Category: News

Fostering intercultural competence at Arrupe International Residence

At the Arrupe International Residence (AIR) in Manila, diversity is not aspirational–it is a reality. “We have a global family,” shared Fr Anton Kurmann SJ, a Swiss Jesuit who stayed at AIR from 2001 to 2004 while studying sociology at the Ateneo de Manila University. “This connectedness is one of the great contributions of AIR.” Jesuits from across Asia Pacific, South Asia, Europe, North America and Africa come to AIR for the unique residential and formation experience it offers. Living there gives them a chance to engage in intercultural sharing on a daily basis. It is also an opportunity to build great networks for their future ministries. “Globalisation brings us into contact with people of different nationalities and different religions, and we must be able to find ways to dialogue,” said Fr Kurmann during a recent trip to the Philippines as director of the Swiss Mission Office. His time at AIR challenged him to adapt and be “more international” in his concept of the world. “One of my first struggles was to accept that in Arrupe people drink wine and beer with ice cubes,” he related in mild bewilderment and smiling. “In my culture, that’s a mortal sin, but I learnt to accept that it also works.” Fr Kurmann strongly believes that Jesuits must be “interculturally competent”. Being only in their community, he says, is not an option for Jesuits. He cites AIR as a model in preparing Jesuits for international apostolates. The diversity of life at AIR complements the……

Encountering hope and faith in the upshot of Japan’s great earthquake

Students from Jesuit universities in Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Timor-Leste and Japan spent two weeks learning about post-disaster community recovery from the experience of Japan. Through volunteer activities and exchanges with people from the local community, the students studied the progress of the reconstruction and recovery of Iwate Prefecture, badly hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. During the first few days of their arrival, the participants attended lectures on Ignatian education and spirituality, and post-disaster recovery at Sophia University in Tokyo to prepare them for their service learning trip. Then they were sent out for their immersion to Iwate Prefecture. In the city of Kamaishi, the students helped farmers weed at a local non-profit organisation farm, cleaned factory buildings, helped organise a festival for a nursery school and staged cultural dance performances for the elderly at a nursing home. Students and staff also joined the “Kamaishi Yoisa Festival”, a traditional dance festival held every summer. Since the students were there foremost to learn about disaster recovery, they visited areas that were worst hit by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake: the towns of Ofunato, Rikuzentakada, which was severely struck by the tsunami, and Unosumai and Otsuchi next to Kamaishi. With them was a professional tour guide who survived the disaster. In Ofunato, the students interacted with Japanese and Filipino Catholics who were brought together fortuitously by the tsunami. In the aftermath of the disaster, the town’s small Japanese Catholic community went around providing aid to survivors when they encountered hundreds……

To be formators rooted in the spirit of St Ignatius

Ignatian accompaniment and spiritual direction were at the heart of the second module of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) Formation for Formators workshop held recently in the Philippines. A basic rhythm of prayerful reflection, sharing of personal experiences and lectures helped the participants gain a better understanding of their own experience with God and learn to help others do the same through Ignatian accompaniment. The Center for Ignatian Spirituality (CIS) facilitated the workshop held from August 19 to August 29 at the beautiful and quiet Sacred Heart Novitiate and Retreat Center in Manila. The 11 participants came from Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and China. They were accompanied throughout the workshop by JCAP Formation Delegate Fr Riyo Mursanto SJ and CIS Executive Director Fr Silvino Borres Jr SJ. JCAP President Fr Antonio Moreno SJ was also present during the first day to welcome them. The variety of their backgrounds proved to be an enriching experience for the participants, who were nonetheless brought together by their unique Jesuit charism rooted in the life of their founder, St Ignatius of Loyola. The opening session focussed on “How God accompanied St Ignatius”. CIS Formation Director Fr Noel Vasquez SJ traced Ignatius’ inward journey towards God and then described how this inward journey later turned outwards as St Ignatius became motivated by a passion to “help souls”. He invited the participants to personally relate to St Ignatius’ experience by reflecting on how God had led them inwardly and outwardly to Him.……

Young Jesuits deepen their understanding of what it means to be an Asian Jesuit

What does it mean to be an Asian Jesuit? This was what 15 scholastics strove to understand better during the nearly month-long East Asia Theological Encounter Program (EATEP) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. As Fr John Shea SJ, former EATEP Director, said in his introduction on the first day, the EATEP guides young Jesuits in exploring the meaning of inculturation and the position of the Church and Society regarding this, gaining an understanding of Buddhism in this context, and through this, understanding what it is to be an Asian Jesuit. This is important for the Jesuits in Asia Pacific where Christians are a minority in most of the countries, which include the world’s largest Muslim country and several Buddhist majority countries. GC 34 recognised this: “Jesuits in Asia and Oceania… especially in Asian countries where Christians are a small minority, they dialogue with other cultural and religious traditions in an effort to put the Gospel in touch with Asian life and to bring the richness of Asian culture to the living of the Gospel.” (GC 34 Decree 2 N.2). Through EATEP and a similar programme focussed on Islam, the Asia Pacific Theological Encounter Programme (APTEP), the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific also hopes to form a community to continue this important work of inter-religious dialogue in the future. The participants for this year’s EATEP, held from July 3 to 29, came from Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and China. The programme was as usual: an intensive 10-day course on Asian contextual theology……

