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.

Fr. Keenan in the Holy Land

From Dec. 22 through 29, Fr. James Keenan, SJ, director of donor relations for the USA Northeast Province made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he was able to visit cities including Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. He made the pilgrimage with his cousin and his cousin’s daughter.

Below is a photo gallery detailing some of the highlights from his trip as well as an audio clip of Fr. Keenan talking about the people he met and how the experience changed how he prays.

Celebrating the USA Northeast Province

New York Province of the Society of Jesus

Fr. John J. Cecero, SJ, is the provincial of the new USA Northeast Province which is home to approximately 550 Jesuits.

After many years of strategic planning, and with the approval of Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the New England Province and the New York Province of Jesuits united to form the USA Northeast Province on December 3, 2014, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier.

Fr. John J. Cecero, SJ, serves as provincial of this new province, which includes eight states and stretches from Maine to New Jersey and beyond to Jamaica, Micronesia and the Middle East. Roughly 550 Jesuits are a part of the new province.

The creation of this new province has been in planning for years as part of the larger reconfiguration of the U.S. Jesuit provinces. The new structure will allow the Society of Jesus to better respond to the changing needs and demographics of the Church.

Fr. Nicolás approved the recommendation that the new province be established on December 3, earlier than the originally planned date of July 31, 2015. “We agree that it is time to move forward with confidence, trusting in God and following our strong desires to be energetic and united in our mission,” said Fr. John J. Cecero, SJ.

The main office of the USA Northeast Province is located in New York City. For friends and benefactors, there will be very little change in their day-to-day relationship with the Society. The Jesuits will continue to have strong ministries that will flourish in the years to come.

“The new province that begins today is a movement of grace in our midst, and while grace sheds light on our next steps, it does not illumine the entire journey,” Fr. Cecero said in a message to his brother Jesuits this week. “That takes nothing less than shared faith, courageous hope and an ardent love for Christ and one another.”

Be sure to visit and bookmark http://jesuitseast.org. The website for the new USA Northeast Province.

 

Jesuit Vocation Month and Encouraging Discerning Catholics

November is Jesuit Vocation Month and Fr. Charles Frederico, SJ, the vocation director for the Maryland, New England and New York Provinces has shared a study showing that a large number of Catholics have considered vocations but did not pursued them. During this month we are all reminded to encourage men to consider discerning a vocation to the Society of Jesus.

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Most men discerning a vocation need some encouragement before actually pursuing one.

The Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate published results of a major study done on vocations. The results captivate my passion for vocation work. A section entitled, “Consideration of Priesthood and Religious Life Among Never-Married Catholics” finds that 3% of males have “very seriously” considered a vocation. Statistically that represents “350,000 never-married men.”  Think about the ramifications: If only a small percentage of those who have “seriously considered” a vocation eventually took vows or were ordained, the  so-called “vocation crisis” would be over. Yet, the vast majority of those who have “very seriously considered a vocation” report in the study that they have never been encouraged by anyone to consider a vocation.  

Like any life, priesthood and religious life has its ups and downs. However this is a wonderful life, filled with joy. I love being a Jesuit priest. What a blessing! My friends, if we are going to increase the numbers of those who respond to God’s call to priesthood and brotherhood in the Society of Jesus, We certainly need to pray for that result.  But we also need to do more than just pray. We need to speak up. Please make a resolution to encourage just one man to consider our Jesuit life. God is good. 

Fr. Charles Frederico, SJ, is the vocation director for the Maryland, New England and New York Provinces.

Click here to learn more about Jesuit vocations.

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