Gratitude Magazine March 2015 Edition

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Pope Francis' Visit to the Congregation
October 24, 2016


There is a well-established tradition that on the occasion of a Jesuit General Congregation, the Holy Father meets with the delegates. Since most of the time this happens as an audience in the rooms of the Vatican, it is not the first time that the pope himself choose to meet the Jesuits as they are gathered in the General Congregation in the curia of the Society. So this Monday, 24 October, Pope Francis came discreetly to the curia and was greeted by Father General Arturo Sosa and the superior of the curia community, Father Joaquín Barrero.

These two accompanied him into the aula, and the Pope participated in morning prayer with the delegates. The theme of the prayer, the good shepherd, had been chosen for the occasion. The Ignatian tradition reflection made a reference to Fr. Franz van de Lugt, who made himself pastor of his own in Homs, Syria, until he was killed by the insanity of war. The members of the Congregation prayed for Pope Francis, as he often requests of all those he meets.

Pope Francis came to the General Congregation with a message. He gave an encouraging speech that set a direction. The speech gave a good idea of the manner in which he is coming to see the service of the Church and of the world that the Society of Jesus can offer, a relevant way connected to his own ministry. His whole intervention was characterized by an openness to what lies ahead, a call to go further, a support for caminar, the way of journeying that allows Jesuits to go toward others and to walk with them on their own journey.

To start out, quoting Saint Ignatius, the Pope recalled that a Jesuit is called to converse and thereby to bring life to birth "in every part of the world where a greater service of God and help for souls is expected." Precisely for this reason, the Jesuits must go forward, taking advantage of the situations in which they find themselves, always to serve more and better. This implies a way of doing things that aims for harmony in the contexts of tension that are normal in a world with diverse persons and missions. The Pope mentioned explicitly the tensions between contemplation and action, between faith and justice, between charism and institution, between community and mission.

Visit the  GC 36 website to read more.

 

 

 

ON LENT

-Gabriel Ujah Ejembi, SJ

 

Lent 1For many people, Lent is the season that they feel scrupulously challenged to be holy.  The Church, on her part, emphasizes on holiness through repentance, conversion and works of mercy in Lent.  Whatever it is, there is something special about the season of Lent. It is the season that most Catholics come to Church to pray at least more than just attending Sunday Mass.

Unlike Christmas, which has a fixed date, the beginning of Lent, that is Ash Wednesday, is decided by the date chosen for Easter which is customarily between the 22nd of March and 25th of April. The appearance of the full moon in the Spring helps in this determination.  In fact, Lent comes from the old English word for Spring, lencten “springtime, spring”. The fact that the beginning of Lent is dependent on the date of Easter is symbolic because the real meaning of Lent is captured in the joy of Easter.  Easter gives meaning to the activities of Lent.

It is generally held by some theologians that Lent began with the Apostles themselves or immediately in the post-apostolic period.  Nonetheless, the history of Lent takes us back to the time of the Church’s Fathers, especially in the writings of Irenaeus of Lyon (130-200 AD) when a period of three days-triduum is designated to prepare to celebrate the new Exodus of the new people of the Covenant- Christians. Also, during the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the possibility of a 40 days period of fasting was discussed and approved.  The specific idea is to announce the fidelity of God to his never changing love and promises; that love that brought the people of Israel (people of the Old Covenant) from the slavery in Egypt to the joy of freedom in God in the Promised Land. In this great Exodus, God came down through the different signs and wonders to guarantee the liberation of His people.  God humbled himself to negotiate with an earthly king for the liberation of His people.  It is like God saying “Come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1, 18).  This great Exodus occupies a central place in Judaism because it is not only the movement from Egypt to the Promised Land but it holds a rich content of God’s love.  The Exodus is simply God reassuring His people of His Love through different activities that show that God is a Jealous God.

In constituting a new people, God humbled himself again, but now in Jesus, to lead us through a New and Everlasting Exodus from the slavery of sin to the freedom of the men and women of God.  This freedom purchased us for God as His offspring thus restoring us to our beauty as a people made for God. It is therefore the celebration of this Exodus that defines the central place of the Season of Lent. Lent prepares the faithful to celebrate the project that brought God from heaven to earth in flesh and blood – that project that culminated with Easter, the feast per excellence of the people of the New Exodus.

Lent is therefore, above all, a time to get in touch with the real impact of Easter on our lives.  We behold the glorified body of Christ in Easter.  Our bodies too will be glorified someday, that is, free from the slavery of sin and death.  It is natural then for early Christians to adopt different ways of grieving to chastise and discipline our earthly body in anticipation of that full victory that God offers.  We grieve too for our weaknesses in the face of God’s immense love revealed in an eloquent way in the passion of His son who, though sinless, became sin for our sake.  This grieve is symbolized by, first, the ash that we receive on Ash Wednesday which represents sorrow for our sins, and second, by our unrelenting effort to make the will of the sacrificed Lamb ours.  Lent is accurately an occasion to ponder on our sinfulness.  

