It is believed that our universe is 13.8 billion years old; planet earth is probably about 4.6 billion years young. The age of the human species had lately been estimated at between 150,000 and 250,000 years, based on studies of DNA. These hypothetical calculations mean that much of the journey of this universe and the earth occurred without the humans. While the humans cannot as yet think of itself without the earth, the latter had been evolving without the humans.
Covid-19 pandemic brought home the fact that the humans are fundamentally inter-connected and inter-dependent; this awareness came to us through a heavy price of losing thousands of lives; many more infected and others in panic mode. Even as we are grappling with ‘social distancing’ in order to contain the pandemic, we are compelled to rediscover anew our connectedness with everything, including the earth and the universe. Covid 19 reveals that the entire globe is inter-related and inter-connected.Pandemic is therefore termed by many as ‘portal’ to a different world or at least some difference in the world.
How will post-pandemic world look like? Will it be back to ‘business as usual’? Will the post-pandemic humankind evolve into new systems based on our inter-relatedness? Or will it lead to even greater narrowing down, creating walls of protection? Will it lead to further dissentions seeking narrow identities of nation, religion and ethnicity? Pandemic is a door to enter upon a new universe or to regress into narrow domestic walls.
Post-Pandemic world, for sure, will be different. We are more aware that our health depends on others; others’ health depends on me. We are invited to be care takers of each other. This heightened awareness of our fundamental inter-relatedness could propel us to imagine anew and create differently. The very many absolutes that we relied on in the past, seems not only not absolute but even unnecessary. Our pre-packaged ideas are irrelevant in front of the Corona virus. Covid 19 exposes the frailties of us humans as a body. The humankind has amassed such a baggage of consumption that it is incapable of moving ahead; it is weighing heavy on planet earth; it is throwing out migrants across the globe; its progress is becoming unsustainable.
We are at a critical moment in history.We, the humans, need to pause, rewind, and hopefully re-invent ourselves. Covid 19 occurred and we learned the hard way to pause, imagine and re-invent, as one family of humankind, as one UNI-VERSE. This new found sense of singularity and wholeness invite us to provide basic health-care and food for all humankind. We have the technology to produce enough food for everyone’s need; we have the know-how to reach them to every corner of the globe. We require the political will and moral courage to advance it.
Imagine a post-pandemic world inventing a U.N body for basic health-care and food for all. That will be our Universal Apostolic Preference! That could be the leap of humankind toward the Omega point!
George Pattery, S.J. – President, Jesuit Conference of South Asia.
The COVID-19 pandemic marks an unprecedented time in modern history that will require the best of humanity to overcome. The world is grappling with possibly the worst public health crisis seen in more than a century. The new coronavirus has taken thousands of lives and spread to nearly every country in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has gripped nations, compelling governments to impose countrywide lockdowns to contain the spread of the deadly virus. This crisis threatens everyone’s way of life, but it is especially difficult for people who are already vulnerable, including those with pre-existing medical conditions, older adults, individuals experiencing homelessness, refugees and migrants, wage workers, and those with inflexible jobs. Jesuit Alumni Associations of India (JAAI) believes that Jesuit Alumni/ae deeply rooted in local communities are best positioned to lead and give the communities on the front lines of the crisis the resources they need to act quickly and protect the most vulnerable such as helping in delivering essential items to struggling families and individuals quarantined, arrange doctor, health care persons and other front line responders to communities in need, support hygiene awareness efforts and much, much more. Many Jesuits and Jesuit Alumni Associations are working in coordination with local administration and providing critical medical support and meeting critical needs of communities around the country. Jesuit Alumni/ae are making efforts and living by the JAAI motto “to give and not to count the cost”. Although it will be very difficult to compile all the activities, but I have tried to include activities which have come to our knowledge through social media or other sources. I am very much sure that many services to humanity done by Jesuits and Jesuit Alumni/ae may have been so pure service and goodwill that they could not reach us and thus may not be included here. I sincerely apologize for non-inclusion of any such activities inadvertently. In the next issue of the report, we will surely try to include all such activities. The major activities in response to COVID-19 pandemic and critical situation of lockdown by the Jesuits and Jesuits Alumni
1.Association of Past Xavierites (APX), Ahmedabad
They have formed a small group (all are either APX members or connected to St Xavier’s High School Loyola Ahmedabad) and are preparing food packets and distributing the same, for those daily wagers and needy who have no jobs and work currently. Ten Thousand food packets per day are being distributed under directions of Mr Vijay Nehra (IAS), Municipal commissioner of Ahmedabad. A task force has been formed by the Municipal Commissioner and APX, Ahmedabad is part of one such group and given this responsibility as well as tapping resources for bed sheets, pillows, mattresses, pillow covers, beds, sets of plate, spoon, bows and glass etc.
