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A journal for today

30 November, 1999

The editor of “Studies”, Fergus O’Donoghue SJ, writes about the cultural apostolate he and his counterparts in other countries exercise through being editor of the Jesuit cultural journals.

On an unseasonably cool evening last June, eighteen Jesuits from all over Europe met in Rome. We are all editors of European Jesuit cultural journals, and this was our annual meeting. Each editor reported on his country and his own journal, which meant plenty of discussion and questions. We listened to talks from an experienced Italian journalist, from a retired Curial cardinal and from our own Superior General, Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach.

We editors are Jesuits who range in age from thirty-five to seventy-five. Some of us have spent most of our lives working in our own countries, but some of us have known years of exile and are editing magazines that were refounded only after the collapse of Communism. Some of us come from countries with a strong Catholic culture and others from countries where the small Catholic communities live in an atmosphere of indifference or, in the case of Greece, some hostility.

The journals we edit are published fortnightly (like the Italian journal Civiltà Cattolica), monthly or quarterly, like the Hungarian journal Tavlatok and our own Studies, which was founded in 1912. In my office in Leeson Street – next door to the Messenger – the bound volumes, going back ninety-five years, remind me just how long we Irish Jesuits have been producing a quarterly review. But then I remember that the Italian journal has been published since 1850, the French since 1856 and that Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J., editor of the German journal, was executed for actively opposing Hitler.

Cultural apostolate
So, the shelves in my office represent a lot of history and are a reminder of the Jesuit cultural apostolate not only in Ireland, but also in the whole of Europe. None of our journals are big sellers, though some sell very well indeed, but all of them have a role in the cultural life of our countries. Studies and the other Jesuit journals, were founded to comment on what is happening in our society as a whole, to notice trends, to analyse situations and to give a Christian viewpoint in the contemporary world.

It was in 1910 that a group of Irish Jesuits had the idea of founding a journal to comment on ‘Letters, Philosophy and Science’. The first issue of Studies appeared in 1914. Within two years, financial losses were so great that the Jesuit Provincial was advised to suspend publication.

Rather than do that, the Provincial appointed a new editor, Fr. P J Connolly SJ. Fr. Connolly, who remained as editor until 1950, saved Studies and established a format that has changed very little since: each issue contains articles, book reviews and poems.

Important contribution
Some of our articles have been written by famous people, such as Garrett Fitzgerald, Seán Lemass and the English economist John Maynard Keynes. Some of the articles have become famous, such as Fr. Frank Shaw’s 1966 article on the 1916 Rising, which was so controversial that it was not published until 1972. An anonymous account of Catholic life in Nazi Germany, published in 1935, revealed a hidden and dangerous world.
The full name of our journal is Studies: an Irish Quarterly Review. We concentrate on what is happening in modern Ireland. Each issue now contains eight articles. These are often written by young scholars and journalists, under a unifying theme, such as ‘Religion and Secularism’ or ‘Irish Identity and Irish Literature’.

The production of Studies was once based on Fr. Connolly sitting alone at a typewriter, but now the Internet gives a new way of communicating. The Australian Jesuit cultural journal, Eureka Street, is now available only on the Internet. Chilean and Brazilian Jesuits have collaborated to produce a portal called Mirada Global, which is available in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Our own editing here in Dublin is made easier because now we can send the text of each issue to our printer on the Internet, so the publication dates of 1 March, 1 June, 1 September and 1 December are always met.

Studies is bought by libraries and individual subscribers all over the world. American university libraries are among our best customers, but we reach some exotic places, such as the Japanese parliament. Our four seasonal issues (known, not surprisingly, as Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter) are sold in shops, but it is easier to subscribe directly. We welcome new subscribers, either through our address at 35 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2 or through our redesigned website, www.studiesirishreview.ie. which tells you even more about us.

This article first appeared in The Messenger (November 2006), a publication of the Irish Jesuits.


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