHM) discussed ‘Interculturality and Reconciliation’, based on GC 36 and shared their reflections on ways of making our life and mission intercultural. Later, Frs. George Pattery and Wendell D’Cruz (BOM) shared on renewal efforts made in the Assistancy: Re-orienting for Greater Apostolic Effectiveness (REGAE II), and the implementation of the Society’s Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAP).These two sessions served as a backdrop for the entire Assembly to move into Spiritual Conversation in twenty-two small groups to evolve intercultural ways as
companions on a mission of justice and reconciliation.
At the final plenary session, done as a Discernment in Common, a consolidated report of what the groups had discerned for an intercultural life and mission in their Conversation was presented for the consensus and approval of the participants. This report will be sent soon to all the Provinces as fruit of the Assembly for further reflection and action. At the end, Fr. George Pattery, concluded the assembly by listing thirteen-plus fruits gathered from all the proceedings of the Assembly that were insightful and perceptive.
The meticulous planning and effective execution by the Organizing Committee, consisting of Frs. M.K. George (KER), Nithin Monteiro (KAR), and Ajit Xess (RAN), led by Fr. Joe Arun (MDU) as its Convenor, made every session of the Assembly meaningful and fruitful. As Fr. Pattery put it succinctly: ‘Being and doing interculturally in its full sense is a new way of being Jesuits in South Asia’. Almost everyone unanimously affirmed that the Assembly was led by the Spirit and hoped that the Jesuit life and mission in South Asia would be different after the Assembly.
Fr M.K. George (KER) Courtsey JIVAN May-June 2019, p.25-26.
Solidarity with Sri Lankan
People and Jesuits
We, the Jesuits of South Asian Assembly (JESAA 2019) gathered
at JDV, Pune from 25th -28th April, condemn in the strongest
terms the heinous terror attack and the gruesome serial blasts in
the Churches and hotels of Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday 21st April,
2019, killing many innocent children, men and women.
We express our deepest empathy and condolences to the people of
Sri Lanka, the families of the victims, to the Sri Lankan Church,
and the Jesuits of Sri Lanka. We wish a speedy and full recovery
to those who are injured.
We reaffirm that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations
constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace
and communal harmony. We reiterate that any acts of terrorism
are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation,
wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.
With everyone in Sri Lanka and especially with the Sri Lankan
Jesuits and the Catholic Church, we, the Jesuits of South
Asia, stand united to commit ourselves more courageously to
conquer the forces of hatred and enmity and resolve to bring in
reconciliation and justice to humanity marred and wounded by
acts of terrorism.
The Spirit of God is active all across our broken world – the Spirit
of the Resurrected Jesus who can help us all in this difficult
situation that seems hopeless and can bring new life and healing
where it is most needed.
We have no weapons but the friendship of the Risen Jesus who
is our Consoler and Friend. We extend his friendship to those
affected and brutalized by the terror attacks, even to those seen
as enemies. This friendship opposes the dynamics of violence,
gathers us as Friends in the Lord, and calls us to love and serve
in all things, together with so many other friends with whom we
cooperate, celebrate, communicate.
Faced with huge challenges at this moment, we still dare to
dream of creating with you a different world, a world of peace and
harmony, because we know the One whose “power working in us
can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).
We are with you, the people of Sri Lanka and our dear Sri Lankan
Jesuits, and pray for you.
Signed by the Jesuits of South Asia gathered at JDV, Pune
Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks Important tools for Jesuit Ministry
On the 17th April, 2019, JESA Secretary Fr S. Jebamalai SJ along with Fr George Pattery, and the ADO Team, organized a meeting of GIAN Network coordinators from South Asia to interact and learn from Fr Daniel Villanueva SJ, a veteran in the field of Jesuit Networking, to strengthen the functioning of the networks within South Asia. GIAN Networks today, are important apostolic players in the Global Jesuit Society. GIAN is part of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES), Rome.
Worldwide there are 5 areas in which Jesuit advocacy networks have been initiated. They are: Right to Quality Education for all, Ecology, Governance of Mineral Resources, Migration and Displaced Peoples, and Peace and Human Rights. In South Asia we are engaged in four areas, with the following Jesuits heading each area: Right to Quality Education for all by Fr Joseph Sebastian (PAT); Ecology by Fr Swaroop K. Lumnesh, (KAR); Governance of Natural and Mineral Resources by Fr Solomon David (DUM); Migration and Displaced Peoples by Fr Martin Pudussery, (CCU).
Fr. Danny Villanueva SJ, gave presentations during the meeting and initiated conversation around the work of GIAN worldwide. It was an informative and insightful experience for the new coordinators from South Asia. They felt encouraged, supported and inspired by the interaction. In the light of their interaction they made tentative future plans of their respective areas. A few of them were:
- Each of the four areas should form core teams. From each of the zones a Zonal Representative should be part of the Core Teams
- GIAN needs to develop a clear communication strategy, generating greater visibility and publicity to GIAN work of the SA Conference, within and outside the conference.
