GESUITI noviziato
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.


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

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