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The educational work of the Society of Jesus should be characterized by an Intellectual Apostolate – Fr Sosa
The Superior General of the Jesuits, during his meeting with representatives of the educational works of the Bolivian Province, exhorted that Ignatian pedagogy be understood as a commitment to deepen knowledge in order to be able to influence the transformation of reality and to be effective in the service of others.
Indigenous peoples denounce State abuses and ask the Jesuit General to communicate to the Pope
San Ignacio de Moxos, 16 July 2018 (ANF). - After learning of the concerns and problems faced by the indigenous people of the region of Beni, Father General of the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa SJ, promised on Monday to do his utmost so that the indigenous peoples of the world, especially those of the Amazon region, can make their voices heard at the next Pan-Amazonian Synod convened by Pope Francis in October 2019.
Source: Fides News Agency
Learn how to discern the signs of the Lord in order to collaborate in the reconciliation of the world – Fr. Sosa
Father General Arturo Sosa has urged Jesuits and collaborators to be attentive to the signs of the Lord's actions in order to collaborate in the process of reconciliation of men with one another, with humanity, with creation and with God himself. Father General made the remarks during the Eucharist celebrated in the city of Cochabamba
Fr Arturo Sosa, SJ to young Ignatians: “Choosing is an exercise in freedom.”
Sixty-five young people of Ignatian charism from the Jesuit province of Bolivia had a meeting this Sunday with the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa.
Father General asks the media to report with love
Santa Cruz 14 July 2018 - Father General of the Jesuits, Arturo Sosa, in his meeting with social communicators and journalists of the Society of Jesus this Saturday asked them to "report with love" and to always highlight the positive news, which builds, supports and serves as an example.
We cannot stay out of the great dialogues of our time – Father General Arturo Sosa
On July 14, Father General Arturo Sosa had a meeting with journalists and communicators working in the media of the Society of Jesus, as well as other guests representing the Catholic media of the Church in Bolivia.
The Jesuits in Bolivia, presence and integral apostolic work
In the Bolivian Province of the Society of Jesus, 70 Jesuits present in the departments of La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Beni Chuquisaca and Oruro, carry out more than fifty social, educational, parish, communication, spiritual and other works.
Father General Arturo Sosa visits the Province of Bolivia
Father Arturo Sosa SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus will arrive in Bolivia from July 14-19 where he will participate in various meetings in Santa Cruz, San Ignacio de Mojos, Cochabamba and La Paz.
Visit of Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to Bolivia
Dear Companions and Collaborators in God's Mission:
Receive fraternal greetings and the hope that the joy and strength of the Spirit will fill your daily tasks with both service and family.
Fr. Osvaldo Chirveches, SJ
The Jesuit university should be a source of reconciled life – Fr Arturo Sosa
The universities of the Society of Jesus should be "deeply committed to the processes of reconciliation," says Father General Arturo Sosa. Father General Arturo Sosa said this while addressing the International Association of Jesuit Universities in the Basilica of St Ignatius at Loyola, Spain.
A foundational moment in a foundational place – Loyola, Spain
Father General Arturo Sosa officially signed the charter establishing the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) on 11 July 2018, at Loyola, Spain. The charter was also signed by the Secretary for Higher Education, Fr Michael Garanzini, and representatives from each of the six Jesuit conferences.
Inauguration of International Association of Jesuit Universities - Bilbao
The International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) was officially inaugurated at Deusto University (Bilbao). The inauguration ceremony was attended by the King of Spain, Felipe VI; the president of the Basque Government, Iñigo Urkullu; and Father General Arturo Sosa SJ. Also present are 300 delegates from Jesuit universities around the world who are currently attending a conference in Bilbao, under the theme "Transforming Our World Together."
The International Jungmann Society meets in Nairobi
The International Jungmann Society for Jesuits and Liturgy held its biannual congress at the Jesuit Mwangaza Spiritual Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, from 25 to 30 June 2018. The congress addressed the link between liturgy and popular devotions. While the liturgy of the Latin Catholic Church is particularly expressed in the celebration of the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the Eucharist, popular devotions are numerous, complex and marked by cultural and geographical diversity. Historical and religious reasons may explain their birth. How can they enrich the liturgy of the Church? What are the opportunities and risks? From Sacrosanctum Concilium (Vatican II) to Evangelii Gaudium (Pope Francis), theologians have approached this issue from different perspectives. For some, devotions speak to the heart of the person, while the liturgy speaks more to the intellect. For others, we should seek to harmonize popular practices with the liturgy of the Church, without forgetting what is stipulated in the last order of Canon Law, namely the salvation of souls, as the supreme law to be observed in any attempt to regulate the life of the Church (Can. 1752).
