Father General in Albania

After 30 years, a Jesuit General returns to Albania. “This is a very important moment for us Jesuits and for the collaborators with whom we share the mission”, Fr Zef Bisha, SJ, Superior highlights.

“It was Fr Peter Hans Kolvenbach who visited the country in 1994 after the fall of the regime. In these days we are living in the liturgy the time when Jesus confirms his disciples in love, hands over and prepares them for the mission. It is with these sentiments that we welcome Fr Arturo Sosa, who has come to visit the Jesuits in Albania, the good that the Society has done for so many years in this small place, but with a great history, a place of martyrdom and witness to the faith, a significant place that gathers so many realities committed to the mission. He comes to confirm the brethren in joy, to work together as companions of the least Society of Jesus. Many would have liked to be with us for this beautiful moment. They will follow us wherever they are. Welcome Fr Arturo in Albania.”

At present there are three Jesuits in Albania, two are in Shkodra, working at the Pjeter Meshkalla College, and one in Tirana, parish priest of the Church of the Sacred Heart. Fr General is visiting the school in Shkodra today. Tomorrow he will be in Tirana to inaugurate the new Cultural and Social Centre and the Catholic library in the new premises built next to the church.

The Jesuits in Albania: History and Works

The Jesuits first entered Albania in 1841, but from the 16th century many Albanians went to Rome to study in the universities entrusted to them. It was the Bishop of Shkodra, Luigj Gugliermi, who requested their presence to open the seminary for the clergy and to give them formation. Despite the resistance of then Father General Joannes Philipp Roothaan (1829-1853), the first three fathers from the Sicilian Province arrived in Shkodra in April 1841.

In the few years of its existence, the Albanian Collegium Pontificium gave a solid formation to the clergy, and produced strong thinkers, numerous writers and important names in Albanian history and literature. In 1870, a small printing house, Shtampa e Shtypit (The Seminary Printing House) and later Shtypshkronja e Zojës se Paperlyme (The Immaculate Printing House), was opened, the only one in Albania for more than 40 years. St Francis Xavier College was founded in 1878 and later became the Xaverian College (Kolegja Saverjane) for accounting studies.

In Tirana, the mission continued in the same style of openness and welcome, collaboration and respect, especially with the other religious denominations present in the city. Next to the church was the house of the fathers, an orphanage, and a service for the poorest. In 1945, the government of Enver Hoxha arrived in Albania and began to persecute religions again, especially the Catholic Church.

After the fall of the regime In 1991, the Albanian people finally began to experience democracy. In 2004, the Jesuits in Tirana offered an opportunity to learn about and deepen the value of democracy, especially so that young people (students, graduates, workers or professionals) could master the tools of democratic participation in order to build the country’s future.

The socio-political formation course, which had about 80 to 100 students per year, included the basic elements of democratic life, an in-depth knowledge of the Albanian constitution and social and political institutions, as well as knowledge of the constituent elements of the European Union. In addition, it proposed to take a look at the social doctrine of the Church, as an offer for reflection on moral and social content that could help the growth of a democracy in a more human, just and fruitful sense.

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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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