Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Switzerland: what brings them together?

“Be what you are; give what you have.” It is with this quote from the poet Rose Ausländer that Fr. Bernard Bürgler, who has been chosen to be the provincial superior of the future Central European Province (ECE,) begins the letter to his companions on the occasion of his appointment. These few words inspired him, as did the very beginning of the same poem: “Throw your fear into the air.” It is both challenging and encouraging; it is a call to embrace life, a life of trust.

On the feast of St. Ignatius, Father General announced the appointment of Bernhard Bürgler. He is currently Provincial of the Province of Austria. On 27 April 2021, he will be Provincial of a much larger territory encompassing the four current Provinces of Austria, Germany, Lithuania and Switzerland. The creation of this new administrative unit comes as no surprise: its birth will follow several years of preparation. In the eyes of Fr. Bürgler, it is a necessity if the Jesuits want to give flesh to their institutions and activities in view of a service that responds to the needs of our times and considering their limited resources. In this sense, he sees transnational collaboration as a source of openness and opportunities.

In his letter to the future Provincial of the ECE and to the Jesuits of that region, Fr. Arturo Sosa stresses that the mission of the Society of Jesus has been from the beginning universal, transcending geographical and linguistic boundaries. “The structure of the Order, he insists, is to facilitate its mission.” He hopes that the new Province can live in the spirit of the Universal Apostolic Preferences and wishes the Provincial energy and vigour, but also faith and serenity.

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Bernhard Bürgler is a proven expert in the areas of spirituality, retreats, meditation, and psychoanalysis. The 60-year-old Jesuit was born in Lienz in Austrian East Tyrol. After his secondary school, he studied theology in Innsbruck. Upon completion of his studies, he worked in the German retreat center Haus Gries, which is operated by the Jesuits. After additional years as a religion teacher in Austria, Fr. Bürgler entered the Society of Jesus in 1991. After the novitiate, he received his doctorate in theology and also received training as a psychotherapist. His activities in the Order were that of Spiritual Director in the international Collegium Canisianum (Innsbruck), Director of the retreat house “Haus Gries” (Wilhelmsthal), Area Director for spirituality and retreats in the Cardinal König Haus (Vienna.) In 2014 he became the Provincial in the Austrian Province of the Society of Jesus.

At the end of his letter to his fellow Jesuit companions, the future Provincial of ECE returned to the poem by Rose Ausländer. To the invitations to get rid of fear, to be what we are, and to give what we have, he adds: “And God will be our support.” It is an invitation to trust each other, to support each other in this spirit of trust.

It should be noted that the new ECE Province will include some 440 Jesuits involved in 36 locations or works in the four countries mentioned above but also in Latvia and Sweden.

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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 public relations.

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