Lent 2

Before Jesus began his public ministry, he chose the desert experience with God, a time to be alone. It was a time to seek the face of God by subjecting the body to some disciplines in order to strengthen the willing spirit within us. Jesus remained in the desert for forty (40) days.  The Church has adopted this same digit and thus the length of Lent is forty days (40) excluding all the Sundays of Lent.  The digit 40 is significant because during Noah’s time, the rain that destroyed and purged the world took 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7, 4); Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24, 18); the Israelites will march into Freedom from the slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land having been fed with Manna for 40 yrs (Exodus 16, 35); Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert (Matthew 4, 2), etc.  The digit 40 is symbolic of a time of great and profound preparation and testing like in the case of Jesus, a time of great intimacy with God like that of Moses, a time of purging and cleansing like that of the journey to the promised Land and the destruction of the world during Noah’s era (this is also symbolic of judgment).  The digit 40 is also emblematic of a period of probation and trial.  

In the context of Lent, the number 40 represents a period defined by the spiritual exercises of Prayer, Almsgiving and Fasting.  In other words, a period of holistic self and communal evaluation using the parameters of Prayer (my relation to God), Almsgiving (my relation to others) and Fasting (my relation to myself).  These three parameters are not isolated and exclusive of one another but are intertwined and interrelated.  This rightly puts Lent as a period of universal formation in the Church such that new Godly attitudes and habits and spiritual activities are cultivated. The expectation is that there should be heightened practice of spiritual activities in such a way that it becomes a way of life that is continued and sustained after the Season of Lent.  Some people observe Lent as a period of suspending some inhumane or sinful habits and then withdrawing the suspension after Lent.  This should not be encouraged. The sacrifices we make in Lent should be a way of “giving up something” in order to be “given over to something” that aligns with God’s will. This latter justifies charity and almsgiving.  For example, one reduces extravagant spending (giving up something) so that he or she could do more charity (given over to something).

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday – a day in which the church makes a universal call to repentance through the symbolic distribution of ashes as she announces a fact of human physical life “Dust we are and onto dust we shall return”. Adhering to this truth, Catholics are called to fill themselves with graces, to let God fill their emptiness, to repent and return to God.  Our repentance leads to God filling us with more of Himself. For this reason, the spiritual exercises (fast, almsgiving and prayer) during Lent have the intention of receiving and not just giving. We may possibly add that a well lived Lent should lead us to honestly exclaim with Gregory, the theologian, who said “Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him.”

Fr. Gabriel Ujah Ejembi, S.J is currenly the assistant parish priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Benin City, Edo State. 

 

 

POPE FRANCIS VISIT TO KENYA

-Tersoo GWAZA

In the gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me” (Jn 10:14). The question is who is a shepherd? Another question follows, why is Jesus referring to himself as the good shepherd?  Apparently, the concept of a shepherd was common during the time of Jesus. Jesus uses the symbol of a shepherd to address the Pharisees hekima Janwho excommunicated the blind man that Jesus cured on the Sabbath in the previous chapter (Jn 9:1ff). He however refers to himself as the “Good shepherd” because during his public ministry, the blind regained their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, the hungry were fed, and the dead were raised back to life.  This is what a shepherd does to the sheep. However, above all, Jesus went further to offer his life for the sheep. This heroic act automatically qualifies him as the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (Jn 10:11).
 
Now, the key question is how could we become “good” shepherds to the sheep in our global village that is characterized by materialism and secularism?  Actually, materialism and secularism have become the greatest “wolves” among the sheep. Many of the sheep are lost because of their insatiable appetite for material wealth. Some sheep have gone astray and lost their faith in God because of secularism. Many of the flocks are injured because of globalization – the survival of the fittest and the mighty. Other sheep are sick because of poverty, injustices, illiteracy – poverty of the mind, tribalism/division, violence, anarchy, just to mention but a few.

To answer the question, on the 25 November 2015, the successor of St. Peter whom Jesus handed over the sheep unto his care, who happens to be our Jesuit companion and our shepherd, Pope Francis landed in Africa, to be precise, Nairobi, Kenya. Before His Holiness left Italy, the journalists asked him a pensive question regarding the insecurity in Kenya, Uganda, and Central Africa Republic, which were his destinations to do what Jesus himself would have done, that is to visit the troubled sheep. Pope Francis response was rather shocking to them and many others. He said, “I am afraid of the tiny insects, the mosquitoes in Africa, but I am not afraid of the insecurity.” His response was indeed a sign of a true shepherd who will not allow wolves and bandits in shells of insecurity to prevent him from getting to know the sheep by names and to “smell like the sheep”.  

From the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport the pope was driven in a very small car to the State House in Nairobi to address the government officials. Many of us were moved by his humility and simplicity of his choice of a small car. Moreover, one would expect him to visit Africa with a private jet, given the fact that in Africa, some pastors own two to three private jets. On the contrary, he came with the Italian air. Some people, particularly non-Catholics wondered why the shepherd of over two billion followers could not have a private jet. He is a shepherd who wants to experience what his sheep experience. He wants to be with them. His message to the Kenyan government was that of peace, unity, transparency, accountability, fight against corruption, poverty, respect for human right and dignity, care for Mother Earth, and many more.

hekima jan1On 26 November 2015, His Holiness celebrated Mass at the University of Nairobi grounds. Hundreds of thousands of the faithful attended the Mass. Christians from different denomination and non-Christians also attended. His homily was about Christian unity. At the end of the liturgical celebration, the Pope presented a gift of chalice to his eminence John Cardinal Njuwe, the archbishop of Nairobi. Surprisingly, there were no monetary offerings except the symbolic gifts and of course, the bread, and wine.   After Mass, the pope met with priests and religious men and women. He encouraged them to be faithful to their calling and lead by example. Earlier on in the morning, he had met with Christian leaders from various denominations and other religious groups. Again, his message was peace, unity, and harmony. The following day, Pope Francis visited St. Joseph the worker parish (a Jesuit run parish), in the slum of Kangemi. He loves the poor and the less privileged and I witnessed to that on that particular day. His message was consoling and life giving to the poor. He touched and blessed the poor, the disabled, and many others. Some of us were blessed to have a handshake from him and the Jesuits in attendance took also a group photo with him.  