1000 beds, 1000 mattresses and 1000 sets each of plate, spoon, bowl & glass, 1000 pillows, 1000 bed sheets, 1000 pillow covers, 1150 tooth brushes, 1150 tooth pastes, 1000 bathing soaps, 1040 hand wash, 1000 packets of paper napkins were supplied at Tapi facility, Nikol and 675 beds, 1080 mattresses, 1000 sets each of plate, spoon, bowl and glass, 1000 pillows, 1080 bed sheets, 1080 pillow covers, 1152 toothbrushes, 1152 toothpastes, 1000 bathing soaps, 1080 hand wash liquid soap bottles, 1000 packets of paper napkin and 45,000 food packets were supplied at Gota, Ahmedabad facility till 9 April 2020. With the help of Police, they have distributed milk, bread and Parle-G biscuits to the needy people of Khatraj & surrounding villages and outskirts of the city of Ahmedabad. They have already raised around Rs 1.60 Crores and as need arises; they are ready to raise more.
2. Loyola Alumni Association (LAA), Jamshedpur
Loyola Alumni Association (LAA), Jamshedpur is having a structured plan of action to support to needy people for at least 6 weeks rather than giving them just one meal. This a joint effort of Loyola & XLRI. The main challenge was to identify the ones severely affected & the ones who do not have necessary documentation like BPL card & Ration Card. With the help of the Adarsh Seva Sansthan, an NGO which has been working in the 26 bustees of Sonari and Kadma for the last 30 years, they have found that there are close to 1100 families out of the total of 3554 families in these 26 Bustees who are in this category. They started with a lot of 489 packets. Each packet consists of 4 kg of Rice, 1kg of Dal, 1/2 ltrs. of oil, Biscuits, salt etc. which will be good enough for a week for a family of 4/5 for 2 meals a day. The cost for 500 such packets is roughly Rupees One lakh Fifty thousand (approximately Rs.300 per packet). Every week, they are trying and delivering 500 such packets through Adarsh Seva Sansthan and their team of Volunteers. XLRI team works on procurement and packing of the material while LAA team are responsible for transporting the packets from XLRI to Adarsh Seva Sansthan in Sonari.
3. Old Boys’ Association, Loyola School (LOBA), Trivandrum
Kerala State government is planning to setup Corona Care Centers (CCC) across the state in anticipation of community spread (Stage 3) of the novel corona virus pandemic. LOBA,among others, is tasked with setting up a CCC when such a situation is called upon. Each Corona Care Center is a 24-hour facility that has to be manned by 50 people across 10 roles. The center is headed by a person appointed by the State Government just like how flood relief centers are set up at institutions and managed by the State Government. Old Boys’ Association, Loyola School, Trivandrum (LOBA), has been tasked with planning, setting up and running a Corona Care Center (CCC) at Loyola School, Sreekaryam, Trivandrum.
4. St. Xavier’s College and St. Xavier’s College Calcutta Alumni Association (SXCAA), Kolkata
Jesuit Priests of St. Xavier’s, Kolkata and the Xaverians donated Rs. 40 Lakhs to the West Bengal CM’s Relief Fund to fight against COVID-19. On the holy day of Good Friday, SXCAA under the leadership of its President and Principal of the College Rev. Fr. Dominic Savio SJ and other Jesuits of the college distributed food packets to the needy local people with the assistance from Kolkata Police.
5. Doranda Old Xavierans (DOX), Ranchi
DOX has partnered with their alma-mater in supporting three shelter homes run by St. Xavier’s, Doranda and District Administration and sponsoring food for 50 families of the outreach students of the school for a month. They have raised Rupees 2,28,000 for the Project in less than 24 hrs. They have supplied groceries including rice, dal, soya chunks, onion, potato, mustard oil, soap, sanitary pads etc. for a month for 49 families of school’s outreach students and 38 families of non-teaching staffs of the school. They have also supplied rice, dal & potatoes to 20 families at C.F. Andrews Memorial English School, Tharpakhna, Ranchi with the help of local authorities. They are continuously suppling food provisions, bedsheets, pillow covers, etc. for the shelter homes. Stress Bursting messages are also being circulated in alumni group to get one motivated during the critical situation of lockdown.
6. Bokaro Old Xaverian Association (BOXA), Bokaro
Food Bags are being distributed to families of mishra colony, sector-1 and villages in Bokaro such as Balidih village under the supervision of local administration led by CO & BDO of the area. The St. Xavier’s School, Bokaro is the Nodal Centre for planning, packing and distribution of food bags. They are also proving masks, gloves and caps.
