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Discerning Future apostolic preferences based on founding documents
Discerning Universal Apostolic Preferences for the next ten years and a review of key Jesuit sources were major themes of a June meeting at the Jesuit General curia. A full day was spent in a spiritual and reflective reading of the Formula of the Institute - the founding document of the Society of Jesus. Father José de Garcia de Castro, a Spanish Jesuit and an expert in Ignatian Spirituality and in the Jesuit Constitutions, guided a series of meditations and reflections. The Consiglio then connected the concepts and experiences of Ignatius in the 16th century to contemporary times. The Formula of the Institute speaks about ministries of reconciliation as being one of the foundational themes; and indeed the word ‘reconciliation' has been a major focus of last number of General Congregations.
General Congregation 36 has asked for a revision of the Statutes on poverty. In a session entitled "Jesuit poverty yesterday and today", we looked at inspirational input from our sources - the autobiography of St. Ignatius; the Spiritual Exercises; the Constitutions and the Spiritual Diary of St Ignatius. We then moved on to explore a spirituality of poverty in contemporary times.
Throughout the week, the method of spiritual conversation was used. This involved periods of individual silent prayer after most inputs followed by small group sharing.
The meeting took place from Monday, 3 June to Friday, 8 June. It included members of the Council of the Superior General along with Presidents of the Conferences of Provincials. Also present were the heads of apostolic sectors for Higher Education, Secondary and Pre-Secondary education, Justice and Ecology and Collaboration.
Jesuits in the New Province of Canada: not administrators, not dreamers, but committed "collaborators"
Church of the Gesù, Montréal, May 27, 2018
Father Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuits, has already spent more than a week in Ca-na-da. After Toronto and Midland, he met for a few days with the provincial superiors of Canada and the United States in Montreal. On Friday, May 25, he went to Quebec City, stopping along the way at the Jesuit infirmary in Richelieu, in the enchanting setting of the banks of the Richelieu River. The infirmary is under the responsibility of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; Oblates and Jesuits, therefore, share the facilities but also part of their community life.
On Saturday, May 26, Fr. Sosa visited Jesuit works in Quebec City and participated in the diac-onal ordination of a young Haitian Jesuit, Johnny Masséba.
He returned to Montreal to participate in a key moment of his stay in Canada, the Eucharistic celebration of thanksgiving to mark some 400 years of Jesuit presence on Canadian soil. This Mass took place at the Church of the Gesù, in downtown Montreal, where, in 1842, Jesuits resumed their service in Canada, at the invitation of the Bishop of Montreal, after the Restoration of the Society of Jesus.
The importance of this celebration, however, was not primarily nostalgic. On the contrary, Father General's presence was an opportunity to make the public announcement of the creation of a new Jesuit Province that would bring together what had hitherto constituted the two Provinces of English and French Canada. The decree from Father General was read, in the two official languages of the new Province, at the heart of the celebration, after the homily of the Superior General. During the homily, Father Sosa took the opportunity to clearly express his vision and hopes for the Society of Jesus in the future, here in Canada but also throughout the world.
In making the link with the liturgical feast of the Most Holy Trinity, Father General recalled how Saint Ignatius, in the Spiritual Exercises, had imagined the loving and fertile dialogue between the Father, the Son and the Spirit who contemplated the world with its joys and sorrows. He stressed that God's plan that followed was realized with Mary in conditions of humility and poverty. And Father Sosa to affirm that we had the responsibility to continue this mission, God's mission.
"What are we going to do?" he asked. "To serve the mission of the Church which is to serve Christ as companions in a mission of reconciliation and justice". In Canada, in his opinion, this means approaching young people with the joy of the Gospel, welcoming strangers, creating new relationships with Aboriginal peoples, and taking care of this beautiful country.
"How are we going to do it?" he continued. By participating, as collaborators, in networks and partnerships with many people, Christians and other people of good will. This will have to be done both by discerning and by concretely planning our actions. He added, "Discernment and planning cannot be separated. By planning without discerning, we are administrators. By discerning without planning, we are dreamers.