His was an indication of a shepherd who mingles with the sheep and leads them to find greener pasture in God’s kingdom. He left Kangemi and met with hundred thousands of the youths across Kenya at Safaricom stadium, in Kasarani. His message to the youths was about hope. He encouraged them to resist tribalism and corruption. He said corruption is like eating sugar. It is sweet, but at the end, either the individuals or the nation would suffer diabetic. It leads to insecurity, lack of infrastructures, unemployment, and thus paralyzes the nation as it is happening in many parts of Africa. The pope held hands with the youths, those who were close to him, and asked the Kenyan President, and top government officials including the opposition leaders, and all who were present at the stadium to do the same as a sign of unity for all Kenyans. It is vital to note that Pope’s message was not limited to Christians, but to all Africans. It was indeed a grace-filled encounter with our shepherd who knows his sheep by name. The sheep also know him because he smells like his sheep. The lost sheep are gradually returning to the sheepfold. It is not surprising that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian writer once said, “Pope Francis has brought me back to the Catholic Church.” The wounded, he has bandaged. The astray, he has shown them the way back home. He has given hope to the hopeless. His blessings and handshakes brought healing to many. His simplicity and humility won the hearts of some who were carried away by materialism. This is precisely what Jesus would have done in Kenya and Africa if Jesus were to be physically present with us today.

hekima jan2

The Jesuit community at Hekima printed T-shirts with the photo of Pope Francis on it and distributed to all Jesuits and collaborators to mark this historical event. A big banner was placed outside of Hekima University College to welcome His Holiness to Kenya. Small pamphlets were also printed and shared among many at Kangemi parish, particularly those who do not know much about Pope Francis and the Jesuits. We planted a tree at Hekima also to mark the visit. What can we learn from our shepherd, Pope Francis? The first lesson for me is detachment from material things. The spirit of indifference to material things exhibited by Pope Francis reminds me of our father founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola. His great humility and simplicity undoubtedly wins him the title “The Peoples Pope.” When I think of Pope Francis’ visits to Africa, his message of peace, unity, and the spirit of dialogue as he removed his shoes and entered the Mosque in Central Africa Republic, I remember Francis Xavier in India. When Pope says Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters, I see great hope for religious tolerance and dialogue that Vatican Council II advocates for. When I think of Pope Francis love and care for the poor and the less privileged, his visit to the refugee camp in Central Africa Republic, he reminds me of St. Peter Claver who became a slave of the slaves.

May Sts. Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, and Peter Claver continue to intercede for Pope Francis and indeed to each one of us so that we too may become true shepherds who would know our sheep by their names and the sheep would recognize our voice. May we have the grace to smell like the sheep that are entrusted to our care by the good shepherd Jesus Christ who did not only smell like the sheep but willingly lays down his life for the sheep.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year in advance!

 

MEET THE ORDINANDI

 

 

Reginald Bonguunyuuri Tiesaah

STATIONS OF MY LIFE

Regis Web


A life that is not critically examined falls prey to despair, futility and hopelessness. Such a life will agree with Shakespeare who in Macbeth says, “Life … is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” That of Reginald certainly has sounds and furies. If seen from the eyes of grace, every punctuation of his story only but melt in one symphony. Reginald Bonguunyuuri Tiesaah was born on the early hours of 28th April, 1978 at Obuasi in the Adansi West District of Ghana. His parents, from the Upper West Region of Ghana, moved to Obuasi where his father was employed at the Ashanti Goldfields. His father, the late Boniface Bayor Tiesaah, was from Daffiamah-Kunzokalah in the Upper West Region. His mother, Florence Buorokuu, is from Kyerekpong also in the Upper West Region. Reginald, as he is commonly called, or Reggie as some choose to call him was the first gift to his parents. Coming from a typically agricultural background, his father wasted no time in sending him as a boy to Kunzokala to assist with the agricultural demands of the extended family. He spent the early years of childhood largely as a herdsman along with other cousins.

Upon the persistence of his mother, Reginald returned to his parents in Obuasi to commence education. He was immediately enrolled at the Adansi High International School (AHISCHO). Education at this stage was more of bitter pill to swallow. He was quite grown but had to start at the cradle with much younger kids. On Sundays he would follow his mother to Church at the St. Thomas Parish. The Tutuka outstation was later created which grew into St. Philip’s Parish. As he began to make friends of his own, he felt comfortable going to Sunday School and Mass in their company. This was to become, for him, the seed of faith and his vocation. At Church, children would ordinarily be separated from their parents and grouped by ages for catechesis. Reginald easily settled into the Sunday School rhythm and always looked forward to the exciting singing, recitation of prayers and memory verses from scripture, the Christian instructions and the occasional of competition woven into the entire structure to see who remembers the memory verses the most. Reginald’s favourite part was the ‘SWORD DRILL’ which tested the children’s aptitude for the books of the Bible, memory of scriptures, reading skills, and sense of alert amidst all calculated distractions. It was the nursing stage; very delicate but it seems God had begun a protracted journey of gently drawing him to himself. It seems to him that God was seducing him like an adult lures a child with candies.