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.
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.
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.
Fr General Celebrates Pentecost at the Martyrs' Shrine in Canada
Jesuit Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, capped off the second day of his trip to Canada with a visit to Martyrs' Shrine in Midland, Ontario, which was constructed in 1926 in honor of six Jesuit and two lay martyrs from the 17th-century missions along the Wye River.
“Companions with Others in a Mission of Reconciliation and Justice"
Meeting with Jesuits in Formation is First Stop of Fr. Arturo Sosa's 12-Day Canadian Visit
(Toronto, Saturday, May 19, 2018) -- On day one of his first official visit to Canada since being elected Superior General of the Jesuits in late 2016, Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J., started his agenda-packed day at Regis College in Toronto doing something he loves: meeting Jesuits in formation. The 40 men, called Jesuit scholastics, are preparing for the priesthood, a process that can take anywhere from 8-12 years.
“Ask that the Society may be able to discern” – Fr Arturo Sosa
Father General, Arturo Sosa, visited the Jesuit community of Alcalá de Henares this Monday, May 14, accompanied by the Provincial, Antonio España, the Regional Assistant for Southern Europe, Joaquín Barrero, and the Delegate for the Third Age, Cipriano Díaz. Fr Sosa arrived at Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, where the community is located, after meeting with the Bishop of the Diocese of Alcalá de Henares, Juan Antonio Reig Pla.
On his arrival, Father General was received by Rafael Mateos, superior of the community. Together they went to the infirmary, where they greeted the Jesuits of this community individually. At noon, Fr. Sosa presided at the Eucharist on the feast of St. Matthias. In his homily, he urged us to follow the example of the Apostle by accepting "the Lord's call with gratitude". He also recalled the treatment of Jesuits as "friends in the Lord to the extent that we are friends of the Lord. Without him we can do nothing." Fr Sosa also expressed his gratitude by emphasizing that "friendship is giving one's life, and in this community there are many lives given to the Lord."
Father General Arturo Sosa highlighted the figure of Pedro Arrupe as an example of someone who gave his life to the Lord and asked those present to "put Arrupe in their prayers and ask for his beatification". He also asked for prayer for the Society: "In any discernment, it is necessary to make clear how one has to make the decision. Therefore, pray to help us so that the Society may be able to discern."
After Mass, Father General went to the Historical Archives of the Province of Spain on a visit led by Brother Wenceslao Soto, director of the Archives, together with the Jesuits Amancio Arnáiz and Juan Andrés Llauger who work there. Among others, Br Soto introduced Father Sosa to some of the most valuable documents in the archive, such as a facsimile edition of Elizabeth the Catholic's will, a late 14th century scroll or a royal provision of Juana ‘la Loca'. Fr Sosa was particularly interested in a document signed in Caracas in 1729 and several letters from the Jesuit Cristóbal Ferreira, whose life was narrated in the film Silence.
Father General shared lunch with the community, thus ending his visit to the Province of Spain which began on Friday with the meeting of the superiors of the Jesuit communities. In this trip, Fr Sosa has had meetings with lay people and Jesuits from the PAL of Madrid, members of the executive teams of the Education Sector and has visited Villagarcía and Valladolid to finish in Alcalá de Henares. He will soon return to Spain for the international meeting of Jesuit universities, which will take place from July 8 to 12 in Bilbao and Loyola; he will also visit Catalonia from September 21 to 27 for the meetings of Jesuits from Europe.
"We collaborate" rather than "they collaborate" – Fr. Arturo Sosa
Father General's visit to the PAL of Valladolid, Villagarcía y León began in the infirmary of Villagarcía de Campos on Ascension Sunday. Accompanied by the Provincial of Spain, Antonio España, the Regional Assistant of Southern Europe, Joaquín Barrero, the Delegate for the Elderly, Cipriano Díaz, and the Delegate of the PAL, Gerardo Villar, he toured the house, greeting the residents and the staff who take care of the elderly. A meeting of friendship, between colleagues, that at 12h. was extended to more Jesuits, more than a hundred, already in the recently restored Capilla del Cristo (Chapel of Christ). He presented himself as the Jesuit admired and grateful to know Villagarcía. "A complete myth", he said, because of all the news of the novitiate and of his practices known through the Spanish Jesuits who arrived in Venezuela, his native country. He commented that when he joined the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits had only been in Venezuela for 50 years and 40 percent of his companions were Spanish. However, they achieved a good transition thanks to their inculturation from which they transmitted their passion for Jesus.