7. Andhra Loyola College Alumni Association (ALCAA), Vijawada, Andhra Pradesh
They have collected donations for free distribution of food and water for poor and needy people and migrants. They are also distributing thousands of eggs per day to police colonies in Vijaywad and Guntur. The college campus has been given to poor farmers for selling vegetables and auditorium is being used by the Police to lodge quarantine victims.
8. Loyola Public School Alumni (LPSA), Guntur
Alumni of Loyola Public School, Guntur along with non-teaching and teaching staffs of the school have carried out food distribution to needy homeless people om streets of Guntur and all neighbouring villages around. One of its alumni, Aluri Inder Kumar (1976-1977 Batch), who is the CEO of Avanthi Feeds, has personally donated an amount of Rs. 1 Crore to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Relief Fund.
9. St. Michael’s Alumni Association, Patna
St. Michael’s Alumni Association, Patna is distributing food & essential items such as rice, jaggery, chewra, biscuits etc. on daily basis starting from 5 April 2020 to the poor people living behind St. Michael’s High School, Patna,Makhdumpur locality, Bind toli and other localities of Digha area of Patna with direct involvement of Digha Police personnel.
10. St. Xavier’s Alumni Association (SXAA), Patna
St. Xavier’s Alumni Association, Patna is contributing Rs. 1 Lakh to Chief Minister Relief Fund, Bihar in a gesture of solidarity with fight against COVID-19. SXAA Vice-President Dr. Amulya Kr. Singh has personally donated an amount of Rs. 1 Lakh to PM Cares Fund on 30 March 2020 and Rs. 51,000/- to Chief Minister Relief Fund, Bihar. Alumni of 2006 batch are also preparing and distributing food on daily basis to destitute families. Patna Jesuit Society has also distributed cooked meal khichadi, rice, dal and chokha to members of Mahadalit community in the slums of Rupaspur, Khagaul, Shahpur and Naubatpur areas of Patna.
11. Loyola Ex-Students Association (LESA), Margaon
LESA committee member Ryan Vaz has invented a hard face mask and given them free of cost to help frontline brave medical brethren at ESI Hospital. They have also distributed perishable and non-perishable items to underprivileged senior citizens and others who have no means to get the essentials or too poor to purchase. They are also providing foodfor homeless daily. 1996 batch alone contributed Rs. 62,000/- towards provision of food for homeless and 150 biryani packets were distributed to people stranded at Navelim, Goa on 7 April 2020.
12. The Ex Xavierites Alumni Association of Surat (TEXAS), Surat
The Ex Xavierites Alumni Association of Surat (TEXAS), Surat have collected around 808 kits of essential items with the help of its members, fathers, sisters and PTA and distributed to needy people with help of Navsarjan organization. Another set of 220 kits have been distributed on 19 April 2020
13. Darjeeling Jesuits of North Bengal
St. Joseph’s School & College, North Point, Darjeeling and Xavier Educational Society of North Bengal sent and distributed the load of essential materials such as food provisions, personal hygiene materials etc. to needy people of different areas such as Soam Tea Garden Villages, Lepcha Busty, Singla etc.
14. St. John’s Jesuit Community, Tamar, Ranchi
Ranchi Jesuit Society under the umbrella of Ranchi Archdiocese are running two shelter homes – one at St. John’s School, Dorea, Tamar and another at Ursuline Convent Girls High School, Muri. St. John’s School, Dorea, Tamar shelter home is taking care of 200 men & 200 women migrants mostly coming from Uttar Pradesh & Bihar and few locals as well. All the essential things, food provisions etc. are being providing to them with the support from Jesuit Institutions such as XISS, St. Xavier’s, Doranda and sisters from Samlong, Ranchi.
15. Mangalore Jesuits Educational Society (MJES) and St. Aloysius Primary and High School,Mangaluru
St. Aloysius Primary and High School, Mangaluru distributed food grains and essential items worth Rs. 20 Lakhs to hundreds of destitute families to help them to cope up with the lockdown period. Many families of Kannada medium students studying in St. Aloysius High Primary and High School and even families of other more impoverished students benefitted from this move. Prof. Edmund Frank, an alumnus of St. Aloysius College, Mangaluru and JAAI GC member from Karnataka province has personally donated an amount of Rs. One Lakh to St. Aloysius management to feed the needy.