Even though Reginald began to respond to the challenges of education the taunts of the young ones were like punches in the belly. Some class teachers were quite unwelcoming also. He developed distaste for going to school unless forced. But providence has a teasing smile on our evolution. Reginald finds it difficult to explain the sudden turn-around in his views about education. He became very active at school even though a little reserved. He was doing well in school and as a result was made to skip a few classes. Opportunities presented themselves for Reginald to sit common entrance exams into secondary school while at ‘Stage Four’ at AHISCO. It was a common practice for bright students to write the exams and proceed to secondary school. His father however, fearing that he was a little inexperience to go to boarding school at that time declined and turned down the many attempts by his school teachers, who sought to persuade his father.

While at stage four at Adansi High International School, he received an invitation from a cousin, Vitus Doozie in Wa asking him to consider continuing his education in the Upper West Region. After a period of persuasion, his father succumbed and permitted Reginald to travel to the Upper West Region to continuing his primary and secondary education. He was enrolled at the Catholic Junior Secondary School. Thereafter, he sat the entrance exams of St. Francis Xavier Minor Seminary. He passed and was enrolled and finished 1998. There, he took general arts picking as his electives Mathematics, Economics and Geography. Xavier was intellectually challenging and had no room for intellectual laziness. If anyone sees marks of gentility and traces of light in Reginald, they were virtues imparted and imbibed at St. Francis Xavier Minor Seminary. Its vision was ‘To train young Christian gentlemen’ and its motto was Lumen Splendeat (Let your light shine). On completion, while universities were on strike, Reginald applied for a professional program in Marketing at the Kumasi Polytechnic. It was a wonderful experience for him. The period of studying Marketing was a fallow period to test his motives and examine himself in view of the path he was discerning to take: that of religious life.

While at the Polytechnic, Reginald wrote to the vocations director in Accra seeking admission to the Society of Jesus. He had a series of interviews and a candidacy program with other three other aspirants. For his national service posting, he was initially sent to Ejesu in the Ashanti Region to teach. However, finding accommodation in the township was a challenge and hence, he asked for transfer to the Upper West Region. He was subsequently posted to the Lassia-Tuolu Secondary School to teach geography even though it wasn’t his area of expertise. There was a dire need for a geography teacher for the school. It was a fulfilling experience for him to be of help. He was retained for a period of time while seeking a permanent job. He was awaiting an appointment letter to work with Fedex when he received his admission to the Society of Jesus.

Reginald’s formation as a Jesuit began in 2004 at the Jesuit Novitiate in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. For two years he was schooled in the spirituality, constitution and way of life of the Society of Jesus. During this period, he was given various experiments. Notable among them were the hospital experiment at Iseyin (Oyo State, Nigeria), working with street children - CASS (Accra, Ghana), and Community and teaching experiment at St. Francis Parish and Secondary School (Lagos, Nigeria). These helped to shape his sense of service to humanity. At the end of the Novitiate experience Reginald made his simple but perpetual vows in 2006 in the Novitiate along with five other companions. Thereafter, he was sent to Zimbabwe for studies in philosophy and other humanities studies. He says philosophy was an intellectual madness in the positive sense.

After his first studies in philosophy he was sent to Nigeria to work at the Catholic Chaplaincy, Lagos University Teaching Hospital and College of Medicine, University of Lagos (LUTH/CMUL). He describes the experience of regency as a bittersweet experience. The experience at the hospital was emotionally draining having to deal with people with various health conditions, who live in a world of hope and constant dependence on the love, mercy and hope in God. He encountered heartbreaking experiences that would bring him and some of his companions to their knees before God and to tears. A walk with God does not only afford the visions of dark clouds. There were moments of grace and joy too. On the hindsight, Reginald thinks such challenging experiences were interwoven with graces. Nonetheless, working with some of the staff of LUTH/CMUL, the medical students and other members of the Chaplaincy did afford countless moments of laughter. The walls of Chaplaincy are engraved with voices of the altar servers, the Chaplaincy choir, the small group of what he calls the Mathematics club, the youth ministry, the Catechism interactions, the Patients Visitation Ministry, and ‘the accountants’ who stay behind each Sunday to count and document the collections. This page carries the fragrance of the life with God you helped to shape. It was as if to say in taking a walk with God, the pain of the distance is ironed out by the beauty and joy of God’s presence. Hence, we are able to walk without being tired and soar on eagle’s wings. Reginald is indeed grateful to God to have had such an experience.

After two years of regency Reginald was again missioned to continue his Jesuit and priestly formation in Hekima University College, Nairobi-Kenya. St. Thomas Aquinas referred to theology as the mother of all the sciences. It is probably the father of a reasonable faith too. Reginald, like others, was subjected to the rigors of biblical studies, studies in various aspects theology, and the history of Christianity. He was ordained to the diaconate on 14th February 2015 and successfully completed his studies in April this year.

