400 Years of Jesuits in Vietnam

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Father General Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, concelebrated the anniversary Mass for 3,000 people gathered in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

On Sun., Jan. 18, over 3,000 Catholics gathered in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to participate in the concluding Mass marking the arrival of the first Jesuits in Vietnam 400 years ago. The event culmination of a year-long celebration that started last January when Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, celebrated the opening Mass. That Mass had a congregation of over 1,500 with over 100 additional priests concelebrating. This year’s closing Mass included Father General Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, as one of 14 concelebrants, and main celebrant Jesuit Bishop Cosmas Hoang van Dat of Bac Ninh located in the north of Vietnam near Hanoi.

The Jesuits who arrived in Vietnam 400 years ago, came after the death of Italian Jesuit missionary Fr. Matteo Ricci. While they had originally intended to go to Japan, they quickly began to befriend the local people by learning their language and culture. Since those Jesuits arrived, Christianity has continued to grow and spread in Vietnam. Additionally, the Jesuit presence there has grown as well. The Vietnam Province is one of the largest Jesuit provinces in the Asian Pacific Jesuit Conference.

Click here to read more.

Scorsese to Release Film on Jesuits Later this Year

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Shuduio Endo’s novel Silence tells the story of Jesuits journeying to Japan to find their missionary mentor who is rumored to have apostatized.

This year will see blockbuster movies starring spies, rebels and super heroes but only one will feature Jesuits as protagonists.

The upcoming film Silence is Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Shuduio Endo’s book of the same name. Taking place in Japan during the 17th century it details the journey of two Jesuit missionaries to find their old Jesuit mentor who will be played by Liam Neeson.

Neeson is no stranger to the Society. In addition to narrating a documentary about the real life Jesuit missionary, St. Francis Xavier and playing a Jesuit in the film The Mission, his son is a senior at Fordham Prep.

Click here to read the full article about the film and Hollywood’s fascination with the Society.

Friends and Benefactors Gather for Celtic Music and History Performance

Pictured from left to right: Fr. Myles Sheehan, SJ, Lisa and Jim Mooney (chairs of the Jesuit GALA) and Mary Coffey Moran.

Pictured from left to right: Fr. Myles Sheehan, SJ, Lisa and Jim Mooney (chairs of the Jesuit GALA) and Mary Coffey Moran.

On November 12, the Very Rev. Myles Sheehan, SJ, provincial, and the New England Province of Jesuits hosted a special performance in the McDavitt Center at the province offices in Watertown, Mass. The event featured Máiréad Loughnane Doherty, renowned Irish Harpist who was accompanied by Ryan Duns, SJ, a member  of the Midwest Jesuits, on the Irish Tin-Whistle. The program, titled “A history of the Celtic people of Ireland through the strings of the harp” included a mix of live music, history and poetry.

A native of Ireland, Doherty grew up near Nenagh, County Tipperary and took up the Irish Harp at age 13. Her passion, discipline, and years of hard work won her recognition early on, as she received first class honors from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. Following the completion of her studies, Doherty and her husband eventually settled in the Boston area where they raised their three children. Doherty became a well-known member in the Irish Music scene, and performed at a wide range of venues and institutions including the Museum of Fine Arts, New England Conservatory, the Boston Public Library, Boston College and Harvard University. In 2008, she relocated to Cape Cod, Mass. Continue reading

Legacy of the Martyrs: Lives Changed, Causes Embraced

By William Bole

The second in a two-part series marking the 25th anniversary of the Jesuit murders in El Salvador. Read part one here. Additionally, click here to read reflections on the significance of the deaths of the martyrs from Jesuits and their lay people working in the United States.

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Father Dean Brackley, SJ, left Fordham University in New York to work at the UCA in El Salvador after the Jesuits were killed. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

There’s a story told by some high-level Jesuits about a revealing moment 25 years ago, involving the worldwide leader of the Society of Jesus and El Salvador’s president. This was in the wake of the shocking murders of six Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter, at a Jesuit university in San Salvador. At the time, President Alfredo Cristiani is said to have told Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, “Father, I hope that this sorry situation won’t lead you to withdraw the Jesuits from El Salvador.”

