Jesuit Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai, a prominent figure in the Chinese Catholic Church, died April 27 of pancreatic cancer. He was 96.
“Bishop Jin was a towering figure in the history of the church in China. Always gracious, ever perceptive, he will be missed by the people of China,” said Jesuit Father Thomas Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States.
In the early 1980s, the bishop, who spent almost three decades in a Chinese prison and a labor camp, made the decision to cooperate with the Chinese government, which strove to exercise control over the church through organs such as “patriotic associations,” including one for Catholics.
Jesuit Father Michael Kelly, executive director of the Asian Catholic news agency UCA News, said of his fellow Jesuit: “From the 1980s, much to the suspicion of some, the condemnation of others but the amazement of most, Jin walked the thin line between recognizing the authority of the government while sticking to what he believed was most basic and important to Catholicism in China.”
Jesuit Father Thomas Lucas, a professor of art and architecture at the University of San Francisco, had the opportunity in 2002 to collaborate with Bishop Jin on a five-year project to install 56 stained glass panels in the windows of St. Ignatius Cathedral in Shanghai.
“Bishop Aloysius Jin was a remarkable man and a great Jesuit,” said Fr. Lucas. “He returned to his native Shanghai in 1951 after studies in Europe, knowing that imprisonment was the likely outcome. Incarcerated for 28 years, five years of which he spent in solitary confinement, he emerged unbroken in his faith and optimism.”
Bishop Jin, who was born in 1916 in Shanghai, was ordained a Jesuit in 1945. Two years later, he left for studies in France, Germany and Italy and earned a doctorate in theology. He returned to Shanghai and served for four years as rector of what was then known as the Xuhui Regional Seminary, later Sheshan Seminary.
He was arrested in 1955 because, he has said, he “opposed several laws of the state.” During his time in prison, he prayed and taught himself Russian. After his release, Bishop Jin was sent to northern China for almost 10 years, where he spent his time working the land and working on translations for the Chinese government.
He returned to Shanghai in 1982 to serve as rector of the Sheshan Seminary at the request of the Shanghai Diocese.
“I don’t regret coming back,” he said. “Now I can educate seminarians as previously. I can publish books. … It is important for Catholics. Now I am also in charge of church contact with foreign visitors. I can promote the mutual respect and confidence between the Chinese church and the church abroad. These things are contributions for the whole church.”
Bishop Jin was elected auxiliary of Shanghai in December 1984 and was ordained the next month, without the approval of the Vatican. He became bishop of Shanghai in 1989 but did not reconcile his status with the Vatican until early in the 21st century.
Bishop Jin also became a figure at the national level. He persuaded the authorities to allow inclusion of prayer for the pope in the Eucharistic prayers during Masses and helped to develop the liturgy in Chinese.
According to Fr. Lucas, Bishop Jin’s decision to preach the Gospel and bring the sacraments back to the people of Shanghai after the Cultural Revolution was controversial, as it meant working with — rather than against — the regime.
“Yet the decision bore great fruits for the re-evangelization of his native city,” said Fr. Lucas. “He built 15 new parishes, restored St. Ignatius Cathedral and became the beloved shepherd of a diverse community. Fully reconciled with the Holy See and the Jesuit Superior General a decade ago, Jin’s legacy of patience, endurance and practical wisdom was an inspiration to all who called him Father and friend.”
More than 1,000 people attended a funeral Mass for Bishop Jin on April 29. A government-organized memorial service is scheduled for May 2, after which his body will be cremated, according to UCA News. [Catholic News Service]
Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, is used to questions about his job, such as “Why does the Vatican have an observatory?” and “Aren’t there more important things to do than look at the stars?” In fact, he used to ask himself the same type of questions.
Br. Consolmagno recalls being a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and lying in bed at night wondering, “Why am I wasting my time worrying about the moons of Jupiter when there are people starving in the world?”
He had no answer, and he eventually quit his job and science and joined the Peace Corps.
“I told the Peace Corps people, ‘I’ll go anywhere you ask me to go, I’ll do anything you ask me to do; I just want to help people,’” he says. “They sent me to Africa, to Kenya, where I ended up teaching astronomy to graduate students at the University of Nairobi!”
Now as an astronomer at the Vatican, Br. Consolmagno explains that he encounters God in his scientific studies.
“Astronomy is how we experience the universe as creatures who are interested in more than just, ‘what’s for lunch?’” says Br. Consolmagno. “But what I have also come to see is that belief plays a fundamental role in being able to do that astronomy.”
According to Br. Consolmagno, there are three religious beliefs you have to accept on faith before you can be a scientist: that this universe actually exists; that the universe operates by regular laws; and that the universe is good.
“Science is where I get to spend time with the Creator,” says Br. Consolmagno. “When God invites me to encounter him in the things that have been made, as St. Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans, God is setting up a game we get to play together. It is a game that, on top of everything else, tells me he loves me. And for that, I am grateful to be an astronomer.”
