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Indonesian Jesuits kick off Ignatian Year

Society of Jesus provincial urges faithful to find their own 'cannonball moment' that led St. Ignatius of Loyola to convert

Indonesian Jesuits kick off Ignatian Year

Jesuit Father Benedictus Hari Juliawan, provincial of the Indonesian Province of the Society of Jesus, leads a concelebrated Mass on May 20 at Sanata Dharma University to kick off the Ignatian Year. (Photo: YouTube)

Jesuits in Indonesia have launched a special year of celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the conversion of their founder St. Ignatius of Loyola with a Mass at Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta.

Under the theme “To See All Things New in Christ,” the Ignatian Year, which ends on July 31 next year, celebrates the day when Ignatius, the Spanish soldier, was struck by a French cannonball during the Battle of Pamplona on May 20, 1521, beginning his transformation into Ignatius the pilgrim.

Father Benedictus Hari Juliawan, the provincial of the Indonesian Jesuit Province, led the concelebrated Mass on May 20. It was also livestreamed on the Society of Jesus’ YouTube channel.

“The Ignatian Year is different from many other celebrations because it is not filled with nostalgia or does not show off successes. During this period, we are encouraged to go through our experiences in order to find new ‘cannonball moments,’” he said in his homily.

A cannonball moment would mean being born again or having repentance and “these all have the meaning of transformation, because this is a personal encounter with the Saviour God,” he said.

He pointed to the Jesuits’ four apostolic directions of transformation: showing the path to God, walking together with poor and marginalized people, keeping company with young people, and protecting the earth as a common home.

We, too, understand that religion has become a trade commodity and a political competition

“They are not situated in an empty space. As members of the society who live and work in Indonesia, the situation of our beloved country has considerable influence with our repentance,” he said.

Referring to the first direction, Father Juliawan said showing the path to God in the context of religious diversity in the country would mean that “we are called to recognize the same God in a different religious experience.”

There are six recognized religions in Indonesia: Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism. Yet the country has up to 187 traditional faiths with about 12 million followers, according to government figures.

“We, too, understand that religion has become a trade commodity and a political competition and, as a result, it has become shallow and lost its meaning as the path to freedom. Are we able to open new spaces to God?” the priest asked, reminding people that pointing a finger at someone would be the biggest challenge.

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Father Adrianus Suyadi, coordinator of the Indonesian Province action planning and the social ministries department and secretary of the Jesuit Conference of the Asia Pacific, said the Ignatian Year “is the year of examen, discernment and discretion, both individually and communally.”

Examen is a devotional exercise, usually performed daily, involving reflection on and moral evaluation of one's thoughts and conduct.

“Principally, I am given the task of animating and facilitating members of the society to make action plans in accordance to their spiritual motivation. An internal transformation is a highlight,” he told UCA News.

During the period, he said, “I hope there will be a transformation in terms of the lifestyle of Jesuits and their community, and if possible there is a transformation of the institution when, let us say, it is no longer relevant.”

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