Student leaders learn to be open to going beyond borders

“Our language and culture might be different, but what mattered most is the emotional connection we had. This allowed us to be more open to cross our borders.” Yohana Pegas Syane of Gonzaga College (Jakarta) realised this after participating in the six-day 4th Ignatian Student Leadership Forum (ISLF). More than 70 student leaders from 19 Jesuit secondary schools in Japan, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines and Timor-Leste gathered in Tokyo for the forum. It was storming when they arrived on August 8, accompanied by their teachers, but by the time they reached the Sophia University Junior College Hadano campus on the outskirts of Tokyo, a full rainbow blazed in the sky to welcome them. Fr Sali Augustine SJ, Sophia School Corporation Trustee for General Affairs, welcomed the delegates and presided at the opening Mass. It did not take long for the delegates to bond and make friends, especially with the sports activities the next day. ISLF began six years ago when five schools in Asia Pacific decided to hold a gathering of student leaders together. They wanted to offer student leaders a chance to get to know their peers in other Jesuit schools and learn from each other about Ignatian leadership in their contexts and experiences. The first ISLF was hosted by Xavier School in Manila. This year’s theme, “Beyond the Border”, challenged the student leaders to go beyond their own cultures and comfort zones as they discussed world issues such as migration, war and ecology. They also had……

JCAP, EAPI and AIR thank Fr Nicolás as he returns to Japan

Fr Adolfo Nicolás’ returned to his home province of Japan on August 6, 2018. He left Manila early in the morning accompanied by Japanese Provincial Fr Renzo De Luca, and arrived safely in Tokyo where they were met by Fr Sanji Yamaoka, Socius, and Fr Yasunori Yamauchi, Assistant to the Director of Loyola House, Fr Nicolás’ new residence. Before he left, JCAP and his communities in the East Asian Pastoral Institute and Arrupe International Residence gathered to thank him and bid him farewell.

Fr Tae-jin Kim SJ makes his final vows in Cambodia

July 31 was a day of special joy for Korean Jesuit Fr Tae-jin Kim and the Jesuits and friends in Cambodia. Fr Kim made his Final Vows that day in a Mass celebrated by Fr In-don Oh SJ, Delegate of the Korean Jesuit Provincial to the Cambodia Mission. The joyful ceremony held on the feast day of St Ignatius Loyola reminded all those gathered of the passion and vision of the founder of the Society of Jesus. The chapel of the Metta Karuna Reflection Centre in Siem Reap was filled with Jesuits and collaborators who have worked in the Cambodia mission alongside Fr Kim. His personal friends, one of whom is a Protestant minister, also came for the special occasion. He had helped to translate children’s books into Khmer and helped Jesuit Service Cambodia to publish some of the translated books. Many staff and parishioners from Kampong Koh, where Fr Kim had lived, as well as a volunteer and her guest from Italy, and Bishop Enrique Figaredo SJ, Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang, also came to witness him make his final vows. During his homily, Fr Oh recalled personal memories and experiences of Fr Kim. “I met Fr Tae-jin when I went back to Korea after my regency in Cambodia,” he said. “At that time, he devoted himself to the poor, especially to the homeless, who had been living near Seoul Station. He visited them every weekend. He talked with them, drank with them and stayed with them overnight.” Fr Oh……

A special café opens at Banteay Prieb

Banteay Prieb, the Jesuit vocational training centre in Cambodia, has opened a café managed and staffed by young people with intellectual disabilities. The café provides these young people with practical skills that can help earn a living. The café serves traditional Cambodian coffee and tea, and Khmer breakfast and lunch menus. It also offers typical Italian coffees, such as espresso, Americano, cappuccino and latte, fruit smoothies and juices. It was built with funding support from the Korean Jesuit NGO Joy of Sharing Foundation and inaugurated on July 2. “We hope that after they finish the Banteay Prieb café training, our students will become more financially independent. After the training they can start a small business to support themselves and their family,” said Phalla Kim, Special Education Programme Manager at Banteay Prieb. Banteay Prieb (Home of the Dove) began its Special Education Programme in 2015 to help young people with intellectual disabilities who are often at risk of social exclusion. “These are persons who suffer great neglect back home and in their villages,” said Br Noel Oliver SJ, who was part of the original team that set up Banteay Prieb in 1990 to help landmine victims and those affected by polio. In the years that have followed, the number of people with physical disabilities has greatly declined and a number of the centre’s students now are accident victims. The fewer number of physically disabled students inspired Banteay Prieb to expand its services to helping people with intellectual disabilities. The Special Education……

Chinese Jesuit Province launches prayer podcast

People praying in Chinese now have a new prayer resource with the launch of a daily prayer podcast by the Chinese Jesuit Province. The audio podcasts are based on Sacred Space, which was begun by the Irish Jesuits and is today the world’s leading interactive guided prayer site with the daily prayers available in more than 20 languages. The Chinese language version of Sacred Space has been available since 2014. On May 2, the Chinese Jesuit Province launched the podcast service, which combines narration of the daily Sacred Space prayer in Mandarin with soothing music to draw the person into contemplative stillness. Each episode or prayer session has six stages and each stage is designed as a meditation on God’s presence in our lives. Since it was launched, the podcasts have been played more than 4,600 times. “Although this kind of service is not a first in the Chinese area, it is a new attempt by the Society of Jesus,” said Zoe Hsieh, an editor in the communication office of the Chinese Province, which comprises China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Chinese Jesuit Province launches prayer podcast[/caption] “People strain their eyes by staring at the computer or mobile phone too much. Our eyes tend to get hurt by the blue light of the screen,” Hsieh explained. It is also easy to get distracted while looking at our computer or mobile phone, she added. “We need to quiet down to fully immerse ourselves in the spiritual experience.” An elderly follower of……