16. Jaipur Xavier Educational Association and St. Xavier’s School, Jaipur
Jaipur Xavier Educational Association (JEXA) has donated Rs. 14 Lakhs to COVID-19 Chief Minister Relief Fund, Rajasthan and Rs. Two Lakhs to PM Cares Fund on 18 April 2020. Besides tha St. Xavier’s School and St. Xavier’s College, Nevta, Jaipur have distributed food kits worth Rs. 2 Lakhs to 200 deserving poor migrant families in 5 villages of Nevta Panchayat, Jaipur on 4 April 2020 and many such works for the poor are underway at various places.
Neel Mani Rangesh
Genesis of the Online Retreat:
On the eve of the Janta Lockdown call (Mar 22nd), Fr George Pattery, S.J. had providentially just returned to base in New Delhi. Without wasting much time, he proposed the On Line Retreat. Come evening, he dashed off an email to a few Jesuits, in which he said,
“I am proposing an Eight Day online Retreat (19th Annotation model), starting on 4th April to 11th April 2020, through JCSA website monitored by Siji, SJ at Conference Development Office (CDO) at ISI Delhi.”
He continued to spell out what he had in mind,
“Centered on the encounter with the pandemic of Corona Virus, we journey with Jesus on his way to Calvary, taking the whole humanity and creation with us. These retreat modules should necessarily be inclusive, inter-religious, appealing to a wider audience, including our Collaborators. Tentatively I suggest the following modalities:
A) with a theme for each day, related to Corona experience;
B) two short clippings of 150 words for each day’s theme;
C) possibly a short video for 1 minute;
D) appropriate images/quotes (2).”
With this the Jesuit juggernaut on fire with UPA 1 (Showing the Way to God), was set in motion.
Registration and Overwhelming Response:
Fr Siji Chacko and his communication team at the CDO; Fr Jossie D’Mello (In charge of Ignatian Spirituality), Fr Nithin Monteiro with able assistance from the Jesuit Philosophers at Satya Nilaym (Chennai) and others, began the process of enlisting participants to register themselves for the online experience. It was hoped the exercise would benefit about 700 persons. By the 31st of March the last date for registration, it became evident that there was a ground swell of requests from India and abroad. Word had spread over the internet. Laity, collaborators as per plan, enrolled but an unexpected number of religious men, women, and clergy requested to be part of the process. It was turning out to be a “LIFELINE” for many, as the retreat would later be named. To cope with the demand, registration was abandoned and the online link was shared with all who wanted to join. This simpler procedure enabled many to benefit from the resources provided. The final count of beneficiaries on a rough estimate came to 15,000 with participants from 31 countries across the globe.With word going round the link was passed onto friends, well-wishers and acquaintances, the result being, the actual footfall will never be known. The response was overwhelming, to say the least.
An Evolving Strategy:
Originally intended to be inclusive, inter-religious and chiefly for our collaborators, someelements pertaining specifically to catholics, the clergy & religious had to be incorporated. Clearly there was an unexpressed need being met. To make the retreat thoroughly Ignatian, the pre-retreat notes, timely instructions on the methods of prayer, review of meditation, other religious practices, the examen, the discernment of spirits, dealing with distractions, were sent in a timely fashion. As most persons were unable to be physically present for the Easter Triduum, the Eucharist on all these days was telecast live, and followed through live streaming.
“This message is just to express my gratitude (…) for the wonderful and creative way you presented the online retreat to us. Jesus had compassion on the 5000 people in the desert and He gave them bread and fish to eat. You, The South Asian Jesuits had compassion on the 5000 and more persons in this our today’s desert of Coronavirus, who were hungering for the spiritual bread, and you fed us with this online retreat and the bread of the Word of God. AMDG. What a creative way of reaching out to us through this new technology amid Covid 19. … You also offered The Lifeline to hold on to during this journey. I liked that very much.… I, personally benefited from this retreat journeying together with Jesus to Calvary along with all those suffering with this pandemic. I really felt connected with the suffering persons.” Sr. Eula Castelino dhm
“With this … timely retreat with its prophetic theme, you have indeed hit the nail on its head! It has unleashed waves of positive vibrations among many to counter the fears and anxieties that have become part of our reality today as coronavirus stalks us all everywhere.” Sr Lucy
“This retreat has deepened my faith in God. … It was an inner search retreat. I had plenty of time for prayer which was a blessing. … This pandemic of COVID-19 has helped me to realise how important God is in my life at a deeper level. God indeed is my LifeLine. If only we/I can remain connected to Him all the days of our/my lives/life. During these days of prayer, I really felt connected to the LifeLine. It was lockdown with the Divine. Pain and suffering of our world became my prayer. All I can say now is, to whom shall I go, only to God who is a message of eternal life.” Sr Caroline Etambuyu Muhau (Zambia)
“(…) The Good Friday motivation to see the Lifeline participating in our suffering showed me participating with Christ rather than just being a recipient of the merits of his suffering. I am happy I participated in a very restful retreat. …” Jude Fernando (India) Retired Engineer/Manager.
