April 11, 2003
Fr James M McCann SJ, an associate professor in political science and director of peace studies at Xavier University, has been named executive director of the Office to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He succeeds Msgr R George Sarauskas, who has been director of the office since it was created in the early 1990s; it works to help the Catholic Church in the region restore its pastoral capacity.
Fr McCann holds a doctorate in politics, with a specialization in Russia and Eastern Europe, from Princeton. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
An 83-69 victory over top-ranked Kentucky on March 29 put Marquette University's men's basketball team in the Final Four of the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time since 1977.
Fr Robert Wild SJ, Marquette president, said the campus atmosphere was like nothing he had ever known. "I was around in 1977 when we won the national championship," he said. "I was a very junior professor and those were exciting times. I have to say the campus is more energized, even more than then, and we haven't even won a championship yet."
Fr Wild said he has heard from fellow Jesuits across the country and all wished the school success in the Final Four: "We haven't had a Jesuit school in the Final Four, I think, since Georgetown in the mid-'80s."
Although Marquette lost in the NCAA semifinals to Kansas, 94-61 on April 5, the season is one that fans will not soon forget.
Read more about the season at: http://gomarquette.ocsn.com/sports/m-baskbl/marq-m-baskbl-body.html [Sources: Marquette University; CNS]
For dozens of Georgetown University students, expressing their opposition to the war in Iraq is taking the form of a round-the-clock vigil in the school's main public square.
Diane Foglizzo, a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service, said that there was a solid core of people staying at the site every night, though most participants rotated in and out.
The camp opened after just 24 hours of planning by the campus Peace Action group. Foglizzo explained that after President Bush issued a final 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein on March 17, the group decided to set up a camp at the time the ultimatum expired.
Little did they know that their timing would coincide within hours of the launch of the military attack on Iraq.
Emil Totonchi, another organizer, said aside from a long-planned student walkout the afternoon after the attacks began, everyone participating in the camp has continued to attend classes, go to work, and meet their other obligations. From the original handful of organizers, the number of participants has grown to as many as 100, he said. Others offer support by dropping off supplies or food. Their rental tents were loaned to the group free of charge, for instance.
The camp site is a source of information about why the students oppose the war as well as the latest schedules for anti-war activities around Washington. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Before fleeing their own country in 1997, some young Congolese had already completed their secondary education while others were attending higher education institutions. When they arrived in Rwanda, they lost the opportunity to pursue their studies because of a lack of sponsorship. In response, JRS has, since October 1999, been implementing and evaluating a scholarship project that currently assists 18 young refugees.
The scholarships are known as DAFI (Deutsche Akademische Fluchpings Initiative), which is a fund provided annually by the German Foreign Office to the United Nations High Commiissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The purpose of this fund is to support needy refugee students who qualify for academic studies in their country of asylum. JRS activities include regular visits to students, supervision of their studies, reporting to UNHCR about students' performance, and organizing workshops in collaboration with UNHCR.
Ideally, refugee students who finish their studies will go back to their respective camps and help others in their everyday struggle for life. [Source: JRS Dispatches]
Loyola University Chicago's School of Education is launching LU-Choice, a two-year program that allows students to earn a master's degree in teaching while volunteering at Catholic schools.
"The program will help Catholic schools deal with a shortage of teachers while providing young people with an opportunity to serve and to get a graduate degree," said Margaret Fong, dean of the education school.
"While Loyola participants will have a master's degree at the end of two years and will not pay tuition, they must understand that LU-Choice is most of all an opportunity to serve, not just a way to get a teaching degree," said Jennifer Kowieski, who is coordinating the program, modeled on the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education program (ACE).
To be accepted into the program, students must have a bachelor's in an area other than education because much of the material in the program would duplicate the undergraduate education program.
They also must be willing to live in community, sharing daily life, household chores, and meals as well as prayer, and they must be willing to share the Catholic faith with their students, although they themselves do not have to be Catholic. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Read about Loyola Marymount University's similar program at http://www.companymagazine.org/v193/classact.htm .
An eight-week-old war on drugs in Thailand has left more than 1,500 people dead, leading Fr Vichai Phokthavi SJ, secretary of the justice and peace commission of the Thai bishops' conference, to question the government's approach to the drug problem, even though the government has received wide public support.
On February 1, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra initiated a campaign to eradicate use of illegal drugs, primarily amphetamines. Figures for the number of people killed directly or indirectly as a result of the campaign were close to 1,500, with some 30,000 drug users and dealers reportedly arrested by the end of March.