He is sure that the melody is not his own making. Many have been part of this journey. One tree does not make a forest. He is deeply indebted to all who have contributed in shaping him. He prays God’s blessings to fall on you all, near and far, like the dewfall. He craves the same support and more to finish what has been started.  

With hands in the air and gratitude on his lips Reginald says, ‘Thank you Lord for everything, for that which has passed, which is, and which is yet to be.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ese S. Ehwerherume, SJ

Ese was born in Warri on 8 May 1979 to Mr. John and Mrs. Esther Idiahoke. He is the third of six children born to the couple, but he has seven other siblings. He attended Oviorie Primary School, Oviorie, from 1984 to 1986 and Caveginia Primary School ‘B’, Warri, from 1986 to 1991. From 1991 to 1997, he went to Nana College, Warri. It was during this time he discovered the Catholic faith, thanks to his siblings. He began catechism classes in 1991 at Ighogbadu Primary School, Warri. Two years later, he received Baptism and the Eucharist during the Easter Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Warri. His baptismal name is Simon. He was confirmed on Pentecost Day that year.

Ese entered the Jesuit novitiate in Benin City on 12 August 2001 to begin formation for the priesthood. There, on 29 July 2003, he pronounced simple perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He studied Philosophy from 2003 to 2006 at Institute of St. Peter Canisius, Democratic Republic of Congo. From 2006 to 2010, he studied Science Education at University of Cape Coast, Ghana. He did regency from 2010 to 2012 at St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, Idimu, Lagos. From 2012 until May this year, he studied Theology at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, United States of America. He was ordained a deacon on 11 October 2014 at St. Ignatius Church, in Boston College. And he will be ordained a priest on 18 July 2015 at Christ the King Church, Ilasamaja, Lagos.

Ese enjoys reading, playing indoor games and watching television. He thanks his family, brother-Jesuits, friends and well-wishers for the support he has received. He also asks that you kindly thank God on his behalf and that you pray for him always.

 

 

 

Alexander Emeka Irechukwu, S.J.

Alexander Emeka Irechukwu, S.J., was born to Mr. Charles and Mrs. Theresa Irechukwu of Umunyeaku, Umuopia, Akokwa, in Imo State on Friday, June 5, 1981. Born into a catholic family, Alex, as he prefers to be called, was nurtured in the faith receiving the sacraments of initiation in his infant and teenage years.  

In his deep aspiration for the priesthood, Alex learnt about the Society of Jesus and sought to join the order. He began his noviceship (the first stage of Jesuit formation) on Sunday, August 10, 2003, at the Jesuit Novitiate in Benin City, Edo State, completing it with the pronouncement of simple/perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on Wednesday, July 27, 2005. Thereafter, he embarked on the study of philosophy at the Jesuit School of Philosophy and Humanities, Harare, Zimbabwe. Upon its completion, he had a spell of regency (the period during which a Jesuit in formation is assigned to work full-time in a corporate apostolic mission of the Society) at St. Anthony Catholic Church, Accra, Ghana proceeding thereafter to University of Cape Town, South Africa, for studies in Education in January 2010. Following his return from Cape Town, he had a stint as a pastoral minister at Christ the King Church, Ilasamaja, Lagos getting assigned to St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, Idimu, Lagos, where he served as the Director of Campus Ministry and taught Mathematics to seniors.  

In preparation for ordained ministry, Alex, commenced theology studies in August 2012 at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Massachusetts, USA. Ordained a transitional deacon on Saturday, October 11, 2014, he served the Dorchester tri-parishes of Saint Peter, Holy Family and Blessed Mother Teresa in South End Boston. Please God, Alex will be ordained to the ministerial priesthood on Saturday, July 18, 2015, at Christ the King Church, Ilasamaja, Lagos, and will celebrate his Mass of Thanksgiving as a Jesuit Priest on Sunday, August 23, 2015 at St. Jude Parish, Umuopia in his hometown of Akokwa.

Alex is grateful to all who have inspired and continue to inspire in him deeper faith, hope, and love in his ongoing formation as a Jesuit as well as all who have mentored and continue to mentor him in the service of Christ’s mission. He is mostly grateful to his parents for introducing him to the catholic faith and the Society of Jesus for nurturing his vocation to ordained ministry in the Church. His hobbies include reading, cooking, sightseeing, listening to popular and classical music. He is a soccer-loving lad and a passionate Gunner.

 

 

Emeka Celestine Asogwa, SJ

Rev. Emeka Celestine Asogwa, SJ, or simply Emeka as he prefers to be called, was born to Mr Israel E. Asogwa of blessed memory and Mrs Grace N. Asogwa on 20th July 1978. He is the fifth of six children, three brothers and two sisters. He was born at Ibagwa-Ani, Nsukka LGA of Enugu state. He completed his primary and secondary education in 1992 and 1998 respectively.

The journey to priesthood began as an ordinary childhood desire, which at the time was incomprehensible. His parents were not Christians when he began nursing the idea to become a priest. It started as a reaction to a particular event that will always be remembered. This happened during the Christmas period in December 1995, three friends (Emeka and two others) had tried to receive the sacrament of penance at their home parish in readiness for Christmas Eve Mass. It was a requirement for all the altar servers who will serve Mass on that day and the following Christmas day mass. Unfortunately, all efforts failed and on that fateful night a decision was made to become a priest and possibly after ordination, plead to be sent to his village to help the sole existing Parish Priest.

