Thursday, June 29, 2017
Jesuit College Founded After Vatican II in Brussels Closing
The Press Declaration of the Order endeavors to give the event a positive note. This can not, however, brush away the decline. The Institute was established fifty years ago in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. In 1968 the course of studies was established for students who saw their future as a priest in the Jesuit Order. Soon, "improvements" took place. Because of the decline in vocations, seminarians from numerous French dioceses were able to study at the university, as well as male and female religious, and even laymen from the new communities that have emerged over the past decades.
In 2004 the real purpose was abandoned. The European Jesuits, studying theology in French, were concentrated in Paris.
Despite this reorganization, the institution could not be sustained because the number of students and financial resources decreased year after year. In the press statement of the Order, it reads like this:
"The Society of Jesus, therefore, has decided to reorient its theological presence in Brussels."
After an "intensive" internal exchange and dialogue with the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, the new Jesuit General Arturo Sosa Abascal made the decision to cease teaching at the Theological University of Brussels in September 2019.
From Egenhoven to Brussels
In this way, the possibility remains to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its existence. In 1968 the school was founded in Egenhoven near Löwen. It was to have replaced the older, Flemish Jesuit College, named after St. Albert of Lions (1191/1192 Bishop of Liège). The university itself writes on its website:
"La crise qui suivit le concile Vatican II (1962-1965) toucha de plein fouet l'Église et les différentes provinces de la Compagnie de Jésus, en particulier ses maisons de formation et d'études, entre autres les philosophiques et théologats situés à Eegenhoven, près de Leuven. En 1968, au terme d'une référion lucide, les supérieurs jésuites faisaient un constat sévère sur la formation théologique de l'époque. "
The crisis that followed the Second Vatican Council hit the Jesuit Order very hard, especially its houses of study, including Egenhoven. A group of professors was asked to found a new philosophical-theological college capable of responding to the "challenges" through the development of the humanities, social sciences and theology. Against this backdrop, the study was opened to laymen, then to women. This was a development which was "a small revolution" and "not without difficulties", as described on the website of the university.
In 1972, the university moved from Egenhoven to Brussels. In 1980 the first non-Jesuit took up his studies. In 1981 Cardinal Lustiger, then archbishop of Paris, sent the first diocesan seminarist.
In the 48 years of their existence, more than 1,100 priests were trained at the Brussels College. Seven of them are bishops today. In the remaining two years, the Jesuit Order wants to redefine its collaboration with the Archdiocese. It is intended to take up less human and financial resources, but to focus on the "service to the inhabitants of Brussels with their European dimension".
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Photo: IET (Screenshots)
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