Jesuit leadership changes hands

  • August 7, 2008

{mosimage}PICKERING, Ont. - As he accepted the blessing of Jesuits and their friends at the end of a St. Ignatius Day Mass in Pickering, Ont. July 31, Fr. Jim Webb took up a "heroic, humble task" in imitation of the man who founded the Jesuits 474 years ago.

Webb officially became the provincial superior for the Jesuits of English Canada, taking over from Fr. Jean-Marc Laporte.

Though the job itself may involve sitting at a desk and clearing a lot of dull paperwork, serving the religious order involves a kind of heroism, said Fr. Eric Jensen in his St. Ignatius Day homily.

"There is something very heroic in the calling we have as Christians," said Jensen. "Ignatius, like us, felt this call to heroism."

As a missionary among the poor in Jamaica, Webb has seen some of the worst violence in the western hemisphere over the past 20 years. Seven years ago Webb received death threats in response to his efforts to expose electoral fraud. Shortly after the threats, Webb's friend and fellow Canadian Jesuit Fr. Martin Royackers was gunned down in front of his parish church. Some have guessed the bullet was meant for Webb.

"There is something very heroic in the calling we have as Christians," Jensen said in his homily. "Ignatius, like us, felt this call to heroism."

Webb wasn't the only Jesuit to get a new job over the spring and summer. Among other new assignments:

  • Fr. Sami Helewa has been sent to the University of Edinburgh to pursue a PhD in Islamic Studies;
  • Jeffrey Burwell will work toward a PhD in education in Winnipeg;
  • Marc Aristotle de Asis will be teaching at St. Paul's High School in Winnipeg this year;
  • Matthew Livingston has begun teaching at Campion College in Regina, Sask.;
  • Fr. Peter Monty will be start pastoral work with the deaf in Ottawa in September;
  • Fr. Joseph Mroz and Fr. Erik Oland will be part of the team at the new joint novitiate in Montreal for French and English Canadian Jesuits;
  • Fr. Scott Lewis takes over as director of the Manresa Retreat Centre in Pickering Sept. 1 while he continues to teach Scripture at Regis College.

 Three novices are expected to pronounce first vows in St. Paul, Minn., Aug. 16. They are Greg Kennedy, Paul Robson and Henk van Meijel.

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