However, while living with his older brothers in Abuja between 1998-2003, he gained admission to study mechanical engineering at Bida Polytechnic. During the period, he encountered the Redemptorists, the Augustinians and the Jesuits. The childhood desire to become a priest turned into years of journey after his first mail to the then vocations director, Paul Maher, SJ of blessed memory. He entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Benin City in 2003. Among other experiences in the Novitiate Emeka remembers vividly the long spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius as foundational to his formation as a Jesuit. While in the novitiate, Emeka had the privilege of ministering to the prisoners, to the patients living with HIV/AIDS, and to those suffering from tuberculosis.

After two years of learning the Society of Jesus’ norms, history, and its constitutions, he took his simple perpetual vows in 2005. He thereafter spent the next 3years studying philosophy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2008, he returned to Nigeria to begin his regency experiment at the Chaplaincy of Lagos University Teaching Hospital and College of Medicine University of Lagos (LUTH/CMUL). The regency period is a pastoral experiment, which forms part of Jesuits formation. It often takes place at the completion of the first studies or simply before or after theological studies. Notably, the pastoral work at LUTH/CMUL Chaplaincy was of three major facets: ministry to the patients, ministry to the medical students and experts as well as to the neighbourhood residents. These ministries brought closer home in Emeka’s view, the questions of human sufferings, sicknesses, death, and place of God in human society.  

Read more: Meet the Ordinandi

 

A PROSE POEM IN BOTH IN PROSPECT

AND IN RETROSPECT: THE MEANING OF LEARNING

 Fr. Jamesylvester Urama, SJ

In the beginning was learning. And learning was unfolding. Learning and discipline are twin beings. Both derived from the same root language of humans.

Learning as an apprenticeship. It is an ethical discipline. It is a path to healing from the root. My learning attunes me to work with physicians of health even as it recognises that fifty percent of medical drugs come from placebo effect. It places me with the health-wellbeing spectrum. In this continuum, yoghurt knows yoghurt. Learning attunes to learning. And to be asked to learn is a gift to my being! It is a supreme mission, a fractal that continues to be replicated in the lives of others who are significant to me.

What becomes of my learning in view of my present-day temporal sojourn with New School of Psychotherapy/Middlesex University? As an apprenticeship, learning is an ethical discipline. As an apprenticeship, learning ennobles; it enables. By it, one is entrusted with gifts of a certain kind of being. This is because in learning phenomena are revealed or disclosed as they unfold and demand that they be held fast in view of revisioning. Things unfold with the unsaid as its Gestalt (Shadow). Every moment becomes an instance in view of the bigger picture of the unfolding of lived experience: possible, actual and imagined.

How I learn goes into the making of how I lead, and allow myself to be led. To learn is to dare to be more than I am now. Learning connects me to the possible realities of life. To learn with others is to choose to construct shared actions, values and the future. Learning engages me across my fourfold world; personal, social, physical and spiritual. As a continuing transformation anuramad continuing search for meaning, it belongs to the order of being real to oneself, and being open to the phenomenon of possibility.

To learn is to dare to cultivate an eye and ear for the diverse and plural realities of life. Learning cultivates a keen eye for diversity. Perhaps, for the sake of the many, learning becomes a movement from the analytic mode to the synthetic-integrative mode, which pays attention to the fourfold process of our life: the disclosure of the fourfold worlds of Van Deurzen (the physical, the personal, the social, the spiritual) or the fourfold of Heidegger (mortalities, deities, earth and air).

Learning is a way of seeing; reality is one but many and cannot be reified into one system. This is why there are three modes of seeing, namely, the analytic eye, the appreciative eye, and the creative eye. The appreciative way is a movement from an analytic way of seeing to a synthetic way of being and from a one-dimensional (black and white) reality to multi-dimensional reality, it is a shift from a detached form of life dispersed in a having mode, whereas the analytic eye hastens to problem-solving and rescue mission.

An analytic eye sees part-objects. In a Heideggerian parlance, it sees things as ready-to-hand or present-to-hand (things that can be used or exploited). It fails therefore to see the thing-in-itself. The analytic eye alone thrives on a secure base of identity; it therefore severs me from my wholeness. With its inflexible and secure assumptions, it limits and directs me away from exploring life’s many possibilities.
Concerned more with quantities, the analytic way of hearing, tasting and seeing oversimplifies quality and complexity. The strange frightens the analytic eye. It is with this analytic mode that the ninety percent of physical (energy) reality is assigned to the dark matter of the mutliverses.

Every act of learning could begin with the analytic eye; but it must cultivate the appreciative eye. The appreciative eye values the being-mode rather than the having-mode. I see this appreciative eye opening in my brief sojourn here in London. What was tacit becomes explicit. What is talked about intuitively is now describable.