- GIAN Coordinators be provided a list of CSAs so that they can contact them directly, when necessary.
- The work and plans of GIAN should be shared at the PDD’s Zonal Meetings.
- Each coordinator to develop a plan and submit to POSA as soon as possible
ORIGIN of Global Ignatian Advocacy and Network (GIAN)
GIAN originates from GC 35, “The complexity of the problems we face and the richness of the opportunities offered demand that we engage in building bridges between rich and poor and establishing advocacy links of mutual support between those who hold political power and those who find it difficult to voice their interests.” General Congregation 35 (2008), D.3, n. 28)
GC 36 continued to emphasise the need for networking and collaboration in its decree it said, “Because of the magnitude and interconnectedness of the challenges we face, it is important to support and encourage the growing collaboration among Jesuits and Jesuit apostolates through networks. International and intersectoral networks are an opportunity to strengthen our identity, as we share our capacities and local engagements in order together to serve a universal mission.” GC 36, D 1, # 35.
What is Ignatian Advocacy? It is a process that takes place in the public sphere & is “Ignatian” in it’s way of proceeding.
Its purpose is:
- to transform policies, laws, practices, attitudes, power relations that generate injustice and exclusion
- (b) to strengthen the capacity of people to participate and decide: empowerment – citizenship
- It is part of a broader process to promote justice. It is a tool for the mission of faith-justice.
- It supplements and is linked with accompaniment, service and direct work with poor people and excluded groups.
- It addresses the root causes of injustice and sin in our world.
- The values, attitudes, behaviours of individuals and societies.
- The social and political organization of our country and our world.
GIAN networks are a good and pioneer initiative connecting a global response to key issues. They have achieved valuable outcomes in communication, awareness raising, and networking but not in advocacy.
- Complexities associated with existing Jesuit governance, disconnection with the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat and lack of ownership at the Conference level.
- Lack of a strategy at the global level, lack of allocation of resources and capacities.
- GIAN networks were created as part of the SJ commitment to justice and reconciliation.
- Initial intuition is confirmed by GC 36. There is a clear mandate to take responsibility by the SJES, an emphasis in promoting advocacy and the recognition that GIAN needs a new framework and strategy.
- Father General referred to GIAN as “ a relatively new project” that had difficulties “being an interprovincial network in a largely provincial structure” which needs strategizing “the SJES exists to help with this” and asked the team to “find focus, passion, energy and direction.
If you find you are in need of collaborative help in any of the areas four areas mentioned above, or would like to collaborate with the coordinators in any way possible, do contact them. Their email Id’s are as follows:
Fr Joseph Sebastian Plathottam (PAT): firstname.lastname@example.org; Fr Swaroop K. Lumnesh, (KAR): email@example.com; Fr Solomon David (DUM):firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Fr Martin Pudussery, (CCU) firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
To read more about GIAN, refer to the issue of Promotio Iustitiae (No 110, 2013/1) published by the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome. The entire issue is on GIAN.
Report by Fr Sannybhai SJ (JESA Secretary).
Lok Manch: Development and Access to Entitlements of the Marginalised
Organic Growth from Phase I to Phase II:
Lok Manch (LM) began in November 2015 as a Jesuit initiative. It had 92 field facilitating partners (Organizations) – 34 Jesuits, 21 other Religious, 5 Dioceses, 32 lay peoples. They hail from 12 States. 13 Jesuit provinces are part of LM. The target groups are from the marginalized communities like Dalits, Adivasis & OBCs. They are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and non-believers. LM completed its first phase (3 years) and has entered into its 2nd phase from 1st Nov. 2018.
As the 1st Phase was nearing completion, the project evaluation was outsourced to Mr. Khilesh Chaturvedi an outside evaluator approved by Misereor, the main donor agency. The recommendations, of his evaluation and the changing needs of the people at the grassroots have been incorporated into the design of Phase II.
A brief recap of the Goals and Objectives of Lok Manch:
Lok Manch: National platform developed, ensuring dignity and rights of the marginalized through policy interventions and socio-political-economic, cultural and religious issues responded to by Jesuits and partners through improved access to Entitlements.
- Vibrant national platform built linking 12 states with 100 organizations (36 Jesuits and 64 lay/religious/diocesans), along with like-minded academic, activist and advocacy partners
- Improved access to NFSA and SCSP/STSP/WASH and related government schemes monitored by the local community leaders in select areas.
- Gaps identified in policies and implementation by the Community leaders / monitoring persons/ organisations and lobbied with decision makers at the state and national level to further improve the law.