“(…) Thank you … for relating lent and holy week to the current global pandemic. Nowadays, it is easy to be fearful and anxious, especially after reading the newspaper reports, but your retreat has helped me remember to draw myself back to hope and gratitude to God for his goodness to me. I will sincerely visit the retreat and thoughts again and again, to try to be a source of positivity and calm to my family, friends and students. … Your retreat, and the Ignatian philosophy, was presented as relevant and updated to the current situation. Also, being online, it was accessible. As a lay person, I look forward to more such online experiences that reflect current world situations.” Caren Rodrigues Assistant Professor St. Joseph’s Institute of Management , Bangalore.
“Solitude and Simplicity made me to get closer to God. I was able to view my inner war and get help from God. This Retreat made me to develop a passion for being passionate in serving God and His people. … Please invite such kind of initiatives regularly. (…) Invite people to become Jesuit collaborators and serve God through the pathway of St. Ignatius.” Dr. S. Arul Francis Prof. Loyola College, Chennai.
“It was a great journey of silence and prayer guided by every day retreat materials, readings and prayers. The journey from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday was really meaningful. I experienced special grace of Lord Jesus and Mother Mary during meditation and reflection on various readings. In the present time of fear, anxiety and confusion around the world I felt connected with the sick persons, their family members, the health professionals and place their worries at the feet of the Lord to protect them with His healing touch.
I belong to a social service organization through which we serve the persons of disability in 130 tribal villages. We are in touch with the beneficiaries and enabling them to avail all benefits being extended by Government. I shall be continuing supporting them through whatever possible way alongside maintaining social distance. I shall continue to pray for all the victims and ask the Lord to grant His special grace and healing.” Pravakar Sahoo – Hindu, Orissa (Accounts Officer Govt. of India).
“Solace: Before the retreat, all the news around me had disturbed me very much. Was not able to sleep. Was very overwhelmed. Beginning to spend time introspecting and listening in prayer, … .The truth is we (lay people) are hardly taught to pray and introspect this way. This meaningful personal connection can be established by all. Hoping such online retreats are conducted every year. Lifeline’s grace brought me a lot of solace.” Reena VJ South India – IT Professional.
Corona Pandemic is a Portal:
In his concluding letter to all the participants of the Online Retreat, On 14th April, Fr George said,
“Rejuvenated by the Lifeline and reassured by the Risen Lord laboring with us, we are now better prepared to respond to the challenges of Covid 19. We are made deeply aware of our interconnectedness with everyone on the face of the earth; we are all sisters and brothers beyond the borders of our ego, family, nationality, religion and culture. We are co-responsible for everyone, for their health, food and shelter. Are we witnessing the birth pangs of a new global order? Is this pandemic a portal? Hopefully yes; our task will be to walk through it and enunciate a new world order, although that seems to happen in the most bewildering and costly way?
We are glad that we could share with you some riches of Ignatian spirituality to help us discern the ways of the Lord. We shall be happy to continue this collaboration in the coming days. Do send us your suggestions on how to sustain and build on this experience.”
Fifth Week of the Retreat:
The Ignatian Retreat is divided into four weeks. The fifth week refers to the days following the retreat, when the retreatants return to their daily chores and into the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and in the midst of it find God walking with them, laboring alongside them, giving them hope, enthusiasm, peace and an abiding joy.
Every Monday the organizers continue to send out a page for reflection and actionable tasks for the week. The retreat has also led to an online campaign “Jesuit Resource and Response Hub” (JRH) to spread awareness and mobilize opinion in favor of affirmative action on behalf of the millions of hapless migrant laborers, left to fend for themselves in the face of the abrupt, total lockdowns imposed on the country. Some of the participants are still in touch with the campaign of JCSA to support JRH.The online retreat has been a short in the arm for online communication through webinars, zoom meetings, and a boon for this extended lockdown period, an unprecedented move in living memory.
