Archive for November, 2010

Jesuit Helps Build Much Needed University in War Ravaged Sudan

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With over four decades on the continent, Jesuit Father Mike Schultheis has devoted himself to providing Catholic higher education across Africa including stints in Uganda and  Tanzania. In the 1990s, he taught economics at the Catholic University of Mozambique, established its first graduate degree and founded a research and documentation center. He also was  the first president of the Catholic University of Ghana. All of his previous educational apostolic work led him to his latest initiative of opening the Catholic University of the Sudan two years ago.

With educational opportunities in Sudan being among the worst in the world and adult literacy below 30 percent, Schultheis realizes that the Catholic University of the Sudan is a critical component in moving the country forward after almost 25 years of civil war. The founding of the university also comes at a critical time for the nation as it prepares for a historic vote in 2011 to decide if Sudan stays united or becomes two countries.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference established the Catholic University of the Sudan as a centerpiece of their national program to help the country recover from decades of violence, famine and mass displacement of people. The vision for the university and its development goes back even farther, to half a century ago, soon after Sudan’s independence from Britain in 1956. The idea for the university was discussed again when former Sudanese president Jafaar Nimeiry met with Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1983, just months before a civil war broke out in the county and dashed the university project yet again.

“The Catholic University of the Sudan, as a national institution, is a dream long deferred,” explains Schultheis. “

You can read more about the new Catholic University of the Sudan here. You can also watch the interview with Fr. Schultheis on the progress of the Catholic University of the Sudan produced by National Jesuit News last year when the school launched its second faculty of agricultural and environmental sciences in Wau.

Jesuit Discusses the Clergy and the Recession

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Jesuit Father Tom Reese, director of the Public Policy Program at Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C., was recently a guest on Interfaith Voices, a religious news magazine on public radio.

The episode on religion and the recession explored how the clergy in the country are handling it: what they are preaching to congregations where many are losing their jobs and their homes.

Fr. Reese tells host Maureen Fiedler, “We have to reach out and remind people of God’s compassion and love. Because when you lose your job, you lose your sense of value. You feel powerless … Religious communities have to reach out to these people and say ‘No, you are still important, you are valued and loved by God.’”

You can listen to the audio broadcast below or by going to Interfaith Radio’s website.

Jesuits Visit Their Twinned Province in Northeast India

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The Jesuits are probably best known for their work in education yet, the Society of Jesus is also the largest missionary order in the Roman Catholic Church. This vibrant apostolate dates back to St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of foreign missions, and his work in South and East Asia.

The Wisconsin Province Jesuits recently renewed a bond with the Kohima region of northeast India. This area, known as the “seven sisters” (for seven states), spans a rugged triangular region of lower Himalayan terrain that borders Tibet, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Th Wisconsin twinning relationship was created in a spirit of mutual sharing. It identifies particular areas of cooperation and a commitment to accompany indigenous people. Jesuit Father Tom Krettek, provincial of the Wisconsin province, and his international assistant John Sealey visited Kohima this year to help deepen this bond.

While there, Fr. Krettek and Sealey visited Jesuit schools, health clinics, the Jesuit novitiate in Kohima along with other Jesuit ministries in the area. The video below highlights their visit to Kohima.

Jesuit Named Co-recipient of $1 Million Opus Prize

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Jesuit Father John Halligan, founder of the Working Boys’ Center (WBC) in Quito, Ecuador, was co-recipient of this year’s Opus Prize, one of the largest humanitarian awards that is designed to provide a single infusion of resources to advance humanitarians’ work and bring greater visibility to their causes.

Fr. Halligan will split the $1.1 million award with Sr. Beatrice Chipeta, director of the Lusubilo Orphan Care Project in Malawi, Africa. They were named co-recipients of the million-dollar annual prize on November 11 in a ceremony at Fordham University.

Fr. Halligan, 80, began the WBC in 1964 in the attic of the centuries-old La Compania Church in the center of Quito, Ecuador. His aim was to provide lunch and spiritual inspiration to a few dozen “shoeshine boys” who worked in the streets to support their families.

Forty-six years later, the WBC operates out of three buildings spread throughout Quito and serves more than 2,000 members annually, including whole families. The center offers daycare, primary education, vocational training, special needs services and adult literacy programs to help families be self-sustaining.

WBC is run by a team of directors, some of whom are former shoeshine boys, and enlists approximately 200 employees and 1,000 volunteers annually. It has twice been named the best technical school in the nation for its classes in carpentry, metal crafts and other trades.

At the ceremony, Fr. Halligan thanked the Jesuits for always keeping the “door open for the lower classes” and said that helped shape the path of his own life. He also encouraged students to become volunteers.

“The young volunteers make all the difference in our work, and they return from a life-changing experience in the process,” he said.

In the video below, Halligan discusses the purpose of the Working Boys’ Center and how it has help shape the lives of the poor in Quito.

Prayerful Reflection for Jesuit National Vocation Promotion Day

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Today is the feast of All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus, and also when National Vocation Promotion Day is observed by Jesuits and their partners.

Jesuits are blessed to continue to have prayerful men with generous hearts who desire to labor in and for the Kingdom. Today, Jesuits recognize the ongoing need to engage men who might be called to religious life.

The Society of Jesus is a community of priests and brothers dedicated to the service of God and the Church for the betterment of the world around us. No matter what the work, from university to infirmary to barrio, it is for the glory of God and the help and salvation of souls. Even within the Society of Jesus, there is a great variety of voices, an array of talents, but all are at the service of the call and the mission. Some are gifted at social analysis, others at immediate and effective working with people at the margins of life or society. Many are scholars, many are missionaries. Whether teaching, preaching, giving the sacraments or praying for the society, the voices are as varied as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, but there must be one message: to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you or someone you know is discerning a vocation calling to join the Jesuits in service, we encourage you to visit jesuit.org for more information on the Society of Jesus.

Today, on National Vocations Promotion day, National Jesuit News offers a prayer for vocations to the Society of Jesus.

Father,
in the name of Jesus,
through the power of Your Holy Spirit,
we pray that You inflame the hearts of men
with courage and trust
and the desire to labor for Your Kingdom
as Jesuits.

We ask You
through the intercession of Mary, our Mother,
St. Ignatius, and all Your saints,
to bless the Society of Jesus
with bountiful vocations
that it may continue to serve Your church
with passion and zeal.

May Your will be done.
Amen

Below, Jesuit Father Robert Ballecer, national director of vocation promotion for the Society of Jesus urges us to reflect on this day of the feast of All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus and asks that you help us to continue the mission.