To read more about Br. Consolmagno’s thoughts on God and astronomy, visit Thinking Faith, the online journal of the British Jesuits.
Jesuit Father Joseph Costantino has been appointed as the new president of Canisius High School, in Buffalo, N.Y., beginning July 1. Fr. Costantino is returning to the site of his first assignment as a Jesuit novice in 1978.
His appointment also marks a return to a Jesuit president for the 143-year-old school. He succeeds John Knight, the first lay president in the school’s history. Knight left Canisius in 2012 to lead St. Ignatius Preparatory School in San Francisco. In the interim, P. Joseph Koessler served as president while the Canisius High board searched for a permanent replacement.
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to have a Jesuit back at the helm of Canisius. That was one of our key objectives we were seeking to fulfill,” said the chair of the school’s board of trustees David Kersten.
Fr. Costantino has been the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in New York City since September 2006.. A Brooklyn native, Fr. Costantino entered the Society of Jesus in 1977 and was ordained in 1987. Fr. Costantino is also a member of the board of trustees at Canisius College, where he spent three years teaching philosophy. He holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University, a master’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University and both a Master of Divinity and Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass. (now the Boston College School of Theology).
He was executive director of St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset, N.Y., for seven years, and is a former board member of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, which provides service opportunities for retirees with the poor. Fr. Costantino also served as director of vocations for the New York and Maryland Province Jesuits.
“Living in community with the Jesuits who served at the high school and working alongside a group of seasoned Canisius lay faculty members in the Higher Achievement Program, I experienced the joys of teaching and learned about the magnificent work of this special Jesuit apostolate in Buffalo,” said Fr. Costantino, recalling his time at Canisius High as a Jesuit novice. [Buffalo News, Business First]
Jesuits living among students in college residence halls as “Jesuits-in-Residence” is a tradition the Society of Jesus has embraced across the United States since its earliest schools were founded. Today the tradition continues at many Jesuit colleges and universities, including Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Seattle University and Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.
In a new video, the Ignatian News Network visited students and Jesuits-in-Residence living in community at Georgetown University. Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes explained his role as a Jesuit-in-Residence:
“It’s [about] being mentors, friends and colleagues [with students]. Being gentle correctors at times, but also being those people that can inspire and draw people into living as their better selves.”
According to Jesuit Father Christopher Steck, Jesuits-in-Residence serve their campus community in a unique way. “We’re there both as a witness to the academic enterprise, and we’re also there to say we care about your lives as social people, your lives as people trying to make hard decisions.”
Jesuit Father Fred Enman became a Jesuit because of a calling within his calling. When he realized during college that he wanted to be a priest and practice poverty law, he says, “It became clear to me that the obvious thing to do was to join the Society of Jesus.”
On April 21, Fr. Enman was honored for his work with the poor when he received the Madonna Della Strada Award from the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) New England. As executive director and founder of Matthew 25, Fr. Enman and his volunteers rehabilitate abandoned houses in the Boston area to create affordable rental housing for low-income people. In addition, Fr. Enman serves as assistant dean and chaplain of Boston College Law School.
The idea for Matthew 25, which has rehabbed 11 houses since 1994, came to Fr. Enman while he was reading “The True Church and the Poor,” in which Jesuit Father Jon Sobrino wrote that Christians must make Gospel values real in the lives of the poor. The theologian singled out Matthew 25, which proclaims that people shall be judged on whether they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cared for the sick, visited the imprisoned and welcomed the stranger in their midst.
“I was in my room and I was so moved by what I was reading that I put the book down and prayed about it,” recalled Fr. Enman. “Jesuits are encouraged from time to time to make a resolution at the end of a prayer, so what I resolved was that if I had a chance someday to make Matthew 25 concrete, I would do so.”
In 1988, Fr. Enman had that chance when he created a pastoral project for a class and proposed Matthew 25, with a mission to provide food and housing relief. Through yard sales, Fr. Enman raised money that went to food relief efforts here and abroad — and a small amount was set aside to start up Matthew 25. He continued to raise money while teaching at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and by 1994, Matthew 25 was able to buy and rehabilitate its first abandoned home in Worcester.
Since then, Matthew 25 has restored nine more houses in Worcester and one in Boston, renting them to the poor at affordable prices. Fr. Enman said that most of the work has been done by volunteers, including students from Holy Cross and Boston College, parish and youth groups from local churches and the IVC.
Fr. Enman said his work with Matthew 25 has enabled him to see a “great connection between a Jesuit vocation and the ethical values that are developed in Scripture.” He added, “It’s very practical what we are called to in taking care of the basic needs of human beings in terms of food, shelter and clothing. Everyone in the community has a responsibility.”