W. Keith Abranches, S.J.
Jesuits across South Asia have shown considerable commitment in reaching out to the distressed people across various locations. They have been actively involved in providing food support, shelter, financial aid, masks, sanitizers, psycho-social support, etc
Although Jesuit Provinces and Communities have been reaching out independently and collectively, the pandemichas emphasised the need to set up a crisis response mechanism at the JCSA level. Considering the global nature of the pandemic, there has been a realisation that interventions at multiple levels are required to tackle the impact. As a response to the felt need, on 13 April 2020, the President of South Asia announced the setting up of JRH with the Conference Development Office (CDO) as the lead in collaboration with the Core and Advisory Committees including ISI-Delhi, JESA, JAAI and others.
Since the Jesuits of South Asia have been actively and proactively responding to the crisis and reaching out to the people in distress, JRH anchored the role of consolidating all the relief work undertaken across the Conference. This was also a response to the mandate from the Fr. General to gather information on Jesuit initiatives and relief provisions. It has helped JRH to present the cumulative efforts of the Jesuits across the Conference at the national and international platforms. This has also given a South Asian/Regional identity to the work done in the global Jesuit context.
#V4MIGRANTS: The Campaign for Migrants
Global pandemic COVID-19 has devastated millions of lives and livelihoods across the world. The lockdown imposed by the governments to check the spread of virus brought misery and despair to people at large, especially the poor and migrant labours. In India, lakhs of migrant workers in the unorganised sector and daily wage earners lost their livelihoods. Many of them, who have been living and working hundreds of kilometres away from their native villages, defying the government’s orders rushed to reach the safety and dignity of their homes— cycling, stuffed in crowded trucks, and even walking hundreds of kilometers. With the stark realities of hunger and homelessness resulting from the loss of livelihood due to the pandemic and lockdown, the poor in the cities and in the villages of the country have been staring at their life as if no return.
#V4MIGRANTS, the online campaign for migrants, has been the highlight of the JRH initiatives since its inception. It was initiated in response to the distressing situations since the lockdown. Media have been abuzz about migrant workers’ plight—many of them dying on their way home, due to hunger, thirst and sheer exhaustion, and accidents on highways.
While immediate relief measures were undertaken at the ground level, JRH undertook a series of initiatives targeted to reach out to the migrants through network and collaboration at multiple levels. The #V4MIGRANTS campaign focused primarily on macro level intervention advocating for policy changes that would address the rights of the migrant workers. The campaign has a direct reach of about more than 18,000 persons across 31 countries.
A series of webinars on migrant issues were organised by JRH bringing on board renowned social activists and eminent academics to discuss the issues pertinent to the migrants. Social activists like Harsh Mander, Nikhil Dey, Jean Dreze and academicians such as Shyam Sundar of XLRI discussed themes on Migrants as the Battered Citizens, the Big Question about their future in cities and their home states, and also the impact of the draconian measures of various states to suspend labour laws and sacrifice labour welfare in the name of economic revival. The latest episode of the webinar had the theme, “Labour law and Governance change in India: A decent work perspective” with RamapriyaGopalakrishnan, (Labour Lawyer, and ILO Consultant), RadhikaKapoor (Fellow, ICRIER), Christine Nathan, Ex-ILO ACTRAV official; Member of the Working Committee, Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS); Member, ICMC – Asia Pacific, as panellists.
The webinar series served as a powerful medium to highlight the plight of the migrants before a global audience. While more than 1000 people attended each of the series from across the globe, 4794 subscribed to the Youtube videos related to the migrant campaign.
JRH relayed a series of information on relief measures of the central and state governments, shared about helplines and details of other organisations involved in relief work, details of special trains, etc. to support the Jesuits and others involved in reaching out the migrants. It has also initiated an online publication called ‘The Muse’ with the tagline ‘Be Absorbed’.
Apart from the webinar series, mass appeal letters were initiated to the Karnataka Chief Minister persuading him to permit special trains for migrants from the state. JRH has initiated fundraising efforts for migrants through appeal letters, migrant campaign, etc. It has also been providing handholding support to the migrant helpdesk initiative at Bagaicha Social Centre, Ranchi.
JRH is currently in an evolutionary phase. Future plans to take it forward will materialize at the JSCA level after due consultations with Jesuits and its collaborators. Networking along with the possibility to critique and draw out lessons will be an important role JRH could play in the coming days. A study on the current situation of migrants, post-lock down has been initiated with the central zone Migration Desk as a collaborative venture.
Director of the Development Office of JCSA and also is the coordinator of JRH
Networks of the Spirit
A Novel Pentecost Vigil Prayer
A prayer vigil before the feast of Pentecost is not an innovation. In many local churches and communities, around the world, such prayer services lasting from an hour to one spanning the entire night are common. What makes this vigil special is the circumstance and time in which it was organized, the medium it used, and the way it brought together the Ignatian Family, spread over the world, to rally together in prayer, asking for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Initiative of the Secretariat for Faith:
A group of Jesuits and Collaborators along with Fr James Hanvey SJ, the Secretary for the Service of Faith at the General Curia, Rome initiated this prayer service. In his letter (19thMay, 2020) to the entire Society of Jesus, he spelt out the contours of the proposed prayer.