The core of Arturo Sosa's talk came from the 36th General Congregation, where he was elected to succeed Fr Adolfo Nicolás in 2016 and whose decrees mark the future of the Jesuit vocation towards "reconciliation". With all that complexity of a wounded, moving and unequal world, healing only exists if there is justice, mercy and forgiveness. For Sosa, the sense of reconciliation has been present in the core of the Society since previous congregations, although it has been expressed from other dimensions such as faith and justice, dialogue between cultures and religions. The challenge now is that this future is built in partnership with others. "GC36 paid more attention to the way we do things than to what we do," he explained, and among the ways we do things, he pointed out the first: discernment, a first way that goes hand in hand with apostolic planning "to make things better, more and better" and work with others. "The mission of the Society of Jesus is not of the Society, it is of the Church, because since we were born, we were born to serve the Church. He invited the Jesuits to change "the mentality" and think more of "we collaborate" than "they collaborate". And he added: "to share mission even with those of us who do not share the faith but share the mission".
Arturo Sosa also reviewed the three mandates of GC36 to the Jesuits: the in-depth review of apostolic preferences with the greater participation of the Jesuits. The work will last 10 years, and the time will be devoted to planning how they will be carried out. The second mandate is to review the poverty statute and the rules for the administration of temporary goods. "It puts us in an important spiritual situation because it puts us in front of one of the thorniest issues like poverty." He recalled how the first Jesuits lived the poverty from which the Society of Jesus was born and the vow of the Jesuits. "The image we give is not that we live poorly. Objectively, in most cases, as a body, our image is too far from living in poverty," he acknowledged. For Fr Sosa, the important thing in the future is to recognize the way to be closer to Jesus who became incarnate in humanity "poor among the poor". Finally, the third mandate is the promotion of a culture of safeguarding children and vulnerable persons. An ambitious mandate because the contribution would be that of social transformation through justice and reconciliation. "A complex job that won't last 10 years but generations."
"En Todo Amar y Servir Foundation" in the Province of Chile
Why not invest one peso to get four?
From May 1 to 5, the Province of Chile, through the En Todo Amar y Servir Foundation, offered a workshop to the provinces of the CPAL interested in improving their levels of fundraising through donations. The offices in Mexico, Paraguay and Venezuela participated. The workshop was held at the spirituality centre in the municipality of Padre Hurtado, in the metropolitan area of Santiago.
Background of this workshop
What is the Membership Plan?
A successful proposal in a difficult context. Conditions for good results.
A look ahead
Spain: 700 young people at MAG+S Easter meetings
The pastoral Ministry of the Province of Spain held 10 Easter meetings for 700 young people. The meetings were in many places and formats, but with the same spirit: contemplate and share, to accompany and serve Jesus and others. For a young person who wants to follow Jesus in a demanding and hurried world, living Easter authentically is a unique and central occasion in his journey of faith. Easter has moments of prayer and personal accompaniment, time to share in groups and celebrations with the liturgy of the paschal triduum.
Belgium: Communication is in our DNA
Thirty-four Jesuits and collaborators from nineteen countries around Europe and further afield held their annual communication meeting in Brussels last week. The JesWeb group was started in 2005 by a group of Jesuits and co-workers responsible for maintaining province websites. The meeting was launched with a personal video message of encouragement from Father General Arturo Sosa SJ, who reminded delegates that "for Saint Ignatius communications was almost an obsession. It is in our DNA.... Our mission is to ‘go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News'". Read more...
CPAL creates platform for participation in Youth Synod 2018
The Youth and Vocation Ministry Network of the Conference of Jesuit Provincials of Latin America (CPAL) is developing a web-based platform that will provide an avenue for young people to actively follow the activities of the Synod on the Youth in Rome, in October 2018. The platform, available at https://escuchando.lat/, will be a listening post for young people of Latin America and the Caribbean during this time of preparation and a place for participation during the Synod itself. Read more (in Spanish)...
New statutes for the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network
With the encouragement of Father Adolfo Nicolás, the process of recreating the Apostleship of Prayer proceeded for several years. On April 18, 2018, Bishop Angelo Becciu, Substitute for General Affairs to the Vatican Secretary of State, informed Father General Arturo Sosa that on March 27, 2018, the Holy Father established the Pope's World Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer) as a pontifical work, with its headquarters in the Vatican City State, and approved its new statutes. The various Provinces and Regions of the Society of Jesus will continue to support the "Pope's World Network of Prayer" so that the Gospel may grow in the lives of the men and women of our time.
