This Thursday, 4 April 2019, Father General journeys to Syria and Lebanon for a brief visit. The main purpose of this trip is to commemorate, with the Middle East Jesuits and their friends  – particularly those from Syria – the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Father Frans van der Lugt, in Homs. He was killed on 7 April 2014. Our two websites (sjcuria.global and jesuits.global) will report on the events of Father General’s visit.

In this report we note that after his arrival Fr Arturo Sosa will visit the Jesuit community in Taanayel, in the Bekaa Valley.  He will share with his companions what is at the heart of his visit to the region, the offering of oneself to the point of giving one’s life in the service of those who suffer. This is the context in which so many people have been living for so many years: war and its associated tensions have been pervasive for so long. The case of Fr Frans is clear. He desired to share the fate of his fellow citizens of Homs while the city was under siege by various armed groups. But we must remember that other Jesuits in Lebanon and Syria also shared the same fate, and even given their lives in their pursuit of dialogue and peace.

The meeting in Taanayel provides an opportunity to recall Fr Nicolas Kluiters in particular. Like Fr van der Lugt, he also hailed from the Netherlands. In 1985, he was a victim of the war that was ravaging his adopted country, Lebanon. He was found murdered at the side of a Bekaa road. The journalist, Carole Dagher, portrayed this Jesuit missionary in her book (in French) entitled Passion for a Forgotten Land - Nicolas Kluiters, Jesuit in Lebanon. It was published by Lessius in 2013.