Those words came from a man who, by all authoritative accounts, was involved at least in the cover-up of the assassinations, which took place during the predawn hours of November 16, 1989. That morning, Cristiani went on national radio to proclaim that left-wing rebels had committed the atrocities. He knew then that his own military command, in fact, had issued the orders to kill, according to a 1993 report by a United Nations-sponsored truth commission. The report also found that the president was with the high command during the hours leading up to the raid. Continue reading

The Feast of St Joseph Pignatelli

The son of a Spanish mother and Italian father, both of noble birth, St. Pignatelli could have avoided the hardships of the suppression but chose to stand with his brother Jesuits in this time of crisis.

The son of a Spanish mother and Italian father, both of noble birth, St. Joseph Pignatelli could have avoided the hardships of the suppression but chose to stand with his brother Jesuits throughout the Jesuit Suppression.

On April 3, 1767, Charles III of Spain expelled all the Jesuits in that country and confiscated their properties. More than 5,000 Jesuits were made homeless in one fell swoop. This was only one of the events, which preceded the 1773 Suppression of the Society of Jesus by Pope Clement XIV. Today, November 14, we celebrate the feast of a Jesuit who worked during this uncertain time to keep the Society alive, St. Joseph Pignatelli.

Pignatelli had been a Jesuit priest for less than five years when the Jesuits were expelled from Spain. Being of noble birth, Pignatelli could have avoided the hardships of the Suppression if he left the Society but chose to stay with his Jesuit brothers. In a turn events, Pignatelli became the acting provincial of 600 Jesuits who left Spain looking for a new home. Initially, they settled on the Italian island of Corsica and later in the city of Ferrara in northern Italy.

For the rest of his life, Pignatelli worked to stay in touch with the now dispersed former Jesuits and to keep alive the ideals of the Society. While he was not a Jesuit in the eyes of the Church, he continued to live his life according to the principals that the Society was founded on. Despite his hard work and perseverance, Pignatelli never lived to see a restored Society. In 1811, he died at the age of 73, a mere 3 years before Pope Pius VII restored the Society in 1814.

While he was not able to die as a Jesuit in name, he was one of the primary forces that enabled the Society of Jesus to continue to this day.

Click here to learn more about the Jesuit Suppression and Restoration

The Feast of St. Stanislaus Kostka

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Although he was only a novice for 10 months, St. Stanislaus Kostka is remembered for piety and his determination to join the Society.

Today, November 13, is the feast of the Polish Jesuit saint, Stanislaus Kostka. Born to noble parents in the 16th century, Stanislaus and his brother Paul were sent to the Jesuit college in Vienna for their education.

Devout from a young age, Stanislaus was often teased by his older brother Paul because of his piety. However, this did not dissuade Stanislaus from discerning a vocation to the Society of Jesus. The teenage Stanislaus attempted to enter the Society in Vienna but the Jesuits there would only allow him to enter with the permission of his parents. Sons of noble families had recently entered the Society without their parents knowledge which in turn caused those parents (who would have wanted male heirs) to lash out at the Jesuits. Stanislaus knew that his parents would not consent to this but was not deterred. He decided to seek out the German provincial of the Society to see if he would let him enter.

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Buffalo Jesuit Works to Honor 25th Anniversary of Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador

From left to right – K.C. MMeje (assistant vice president, Student Life at Loyola University Chicago), Don Beto and Lydia (Delegation’s host family in Carasque, El Salvador), and Maura Toomb

From left to right – K.C. MMeje (assistant vice president of student life at Loyola University Chicago), Don Beto and Lydia (delegation’s host family in Carasque, El Salvador), and Maura Toomb

In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the martyrdom of the six Jesuits and two lay colleagues who were murdered in El Salvador in 1989, Jesuit institutions across Buffalo are collaborating on events from the Canisius Jesuit Community to St. Michael’s Parish, and from Canisius High School to Canisius College. Featured at the center of their remembrances was a presentation on Nov. 10, by Maura Toomb, director of campus ministry at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City.

Toomb’s talk, entitled God is real in El Salvador, was inspired by her participation in a delegation to El Salvador organized by the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN). Her focus was on the lives of the Jesuit martyrs of the UCA and what each of us can do at home to continue their legacy. “Fr. Jon Sobrino, SJ, told us that God is real in El Salvador,” said Maura recalling the delegation. “God is real and alive in the Salvadoran people because that is where God needs to be. Twenty-five years ago in the face of oppression, and still today, confronting gang violence, instability, and mass migration, God is real. God is with His people who are hurting. Through the example of the martyrs, He calls us to do the same.” Continue reading