More interest in Jesuit founder thanks to Francis

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JesCom creative director Pauline Mangilog-Saltarin, Andreas Muñoz, director Paolo Dy, and Jescom head Fr. Emmanuel Alfonso, S.J at “Ignacio de Loyola” movie press conference at Cabalen restaurant, Quezon City, May 2, 2016. (Photo: Nirva Delacruz)

MANILA, June 6, 2016 – More people, particularly the youth are discovering their growing attraction to St. Ignatius de Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, primarily because of the compelling leadership and popularity of Pope Francis, a Jesuit.

“There is real interest in St. Ignatius brought about by the wonderful work of Pope Francis… In the Philippines even our candidates come from not just the Jesuit schools, but they come from other universities… not just Catholic universities,” explained Jesuit Communications head Fr. Emmanuel Alfonso, S.J. in a recent press conference about “Ignacio de Loyola”, a Php50-million biopic telling part of the Jesuit founder’s life story.

“That comes from the power of the Gospel that is Pope Francis,” added Alfonso, who was with JesCom creative director Pauline Mangilog-Saltarin, the film’s director Paolo Dy, and lead actor Andreas Muñoz during the press briefing.

St. Ignatius, still relevant

According to Alfonso, the fact that in the U.S. alone Jesuit novitiates report a doubling in the number of young men applying to enter the congregation validates the so-called Pope Francis effect.

For his part Spanish actor Andreas Muñoz said playing the 16th century saint, mystic, and theologian made such an impact on him personally.

“…There has been lot, several [scenes] that touched me. The first one is this character (St. Ignatius) changed, this character is going through this. I learned a lot… and playing him was so special,” explained the actor, who was in Manila for several days to promote the JesCom-produced film that is scheduled to come out in July 2016.

He added: “Being him is something supernatural. So starting from who he was, Ignatius de Loyola, this solider… and then he becomes a saint. He changed a lot and I hope we can show that in the film.”

According to Alfonso, despite a time gap of several centuries, modern viewers will still find St. Ignatius’ story relevant and powerful.

‘Very human, universal’

“The story of St. Ignatius is something that is very, very human… and somethings are very, very universal… The film is about finding your balance … finding the middle ground,” said the priest.

Today’s moviegoers will find reflections of the driven 21st century man and woman in St. Ignatius, who they get introduced to in the film as a warrior who was not content to be just any foot soldier but wanted to be a knight and win military glory, said Alfonso.

“Later on, he finds how to find that balance in your life. Maybe we need a little bit of that [today]. There are so many voices that are extreme,” explained the priest. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCPNews)

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