Food, faith and a crossroads: the latest 'Jesuits & Friends'
The winter 2016 edition of Jesuits and Friends is out this week, with the Jesuits’ new Superior General shown at prayer on the cover. Fr Arturo Sosa SJ from Venezuela was elected to be the 30th successor of St Ignatius Loyola at the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, which concluded last weekend in Rome. The magazine contains a report from the Congregation, alongside a biography of Fr General Sosa.
"It is clear that, with a Pope and a General both from South America, changes are taking place in the leadership of the Church," writes Fr Paul Nicholson SJ in his editorial, "and the countries of the global South are growing in influence. It is too early to say what this will mean for Jesuits and our works world-wide. Whatever else, it’s not going to be boring!"
As if to illustrate his point, Issue 95 of Jesuits and Friends includes articles from Guyana and South Africa, the Philippines and Zimbabwe, where food shortages remain critical. So far, the country has managed to avoid a famine but, according to Richard Greenwood of Jesuits Missions, major agencies such as the WFP (World Food Programme) are reporting shortfalls in funding. "The WDP estimates that in the first quarter of 2016 there were 2.8 million people who were food insecure," he writes, "and this is predicted to rise to 4.1 million by March 2017 ... Our support means that the Jesuits in Zimbabwe have been able to make a significant contribution to tackling Zimbabwe’s serious food crisis." The appeal in the last edition of Jesuits and Friends raised over ￡30,000, but news from Zimbabwe in the latest edition of the magazine make it clear that the needs of the people are still acute.
Charting the core intellectual mission
Many questions have been asked in recent months about the future of the Jesuits in Britain’s intellectual apostolate – their commitment to Catholic tertiary education – particularly in the light of the imminent withdrawal from Heythrop College; and this is addressed directly in an article in Jesuits and Friends by Fr Frank Turner SJ. He assesses the rapidly changing educational scene in Britain and how all the Jesuits’ apostolates are having to change too, with the emphasis on partnership. "The Jesuit mission, its intellectual apostolate, will endure," writes Fr Turner. "But we have the urgent task of charting that mission in a new institutional form." He says that the academics, staff and leadership of Heythrop College find themselves at a crossroads, "in a predicament we would never have chosen freely" – acknowledging that it is "a cause of undeniable sadness". But, he concludes, "it is our task to plan, without haste but without loss of time, something new that will continue the Jesuits’ and Heythrop’s core intellectual mission."
The winter 2016 edition of Jesuits and Friends also features reports of two initiatives for the Year of Mercy – a Sacred Heart Mission in London and the JRS UK ‘At Home’ project; it asks whether St Ignatius would approve of the British Province’s current pastoral strategy; and it pays tribute to the Jesuit peace activist, Fr Daniel Berrigan SJ, who died earlier this year at the age of 94. You can pick up your copy from Jesuit parishes throughout Britain; or contact Jesuit Missions on 020 8946 0466 (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be added to the mailing list. Jesuits and Friends is also available to be read or downloaded electronically.