Archive for the ‘Refugee’ Category

Just call me “Cha”: Jesuit Father Tri Dinh

When Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe was the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, he witnessed the frantic flight of the South Vietnamese out of their homeland in the seventies. The perilous plight of the “boat people” out of Vietnam so moved Fr. Arrupe, he was inspired to found the Jesuit Refugee Service in order to assist migrants and forcibly displaced people.

Jesuit Father Tri Dinh was among the thousands fleeing Vietnam at that time. Fearing religious persecution for their Catholic beliefs, Fr. Dinh and his family left Vietnam and resettled in Kansas.

Today, Fr. Dinh is an ecclesial assistant for the Christian Life Community (CLC) at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Christian Life Communities are rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, the guiding principles the Society of Jesus was founded upon, and help students deepen and enrich their faith life. The CLC young adults know Fr. Dinh as “Cha,” which means “Father” in Vietnamese.

In this Ignatian News Network video, Fr. Dinh discusses his work with young adults and how he’s learned to embrace social media and other tools to reach his flock. Showing that he’s conversant with the Millennial generation’s “digital natives” with whom he works, Fr. Dinh can also be found on Twitter at his handle @tdinhsj.

Jesuit Provincial of Eastern Africa Discusses the Situation in Uganda Today in This Month’s NJN Podcast

Last month, a video detailing atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which he heads, caused an Internet sensation. The video, which has been viewed by some 100 million people, made Joseph Kony a household name.

The warlord and his ruthless guerrilla group are responsible for a 26-year campaign of terror in Uganda that has been marked by child abductions and widespread killings. Last year, President Obama dispatched 100 U.S. troops — mostly Army Special Forces — to Central Africa to advise regional forces in their hunt for Kony.

The group running the Kony 2012 campaign is holding a nationwide event today – Friday, April 20 —  titled “Cover the Night,” where supporters are encouraged to spread the word of Kony 2012 around their local communities.

The Society of Jesus, the largest religious order of Roman Catholic priests and brothers in the world, has worked in Uganda for more than 40 years.  The Society’s Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has conducted peace-building workshops, run schools and economic development projects and ministered to refugees in Uganda. In 2005, the Jesuits of the Eastern Africa Province began planning for a secondary school in northern Uganda, the Ocer Campion Jesuit College in Gulu. The co-educational high school admitted its first students in early 2010 and is already having a tremendously positive impact in a region devastated by over 20 years of civil war. The school will grow to a capacity of 1,200 students and includes agricultural and vocational training as well as rigorous academic formation in the Jesuit tradition, religious formation and peace education.

In this podcast, Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, the Jesuit provincial of Eastern Africa, speaks with National Jesuit News about the Jesuit’s work in Uganda, the progress that’s been made, the work that still needs to be done and how young people can get involved.

Changing People’s Lives: The Society of Jesus in Eastern Africa

In November, over 1,100 students, teachers, parish members and others passionate about faith-inspired social justice gathered in Washington, DC for the 14th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

For this year’s Teach In, Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, provincial of the East African Province of the Society of Jesus, was the keynote speaker who discussed the issues facing his province today. During his time at the Teach In, National Jesuit News interviewed Fr. Orobator about the challenges that the Society of Jesus faces in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and the Republics of the Sudan in the North and South.

“I think the unique mission of the Society of Jesus is that we are able to think ‘outside of the box’.” I think that is very unique to Jesuits,” says Fr. Orobator. “We can work in parishes, we can run schools, we can run communications centers, we can run many different apostolates, but we can do it in a way that is unconventional.”

The theme of this year’s event was “The Gritty Reality: Feel It, Think It, Engage It,” derived from a speech given by former Jesuit Superior General, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, in 2000 entitled, “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education.” Kolvenbach said, “students, in the course of their formation, must let the gritty reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering and engage it constructively.”

You can watch National Jesuit News’ interview with Fr. Orobator below.

Jesuit Rediscovers his Jesuit Identity Amongst Rubble of Japanese Tsunami

2011.06.JPN_reflectionJesuit Jody Magtoto was in Japan this past May, helping in the relief effort for victims of the tsunami.  He reflects on how he rediscovered his Jesuit identity in the midst of the rubble:

I had been in Kamaishi for two days by then. Because I had taken some courses in Japanese, I could sort of understand what was going on. But I came to realize that because my words and thoughts were in English, I could not articulate what I wanted to say.  I decided then to keep my words to a minimum lest I offend or be misunderstood.

That night, after a long day spent in the tiring clean-up operations and after supping in self-imposed silence, I decided to have some time by myself. I sat on a bench and fixed my gaze on the bittersweet horizon where the melancholy of the ruin caused by the tsunami met the magnificence of the stars.

“Jody-san,” the quiet was broken by one of the volunteers. We had worked together that morning clearing up the debris from one of the houses. He sat beside me, and like me, looked towards the horizon. “I’m not a Christian, so forgive me for asking—what exactly does a Shingakusei do?”

“Well …” I began as I grasped for words, trying to explain in the simplest terms what being a seminarian is all about. He listened intently as I grappled to explain without theological jargon, in a mixture of Japanese and English, what theology is.

“So how many years does it take before Shingakusei becomes a shinpu?” he asked.

I explained the number of years it takes to become a priest, and as briefly as I could, explained the formation in the Society of Jesus.  When he found out that I had been a software engineer prior to joining the Jesuits, he paused for a long time, then looked at me and asked, “But why? I mean, why leave all of that? That sounds like a well-paying and stable job.”

I was at a loss for words. How does one talk about vocation to a non-Christian?

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Syrian Jesuits Call for End to Violence

PALESTINIANS-ISRAELThe Jesuits in Syria have issued a statement on the difficult conditions there, calling for all parties to reject violence and imploring national unity, dialogue and freedom of expression. The Syrian Jesuits are concerned that the political struggle in Syria is on the verge of disintegrating into a conflict among ethnic and religious factions that is especially threatening to the nation’s Christian minority.

The full text follows below:

Meditation on the present events in Syria

We, Jesuits in Syria are distressed by the recent events that have taken place in this country, a country which is so dear to us. We have met together to pray for this country of ours, to intercede for it and to reflect on what is happening in it. The following text, the fruit of our prayer, we desire to share with you.

Syria, an agent of civilization

Syria, a country of multiple civilizations which arrived one after another on our land and have enriched its patrimony. A great part of this richness comes from the interrelation and the harmony between the peoples of a different culture, religion and spirituality. Together, these peoples have formed a unity which we are proud of and to which we hold fast. This lays on us a grave responsibility to preserve this grand heritage.

The history of our country is distinguished by its hospitality and its openness to others, whosoever they be. The spirit of hospitality, the search for unity in the difference, as also all the efforts leading to the formation of the national unity are, without doubt, at the basis of the Syrian society and form a beautiful and lively mosaic.

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