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

Interview with Maria Stella Rollandi, Italian teacher

16 Feb 2021

The foreign novices use part of their time in the novitiate to improve their Italian. Once a week they have Italian lessons with Maria Stella Rollandi. She was a professor of history of economics at the University of Genoa.

How did you meet the Jesuits?
I met Father Lorenzo Giordano, a friend of my parents, who baptised my two children. Since then I have followed the history of the Society more closely and this led me to enrol my children, Giovanni and Elena, at Istituto Arecco (the Jesuit school of Genoa). I have had the opportunity to get to know many different Jesuits. From Father Giovanni Bosco Dalle Lucche, Latinist and attentive to the problems of young people, to Father Vincenzo De Mari, who gave seminars on biblical exegesis, to listening to Father Kolvenbach (editor’s note: general of the order 1983-2008) when he came to Genoa. From each meeting I drew richness and support for my own life path.

Is there an aspect of the Society of Jesus that you particularly appreciate?
I greatly appreciate the international approach and the respect for other cultures, for different languages. It is a characteristic that has always struck me and encouraged me to study it. Certainly the history of the Society is very composite, and over the centuries it has also taken on policies of great intolerance that have perhaps favoured the spread of a feeling of mistrust towards it. A Jesuit father one day, with a bit of irony, commented on some points of the entry “Jesuit” and “Jesuitism” in the Zingarelli dictionary. However, I do believe that the international outlook, the world view of Saints Ignatius and Francis Xavier have also allowed the Society to renew itself internally and to effectively maintain an openness to the other.

What do you wish the novices for their future in the Society?
I am struck by the heterogeneity of their personal paths and, at the same time, by the seriousness and dedication with which they face their call. I have a deep respect for these people.
I wish them to keep their vocation pure and their search constant.

Can you share with us a desolation you have received recently?
My two children live far away and, also because of covid19, I have to overcome great loneliness and the impossibility of giving them support. After so many years of teaching in a stimulating and lively department such as Economics, the lack of activity and less contact with young people make the last segment of my life more difficult.

Can you share with us one consolation you have received in this last period?
Being in good health and being able to continue on a path of research.


Interview with the new Socius Fr. Davide Saporiti

21 Nov 2022

In September a new Socius arrived in our community: Fr. Davide Saporiti SJ. His predecessor Fr. Iosif Şandoru SJ began the third year in the Dominican Republic.

You have been for 10 years in the retreat house in Bologna. How did you take the news when the Provincial communicated your new destination?

Initially with a bit of sorrow at having to leave a place I knew and loved where I spent all my energy; loved for the activities I carried out and the beautiful relationships I experienced. Later, however – I say this without rhetoric – deep inside me I felt peace because I understand the apostolic mobility that is part of our vocation. The Jesuit is a man sent for others. I understand that staying too long in reality runs the risk of becoming its owner, of taking root, of no longer having pastoral freshness and therefore not doing good for the work itself. In this new destination, i.e. in the Novitiate, I have no problem with the type of work or the environment, but – as often happens – a sense of inadequacy arises in the face of novelty: am I capable of doing well the things that are asked of me? At the same time I feel that in the Novitiate I can give the best of myself.

You celebrated your 25th anniversary in the Society of Jesus a few weeks ago. You are now 6 Jesuits in the Society of your year. What is your memory of the Novitiate?

The first thought is that we are half the number of novices I entered with. Thinking of former companions, I realise that those who continue the journey in the Company are no better than those who leave: indeed, the vocation is something personal. (Although it has to be confirmed by the Society).
For me it was very formative to join a heterogeneous group. Companions with very different ecclesial experiences, different maturations, different tastes, have opened my eyes to so many sensitivities that I had not considered before. The most emotional memories are definitely with the people, both novices and formators. A unique bond remains with the companions of the novitiate, even if we hear each other very little. I also have vivid memories of the typical novitiate experiments: the month of Cottolengo, the Lent experiment with students from one of our colleges and, of course, the Month of Spiritual Exercises; these were the passages that marked me deeply: every time I think about them a light goes on.

And what is your memory of your Socius? In what aspect do you want to be like him?

In the two years of novitiate I changed Master and also Socius. The first was very gentle and also very learned without showing it. The second was good at accompanying and guiding Spiritual Exercises, I saw in him a model of a Jesuit. Both were very helpful and I too would like to be helpful in what was asked of me. Above all, God willing, I would like to witness with my life more than with words the joy of following the Lord in the Society. But this is also true in other environments, not only in the Novitiate.

What will your commitments be this year?

I am understanding little by little, because some things have changed since I did the Novitiate. I interpret my role in concentric circles. The first circle (and the most important) is the life of the Novitiate: the formative modules with the novices, the instruction for the Month of Spiritual Exercises, the re-reading of the Month and everything related to the life of the Novitiate in the strict sense. Then, a subsequent “circle” concerns the life of the house and our works in the city: guiding guests who make the Spiritual Exercises, spiritual accompaniment, helping the pastoral care of the Jesuits in the city (SEEL for young people, CLC…). Finally, the more ‘external’ circle includes all the requests that arrive from the diocese or from our Province: formation courses, Spiritual Exercises courses and so on…

What memory would you like to leave in the memory of the novices? What message would you like to communicate through your example of life?

As mentioned earlier, I would like to communicate the joy of following the Lord in the Society. When I think of the Jesuits I admired in my youth, what impressed me about them was not only and above all their great pastoral skills (although they are important) but that they taught me ‘who a Jesuit is’: a person sent because he feels part of a universal body, a person in love with the Lord who can only spend his life for others, a person capable of self-denial and obedience, capable of living in community with a constructive style (today we would say ‘synodal’) but always in obedience to the superior because the two are not mutually exclusive. I too would like to testify, at least in part, to all this.

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