Jesuits Respond to the Earthquakes in Nepal On Saturday, April 25, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked a mountainous region near Kathmandu, Nepal, killing more than 9,000 people, injuring more than 14,500, and leaving 1,400 schools leveled and 3 million people in need of food assistance. The tragedy threw the already impoverished country — it ranks 157 of 187 on the United Nations’ Human Poverty Index — into crisis.
Many of Nepal’s 62 Jesuits, with whom the Midwest Jesuits share a special relationship
, were attending the ordination of a Nepali Jesuit in his home village six hours east of Kathmandu when the earthquake struck. Nevertheless, they sprang into action, making their way back to their ministries, turning them into makeshift relief centers, and developing initiatives and structures to begin the long process of rebuilding Nepal.
Targeted emergency relief efforts have included opening campuses to accommodate homeless and displaced people and delivering food and tarpaulins to hard-to- reach rural villages. Coordinating with other relief groups, the newly established Nepal Jesuit Social Institute (NJSI) has assessed 25 villages in nine of the hardest hit districts and is providing recovery assistance, including both food and non-food kits, training, educational initiatives, and temporary and permanent shelters. After three months, the Jesuits will move from early recovery to the rehabilitation and continued response phases.
In spite of the many tragedies and setbacks, Nepal’s people are persevering.
“The people of Nepal are ever strong, powerful, resilient, and cheerful in every circumstance, even crisis,” observed NJSI Finance Director Fr. Boby Thadathil, SJ.
The Midwest Jesuits established the Nepal Earthquake Relief fund in response to the initial quake and subsequent earthquakes that took additional lives. To date, generous donors have contributed $575,000, and the Jesuits have donated an additional $50,000.
Nepal, however, is far from full recovery. With the potential for landslides and aftershocks still looming, the country continues to face significant risk of more damage and suffering.
Homeless Jesus Comes to Warming Center in Detroit
The famous Homeless Jesus statue found its latest home with a dedication ceremony at Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church following the parish’s 11 a.m. Sunday Mass on June 28.
The bronze structure, designed by Ontario artist Timothy P. Schmalz, who attended the event, is a life-size sculpture of a body lying under a blanket on a park bench. The figure’s identity is only revealed by the nail holes in the feet protruding from under the blanket.
“When I first saw a picture of the statue I did not notice the wounds on Christ’s feet,” said Michael Thomas, outreach coordinator for Saints Peter and Paul’s Warming Center, a ministry that serves people dealing with addiction, poverty, homelessness, and other issues. “Sometimes you have to look closer. Jesus was wounded by the lack of understanding and compassion in the world. Isn’t this true of so many of our guests? Being homeless can result in much guilt, shame, and self-condemnation, all of which reflects the judgment and condemnation of a society in which they have been dislodged.”
A Detroit Free Press story reported that an anonymous donor paid Schmalz’s fee to bring the $32,000 sculpture to Detroit. Schmalz, who works in Xiamen, China, has made the statue for a number of locations around the world over the past several years, including Phoenix, Ariz.; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and Charleston, W.Va.
“The sculpture is meant to create awareness of the relation between spirituality and the least of our brothers, one of the greatest messages of Christianity, a message that is often overlooked in our western society,” Schmalz told the Free Press.
Pope Francis Plans Visit to the United States
Pope Francis will travel to the United States this September, marking his first visit to the country since being named pope in 2013. He will arrive in Washington, D.C., from Cuba on September 22 and will be welcomed at the White House the following day by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. On September 24, he will address a joint session of Congress before speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 25. The pope will attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia on September 26 and 27. He also plans to visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem and a correctional facility in Philadelphia.
The White House Office of the Press Secretary indicated Pope Francis and President Obama will continue the dialogue they began with the president’s visit to the Vatican in March 2014, covering a range of issues including “caring for the marginalized and the poor; advancing economic opportunity for all; serving as good stewards of the environment; protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world; and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities.”
The pope’s visit to the United Nations will include separate meetings with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President of the United Nations General Assembly Sam Kutesa, as well as a town hall gathering with U.N. staff. Ban pointed out that the pope’s visit will come as the U.N. is celebrating its 70th anniversary and discussing sustainable development, climate change, and peace.
Last November, Pope Francis announced his desire to travel to the United States and attend the 2015 World Meeting of Families. The World Meeting of Families was initially devised by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1992 and first held in Rome in 1994. This year will mark the first time the meeting occurs in the United States.
The Society of Jesus in the United States is particularly enthusiastic for the first Jesuit pope’s inaugural visit to the country.
“We have been deeply inspired by the pope’s leadership, pastoral care, and witness on behalf of people living on the margins of our society,” said Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ, provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province. “We look forward to his visit to the United States and continue to look to the past with gratitude, live the present with passion, embrace the future with hope, and enthusiastically respond to his call to live out our faith, lay and religious alike.”
|The Saint Louis Jesuits
St. Louis Jesuits Announce 40th Anniversary Benefit Concert for Cristo Rey Milwaukee The St. Louis Jesuits, world-renowned composers and performers of Catholic spiritual music, will reunite in celebration of their 40th anniversary at a concert to benefit the newest Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Milwaukee.
The concert is scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2015, at 3 p.m. at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater. Tickets are available via the Pabst Theater’s website
Cristo Rey Milwaukee’s president, Andy Stith, is excited for the reunion. “I am thrilled to welcome the St. Louis Jesuits to Milwaukee to celebrate the opening of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School with a benefit concert,” he said. “Their music has given life to the Church for decades and, once again, helps breathe life into the Church through this support of Cristo Rey Jesuit’s new educational mission in Milwaukee.”
The St. Louis Jesuits, who formed when the members were Jesuit scholastics at Saint Louis University in the early 1970s, include Bob Dufford, Roc O’Connor, Dan Schutte, John Foley, and Tim Manion. Their contemporary liturgical music has crossed denominational boundaries and is as popular in Anglican, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches as in the Catholic liturgy.
Special appreciation for the Cristo Rey benefit is owed to group member Fr. Roc O’Connor, SJ, who serves as an associate pastor at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee and is organizing the benefit.
“Viva Cristo Rey!” announced Fr. O’Connor. “Come, sing, support, and rejoice in the good God has been doing in Milwaukee!”
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee is part of a nationwide network of 30 Catholic, college preparatory high schools for low-income students. Its unique and innovative educational model empowers students to pursue higher education, arms them with the tools they need to thrive, and provides invaluable professional experience through its Corporate Work Study Program. Cristo Rey Milwaukee will open its doors in August, welcoming the Class of 2019. To learn more about the school or how you can sponsor the St. Louis Jesuits’ concert, visit www.cristoreymilwaukee.org