It was to be a digital prayer, followed on social media. The theme and the prayer refrain was, ‘come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth’.
To accommodate different time zones, it was held three times on the eve of Pentecost to cover people in three time zones: Asia, Europe & Africa, and America.
The purpose of the vigil was to “Bring together Jesuit and Ignatian networks throughout the world, to pray, reflect as an Ignatian Family on the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Thus creating ‘solidarity in mission’. It would consist of testimonies, artistic expressions, combined with symbolic and interactive movements.
Pentecostal vigil with a South Asian flavour:
Sensing an opportunity to rally the Jesuits of South Asia, to prayer and solidarity, Fr George Pattery SJ (President of the Conference), wrote a letter (29thMay, 2020) to all the members.
He invited them to join the universal society but also to gather together in prayer as communities, to coincide with their usual evening prayer before supper in the communities.
A prayer service was sent around, by the CDO communication office, with a video introducing the prayer, a creative invocatory prayer (add link to the prayer) to the Holy Spirit, composed by Fr George, and sung by Jesuit scholastics of Satya Nilayam was an added attraction.
The vigil had two main purposes in mind: (a) to remember the Covid 19 affected; the Corona warriors, migrant laborers and battered citizens. (b) Recommit ourselves to serving society, in these critical times.
The entire text of the invocatory prayer from South Asia follows.
Statistics of the media event hosted by the Communication Department of the Curiaon 5thJune, 2020:
The invitation to participate in the online Pentecost prayer vigil, was a resounding success. Data put out by the Jesuit Communication office Curia Rome, gives the details of how many, with a break up of the number from different geographical locations around the globe.
The main data it’s that 7,473 people, families and communities have connected in real time to the on-line vigil in the three proposed time-zones. Even more impressive is that in the first 24 hours the vigil has been watched more than 70,000 times all around the world with people from 47 different countries.
Word of appreciation an thanks:
Thanks to all
In his letter of gratitude (Jun 10th, 2020) to all those who contributed and participated in the Pentecost Vigil Prayer, Fr James Hanvey, said,
“I am in no doubt that the networks are a great source of apostolic energy and creativity and open up ways of service together in mission.
More than ever now we see a world that is disrupted but also a world that is something that maybe it had forgotten or lost sight of before a world of compassion, justice, where the poor and vulnerable are not a burden but a gift, a world in all its biodiversity and life which is longing to be cherished rather than exploited – ‘A connected world’. I think our Pentecost Vigil gave us a glimpse of such longings and possibilities. It also gave us a sense of that deep community of service which so many wish to belong to. It allowed us to create a ‘network of the Spirit’, and one which we hope will continue to grow and allow us to share the gifts of the Spirit for the life of our world.”
Core team responsible for the worldwide Prayer Vigil
- Chris Lowney New York – Ex JPMorgan, WUJA…
- Michael RossmannSJ USA – one minute homily – social media.
- Chris Kerr USA USA – Director of Ignatian Solidarity Network.
- Cristobal Fones SJ – Chile – Catholic Singer
- Jboy Gonzales SJ – Philippines – TV anchor, preacher, social media.
- EnricPuiggros SJ- Vocation promotion – Spain – Singer – Produce videos.
- Javi Montes SJ – Alboan – Entreculturas – Spain – Engagement
- Nuno Branco SJ – Portugal
- HonoréOlah from JCAM
- SijiChacko from JCSA
- Robert Ballecer SJ – General Curia
- James Hanvey SJ – General Curia
- Dani Villanueva SJ – Jesuit.Network
Peace even though it is a felt desire of peoples, it seems to elude them time and again. A comment in the Economist (Jun 20, 2020) ‘The New World Disorder’ was particularly revealing. It said, “For all the U.N Security Council’s flaws, it would be missed. That is because, left to themselves, countries drift into antagonism.”
Yet diehard peace activists continue to work for peace, justice, reconciliation and harmony in society without relenting. They hold on tenaciously to the conviction that, hope will turn into reality someday. They are crazy enough to think they can change the world, and who knows they will succeed. We want them to succeed.
One such effort to spread the light of peace based on reconciliation, is a new e-publication, just out of the press by LIPI (Loyola Institute of Peace and International Relations with ISI, Delhi as support), a Nodal Platform for Peace and Reconciliation Network of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia.