Read more: A PROSE POEM IN BOTH IN PROSPECT AND IN RETROSPECT: THE MEANING OF LEARNING

ANW Jesuits Latest Publications

Title: Domination and Empowerment: Foundation for Inequality and Equality
Author: Ujah Gabriel Ejembi,SJ

ujabookcover web

Abstract: This is a book written from the perspective of feminists.  It draws from the experience of the historical marginalization of women through the practice of imposed and structural patriarchy to give explanations to the reality of gender inequality.  The author argues that the notion of power is central to any attempt in understanding the disadvantages that characterize gender relations. Thus any debate directed at improving gender relations or enhancing gender equality must begin from the understanding of power and its operations.  In Domination and Empowerment: Foundation for Inequality and Equality, Ujah maintains that the experience of men under patriarchal conditions that presented to them a world that is undoubtedly man-made influenced how they understood and exercised power.  Under such conditions of great inequality and social discrimination, men could only understand power as domination, that is, ‘power over’ (women).  As domination, power is employed to give men advantages over women.  For this reason, the author maintains that a different understanding of power could help break the cycle of patriarchy-domination-marginalization so as to foster an improved relationship amongst men and women.  Power as empowerment, that is, ‘power to’ which focuses on power to do creative acts will shape such understanding and will redirect human relations to activities that pay attention to peoples’ capabilities.  This does not make gender irrelevant but shows that the destiny of persons in society should not be shaped by gender.   With power exercised as empowerment we will get less patriarchy and more equality.

Read more: ANW Jesuits Latest Publications

 

This Place (A Poem)

Fr. Kevin Odey, SJ

This place3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This place
Below and beyond
A beautiful place
Los Angeles from Loyola MaryMount
Grey-green, light-blue Ocean, the sky undifferentiated
Spans, spans the west.

From the coastline
Towards the horizon
A beautiful city arises
Spreading undulating down south
With a kiss of the mountain range, its fortress.

The mountains meet the sky
Where the restless clouds play and dance
To the whispering palms
To the gentle breeze
To the warm wind, sparing no rains
The sunrise from the east.

Quiet
I feel a unique presence
A still voice calling, calling
Calling me to draw closer
Wonderful, how wonderful
But I’m afraid
My frailty stands before me, between us
So I resist.

Unsettled
In the hush of my heart, the flower
A butterfly flips, flips and flies
Ashes dispel, dispelled away
The sun rises
Colors emerge
Coldness die to cordiality
Darkness swallowed by dainty
As thorns are broken by beauty
Irresistible

“Here I am, Lord”
I surrender
To your joy, the Ocean
To your holiness, the mountains
To your love, the butterfly
To your grandeur, the skies
To your warmth, the sunrise
To your voice, the whispers

Yes
Lost in you
I’m yours, all yours
So, what do you ask of me?
Simple, so simple
To be my friend
To give you my heart
To make a home

                       Annual Retreat @LMU/LA, 2014

 

The Day of Doubles: Reflecting on the Double Canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II

Ujah Gabriel Ujah grat5bEjembi, SJ

In the presence of hundreds of thousands in the Vatican St. Peter’s Square and another hundreds of thousands glued to their television sets in Rome and around the world, it was about 10:15 am, the local time in Rome when Pope Francis uttered these words: “We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II to be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church.”  By this utterance, history of doubles was made! By this declaration, the Church now has two new saints who formed a pair of doubled support for the Church during her crisis of the twentieth century.  By these words, Pope Francis puts into concretion the words of Jesus “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven.”

 

Read more: The Day of Doubles

Feast of Heaven and Earth

Kingsley Chikwendu Madubuike, SJ

MaM article picny have come to describe the event in the Vatican on Sunday, 27th April 2014 as a once in a lifetime event. Some would like to call it the “Day of the Four Popes.” The reason for this title is not far-fetched for before the eyes of the world was a ceremony that brought about four popes with two of them alive and two dead in the flesh, but alive with the Lord to whom we all belong whether alive or dead (cf. Romans 14:8). It was a celebration replete with the great mysteries of our faith and of our communion with the saints as an article of our Christian faith. It was indeed a feast of both heaven and earth.

The event was the canonisation of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II and it was taking place on Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast instituted by Pope St. John Paul II himself some years back. It is a feast that is deeply rooted in the very nature of God, God as mercy Himself and very connected to the mystical experiences of a fellow Polish, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. Throughout his pontificate that spanned for almost twenty-seven years, St. John Paul II exemplified in his own life the incomprehensible mercy of God. It was this love and mercy of God that drew him several times out of the Vatican to God’s people in many parts of the world. He also brought this same love and mercy to people of diverse cultures and religious affiliations whether in their home countries or those who came to visit him in the Vatican. Pope St. John Paul II presented to the entire world in ways that were both simple and powerful, God who is dives in misericordia or rich in mercy – words that open his 30th November 1980 encyclical on God’s mercy. It was only fitting that a celebration in which he was raised to the high altars alongside the beloved Pope John XXIII took place on the feast of the Divine Mercy. The process that led                                              

Read more: FEAST OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

Abduction of Alexis Prem Kumar, SJ

 

Alexis Prem Kumar, SJ. Alexis Prem Kumar S.J., the country director for the Jesuit Refugee Service, was abducted by a group of unidentified men in western Afghanistan. According to sources, he had accompanied teachers on a visit to a JRS-supported school for the returnee refugees in Sohadat township, 34 km from the city of Herat. He was kidnapped from the school as he was about to return to Herat.

"We are deeply shocked by Prem's abduction. We are in contact with all the relevant authorities and doing everything possible to ensure his safe and speedy return. Meanwhile, our prayers are with Prem and his family and friends at this difficult time,” said Jesuit Refugee Service International Director, Peter Balleis S.J.

