Seal of the Jesuits
Jesuit USA Newsletter

July 5, 2005


News from Father GeneralAlberto Hurtado

The canonization of Blessed Alberto Hurtado SJ will take place on October 23, the last day of the Synod of Bishops. Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach has written a letter on Fr Hurtado, which can be read on the web at www.mdsj.org/empn/empn031405.html.

According to the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI received Father General on June 11. Father General fulfilled what is established in the Constitutions of the Society regarding the election of a new pope, and "manifested to His Holiness the profession and express promise which the Society has to be obedient to him, especially in regard to the missions, to the glory of God our Lord." [Source: Jesuits in Europe News Service]


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Jesuits Send Open Letter to G8 Leaders

Jesuits from all around the world who work with "communities who live in poverty, deprived of their most elemental rights" have sent an open letter to the leaders of the countries of the G8. In their letter, these Jesuits called upon the G8 leaders, who are meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, in July, to:

Quoting from Pope Paul VI as well as John Paul II, these workers from six continents remind the world leaders that they have committed themselves "on many occasions to travel this path." The letter concludes, "Now is the time to keep your word, as your own citizens are demanding. At stake are the basic rights of many people, and with them the dignity of the whole human race."

The full text of the letter is at www.jesuits-europe.org/ns/SJS%20letter%20G8.pdf [Source: SJ Eur News Service]

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Fairfield Students Help Bring a Well to Afghan Village

Fairfield University students Mikaela Conley and Aamina Awan recently raised $3,000 for a well for villagers who live northwest of Kabul City in Afghanistan.

Conley's father, Lt Col Christopher Conley inspired the project. He is assigned to the medical service corps as an embedded trainer working with the Afghan National Army Central Corp command.

Using the wellWhen his daughter, who works with a Fairfield University group called Students for Social Justice, told him they were starting the Afghan Children's Fund, he contacted the elders of the village of Aloudine, home to 200 families. "The elders told me there is a serious shortage of drinking water and families spend many hours every week bringing water to their homes," Conley said.

A dedication ceremony took place in June, and a plaque was placed by the well that reads: "A gift to Afghan Children from Fairfield University, United States of America, Peace Brings All Good Things."

Village elder Mullah Gulam Mohudin said that "Peace Brings All Good Things" is an Islamic proverb about God's plan for mankind and is a fitting expression about the new well.

Through the Afghan Children's Fund, Conley and Awan also collected 30 boxes of clothing for children and adults, which Lt Col Conley brought to a local high school. [Source: Fairfield University]

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Retreats Offer Homeless Men Spiritual Step Back Toward Society

When longtime spiritual director and retreat master Fr Bill Creed SJ led his first retreat for homeless men in Chicago seven years ago, it opened his eyes and his heart.

"I had been doing retreats my whole life," said Fr Creed, who has now directed more than 50 retreats for the homeless. "I went to the chapel that Saturday night and asked God, 'Why is it that I'm being so deeply moved?' I had the sense of God saying, 'Trust me.'"

Fr Creed decided to offer retreats based on Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises to people trying to get off the streets. To figure out how to do it, he sent a query to contacts in the retreat and spiritual direction communities across the United States and around the world, asking if any of them had tried such a thing and what their experience had been.

None had tried, and many wrote back that it was pointless, Fr Creed said.

"I got an e-mail from one fellow that was typical," he said. "It said we all know [psychologist Abraham] Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and spiritual needs are at the top of the plateau. Only when the homeless have all their other needs met will they be ready to address their spiritual needs.

"They need job training, habits to live life. ...What struck me is that these people didn't know the poor," he added. "The poor, who have nothing else—where do they turn but to God?"

The men — no more than twelve at a time — are referred by the directors of the transitional shelters where they live. They have to be working at getting off the street and overcoming any addiction.

But for several, making an Ignatian retreat has been one step on the road back to reintegrating with society, Fr Creed said. The exercises allow them to find the ways God is active in their lives, and to find ways to welcome God. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]

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Challenges Six Months after the Tsunami

Fr Amalraj Chinnapan SJ, director of the Jesuit Tsunami Service (JTS), feels that six months after the tsunami in southeast Asia, the Church's most pressing duty is rebuilding faith and hope among survivors, not purely "humanitarian" work. JTS was set up to work for long-term reconstruction of coastal communities in Tamil Nadu, India.

Fr Chinnapan saya, "The real challenge remains to rebuild the people, their faith in God, and trust in themselves. This is the starting point and also the main hurdle of any rehabilitation work. Money may be available for projects, but what about hope?"

JTS offers legal aid, educational, skills training, shelter, and other services to survivors.

"The 'victims' definitely need huge financial assistance and the Church should be part of rebuilding efforts. But is tsunami rehabilitation merely humanitarian intervention? This is the vital question we need to keep asking ourselves," says Fr Chinnapan.

Fr Chinnapan is convinced that helping people reconcile what happened with their faith in God is crucial to their recovery.

JTS work has focused on human, pastoral accompaniment says Fr. Chinnapan. "Many religious sisters went to the camps of survivors. They did not offer them anything, they just stayed with them," he notes.

Fr Chinnapan added that another key principle in rehabilitation is survivors' participation: "Unless these people are themselves part of their rehabilitation, they could be reduced to mere 'beneficiaries', falling in the easy dependency trap." [Source: www.asianews.it]

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On the Web

World Refugee Day 2005

For World Refugee Day on June 20, Jesuit Refugee Service Belgium created a web site, www.20june.org, to give a voice to refugees. Refugees and others can leave a short message, sharing their ideas in connection with the World Refugee Day theme, which in 2005 is the ‘courage’ of refugees.

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Remembrance of Things Past

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From the Editors

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