PAX LUMINA ( An E-Publication from LIPI in Collaboration with Peace and Reconciliation Network, JCSA)
Loyola Institute of Peace and International Relations (LIPI),with support from Indian Social Institute (ISI) Delhi, the Nodal Platform for Peace and Reconciliation Network of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia, launched its first issue of an online bimonthly PAX LUMINA: A Quest for Peace and Reconciliation (www.paxlumina.com). This magazine is a timely response to the call for Peace by the General Congregations 35 & 36 of the Society of Jesus (GC 35, d 3, n. 12 and GC 36, d 1, n. 21) and by Pope Francis (‘Laudato Si’, no. 207). It is also in tune with the recommendation of the recent Jesuit Conference of South Asia to work towards Peace and Reconciliation at all levels of the Society, and also to the Universal Apostolic Priorities of the Society of Jesus (showing the way to God through Spiritual Exercises, walking with the excluded, journeying with the youth and caring for our common home).
The uniqueness of the publication lies in its peace thrust with a South Asian perspective. We have enlisted an eminent array of scholars, writers and peace practitioners in our Advisory/Editorial Board. The e-publication will address people worldwide who can work as catalytic agents in the promotion of peace including teachers, academicians, professionals, and opinion leaders, both governmental and non-governmental.
The maiden issue (May 2020). focused on COVID-19: Stories of Hope amidst melancholy, received overwhelming response from various corners of the world. As Jesuits, we are privileged to make use of our worldwide network to reach out to readers.
Binoy Pichalakatt, SJ
(Director, LIPI & Coordinator, Nodal Platform for Peace and Reconciliation Network, JCSA)
“We are not alone, nor do we claim to work by ourselves. Our Apostolic way of proceeding is therefore characterized by collaboration with others who have also been invited to participate in the mission of Christ.” Fr General ArtuoSosa, was building on the growing insistence on the importance of collaboration for the Society of Jesus, with subsequent general congregations beginning from GC 31 to GC 36.
He adds a sobering element to the discourse when he says that we share in the Mission Dei, with others who are also invitees. We cannot claim exclusive right to God’s mission. This is added reason to join together with others in realizing the goals of mission collaboratively.
Another element he rightly insists upon is the need for both personal and institutional conversion. Collaboration with others cannot materialize, leave alone flourish, if we continue to live and work in silos, and for the congregation or even the Church. It calls for a change of mindset and ways of proceeding that dispose us to work with others to further the good of all of humanity.
To collaborate with others we must place them on an equal footing with us. The relationship must be characterized by respect, a shared vision, a willingness to learn from them and a desire to work as a team free from laity, clerical, religious, or gender biases.
Here and there we have tried to open up vistas of collaboration. LokManch was one such initiative, Peace and Reconciliation movements were another and the network with JAAI (Jesuit Alumnai), which was the first to come into existence. There are other initiatives beginning to open up possibilities for collaboration between Jesuits and others at the conference level. The new networks of Jesuitech, Sankalp, and Ecology offer promise in that area. Of late as a fruit (outcome) of the Online Retreat (4-12 Apr, 2020), a fresh collaborative initiative was launched in JRH (Jesuit Resource and Response Hub), at the Conference Development Office, New Delhi.
JRH seeks to give prominence to the structural injustice meted out to unorganized and migrant labor in South Asia. The extent of the problem was known to policy planners at the level of the governments, but the real magnitude of the human crisis, exploded before our eyes, as the lockdown made it impossible for migrant laborers to remain in the cities they had chosen to work in.
We saw for ourselves, the heartrending scenes of whole families, including women and small children, the old and infirm walking with loads on their heads, in the merciless summer heat. The saga of the migrant workers has been documented for future reference, in case we forget and move on without doing all that it takes to right the wrongs we have committed.
JRH is a catalyst, a facilitating hub, will be engaged in getting Jesuit communities, apostolic sectors, and provinces/regions to network with others for the good of unorganized and migrant laborers. Relief has been the beginning phase of the outreach program, however, it must follow suit with advocacy that seek to enact just laws to facilitate human conditions for the workers.
The pandemic continues to be a moment of crisis, but one that poses a problem and opens up possibilities for good. One of the things we have been awakened to, is the fact that for better or worse our lives as human beings are intertwined. In this changed scenario collaboration and networking have become a solution to the challenges we face. It is ironic that it took a misfortune for us to respond in a way we should have on our own.
Fr Aruto Sosa, “Our Life is Mission, Mission is Our Life,” Letter to the Whole Society, on 10 July, 2017.
Keith Abranches, S.J.