Fr Russell Pollitt SJ (born Pretoria 1975; entered the Jesuits 2001; ordained 2006) is the Director of the Jesuit Institute. He holds a B.A. with majors in Sociology and Socio-Cultural Anthropology, and a Masters Degree in Theology. He has experience with various media outlets, having often commented on radio (Talk Radio 702, 567 Cape Talk, SAFM, Jacaranda, Radio Veritas and Vatican Radio); written for various newspapers (Daily Maverick, The Natal Witness, Spotlight.Africa, The Southern Cross and America); and appeared on television (SABC TV and the eNCA News Channel). He has previously been National Chaplain to Catholic Engaged Encounter and served on the advisory board of the Social Communications Department, as well as serving on various other sections, of the SACBC. He has directed retreats in South Africa and in California. Fr Russell is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He also thinks about South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.
Ursula van Nierop was born in Germiston. After completing her schooling at the St Thomas Aquinas Convent in Witbank, she obtained a B.Nursing (cum laude) from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1990. She went on to work as a midwife at the Johannesburg Hospital. In 1999, Ursula started working for the Society of Jesus as secretary to the Regional Superior. In 2005, she was appointed as the Finance Officer for the Society of Jesus in South Africa. She moved to the Jesuit Institute as the Deputy Director in 2016. Here she is involved in the day to day management of the Institute office and various projects. Ursula believes that it is the role of all to make a difference in our society, especially to those on the margins. Ursula is married to Martin and they have five children.
Margaret Backwell has been married to Mike for 45 years, has 3 grown-up children, 3 granddaughters and worked in various clerical, administration and finance roles since she started her working career in 1971. Her association with the Society of Jesus started in the early 1990’s as parish secretary at Holy Trinity for about 8 years, worked for JRS and has now been with the Jesuit Institute for 5 years working as the Administrator for the Spirituality team. Loves to keep active by jogging, visiting the gym and hobbies include reading and doing various types of needlework or crafts.
Abigail Dawson holds a Masters in Development Studies, Sociology, from the University of Witwatersrand. Her activist and academic interests have focused on migration in a South African context. She is a qualified social worker and has provided counselling for migrant women and children. She hopes to bring change to the current public and global narrative on migration through effective and creative communication, networking and advocacy to ensure equitable communities for all people living in South Africa.
Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) joined the Jesuit Institute in 2007. Educated at the universities of Cape Town, London, Witwatersrand and at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Cambridge Massachusetts (now part of Boston College), he is a historian, political analyst and theologian. He has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for Spotlight. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.
Puleng Matsaneng works in Spirituality and researches Ignatian Spirituality in an African context. Her area of speciality is in exploring how African themes and practices of spirituality dialogue with the Western traditions, and how that is understood in relation to Ignatian Spirituality. She has looked at how Ignatian Spirituality can be integrated into the African worldview. Most especially, how the use of song and storytelling can be part of the prayer process. She is currently managing retreats in daily life and training prayer guides. Puleng is also involved in ongoing Spiritual Direction, giving 8-day and 30-day retreats. Her latest venture is a pilot programme of healing workshops that use the principles of Ignatian Spirituality.
Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell has worked in the area of Ignatian Spirituality for 19 years and heads up the work of the Jesuit Institute School of Spirituality. Her primary focus is the training and supervision of spiritual directors and the giving of retreats. She is also a registered Psychologist and her PhD focused on the interface between Christian Spirituality and Psychology.
Annemarie is an editorial advisor to “The Way” journal of Spirituality and has authored a number of articles relating to the training of Spiritual Directors in an African context. She has contributed to several books, most recently co-authoring a two books of Lenten Reflections: “Long Journey to the Resurrection” and “The Expansive Heart of God“. She has contributed to international conferences and consultations in Spirituality in the United Kingdom; the United States; Rome; Spain, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Francis Tuson grew up in Johannesburg and was exposed to Ignatian themes from a young age through his family’s involvement with Christian Life Communities (CLC). He attended De La Salle Holy Cross College for his initial schooling and then was home schooled before returning to De La Salle for his matric year. After trying both Music and Law at the University of the Witwatersrand, he studied Post-Production sound engineering at the Academy of Sound Engineering. Before joining the Jesuit Institute, Francis worked variously, as a dubbing engineer, a sound designer, and a final mix engineer – working on a variety of projects, with a many different languages from around the world including; Mandarin, Kiswahili, Portuguese, Hindi, Hausa, French and Zulu. Francis is working on as much of the Jesuit Institute’s media as possible, attempting to drag the Jesuit institute, and ultimately the Catholic Church into the 21st century. In his free time, Francis enjoys extreme sports,hiking, and playing music.
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