Officials claim nearly all fatalities were due to drug traffickers killing other traffickers to prevent them from becoming police informants.
Fr Vichai said the government should have an integrated method and must understand the real problem. "The drug problem is a moral problem in our society. It is rooted in poverty, greed, and the naivete of the people," the priest said.
He said the campaign has not touched "big-time and powerful people" who are behind the drug trafficking and said those killed were only small-time drug dealers.
Thai law enforcement officials should respect due process during their investigations, he added. "We must help promote charity and understanding as these drug dealers are also human beings, even though their life direction is wrong and motivated by greed and selfishness." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Wheeling Jesuit University's Physical Therapy Department's recent trip to Mexico gave students and professors the opportunity to help individuals with physical disabilities. The group, which consisted of two students and two professors, spent a week working with patients in Merida, Mexico.
The group visited two areas: The Albergue, a shelter for adults with disabilities; and the el Patronato, a school for children and adults with disabilities. While at the locations, the group focused on diseases, such as scoliosis and spina bifida, and exercises to improve muscle strength. The group also instructed Albergue staff members how to use an ultrasound machine and how to properly handle their clients.
"While in Mexico, the students felt more open to practice skills they know can help the individuals without having to deal with regulations and payment structures that come with practicing in the United States," Dr Letha Zook, associate professor and program director, said. "The trip is a true learning experience for them.
"This year we did a lot of staff training, which is very important because we found out the facilities are still doing what we taught them last year," said Dr Zook. "They took everything we told them last year and put that information to good use. So, we know the instruction we gave them this year will be put to good use as well." [Source: Wheeling Jesuit University]
Txema Auzmendi SJ was arrested on February 19 along with nine others, as part of a police operation in the Basque Country (Euskadi), an autonomous region in Northern Spain, which has been plagued by terrorist violence conducted by the separatist organization ETA in their struggle for independence. Fr Auzmendi, superior of the Community of Solidarity "Loiolaetxea" in San Sebastian, is engaged in establishing dialogue to solve the conflict and in defending and promoting Basque culture. He is openly known as a person who is against the use of violence.
Fr Auzmendi was arrested because he is a member of the board of directors of "Egunkaria," the only newspaper wholly published in Euskera, the Basque language, and which is allegedly connected to ETA. His arrest fell under the anti-terrorist law and, as a result, he spent five days in police custody without legal assistance.
Under these conditions, he refused to make any declaration, as he was unable to secure legal protection from a lawyer of his choice. The judge accused him of alleged collaboration with an armed group and sentenced him to imprisonment. Eventually, after receiving assistance from his lawyer, Fr Auzmendi petitioned for the right to submit a declaration, and on March 14 he was released on bail. He describes his days in detention as extremely hard, but says that he lived in peace, feeling Jesus' presence, and "in communion with all those Jesuits who, in the course of history, have been unjustly jailed."
In an official statement, the Jesuit Provincial of the Basque Country affirmed that "always defending the supreme value of life, Fr Auzmendi has been deeply committed to the defense of Basque culture. Only with this purpose in mind has he participated in the board of the newspaper Egunkaria." In the same letter, Fr Provincial condemned once more the violent actions of ETA, affirming the urgent need for its dissolution and the necessity to open a dialogue capable of ushering in a just peace. [Source: Headlines]
On the Feast of the Annunciation, the ten Jesuit Provincials of the United States released "Standing for the Unborn: a statement of the Society of Jesus in the United States on Abortion." The statement is available at http://www.jesuit.org/images/docs/8V5ZWA.pdf [Source: www.jesuit.org]
According to "The Society in Numbers," the statistics prepared yearly by the General Secretariat of the Society, there were--as of January 1, 2003--a total of 20,408 Jesuits (14,368 priests, 3,067 scholastics, 2,044 brothers, and 929 novices) representing a decrease of 333 from the previous year.
With 929 novices total (an increase of 42 from last year), the regional assistancy with the highest number of novices continues to be South Asia (260), followed by: Africa (116), East Asia-Oceania (113), Northern Latin America (97), the United States (91), Southern Latin America (85), East Europe (60), South Europe (45), West Europe (44), and Central Europe (18).
The average age of all Jesuits is 54.93 years: 61.47 for priests; 26.45 for scholastics; and 63.90 for brothers. With approximately 1,758 communities, the Society is present in 122 countries. [Source: www.jesuits-europe.org]
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