Jesuit Novitiate
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus

Interview with fr. Iosif Şandoru SJ

by Fr. Iosif Şandoru – Socius

Father Iosif has been the new socius of the master here in the novitiate since September 2020. He therefore helps to train the novices. You can read a description of his life in the Society of Jesus here.
In this interview he briefly answers seven questions:

From 2006 to 2008 you made your novitiate right here at Villa S. Ignazio in Genoa. How do you remember that time?
There was a great diversity of people gathered in the house from all over the world as if for a great feast. It gave me the feeling of the Kingdom of God. For me it was a time of adventure, generally joyful, in some ways exhausting, but lived with childish unconsciousness and recklessness. Time of meetings, exploration, expansion of horizons.

What has changed in novitiate since then?
There are fewer novices, but this is only temporary. Some internal activities have changed the way they are carried out. The house is more frequented by various groups and people who wish to take a time of prayer or do spiritual exercises. I notice that priority is given to apostolates in the “periphery”. For the rest, the dynamics have remained substantially the same.

Is there an experience in your time in the novitiate that has marked your way of being a Jesuit?
The presence of the Jesuit brothers, with their pragmatic wisdom, was very significant for me. In the novitiate I learned to entrust myself not only individually to the Lord who guides me, but also to trust in the mediations of His providence (superiors, companions, events), however imperfect they may be. In the apostolate I then discovered that it is important to love and work (in this order) and that, in following the King, even failures can be celebrated.

You arrived in the novitiate in September after two and a half years as assistant parish priest in Satu Mare in Romania. Was it difficult to leave life there, and is there one thing about parish life that you miss here?
I miss the mobility of parish ministry and perhaps also the simplicity of life I lived in my Romania. The experience of the parish has been very rich and the immersion in the life of God’s people has done me a lot of good. I still feel affectionately connected with many people I left behind. On the other hand, I am quite flexible as a person and I have adapted to the new environment, I would say without many bumps.

What more do you want your presence to do for the novitiate?
I am still discovering my role here. For the moment, I simply want to walk together with the companions that the Lord places beside me and be of help to someone.

Can you share with us a desolation that has struck you lately?
I was deeply shocked by the sudden lack of a childhood friend.

Can you mention a consolation you have received recently?
I will mention two. The first is that every time I have the opportunity to share the Word of God with people I feel regenerated. The second is that next year I will be an uncle for the fifth time… This gives me hope.

All in the field…for a full life!

by Daniele Angiuli

Community life is like a big soccer game. That’s the image that flashed through my mind while playing on the field with my teammates, amidst the running and the shortness of breath, the falls and the sweat. Each in his own position and at the same time in close relationship with the others: those in attack, ready to run toward the goal and score for the team; those in midfield to retrieve balls and act as “bridges” between players; those in defense to prevent opponents from advancing; those in goal to catch the ball and avoid the net.

There is no one role more eminent than another but all are necessary for the success of the game, just as in the community everyone is important and everyone can contribute. It is essential that each person does his part without declining to others, knowing, however, that he can count on the help of teammates. All called, as Luciano Ligabue says in “Una vita da mediano,”” to cover certain areas, to play generous” to be “there in the middle” of life.

I believe that in the field the only valid personal pronoun subject is “We.” Even in community life it is necessary to move from the ‘individualism of the “I” to the communion of the “we,” to think and act in the plural as Pope Francis often reminds us. If every player on the field started to go it alone, to run like a loose cannon, he would fail in his goal and even if he managed to score a goal, he would not achieve the real “goal”: teamwork, full communion with his teammates. So too in community life in the novitiate: it is necessary to look beyond the tip of one’s nose, to notice who is beside us, his need, to have the courage to step back and pass the ball to the other, always for the true good of all.

Every team has its own coach: he is responsible for preparation and game strategies. He is the first one who cheers for his team, trusts each person and insists that they give their best, according to their abilities. I like to think of the figure of Jesus as the real coach, as Carlo Nesti had already guessed in his book “My Coach’s Name is Jesus.” He encourages, spurs, believes, hopes in each of us and in the work of the whole team; he wants our “joy to be full” (Jn. 15:11).

It is difficult at times to live according to the demanding proposal of this great Coach, but not impossible. We need to put ourselves in the school of the Gospel, which prepares us to be athletes as the apostle Paul tells us: “Do you not know that in the stadium races all run, but only one wins the prize? You also run so as to conquer it! However, every athlete is disciplined in everything; they do so in order to obtain a crown that withers away, we, on the other hand, one that lasts forever. ”  (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

By living on “Jesus’ team,” our community, like every Christian community, will truly experience, in the midst of difficulties, the taste of a full existence, the flavor of true communion.

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