As a part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Collegio del Gesù, there was a publication of a book which contained the testimonies of its former students. It recollects the memories of the lives of more than 850 Jesuits from more than 80 countries, who have lived in this house. The presentation of the book took place in the Assumption Hall of the Church of Gesù in the presence of the Jesuits of the DIR and of the Euro-Mediterranean Province. Fr. Nuno da Silva Gonçalves (POR), Francesco Occhetta (EUM) and Gia An Cao (VIE), gave their testimonies as former students of the College.
The aspects, which were emphasized more in their sharing, were the experiences of their multiculturality and the way in which the universality of the Society is concretely lived in Gesù, and this aspect was aptly expressed by Fr. Nuno. Though the experiences have their challenges, as said by Fr. Cao, the multicultural dimension requires great flexibility and it leads us to the point of recognizing some elements of one’s own culture in that of the other, and this helps us to experience our true friendship. Fr. Occhetta added that this inner process is a very important sign because in the same time when nations are raising walls, in the Collegio del Gesù, we search for a life together, showing that this is possible.
The fruits of each one’s own humanity, are evident. However, it is truly interesting to find that this process was constructed with the daily events of life like the jokes with Brother Pedro, the football match, the view of the sunset from the Sala Ricci and so on. Fr. Occhetta expressed that there are many memories which are still alive. He said, “we have learnt that what moves us ahead is not the duty but the deep gratitude we have towards God”.
It was very important to mention the formators and the formation program. The living testimony of brothers, the wisdom of spiritual fathers and the care of rectors have truly helped in the affective formation, in the academic excellence and in deepening of faith in all those who have lived here.
There was also a moving testimony about spiritual value that the rooms of St. Ignatius has as a part of the College. Fr. Nuno emphasized that the spirit of St. Ignatius still lives there and how “it passes through the walls up to the point of passing through our hearts” and Fr. Cao added that it also passes through “the soul of the college”. In fact, the intention of Fr Arrupe to have this college part of the original rooms of St. Ignatius, makes it visible that in the Collegio del Gesù we live in one house, which gives us a sense that we have not entered a province, but the Universal Society of Jesus.