It is sad to report that ITCJ has once again been the target of a violent robbery: on the night of April 20th, some Jesuits were wounded by robbers stealing cars, money, cell phones and other valuables. The community reacted with fortitude and courage but members are obviously shocked and disturbed by the incident. They have supported each other in the recovery process. Thank God it was not worse than it was. Steps have been taken to improve the security of the campus which is some way from town and rather isolated.
Apart from running their Provinces and Regions, Provincials and Major Superiors of JESAM have had to find time to attend the Board Meetings of the Common JESAM Houses, the Diaconate ordinations and the Annual General Meeting of JESAM itself. Since much of this happens in March and April these are busy months. The ITCJ hosted its annual Board of Governors meeting towards the end of March and then celebrated the ordination of its deacons in an excellently prepared and executed ordination ceremony, presided over by the Nuncio of the Holy See to Cote d’Ivoire, Archbishop Ambrose Madtha. The Provincials of the Central and West African Provinces, Frs Nkanza Ntima and Eugène Goussikindey, and I were there to celebrate with the community.
The two JESAM commissions of the Treasurers and the Development offices met in Lusaka and Nairobi respectively. The Treasurers discussed the running of their offices in all the provinces and regions and among other things examined the accounts of the houses of formation. After discussing many and varied financial issues they had to report back to their Provincials and Regional Superiors, in preparation for the meeting in Rome at the end of April. The Development Officers also met, to share their wisdom about begging for and collecting money for our various arcae.
The Colleges of Hekima and Arrupe by now have completed their gruelling time of examinations and marking. The scholastics have left on various assignments for the vacation. ITCJ’s program began later, and everybody there has been working very hard to catch up on the semester missed last year. It must be said that there is a great deal of hard work and enthusiasm among the staff and students in Abidjan. Congratulations to all those finishing their last years in our three common houses.
The Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) gathered for their regular meeting in Rome from 23 to 30 April, together with Fr Jean-Roger Ndombi (AOC), the Assistant for Africa. As always, their primary concern has been to work together for an effective Jesuit presence in Africa and Madagascar. They continue to seek ways and means of increasing the co-operation which already exists between Provinces and Regions of the Society of Jesus. Fr General spoke to the members of JESAM and attended some parts of the meeting. This year, the Strategic Action Plan for the Houses of Formation of the Assistancy was a very special item on the agenda: it had been commissioned last year in Antananarivo by the Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar. Fr Fernando Franco (GUJ) and the working group of the Strategic Plan have spent the whole year working on the plan. Two days were spent considering the recommendations and the way forward. After discussion and consideration the Major Superiors made various recommendations and proposals which Fr Franco will incorporate into the final report. The Superiors also carefully examined the reports of the Boards of Governors of the JESAM Centres of Formation in Harare, Nairobi and Abidjan. As usual, they met with a number of Father General’s assistants, including the Delegate for the Roman Houses, and the Secretary for Tertiary Education. As usual also, they considered the reports of the JESAM commissions – those of the Treasurers, the Development Officers, and of the Rectors, Principals and Deans of our common houses. New for this year was Fr Rigobert Minani’s (ACE) report on the progress made in developing the Social Centres Network in the Assistancy; it is still in its infancy, but already very effective. Fr Paterne Mombe (AOC) sent extensive reports Aids Jesuit Network. This year the Major Superiors also met with the Director of the Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa, Fr Festo Mkenda (AOR), who explained the progress already made. But in general, it was significant this year how the global monetary problems are beginning to touch several of our works and men. Fr Chukwuyenum Afiawari (ANW) was much in evidence at the meeting, making for a smooth running through his efficient administrative help.
Fr Fernando Franco will take another two months to finish the Strategic Plan for the Centres of Formation of the Conference then he will be available to help a number of Provincials who have already asked for his assistance.
Mike Lewis SJ