Archive for March, 2012

New England Provincial Visits Amman, Jordan

Via the New England Jesuits: Jesuit Provincial Myles Sheehan recently visited the Jesuit Center in Amman, Jordan and met with Jesuit Fathers Michael Linden, Paul Mankowski and fellow Jesuit Provincial Victor Assouad.

Fr. Linden has been superior for a few months and is working with the staff of the Jesuit Center in expanding the Center’s outreach to Christians in Jordan as well as supporting the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service.

Fr. Assouad, Provincial of the Near East Province, came to visit Amman, along with Jesuit Dan Corrou, who is teaching English and studying Arabic in Beirut.   Also on the agenda: a visit to Archbishop Lahham, vicar in Jordan for the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who expressed his hope that the Jesuits would continue to be an active presence in Jordan.

Fr. Mankowski has been acting pastor for this past year in the English-speaking parish that serves the Latin Catholic parishes of Amman, offering Masses that are very heavily attended by the many domestic workers from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and India working in Jordan, as well as businesspersons and embassy staff.

The work of the Jesuits in Jordan is vitally important, as there is a constant need to meet the spiritual, emotional and material needs of the predominantly Filipino congregations and other foreign migrants in the country.

A majority of whom the Jesuits serve are female domestic workers. They live in their employers’ homes and work long hours, with many experiencing intense feelings of loneliness and homesickness. They often have families back home whom they miss desperately.

With few job opportunities in their home countries and families to support, these women come to the Middle East, where jobs in the “care-giving industry” are plentiful. Motivated by the promise of comparatively high earnings, most of which they intend on sending home to their families, they often accept without complaint long hours, little personal time or freedom and substandard living accommodations.

Photo: Fr. Provincial Myles Sheehan, (left) visits the Jesuit Center in Amman, Jordan with Archbishop Lahham (center) and Fr. Michael Linden, SJ.

Jesuit Uses Philosophy to Explore Universal Principles of Society

How do we make sense of life?  How should we treat others? When human life is at stake, are there reasonable principles we can rely on to guide our actions? What kind of society should be built?

Many people rely on their religious beliefs to answer these questions.  But not everyone accepts the same religious premises or recognizes the same spiritual authorities. In an effort to understand this balance, Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer wrote the book “Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues” to explore the ten basic principles that must govern the reasonable person’s thinking and acting about life issues.

The 10 universal principles discussed in the book are broken down into four sections under the topics of reason, ethics, justice and natural rights, and identity and culture.

Fr. Spitzer – former president of Washington’s Gonzaga University and founder of the California-based Magis Institute – said that he wanted the work to be “very accessible” and help everyday Catholics learn how to oppose issues such as euthanasia by using philosophy.

A highly-regarded philosopher, Fr. Spitzer appeared on EWTN’s Bookmark to discuss the book in depth:

The Jesuit’s Beijing Center Shares China with the World

The Great Wall. One-fifth of the world’s population. Tiananmen Square.

What do you really know about China?  Where 5,000 years of history and culture clash with unprecedented growth and change, China has become one of the most exotic and dynamic places on Earth.

Founded by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in 1998, The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies (TBC) has provided the world an unprecedented education about China. Students travel to Beijing to learn about and experience culture shaped by Confucius philosophy, dynastic rule, striking art forms, economic growth, and political revolution.

Jesuit Father John Guiney, the Director of Jesuit Missions in Ireland, visited China last year and had the opportunity to visit TBC and interview its director, Jesuit Father Roberto Ribeiro.

Jesuit Reports for Vatican Radio from Cuba for Papal Visit

Pope Benedict XVI was welcomed to the island nation of Cuba yesterday, by President Raul Castro who met the pontiff at the airport in Havana.

The director of Vatican Radio’s German Program, Jesuit Father Bernt Hagenkord, has been in Havana for a few days, preparing for the Pope’s arrival. He’s been walking the streets and talking to the people there, to find out what their expectations are, and how they intend to greet him.

“A lot of preparation went into this visit, organizationally as well as diplomatically, although it is not really visible in the streets. However, all people I could talk to agree, it will, like its predecessor, leave a changed Church and as many hope, a changed country.”

To listen to the full report from Fr. Hagenkord, please press play: 


Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek One Step Closer to Canonization

Born in Pennsylvania to Polish immigrants in 1904, Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek’s life as a priest was anything but ordinary. And now this remarkable Jesuit is one step closer to canonization as the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints has agreed to review and examine his life.

Originally assigned to Poland in the late 1930s, Father Ciszek fled to Russia when the Soviet Army invaded Eastern Poland during World War II. Hoping to serve exiles as a priest in disguise, Father Ciszek entered the Soviet Union under an assumed name.

In 1941, Father Ciszek was arrested by the Soviet Secret Police, who claimed he was a Vatican spy. He spent 23 years as a prisoner in the Soviet Union, including 15 years of hard labor in Siberia and five years of solitary confinement. According to Jesuit Father James Martin, Father Ciszek performed many ministries, even under the harshest of circumstances: “During the time, he secretly served as priest to his fellow prisoners, risking his life to offer counseling, hear confessions, and–most perilously—celebrating Mass.”

Father Ciszek himself described the brutal conditions, “We said Mass in drafty storage shacks, or huddled in mud and slush in the corner of a building site foundation of an underground. . . . Yet in these primitive conditions, the Mass brought you closer to God than anyone might conceivably imagine.”

By 1947, both Father Ciszek’s family and the Society of Jesus presumed he was dead; the Society even sent out a death notice. Eight long years later – in 1955 – Father Ciszek was finally allowed to write his first letter to his family, although his joyful reunion would have wait until 1963 when Father was finally returned to the United States after a complicated diplomatic prisoner exchange.

Fr. Ciszek’s cause will now undergo an examination by nine theologians to determine if he exhibited in his life the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance to a heroic degree. If the theologians agree that his virtue was indeed heroic, the Cause will be passed on to the Bishops and Cardinals, who are members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, for their study. If their judgment is favorable, the results will be sent to the Holy Father for his consideration. If the Holy Father gives his approval, Fr. Ciszek will be declared a Servant of God or “Venerable.”

While the candidate for canonization who is declared venerable has no feast day, the faithful are encouraged to pray for his intercession. If it is proven that a miraculous cure has been granted in response to those prayers, the “Venerable” will be declared “Blessed.” Finally, if an additional miracle through the intercession of the Blessed is verified, the Church will formally declare Father Ciszek a saint.

Materials and documentation bolstering Father Ciszek’s cause include testimony from 45 witnesses, Father Ciszek’s published and unpublished works, and transcription of hundreds of his handwritten documents.