- Lok Manch has become a force to negotiate and expand entitlements of the poor, by identifying gaps in the schemes and lobbying for proper implementation of schemes with transparency and accountability and policy changes.
- At the end of the project at least 80 per cent of the households have improved access to entitlements of NFSA and SCSP/STSP/WASH and other government schemes.
- Of the 5,520 key leaders trained about 80 per cent serve voluntarily for the development of the community being link persons to the government
Lok Manch National Team at National Facilitation Centre, Delhi:
To better coordinate and follow up the networking and collaborative efforts of the Lok Manch movement, the National Team has been expanded with two well qualified and experienced persons in: Mr. (Dr.) P. Krishnamoorty (Dr. Krish) from Chennai as National Coordinator and Ms. Kapila Gureja from Delhi as National Campaign Faciliator. They join Fr Sannybhai the National Advisor and Sr. Ruby Mary Kujur – National Program Coordinator, and Mr. Vijay Parmar as Consultant, who have successfully seen LM through its first phase.
Dr. Krish (P. Krishnamoorthy), Chennai
Educational Qualifications: Doctorate in Political Science
Work Experience: 15 years of experiences in Campaigns, Advocacy, and Lobbying on Issues like Child Rights/ Human Rights Standards/ Right to Education and Right to Food.
Joined Lok Manch as National Coordinator in May 2019.
Ms. Kapila Gureja, Delhi
Educational Qualifications: B.Com, MA (Human Rights)
Work Experience: Since 2000 in the field of social work in different areas like Health, Child Care, Mental Health of the Handicapped, etc. She has got some experience in doing CAMPAIGN.
Joined Lok Manch as National Campaign Facilitator in March 2019.
Note Submitted by Fr Sannybhai SJ (JESA Sec.).
INTER-RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS: THE NEED OF THE HOUR
We believe that, as religious and more so as Jesuits, we have a special responsibility to build a reconciled world where justice and peace prevails for all peoples. What we experience is quite to the contrary. All too often religion is used to spread disunity and animosity among peoples. In the name of religion hatred and violence, is on the rise. Fanaticism and majoritarian nationalism is being preached from the rooftops, while on the other hand religious minority experience insecurity. This creates a toxic climate, wherein peace is edged out, creating a cycle of violence, that perpetuates itself. In South Asia we witnessed the horrific killings in the name of religion on Easter Day in Sri Lanka. Our goal then must be to become peace makers, bridge builders and channels of harmony.
We cannot deny the fact that the practices of our religious communities are often a divisive force in the world; too often we conform to the ways of the world, even when they are wrong, rather than confronting those powers with the scriptures and good traditions of our religions. We have not done enough as servants and advocates of the suffering and exploited human beings and we have done too little to build interreligious understanding and community among ourselves on the local level where prejudices run strong. Genuine interreligious dialogue requires not only good will but also good training. The quality of grassroots dialogue is much influenced by the quality of the clergy and religious and their attitude to dialogue. Considering the situation of the world today, introducing Interreligious education at all levels is a must.
In his recently published Apostolic Exhortation, “Evangelii gaudium,” Pope Francis said “an attitude of openness in truth and love must prevail in dialogue with believers of non-Christian religions, despite the various obstacles and difficulties, particularly fundamentalism on both sides.” “Recognizing the fact that there are situations in the world where coexistence is difficult due to fear, the Holy Father underlined that the one way to overcome this fear, was to foster dialogue. Dialogue, he went on to say, does not mean giving up your identity as a Christian. On the contrary, the Pope stressed “true openness means remaining firm in ones deepest convictions, and therefore being open to understanding others. Mahatma Gandhi used to say, “If you reach the heart of your religion, you will reach the heart of other religions too”.
Interreligious education was a major theme at JESEDURIO-2017. The Action Statement from the Rio de Jeneiro reads thus, “The Delegates commit to work with the schools to ensure a module (or some such unit of the curriculum) of interreligious education is implemented. This module should allow students to learn about it from the world’s religions and respect the various ways religions express and celebrate the divine”. (Action Statement JESEDU-Rio2017). JEA (Jesuit Education Association) has prepared Interreligious Modules for schools with the help of experts, thanks to Fr. Vincent Shekhar SJ the Assistancy Secretary for Interreligious Dialogue. The objectives of these modules are the following:
- To help the students to understand and appreciate the meaning of religions in society and to know how religions can be a positive source for preserving and promoting Life and Environment.
- To help the students to understand the relationship between religions and various aspects of life in society in order to promote a New Social Order.
- To help the students to discover the rich resources available in their religions for encountering one another in encountering Life-situations.
These modules will supplement the work already undertaken in all our schools as part of the school curriculum, to teach our students to be tolerant and respectful, peace loving and peace creating citizens of today and tomorrow.
Sunny Jacob SJ — Secretary, JEA