GESUITI noviziato
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus

A letter from St. Ignatius to a future novice

by Raul Petru Ciocani

Dear Novice and Companion

I am writing to you because in your second year of novitiate, during the period in which your companions of the first year will be experiencing the Spiritual Exercises, you will have your first encounter with Ignatian education and pedagogy. It will be a beautiful course of a few days with a dear friend and confrere of mine, fr. Stefano, who will introduce you to the purpose of education in the apostolate and what our pedagogical method and its history is.
You probably know me as a pilgrim, or as Father General. You are right, but I am also something else: a student. I think this is important, to remain in the attitude of research, of learning. The experience of the Spiritual Exercises came about through this attitude through which the Lord revealed himself in my life as the best teacher I could wish for. The Spiritual Exercises you have just completed are in themselves also a school of prayer. It can be said that our spirituality is already from this point a form of education.
If we look at the figure of Jesus, we also see him as the one who came to teach. But how did he teach and what? He taught love, by loving people. Called the great Master, he brings us teachings from the Father. We can find in multiple places in the Bible Jesus walking around to teach and bring the good news. So we understand better that education is also part of his way of evangelizing. To participate in Ignatian education means to take part in a prophetic vision of the world, as one is trained in the teaching of Christ.
The goal of education is to bring comprehension, in the etymological sense of the term: to bring out. To some extent, Ignatian education does just that: it proposes paths that bring forth creativity; a creativity that emerges from tradition.
You have probably already heard that a big part of our apostolate is education. Even in my day, teaching represented an important apostolate for the Society of Jesus. Over the centuries, up to the present day, we have accumulated a great deal of experience in pedagogy, a tradition in the education of young people, a worldwide network of schools and educational institutions in which various personalities of history have been trained, such as Athanasius Kircher, philosopher and historian; Molière, the father of modern French literature; or Georges Lemaître, the father of the Big Bang theory.
It is normal to still have doubts or questions about how to interweave our spirituality and education: how to combine our charism with some of our apostolic objectives, such as “to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world”? How to safeguard our pedagogical spirit in today’s context? How to transmit the feeling of being part of the Church and the universal community to the students in our schools?
These are all questions of concern and challenges to be faced. But don’t worry, remain vigilant, there is a right time for everything. The Good Lord is the best teacher there can be!

Fr. Ignatius of Loyola and the companions of the novitiate

2021-02-24 Raul Ciocani

Interview with Adele Andreoli, Spanish and English teacher

17 Mar 2021

Once a week some of us take a Spanish course and others an English course. Since 2018, Adele Andreoli has been teaching languages to Jesuit novices.

How did you get to know the Jesuits?
Already in my teenage years I had often heard about the Jesuits and their proposals for young people from some of my friends who were part of MEG (Movimento Eucaristico Giovanile, a movement for children and youth between 8 and 23 years), participating in camps in Selva, following spiritual paths and guided experiences. Also in my scouting career I was lucky enough to meet some Jesuit novices (I remember in particular Father Gabriele Semino) who carried out their apostolate in my group, Genova 26, when I was 13/15 years old.
Let’s say, however, that a deeper and more conscious knowledge of the group only came about in 2016 when, again thanks to the testimonies of friends, I decided to embark on the VIP path, exercises in ordinary life, led at the time by Father Cavallini, Father Mattaini and Father Ray Pace together with other guides. The experience was so intense and positive, it responded so well to what I was looking for, that the same summer I took part in the pilgrimage to the Holy Land organised by Father Cavallini, Father Iuri Sandrin, Father Matteo Suffritti and Father Antonio Ordóñez, who just recently died.
Since then my ‘attendance’ at the Jesuits has continued fairly steadily, from masses at the Chiesa del Gesù, to weeks of spiritual exercises, spiritual journeys first individual and then as a couple, led by Father Agostino Caletti, to getting to know and attending the novitiate and the novices who have attended Spanish and English classes in recent years.

Is there one thing that characterises the novices you have met over these years?
They are people on a quest, who put themselves on the line in an authentic, courageous and free way to understand whether the Society is really the right path for them. In spite of the apparent immobility of life in the novitiate, it seems to me that I can glimpse a continuous movement, a great transformation during their journey, certainly thanks to the proposals and experiences they have had in these two years.

What do you dream of for the Church in the future, and what can the Society of Jesus do to make this dream come true?
I dream of a Church that is open to dialogue and where the community is, and feels itself to be, more and more a protagonist and an active part of the life of the Church. A welcoming and inclusive Church, able to listen and read the signs of the times and to open its doors, not only metaphorically, to those who are left on the margins of our society.
In my brief and limited knowledge of the Society, I have often found this openness, willingness to dialogue, but above all a way of proclaiming and ‘breaking’ the Word that has been revolutionary for me: the ability to read, meditate on and actualize the Gospel as I had rarely seen before. This gave a new impetus to my life of faith, a newfound hope and the awareness of being a beloved daughter of the Lord.
There are many ways and fields in which the Society is committed and works towards the dream I have of the Church: I am thinking of the many proposals for paths of faith for young people, the accompaniment of couples, of families, of the various groups, including adults, that exist, of the family communities born from the experience of Villapizzone, the retreats of spiritual exercises, the summer experiences of walking, faith and service; but also the many realities of being close to and welcoming the most excluded and vulnerable: San Marcellino and Centro Astalli come to mind. All these are instruments that help to move in the direction of a community that is more aware and more involved in the life of the Church and in the social responsibility that we have as citizens and as Christians.
The great merit of the Society, and what I think it can continue to do, is to help young people and the community to read the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel, to help them read the message that the Word has to say to each one in the time in which we live, to help them discern and act in our present so as to live a full life.

Can you share with us a desolation you have received in the last period?
I can’t think of a specific desolation, but thinking about the last period I feel a rather generalised desolation due to this prolonged period in which relationships have changed, opportunities to meet each other are difficult and must be sought with difficulty. It is a period in which, in addition to forced isolation, I have also experienced a progressive distancing from others, from friends, but also from people in general, from casual encounters. This distance makes me feel a strong lack of relationships and community, sometimes leaving me with a sense of bewilderment and desolation.

Can you share with us a consolation you have received in this last period?
Still thinking about this last period, I think that the moments of consolation are all those spaces for socialising, meeting and relating that we manage to maintain, the groups I belong to and with which I am lucky enough to be able to meet to continue walking and planning together.


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