May 3, 2010

JRS Working to Improve Camps, Provide Education in Haiti

Haitian JesuitsTwo of the leading Jesuits involved in Haitian earthquake relief efforts, Frs. Kawas Francois and Wismith Lazard, visited Washington, D.C. last week to meet with members of non-governmental organizations, Congressional staff, and State Department personnel.

"The situation in Haiti is very difficult now. Before the earthquake, the situation was bad. Now, the situation is worse. We have a lot of unemployment, that's a real problem. Many children can't go to school, because so many schools collapsed in the earthquake-affected areas," said Fr. Francois, president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti and founding member of the National Committee for Reflection and Action.

More than 80 percent of the population in the earthquake-affected areas still live in camps. The situation is characterized by extremely high rates of unemployment and poor sanitation in the camps.

"Port-au-Prince is becoming a capital of camps. It is a big problem, and it is a new situation for both the people and the government. And the government does not have the capacity to alleviate the problem of the camps. In the camps, people have no privacy for showering, young women are forced to do so in the open," said Fr. Lazard, who leads Jesuit Refugee Service in Haiti.

"There are health problems in the camps caused by the lack of sanitation, poor drainage, and garbage piling up," he said. Jesuit Refugee Service is urging the international community and the Haitian government to ensure coordination of food aid, sanitation, water so that camps are not left bereft.

JRS Haiti is focusing its current relief efforts in the Port-au-Prince area, working in seven camps that serve the needs of more than 21,000 displaced people in and around the capital.

"Through the Jesuit Fe y Alegria network, Haitian Jesuits are working to promote universal education in Haiti, a key necessity in helping to build a resilient and sustainable Haitian-led recovery," said Fr. Kenneth Gavin, SJ, National Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

While two Fe y Alegria schools already exist in the country, the Jesuits of Haiti plan to open 17 new education centers that will educate youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds while providing teacher training to promote quality education.

"Education is important. Most of the students in Port-au-Prince and the affected areas can't go to school. So we are working to re-open schools, so children can return to their education," said Fr. Francois.

Fr. Lazard noted that "Fe y Alegria and JRS have set up tents in some of the camps to use as classrooms, so we can provide education to children there." [Jesuit Refugee Service/USA]

Video interviews with Frs. Francois and Lazard are at

Photo: From right, Fr. Kawas Francois, SJ, Fr. Wismith Lazard, SJ, and Shaina Aber, Associate Advocacy Director for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, meet with Congressional staff members in the Longworth House Office Building Wednesday, April 14, 2010, to discuss relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti. (Christian Fuchs - Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)

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Spanish Jesuit Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos Beatified

Newly beatified Jesuit Fr. Bernardo Francisco de HoyosThousands of Catholics from around the world, including Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás, attended the beatification ceremony for Fr. Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, SJ, which was held in Valladolid, Spain on April 18.

Fr. Hoyos was born on August 20, 1711 in Valladolid, Spain. When he was 14 years old, he was admitted to the Jesuit novitiate. He was ordained a priest nine years later.

When he was introduced the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he immediately desired to share it with the world. He asked his spiritual director to help him write a booklet called, "The Hidden Treasure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus."

Fr. Hoyos was put in charge of obtaining the necessary funding for the publication of the booklets so he sent samples to the royal household and members of the clergy. Within a few years, the book was on its eighth publication, and many bishops granted indulgences to those who read it.

One year after his ordination, Fr. Hoyos contracted Typhus, and he died in 1735 at the age of 24. He was declared venerable by Pope John Paul II on January 12, 1996. [Catholic News Agency]

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Jesuit to Embark on 5,000-mile Bike Trek for Poverty Awareness

Jesuit Fr. Matt RuhlFr. Matt Ruhl, SJ, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Kansas City, Mo., will begin a 5000-mile bike ride on Memorial Day with 12 other riders that will wrap up on Labor Day in Key West.

Inspired after reading Catholic Charities USA Campaign to Reduce Poverty, Fr. Ruhl, decided to combine his passion for the poor with his passion for cycling to promote this innovative plan to reduce poverty and Cycling for Change was born. 

During the 100-day challenge, the Cycling for Change team will stop in several places, including an Indian Reservation, a Louisiana prison, and a recovering area of New Orleans. Communities along the route will be encouraged to highlight local poverty issues and to raise funds to benefit local poverty-reducing programs. Fr. Ruhl also will say Mass along the way.

To learn more, view the route, and read the riders' blog, go to [Cycling for Change]

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U.S. First Lady Visits Jesuit School in Mexico

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama addressed Mexican high school and university students at Jesuit-run Iberoamerican University on April 14 during her first official solo trip abroad as first lady.

She spoke to the more than 3,000 students gathered in the main courtyard about self-improvement, perseverance, and her desire to engage young people around the world.

"You may be tempted to focus solely on your individual success—to take your diploma, get the best job you can, and never look back," Obama said. "I hope you'll think of those words from the Bible—that to whom much is given, much is required," she said.

