segunda-feira, 28 de janeiro de 2008

Week 3 Ends

The Congregation has moved from the intense prayerfulness of the murmurationes, to exhilaration at Fr. Adolfo "Nico" Nicolas' election, to new energy and excitement as we watch and learn the ways of the new General, which many find fresh and inspiring - the simplicity and warmth, the smile and witty remarks, the serene presence.
Last Monday, 21 January, we began the second part of the Congregation by choosing the coordinating team for this ad negotia (business) phase. As you have already read in the bulletins, our own Fr. Danny Huang has a strong presence in the leadership as a member of the deputatio (steering committee) and as one of the three aula moderators (the other two were for Spanish and French).
Most of the week was spent in new small linguistic groups covering the four main topics on which decrees have been proposed: (1) mission and identity, (2) governance, (3) obedience, and (4) collaboration with "others" (instead of "lay" since we also work with non-Christians). A special group was also designated to reflect on the Pope's letter to Fr. Kolvenbach, and to propose a possible response. As was the case in the earlier small linguistic groups, special efforts were made to make sure that each group would have as wide a representation as possible, from across the different assistancies.
Discussion also began regarding the structures of central governance in the Society and the procedure for choosing the General Counsellors, the Regional Assistants, and the four Assistants ad providentiam. In the exchange of ideas and positions that followed, both formal (in the aula) and informal, the one objective was clear: we all desired to provide Fr. Nico the best possible leadership team he can work with, particularly as he begins his generalate.
It was really important that each day began with common prayer at 9AM. This helped us re-enter into the spirit of the Congregation, which is less a matter of work and more a matter of ongoing spiritual and apostolic discernment.
East Asian Assistancy
Needless to say, the Assistancy was also in the limelight this week, for having been home of the new General. After the election, when we were all in line to congratulate Fr. Nico, one of the delegates in line made the observation of the parallels with Arrupe - the Spanish roots, the missionary work in Japan, and the election as General. But I remember it was Fr. Joseph Doan, our Regional Assistant here in Rome, who pointed out that there was one big difference: while both had Spain and Japan in common, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas also had the new and very rich experience of Assistancy, which Fr. Pedro Arrupe did not.
At last Wednesday's Eucharist in English led by the Assistancy, we organized the prayers of the faithful in the different languages of our region (including Filipino). We felt this important because, while all the prayers and the Eucharistic celebrations have been wonderfully prepared, we also saw the need to hear more of the Asian (and hopefully also African) languages in our prayers, and so, to emphasize much more, the truly international character of the Society (beyond Europe).
Last Saturday evening, 26 January, the delegates of the Assistancy gathered once more, this time not for work, but for a special Eucharist and dinner, along with the other members of the Assistancy who are working and/or studying in Rome.
Father General, himself, presided at the Mass. He spoke to us about the very warm and cordial meeting he had had with Pope Benedict XVI earlier that day. Fr. Nico spoke of how the Holy Father's concerns and interests very much coincided with ours, especially evangelization in today's world, inter-religious dialogue, and formation. He also underlined how the press tended to focus on conflicts between the Society and the Vatican, which were really not as serious as projected.
After the Mass, all of us (over thirty Jesuits, including Father General) walked over to Fr. Doan's favorite Chinese restaurant, "Il Primo", for a solid Chinese meal and lots of picture-taking afterwards.
The next day, a good number of the Assistancy delegates went for some spiritual tourism to the nearby medieval cities of Todi and Orvieta. We were joined by a few others from outside the Assistancy, and of course by our tour guide, the inimitable Fr. Joe Quilongquilong, who regaled us with historical narratives about this church or that monument, or this cite where Ignatius or some king or pope or holy person did this or that noteworthy activity. Truly, there is nothing like an Italian tour with Joe Q.
Unfortunately, Danny could not join us because he was not feeling well. A virus has been going around the aula for the past few weeks, and many delegates have been already been taken ill.
Fr. Jojo Magadia, SJRome

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