Father Sosa drew attention to another point: the first Jesuits were both educated and poor. The Jesuits of Canada must be "learned" to serve effectively; in this sense, every Jesuit apostolate must have an intellectual apostolate dimension. But what a blessing it would be if the Society of Jesus could honestly say that its "learned Jesuits" or "intellectuals" had been taught by the poor!
Father General expressed one last wish at the end of his homily: that the new Jesuit Province of Canada live under the sign of audacity. It would be "the audacity of those who believe that the divine Word has come into this world, that he has taken flesh in Mary, that he has passed through death and has risen to lead us all to the fullness of life".
After a moment of fraternity with those who had come to the Church of the Gesù to participate in this festive moment, Father Arturo Sosa and his Assistants headed to the airport to go to Regina, Saskatchewan.
Quebec - Haiti: a Jesuit Connection (A visit under the signs of rootedness and openness to the world)
It was in Quebec City that the French Jesuits of the 17th century established the "base camp" for their mission of evangelization in North America. It was in the footsteps of these pioneers that Father Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuits, had a very busy day in the same city of Quebec on Saturday, May 26.
The main reason for his visit to the historic city was the ordination to the diaconate of a Jesuit, Johnny Masséba. Johnny is Haitian; he studied theology at Laval University in Quebec City. His ordination was presided over by His Eminence Gérald Cardinal Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec. He was therefore the successor of Saint François de Laval, the first bishop of New France. Like his venerated predecessor, Cardinal Lacroix is close to the Jesuits and shows great interest in their presence in his diocese.
During his homily, on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, Cardinal Lacroix insisted on the fact that the Trinity is "open", welcoming, and that it invites us to open ourselves. Talking directly to Johnny, with whom he had had a very rich preparatory meeting, he encouraged him to be a missionary of hope, to always let himself be led by the Holy Spirit and, quoting Pope Francis, to choose God without respite, without ever being discouraged because the strength of the Holy Spirit will always be there to support him.
At the beginning of the celebration, Father General gave a short talk. He stated that the strength of the spiritual roots of the founders of the Canadian Church continues to animate today's apostolic impulses in a changing world. He stressed that Jesuits all over the world wanted to participate in a project of an evangelization adapted and acculturated to our time. In closer connection with the celebration of the diaconal ordination, Father Sosa pointed out that Johnny Masséba's testimony was one of commitment to service. This testimony can help young and old alike to find meaning in their lives and a path for wholeness growth, in a world that seeks orientations and references. Father General affirmed that the path of the diaconate for a young Jesuit leads him to participate in the fabulous project of Ignatian spirituality, a project that always invites to love and to serve. Finally, Father Sosa pointed out how significant the ordination of a Haitian Jesuit in Quebec was. It is an example, among many others, of the universal character of the Society of Jesus of our time, which seeks, wherever it is called, to be at the service of faith based on the promotion of justice.
It should be noted that Johnny Masséba, like all Haitian Jesuits, is part of the Jesuit Province of French Canada. There are historical reasons for this: Canadian Jesuits were those who, in the last century and until their expulsion by Dictator François Duvalier, helped the Haitian Church train a local clergy. After their return to Haiti from 1986, many Jesuit vocations arose. Today, some fifty Haitian Jesuits have more and more autonomy in their apostolic commitments.
Father General's day in Quebec City included other activities, beginning with an early morning lunch with Cardinal Lacroix. He then spent some time at the Centre de spiritualité Manrèse, a major Jesuit work in French Canada, a training school for Ignatian spiritual guides. He answered several questions from the Manrèse team, some on his personal experiences and others about the place of Ignatian spirituality for the Society of Jesus today.
He then stopped, at noon, at Maison Dauphine pour les jeunes, a work associated with the Society of Jesus founded Fr. Michel Boisvert, who died prematurely. The organization provides services to youth in difficulty, including a street school that offers an educational track adapted to youth who have not been able to follow a regular school curriculum. A way for the Society of Jesus, in Québec, to intervene "at the borders", in the heart of the world, with the wounded.
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