Obama told students of the importance of offering service to others and called on them to help others pursue the same path toward an education. [Catholic News Service]

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DVDs Show Impact of Spiritual Exercises

DVD set The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola: Renewal and DynamicsThe new DVD set The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola: Renewal and Dynamics explores the 21st-century implications of the Spiritual Exercises created by Jesuit founder St. Ignatius.

The DVDs, released by Georgetown University and available for purchase through the Institute of Jesuit Sources, includes a series of interviews with noted Jesuit practitioners and scholars who discuss the meditations, prayers, mental exercises, and guided retreats that have shaped Ignatian Spirituality.

The two-disc set explores the importance of the 20th-century renewal of the exercises. While the exercises have been around since their approval in 1548, there was a renewed interest by Protestant and Catholics, alike, during the 1980s.

Tony Moore, special assistant to the president at Georgetown, says the Jesuits featured in the interviews "were the men who really brought about the change in spiritual exercises. They experienced the change in their own lives and then pioneered the change into opportunities for others, not only for Jesuits but lay people, too."

Several interviews from the DVDs are available for viewing online. [Georgetown University]

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Around Campus

Marquette Students Organize One of the Nation's Largest One-day Service Projects

Marquette University Hunger Clean-upMarquette University students, faculty, and staff participated in Hunger Clean-Up, one of the nation's largest one-day service projects, on April 18.

Approximately 2,100 members of the Marquette community participated in projects at approximately 40 sites throughout the Milwaukee area. 

Twenty years after its founding at Marquette, Hunger Clean-Up is recognized as one of the most successful events of its kind in the nation, having raised more than $300,000 for more than 80 local agencies.

Hunger Clean-Up is planned and coordinated entirely by students. In addition to volunteering on the day of the event, students raise approximately $20,000 through pledges to support the work of community agencies in greater Milwaukee. Visit for more information. [Marquette University]

Sustainability Center to be Established at SLU

SLU Sustainability CenterSaint Louis University received a $5 million grant from the Alberici Foundation to establish the new Center for Sustainability—a first for the nation's 28 Jesuit colleges and universities.

SLU's Center for Sustainability will be guided by a mission to develop creative, collaborative solutions to pressing environmental challenges facing society. With Midtown St. Louis as its home base, the center will have a special focus on sustainability issues in urban areas.

One of the primary ways the center will achieve its mission is by educating the next generation of leaders in sustainability. Starting in fall 2010, the center will offer a master's degree in sustainability—the first of its kind in the Midwest.

Students in the interdisciplinary two-year program will explore advanced green practices in business, engineering, and urban planning. [Saint Louis University]

Gonzaga Hosts First Jesuit Heritage Week

For the first time, Gonzaga University hosted a "Jesuit Heritage Week," which looked to reawaken the campus to Gonzaga's Jesuit roots.

Events included a lecture on "History of the Jesuits and the Role of the Contemporary Church and the Catholics;" a presentation on service; a talk on Gonzaga's Jesuit history; and an open forum on roles in a Jesuit institution. [Gonzaga University]

Boston College Eagles hockeyBoston College Hockey Team Wins NCAA Title

The No. 3-ranked Boston College Eagles hockey team won the NCAA title with a 5-0 victory over the No. 2-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in front of 37,592 fans on April 10.

The win gave Boston College its fourth NCAA title, including three titles in the past decade. The Eagles also claimed the top spot in the nation in 1949, 2001, and 2008. [Boston College]

U.S. Representative Share Views on Faith at Loyola University New Orleans

U.S. Representative Anh “Joseph” CaoU.S. Representative Anh "Joseph" Cao, of Louisiana's second congressional district, spoke about "Ignatian Spirituality and Public Life" at Loyola University New Orleans on April 19

Cao, a former philosophy instructor at Loyola, spoke about how his early career as a Jesuit seminarian and his formation in the spirituality of St. Ignatius continues to inform his work as an elected official, including his preparation for the difficult votes on health care reform.

The presentation explored the implications of Loyola's Jesuit mission and identity for those involved in formulating policy on pressing matters facing the nation today. [Loyola University New Orleans]

Information Technology Meets Ignatian Spirituality at Fordham Conference

Modern information technology has revolutionized how people communicate with each other, and it has a role in promoting the ideals held dear by the Society of Jesus. That was the message delivered by Fr. David Robinson, SJ, associate director of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality, on April 19 to IT professionals from Jesuit colleges and universities.

His presentation, "The Role of IT in the Jesuit Mission," was part of the 25th annual Conference on Information Technology Management, a three-day event held at Fordham University.

Fr. Robinson was joined by three panelists from Fordham: Harold Takooshian, PhD, professor of psychology; Robert Wasserman, PhD, associate professor of English; and Fr. Vincent DeCola, SJ, assistant dean of academic advising.

Jesuit educators need not worry about technology replacing the critical role of the mentor—someone who has the ability to amplify and clarify context, Fr. Robinson said.

"Information is not knowledge; that's one of the great disasters of the digital age," he said. "We assume that if you have more content, you're a better student, that if you have more information you are a more educated person.

"But it's the geography of the learner and the learning that is critical in a Jesuit context. That's precisely the point." [Fordham University]

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