Posts Tagged ‘English Canada Jesuits’

Jesuit Remembered for His Commitment to the Poor

Jesuit Father James WebbJesuit Father James Webb, former Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in English Canada, died on August 9 at age 68 in Ontario, Canada. Throughout his nearly 50 years as a Jesuit, Fr. Webb was a champion of the poor and disadvantaged, and he worked for social justice, specifically in the fields of social action, education and agricultural development.

Following his ordination in 1973, Fr. Webb served in Toronto, where he took on a number of social justice projects, including leading an advocacy effort against the system of apartheid then existing in South Africa and helping found a Catholic newspaper, a health center, the Taskforce on Churches and Corporate Responsibility and the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice.

In 1986 Fr. Webb moved to Jamaica, where he served for over twenty years. There he spent most of his time working with the poor, as a pastor in Kingston, chair of the St. Mary’s Rural Development Project and founding director of Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections.

Fr. Webb returned to Canada in 2008 to become Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in English Canada. In this role, he chose to live in an apartment in one of the poorest parts of Toronto, rather than the six-bedroom home in a Toronto neighborhood that had once served as home base for the Jesuit leadership team.

Jesuit Father James Webb with friends

“If you say that material things are not important but then there’s no sign of it, it lacks credibility,” Fr. Webb told Canada’s Catholic Register in 2009. “Our commitment to social justice and solidarity with the poor is very strong. In terms of vocations, I think that is one of the things that is attracting younger people to the Jesuits.”

Fr. Webb always believed there was more that could be done, however difficult it might seem, said Jesuit Father Philip Shano.

“Where others saw missions impossible, Jim was eternally optimistic about how things could work out,” Fr. Shano said. [Jesuits in English Canada, The Catholic Register]

Canada’s Mi’kmaq Tribe Ask Jesuits to Help Preserve their Language

Port_Royal_RizzettoAs Canada’s Jesuits remembered their first steps on North American soil and the welcome they received from Mi’kmaq people 400 years ago, the Mi’kmaq asked for a favor.
“Maybe it’s time for the Mi’kmaq to ask for your help in preserving our language,” Grand Keptin Antle Denny told three dozen Canadian Jesuits and about 100 guests who had gathered to mark the 1611 landing of two Jesuits at Port Royal in what is now Nova Scotia.

Denny said about 70 percent of Mi’kmaq speak English and very few young people are comfortable in their own language. Linguists have told Denny the language will be extinct in 20 years.

“We need your help,” Denny told the Jesuits.

“We want to be with them in spirit,” said the Jesuits’ English Canadian provincial superior, Father Jim Webb. “We would be happy to cooperate.”

Father Webb told The Catholic Register it’s difficult to say what practical steps today’s Jesuits could take to help preserve the language, but he noted that work on languages has been part of Jesuit history in Canada. Canadian Jesuits translated Ojibwa stories into English and the Bible into Ojibwa in central Canada. A Canadian missionary to Nepal was responsible for translating the liturgy into Nepali.

Nova Scotia’s Lt. Gov. Mayann Francis praised the Jesuits’ 400 years of faith and zeal.

“God has blessed us. Let us not squander that in an age of distraction,” she said. “Let us embrace those blessings we enjoy in this province.”

The reconstructed settlement on the shores of the Annapolis Basin, near the Bay of Fundy, provided a backdrop for a brief dramatic re-enactment of the Jesuits’ landing at the site. The original settlement had been built by French fur traders in 1604 but was abandoned to Mi’kmaq control when the Jesuits arrived. It became the base for two years of missionary activity before the Jesuits returned to France.

“Their mission was the Jesuit mission to find God in all things,” said Father Webb in a homily at a thanksgiving Mass.

“They recognized the spirit of Christ present among the native people they came to serve,” he said. “That’s a legacy that continues to this day.”

The arduous, expensive and dangerous journey to North America in 1611 was typical of what Jesuits have always done, and still do, said Father Jean-Marc Biron, provincial superior of the Jesuits in Quebec.

“Even in those times, Jesuits had to work to the frontiers,” Father Biron told The Catholic Register. “We still, as Jesuits, work on the frontiers — not just the geographical ones.”

[Catholic News Service]

Canada's Mi'kmaq Tribe Ask Jesuits to Help Preserve their Language

Port_Royal_RizzettoAs Canada’s Jesuits remembered their first steps on North American soil and the welcome they received from Mi’kmaq people 400 years ago, the Mi’kmaq asked for a favor.
“Maybe it’s time for the Mi’kmaq to ask for your help in preserving our language,” Grand Keptin Antle Denny told three dozen Canadian Jesuits and about 100 guests who had gathered to mark the 1611 landing of two Jesuits at Port Royal in what is now Nova Scotia.

Denny said about 70 percent of Mi’kmaq speak English and very few young people are comfortable in their own language. Linguists have told Denny the language will be extinct in 20 years.

“We need your help,” Denny told the Jesuits.

“We want to be with them in spirit,” said the Jesuits’ English Canadian provincial superior, Father Jim Webb. “We would be happy to cooperate.”

Father Webb told The Catholic Register it’s difficult to say what practical steps today’s Jesuits could take to help preserve the language, but he noted that work on languages has been part of Jesuit history in Canada. Canadian Jesuits translated Ojibwa stories into English and the Bible into Ojibwa in central Canada. A Canadian missionary to Nepal was responsible for translating the liturgy into Nepali.

Nova Scotia’s Lt. Gov. Mayann Francis praised the Jesuits’ 400 years of faith and zeal.

“God has blessed us. Let us not squander that in an age of distraction,” she said. “Let us embrace those blessings we enjoy in this province.”

The reconstructed settlement on the shores of the Annapolis Basin, near the Bay of Fundy, provided a backdrop for a brief dramatic re-enactment of the Jesuits’ landing at the site. The original settlement had been built by French fur traders in 1604 but was abandoned to Mi’kmaq control when the Jesuits arrived. It became the base for two years of missionary activity before the Jesuits returned to France.

“Their mission was the Jesuit mission to find God in all things,” said Father Webb in a homily at a thanksgiving Mass.

“They recognized the spirit of Christ present among the native people they came to serve,” he said. “That’s a legacy that continues to this day.”

The arduous, expensive and dangerous journey to North America in 1611 was typical of what Jesuits have always done, and still do, said Father Jean-Marc Biron, provincial superior of the Jesuits in Quebec.

“Even in those times, Jesuits had to work to the frontiers,” Father Biron told The Catholic Register. “We still, as Jesuits, work on the frontiers — not just the geographical ones.”

[Catholic News Service]

Jesuits Put Vow of Poverty into Action

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English Canada Jesuit provincial superior Fr. Jim Webb, and his right hand man, or socius, Fr. Peter Bisson have been living in a three-bedroom apartment in one of Toronto’s poorest neighborhoods for 10 months.

Webb believes the Jesuit vow of poverty has to be more than a theory. “If you say that material things are not important but then there’s no sign of it, it lacks credibility,” he said.

Greater credibility translates into vocations, said Webb. “Our commitment to social justice and solidarity with the poor is very strong,” he said. “In terms of vocations, I think that is one of the things that is attracting younger people to the Jesuits.”

“In an age of materialism and consumerism, it’s an important statement,” he said. “It has an apostolic value. People see that you could have something and you’re choosing not to. It says something.”

To read more about Fr. Webb’s committment to the vow of poverty, please go here.