Posts Tagged ‘Jesuits of English Canada’

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]

Canadian Jesuits ready for Contact

Jesuits are taught to see God in all things. This makes Jesuit photography a little more intense than family snapshots.

This year four Canadian Jesuits will show their photographs as part of the 17th annual Contact festival. With more than 1,000 venues spread around Toronto and as many as 1.8 million sets of eyeballs taking in the work of an international lineup of photographers through the month of May, Contact is the largest photography event in the world.

The Jesuit show at Regis College on the campus of the University of Toronto is called “In All Things.” It runs May 10 to 26.

Second-year theologian Marc Aristotle de Asis loves the process of discovery inherent in photography. The Contact show will be the first time the 29-year-old Jesuit will see his photographs hung for a gallery crowd.

“I let myself be amazed by what the camera captures,” said de Asis of the fireworks photos he will show.

His photos will hang along with nature and abstract photography by Jesuit Fathers Gilles Mongeau and Teo Ugaban, and Jesuit Trevor Scott.

De Asis has been playing around with cameras since he was very young. Growing up in the Philippines, de Asis’s father had a darkroom. Though he claims to have been a haphazard photographer and printmaker in those days, he loved seeing what would come out of the trays of chemicals.

Photography wasn’t part of his spiritual life until his novice master, Fr. Philip Shano, urged him to channel some of his energy into photography. In the context of the initial two years of Jesuit life photography took on new dimensions.

“It’s all contemplation,” he said. “It’s a way to enter into the whole experience.”

To capture a moment requires the kind of attentiveness that is at the very heart of Ignatian spirituality, according to de Asis.

Find out more about the Contact photography exhibit and the works by the Jesuits which will be on display in this article from The Catholic Register.

We can All do More, says Canadian Jesuit

The Jesuits want more — more faith, more work, more justice, more truth, more hope, more for the love of Christ. As Canadian Jesuit Father Bert Foliot celebrated 50 years in the Society of Jesus, he also laid out what he felt can be asked of Jesuits.

“We want you to demand that we help you to meet Jesus of Nazareth. That’s what we want you to demand of us,” Fr. Foliot said. “We want you to demand that we be faithful to the tradition and interpret it in ways that can be understood in our secular time. We want you to demand that we be people who can open up a respect for creation so that we can be in right relation with creation.”

The Jesuits are celebrating 400 of years in Canada, a milestone commemorated during a recent dinner and awards ceremony in early April dedicated to the core Jesuit value of more — which, in the traditional language of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Jesuits call “the magis.”

If Jesuits are to lead the lives they are called to, they need lay people to constantly demand every dimension of Jesuit ministry, said Fr. Foliot. Over the last 50 years, Fr. Foliot has been a pastor at big-city parishes, a missionary in Northern Ontario and now serves as rector at Regis College, the Jesuit graduate faculty of theology at the University of Toronto.

“I don’t know if you know the power of lay people to call forth the priesthood in us,” Fr. Foliot said.

During the dinner on April 11, the Jesuits presented an award to Peter Warrian and Margaret Hovanec, a Toronto couple behind the Lupina Foundation. The foundation funds the Lupina Centre for Spirituality, Healthcare and Ethics at Regis College,

“What we receive from the Jesuits wildly exceeds anything we can contribute to the Society of Jesus,” said Warrian, an entrepreneur and former chief economist for the Province of Ontario.

Fr. Foliot was one of four Jesuits celebrating 50 years of Jesuit life at the 2012 Provincial’s Dinner. Jesuit Brother Bob Finlay, Fathers Doug McCarthy and Michael Stogre all entered the novitiate in 1962.

Find out more about the Jesuits of English Canada and the festivities honoring their Jesuit jubilarians at The Catholic Register.