Gratitude Magazine March 2015 Edition

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P. What apostolic works do Jesuits undertake in the North-West Africa Province?

As of 2007, we direct three parishes in Nigeria, Christ the King Church at Ilasamaja and St. Francis Catholic Church at Idimu, both in Lagos State, and St. Joseph 's Catholic Church in Benin. In Ghana, we direct St. Anthony's Catholic Church. We also have two high schools, Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, and St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, Lagos, both in Nigeria. There is a diocesan school, Quaye Nungua Primary and Junior Secondary School, attached to St. Anthony's Catholic Church, and run by the Jesuits in Accra, Ghana. We have one retreat centre in Edo State, Nigeria, and one retreat centre in Cape Coast, Ghana. One Jesuit runs the Catholic Chaplaincy at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH/CMUL) and the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, both in Lagos, Nigeria. One Jesuit serves as Rector at Hekima Theology College in Nairobi, Kenya, while another teaches Scriptures and Old Testament at another theologate-ITCJ- in Abijan. In addition we maintain our Novitiate in Ugbekun Quarters, Edo State, Nigeria.

Q. How do Jesuit priests differ from Diocesan priests?

Both are fully priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The diocesan priest promises celibacy and vows obedience to his bishop, but he is able to own a car and a home; he is also able to assist his family and relatives financially. Most diocesan priests labour in parishes. Their place of assignment is usually in their own particular diocese, perhaps not far from their own home town. 
The Jesuit takes the three vows of religious life: poverty, chastity, and obedience. He owns nothing by himself, but lives a common life with his Jesuit companions. He usually lives not by himself but in a Jesuit community. He most directly obeys his religious superior and receives whatever assignment the local ordinary -- bishop -- of the diocese in which he resides desires that a Jesuit takes up from his religious superior. If he works in a diocesan ministry, he receives his assignment from his Jesuit Superior who works collaboratively with the local bishops in such matters.

R. How do Jesuits differ from other religious orders such as the Dominicans, Franciscans, Claretians, Benedictines?

That would take a long time to answer, as each religious order has its own charism or gift, its particular emphasis and tradition. In general, the Jesuits are known for the intellectual apostalote, retreat ministry and involvement in issues of faith and justice. In the North-West Africa province of the Society of Jesus (Nigeria, Ghana, Sierre Leone, Gambia, Liberia), the Jesuits are involved in education, parish ministry, chaplaincies, and retreat ministry. 
Our spirituality is to be contemplative and active at the same time. In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, many fully formed Jesuits take a special vow of obedience to the Pope. Apart from those doing primary evangelization who may be in large cities or in small villages, most Jesuits labour in cities rather than villages or small towns. Jesuits are noted for their obedience, their readiness to move on, to be assigned to wherever their Superior judges to be "for the Greater Glory of God." Besides, unlike other religious groups that have their habits or religious attires with which they are identified, Jesuits have no habit or religious attire that distinguishes them as members of the Society of Jesus, but dress as do the local clergy of the diocese in which they work. Being contemplatives in action, Jesuits are trained to usually do their own private meditation and are not bound to pray the divine office or the Liturgy of Hours in common, as other religious orders do. Another distinguishing characteristic of Jesuits from other religious orders is that, though the Holy Father can appoint a Jesuit as a bishop of a diocese, Jesuits do not aspire to be bishops or encourage any in their company to aspire to be one.

S. Could you say more about the particular Jesuit Charism and tradition?

Jesuits follow the spirituality of St. Ignatius. One way to characterize that is by saying that we are contemplatives in action: we are apostolic in our spirituality, combining and interweaving a life of intense prayer and intense apostolic activity. Through this, the Jesuit seeks to "find God in all things," to use a key phrase of St. Ignatius. Much of our inspiration and guidance comes from the retreat manual of St. Ignatius, The Spiritual Exercises. Twice in their lives, Jesuits make a thirty-day retreat based on this manual. In addition, Jesuits do an eight-day retreat annually.

T. Are there any recent emphases in Jesuit life and mission?

In accord with the direction of the Church since Vatican Council II, Jesuits have been involved in the promotion of faith that is linked with concern for justice. This means ensuring that in all we are involved in, the perspective and needs of the poor and oppressed must be kept in mind. Hence there is a scholarship program for children from poor families to study at our prestigious high school, Loyola Jesuit College. We are also committed to be agents of inculturation, in the words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, who was the Superior General of the Jesuits during the Vatican Council II. A practical example of our efforts at inculturation is especially the 10:30am Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Benin City, Nigeria. Jesuits must be men of discernment, that is, constantly open to the movement and guidance of the Holy Spirit in their own lives and apostolic activities, and able to assist laymen and women in discerning or deciding what is God's will for them.

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North-West Africa Province

P. O. Box 223,

Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: +234 907 177 3535

www.jesuits-anw.org

 

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