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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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I speak Italiano

06 Sep 2019

Summer is a time of rest and vacation, but also is a time to prepare for the activities of the following months, especially when people start a new mission or a new assignment. So also this summer the Novitiate welcomed 17 Jesuits in formation, who were sent by their respective provinces to study Italian, before starting in Rome either their universitary studies or their apostolic mission.

The Jesuit scholastics who participated in the language course are mainly from outside Europe and, increasingly, the Indo-Asian component is prevalent. We believe it is significant to spend this month studying the language in the novitiate: as those who make their first stop in the Company learn the rudiments here and take their first steps, so even these companions, later on the path, face in a new country and a new culture. The presence of the novices who alternate in the tutoring service, sometimes transforms the hours of tutoring into real spiritual conversations, or reciprocals intercultural exchanges , which further enrich the time invested in learning / teaching Italian. Furthermore, the welcome and personal care that the novitiate community can offer help to get used to a new rhythm of life, a new climate, a new type of cuisine. The effort to try to understand and take understandable a new language is close to the effort that we encounter in the first months of the novitiate to learn many “Jesuitisms”, that are those terms of our spirituality or of our Constitutions that initially could appear obscure. The desire for a new stage of the life and the humility to question oneself are required both to those who want to approach a new culture, and to those who verify their call to religious life.

All these components have accompanied our students of the Italian language in these weeks, in which they were committed to know not only the grammar rules, but also the uses, the traditions, the idioms and some Italian cities. We would like to emphasize that learning was not one-sided: one of the riches that life in the Company gives you is to get in touch with many people from different cultures, recognizing with them common points, but also specific traits. The biggest challenge – but also what gives greater consolation – for those who coordinate a course like this is not so much to teach the language or to take care that everything is in order, but to create the conditions so that, despite the cultural and character differences of the participants, it is possible to establish a climate of communion and fraternity, without which it becomes much more difficult to get involved and it increases the effort to learn. In building a community all of us are always a bit “novices”, because there is no instant recipe, but it is an art that requires a common effort. And what made it possible to reach this climate was precisely the time given freely by everyone – the novices, the formators, and, of course, the students -, regardless of waste.

Going to Rome and Turin, at the end of this course, the heart is full of gratitude for the journey shared with so many confreres in various stages of their formation; and the hope is that, apart from boring grammatical rules, will remain imprinted the built fraternity.

Ivan Agresta SJ and Andrea Marelli SJ, coordinators of the Italian course

Coronavirus and community in good Company

by Raul Petru Ciocani

 

Few of us can compare a period like this to experiences we have already lived. I spent almost two months without being able to leave the novitiate and this is the longest period I have ever had in my life without going out. Living in community is already a exceptional experience in itself, which I had never experienced before, and now, adding these restrictions, there is the risk of discouragement. In reality I am living this period very well, I have not yet found moments of boredom, indeed I have the opportunity to discover many aspects, and I will tell you why.

In addition to the comfort that accompanies me now, the feelings that pass through my heart in this time are truly varied: uncertainty, compassion with those who suffer and die from coronavirus, and also the fear for my family that is about 1200 km from Genoa, in the western part of Romania, where there are still not many infections. Talking to my grandmother who lives with my parents, I was surprised and impressed by the courage and strength with which she is going through this period. Having already experienced the Second World War, the communist occupation, the deportation of family members to work camps, she is very aware of the reality of this pandemic that we are facing with little courage and patience, because we no longer trust and no longer know in who we need to trust. This is one of the points that makes me think a lot: Can our faith really help us in such critical moments of our life? The answer is yes, but we have to find out. As those who find out during important events of their lives, such as migration, war, addictions, diseases, depression, loneliness and entrust themselves to God and put their destiny in his hands. Here, the current situation stimulates me to think about all this, about the shortcomings and weaknesses that we have and that we do not want to accept and face.

Now I’m going to explain to you why the rest of the time I still haven’t found the moments to get bored. Community life leads me to discover many aspects, which until now I did not know about myself, especially through personal relationships with companions and the community activity in which we are immersed. All of this keeps us very busy most of the time. Starting with the fact that every day I have several people to talk to during meals (friends with whom to share their experiences, daily joys, difficulties, etc.), moments of prayer together, everyday community liturgy but also the passing of the time having fun, playing football, volleyball, ping pong, etc. All this forms a lifestyle, the community one, where, as in a family, you cannot think only of yourself, but you also have the responsibility of the others.

These things represent the community life that we are living in this period of great difficulty for the whole world. The community is what made it much easier for us to go through this time, assimilating all the positive aspects it brings. Personally I live this dimension as a help to my vocation, which is to follow the Lord with the vows that I choose to make in the Society of Jesus.

Raul Ciocani, novice of the first year

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