More on Alexis Prem Kumar, SJ abduction on the Jesuit Refugee Service Website

 

Superior General to convoke General Congregation 36 (GC 36) at the end of 2014

In a letter to the entire Society of Jesus dated May 20, 2014, Father General has announced he will convoke the General Congregation 36 at the end of this year 2014. General Congregation 36 (GC36 as it is called) will hold in 2016. According to the official website of the Society of Jesus in Rome, "the meeting of Provincials originally scheduled for January 2015 in Yogyakarta and convoked on 12th March of  this year is cancelled."

The Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, will also on this occasion submit his resignation, of course, with the approval of Pope Francis, to the Jesuits in 2016. The reason for his resignation is because of his advanced age (78).

The Conference of Jesuit Major Superiors of Africa and
fr-michael-lewis-sj. Madgascar (JESAM) meets at the Curia in Rome

The Conference of Jesuit Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) met at the Curia in Rome from the 29th of April to
the 2nd of May 2014. The president, Michael Lewis, all the Provincials and Regional Superiors have attended, including three CEP (Conference of European Provincials) members of the Commissio Mixta from Europe plus John Dardis, their president, who has come a day in advance, for a one day joint enterprise.

Read more: Conference of Jesuit Major Superiors of Africa and Madgascar (JESAM) meets at the Curia in Rome

Hekima Review - Journal of Hekima College now online
journal-hekima-review.

Hekima College, Jesuit School of Theology (JST), and Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR)
house journal is now available online. Hekima Review, as it is known, has been in publication since 1988. Since its inception, the journal has provided a forum for the reflection, questioning and development of African Christian Theological thoughts as well as explorations on attaining peace in our continent and the world. According to the School's website, "You do not need to create an account to access Hekima Review, but if you do we will notify you when a new issue is published."

 

Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, SJLenten Lecture 2014: Water Has No Enemy - Water As a Human Right


Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, SJ delivers a Lenten Lecture,"Water Has No Enemy - Water as a Human Right", at the Pontifical University, Maynooth, Ireland. He begins by asserting that: 

"It may be true that water has not enemy, but this vital substance is anything but ethically neutral. Water creates many enemies! … water and the quest for it render it a highly ethically charged substance with monumental consequences…"

 

Read more: Lenten Lecture 2014: Water Has No Enemy - Water As a Human Right

Holy Orders: Appreciated through Five Phrases

By Rev. Kpanie Addy, S.J.

On Saturday, 1st March 2014, I was ordained a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. My diaconate ordination by Rev Kpanie Addy, SJ. Most Rev. Alfred Arap Rotich marked the penultimate step in my journey to the ministerial priesthood; a journey whose remote preparations began several years ago. The preparations, however, began with…

Arrupe Month – “Why do you tug so at my heart?”

For me, Arrupe Month was not great. My enduring memory is of the motley group of men who comprise my classmates playing soccer in the afternoons and watching movies at night. One such movie was The Thorn Birds, from which is derived the phrase above. The phrase is meaningful because it captures a lot of what Arrupe Month is about: determining, after all these years, what it is that tugs so at one’s heart. Ordained ministry in the Society of Jesus? For me, yes! Hence…

Diaconate Ordination – “With Joy and Gratitude”

There’s a riot of emotions as ordination approaches. One has to live it to know. I decided, finally, to focus on the two emotions proposed to me, not by my spiritual director, but by the words on the invitation card: joy and gratitude.

Read more: Holy Orders: Appreciated through Five Phrases

Superior General Adolfo Nicolas. Superior General of the Jesuits, Adolfo Nicolas, comments on the 200 year Anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus in 1814.

We want it to be a year of study and reflection. All the crises of history enclose a hidden wisdom that needs to be fathomed. For us, Jesuits, this is the commemoration of our greatest crisis. It is, therefore, important that we should learn from the events themselves, that we should discover the good and the bad in our behaviour in order to revive those great desires the Pope spoke of and continue the work of Evangelisation, refining our brotherhood and deepening our love.

A New website to commemorate the Restoration of the Society of Jesus.

Homily of Pope Francis on January 3, 2014 at the Gesu

January 3, 2014 was the solemnity of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. It also happens to be a titular feast of the Society of Jesus. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, celebrated this solemnity at the mother Church of the Jesuits in rome, the Gesu. Those present at the ceremony as concelebrants were Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of his Holiness for the diocese of Rome; the Bishops: H.E. Monsignor Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; H.E. Monsignor Yves Boivineau, Bishop of Annecy, and Vicar General, H.E. Alain Fournier-Bidoz; Minister General of the Jesuits, Father Adolfo Nicolas, S.J., with some General Counselors and seven young priests from different Conferences of the Society of Jesus and one from Italy.

Read the homily of Pope Francis at the Mass in the Church of the Gesu

 

Holy Boldness: The Story of Jesuits in Africa

 JESAM (Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar)through its development office produced a short video highlighting the story of Jesuits in Africa. Two young African Jesuits doing their theology studies at Hekima College, Edmund Agorhom SJ (ANW) and Matthew Charlesworth SJ (SAF), worked on this project as part of their internship at Loyola Production, Inc. This would not have been possible without the generosity of Fr Eddie Siebert SJ of Loyola Production Inc.

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