In 1980, when Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, saw in the refugee crisis “a challenge…we cannot ignore if we are to remain faithful to St. Ignatius’s criteria for our apostolic work,” he founded the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Four decades later, the challenge persists; the United Nations refugee agency reported that as of 2018, 70.8 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide, and 37,000 people flee their homes every day due to conflict or persecution.
Midwest Province Jesuits continue to be “feet on the ground” in this important mission.
Working in Maban, South Sudan, during the regency stage of his formation, Midwest Jesuit and Detroit native Matthew Ippel, SJ, explains, “Our province, like many others, continues to respond to the cries and hopes of forcibly displaced persons through direct accompaniment; offering counseling, educational, pastoral, and legal services; and through advocacy and raising awareness in our apostolates and regions.”
Midwest scholastic Mark Blancke, SJ, who recently returned from his assignment in Maban, says of his time there, “This was a privileged experience, as we were welcomed into the homes and lives of others to address those most vulnerable within the communities.”
Like Ippel and Blancke, the entire Society looks forward to the day when such accompaniment, service, and advocacy are no longer necessary. As Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, has written, “Only if we work together will the world be able to address the causes of forced displacement at their roots, and end a phenomenon that produces so much suffering for so many people of all ages and situations.”
As this magazine goes to press, the JRS compound in Maban is experiencing heavy rain and severe flooding.
Semira Killebrew and Ike Eke are both NCAA Division I athletes—but their similarities don’t end there. Inspired by their Jesuit educations, both believe they are called to be men and women for others.
In May, Killebrew graduated from Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, where she made school history and national headlines by winning her second state title in the 100-meter dash, setting an Indiana all-time record for the race, and earning the title of fastest American high school girl of the year.
Her excellence far exceeds her athletic abilities, however, according to her high school coach, who calls her a “fantastic example of a woman for others.” What does this mean to Killebrew? It’s “being selfless” and “putting others on the same level as you”—values she plans to continue living out as she studies and runs in Gainesville, Florida.
Eke, a multiple all-state and all-city honoree in basketball while in high school at University of Detroit Jesuit High, was recruited to play basketball at another Jesuit school, Marquette University. The social welfare and justice major notes without hesitation that the most important value he’s learned at both institutions is to live “AMDG”—the acronym for ad majorem dei gloriam (“for the greater glory of God”).
And he’s already begun to take action in that regard. “I was coming into college and I was thinking, what am I going to do to help others?” Eke recalls. “The first thing that came to my mind was my hometown.” As a result, Eke used his own savings to have a basketball court built in Enugu, Nigeria, and coordinated an effort with friends and teammates to donate over 50 pairs of shoes for the young men there.
While they’ve both excelled as athletes, Eke and Killebrew demonstrate an awareness of and commitment to goals greater than those on the court or the track. One could say they’ve adopted a very Jesuit way of proceeding in their lives.
The USA Midwest Province is embarking on a project entitled Seminars in Ignatian Formation (SIF), designed to equip the next generation of spiritual leaders with knowledge and skills in Ignatian spirituality, spiritual direction, and the Spiritual Exercises— strengthening ministries across the region in the process.
SIF will accommodate laypeople desiring to deepen their understanding of God and discipleship in today’s world. This includes those with a calling to be spiritual directors specializing in the complete Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.
“The province is already blessed with a strong Ignatian spirit in our works; this initiative seeks to build on that energy,” said Provincial Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ. “We recognize that our ministries are most effective when they can draw on persons seeking to share with others our most significant discovery: that the Spiritual Exercises show the way to God.”
SIF will be led by Fr. Stephen Krupa, SJ, and Dr. Rita Dollard O’Malley. Father Krupa has experience directing others in the Spiritual Exercises as well as in leadership programs that form people with the skills to accompany others through the retreat. He has worked at Loyola University Chicago and John Carroll University. O’Malley, who recently joined the Midwest Province staff as associate provincial assistant for Ignatian spirituality, has worked at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago (as director of campus ministry), Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, and St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco (where she formed a model adult spirituality program).
Of the 13 new cardinals installed October 5, three are Jesuits, including Canadian Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, who is a member of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States (JCCU). The other Jesuits who were made cardinals are Archbishop Jean-Claude Höllerich, SJ, from Luxembourg, and Archbishop Emeritus Sigitas Tamkevicius, SJ, of Kaunas, Lithuania. These three men raised the total number of Jesuit cardinals to seven. Father Czerny has ties to the Midwest, as he completed his theology studies at the University of Chicago and at Bellarmine School of Theology in Chicago from 1969 to 1973, after which he was ordained a priest. Most recently, Fr. Czerny has been serving in Vatican City as co-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.
On August 10, five Midwest Jesuits pronounced first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience at St. Thomas More Catholic Community in St. Paul, Minnesota. These men were among the 27 total novices pronouncing first vows across North America. First vows are the culmination of the two years spent in the novitiate. At the Mass, each Jesuit novice made the profession of vows individually in front of the Eucharist, just as St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and some of his first companions did.