SLOVENIA – Accompanying the students in Maribor


The small Province of Slovenia has long paid particular attention to its presence in the university students’ environment. We have already introduced the “college-residence” of Ljubljana. This service to the students’ world has also been made available in the country’s second largest city, Maribor. The Jesuit Bishop of the Diocese of Maribor, Alojzij Cvikl, has asked the Society of Jesus to take charge of the university parish. The university in Maribor is a state institution, like all academic institutions in the country. A space is nevertheless provided for spiritual activities. Father Marjan Kokalj has charge of it as chaplain. Here is what he shared with us.

I have a very interesting, many-faceted job with university students, but also with youth movements in Maribor. It requires a lot of creativity because you always have to invent something new for young people.

For example, we created with the students what we called the “Speaking Tables”. Some of them prepare presentations on a topic they consider important. A half-hour presentation. Those who come to the evening switch from one presentation to another, every half hour. Let’s say three times during the meeting. It is an opportunity to get to know each other and share what inspires them.

On a completely different note, we are working together to raise the necessary funds for the university parish. For each of our programs we need to find money and therefore our community members must be creative on how to fund our activities. For example, we went to pick apples together: it creates relationships between the young people and with our pastoral team. A few years ago the Jesuits of Slovenia consciously chose working with students as a priority: it is a central apostolate for us. We do this here in close contact with the young people who work for the diocese.

I would add that, realistically, interest in the spiritual dimension of life is not at the forefront of the majority of young people’ minds. The attractions are diverse and numerous in today’s society. Our responsibility is to show that the door is open to enter this process of change that encourages depth. We face opposing forces, including, for example, the lure of drugs that give a false impression of ease. However, many young people are serious in their search for a meaning of life through commitment.

Father Marjan shared with us a concrete example, the story of the origin of the commitment of one of the students at the university parish. Click here to hear this testimony.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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