Kenya: Linking Africa and Europe in Nairobi
On the occasion of the plenary meeting of the JESAM (April 26-28) - the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar - in Nairobi, Fr. Franck Janin (President JCEP) - the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials - and Fr. Johan Verschueren (ELC) participated on April 24 at the "Commissio mixta", the six monthly joint meeting of representatives of both Jesuit Conferences. Previous meeting was last October in Ludwigshafen (GER). Actually the "commissio mixta" is composed by the presidents of the Conferences, accompanied by one member of the Conferences.
Fr Sosa visits restored Chapel of "Silk Weavers" in Venice (Italy)
On Wednesday, 11 April 2018, Father General Arturo Sosa visited Venice to participate in the inauguration of the restored Chapel of Silk Weavers (Cappella dei Tessitori di seta) in the Church of the Assumption. The restoration of the chapel was completed with the help of the Swiss Foundation Pro-Venice. Father General was accompanied by Father Joachin Barrero, Regional Assistant for Southern Europe Assistancy, as well as Father Gianfranco Matarazzo, provincial of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus. Civic authorities of the City of Venice also participated in the ceremony.
Although the Society no longer has a community in Venice, Father General noted that the city "remains a great light for the Jesuits and their history, which was lit when the first ten companions, most of whom had completed their studies at the Sorbonne in Parish, gathered there in 1537 with the intention of embarking for the Holy Land and beginning a full apostolic life."
The Venetian stay of the first companions was a time of discernment, of searching for the will of the Lord, so that they could make a decision about their future. Even today, the Venetian period remains for the Jesuits a heritage of lived history, an essential memory. General Congregation 36 recalled the importance of the Venetian period of the Society by saying of the first companions, that "As they discerned new direction for their lives, they held fast to what they had already found to be life-giving: sharing their lives together as friends in the Lord; living very close to the lives of the poor; and preaching the Gospel with joy." (GC 36, D.1 n4).
Inauguration of the Jubilee Year of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
Father General Arturo Sosa inaugurated the Jubilee Year of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga at the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome, on 9 March. About 100 priests concelebrated with Father General, and a large congregation participated in the Mass. The Aloysian Jubilee Year will run from 9 March 2018 to 9 March 2019.
Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591) gave up a privileged life and a princely inheritance to live the vows of religious life even to the point of contracting the plague because of his selfless care for people already sick with it. He was the eldest son of the Marquis of Castiglione, and heir to the family title. The Gonzagas were known as patrons of Renaissance artists, and they ruled what amounted to a kingdom.
Below is Father General's homily at the inauguration of the Aloysian Jubilee Year.
Fr Arturo Sosa, S.I.
The youthfulness of Saint Louis Gonzaga is not only a matter of age. It is youth that comes from freedom, the freedom to discern to make decisions in harmony with God's plan, and the willingness to lead a life consistent with the choice made. For this reason, we welcome the happy coincidence of the dates of the Aloysian Jubilee Year, the death of Stanislao Kostka, the Synod on youth, faith and vocational discernment, and the World Youth Day.
The freedom that makes us young people is the result of the liberation that humanity receives from the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus. Jesus, the Son, who became one of us, opens the way to liberation, the fruit of love that gives life, because we all have life in abundance. The encounter of every human being with Jesus frees him from everything that prevents him from following the path of the gift of love. The encounter with Jesus changes our way of seeing, what our narrow gaze has imposed upon us.
Liberation in Christ invites us to take the paths we have never imagined before. Roads that we do not know where they will lead us; but it is not necessary to know because this acquired freedom derives from faith, it derives from trust placed only in God, who will guide us with his Holy Spirit. Freedom consists in maintaining our entire trust in God alone, and in letting ourselves be guided towards Him along the paths that he wants to reveal to us at the time.
From the moment he was liberated in Christ, Saint Paul can affirm: I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Phil. 3:8-9)
To make oneself young, leaving infancy behind, means to go out of oneself, to accept that the centre of real life lies outside of us, in the love that we have received. The experience of being loved is the source of the liberation process, with which it is possible to make fundamental decisions. To make an election, in the language of Ignatian spirituality. Young people dream of a different life, better than the one they know around them. Inner freedom awakens the desire to contribute to making this better life real, and leads to the need to choose a way to do so.
Youthfulness is also the ability to discern in such a way as to find, in one's inner movements and in the experiences of one's own history, how the Lord continues to act in the world and confirms the call to follow him. The call to help reconcile human beings with one another, and to take care of our common home, this universe in which we live with such neglect, and also with Him, our creator.
Discernment demands that we live free from the rules that impose offerings and sacrifices on us in the name of God. That we follow love as the only way of true life and the only commandment, as the scribe who asks Jesus to understand well: "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." (Mk 12:32-33). This is what Ignatius calls indifference to any social, family or other kind of pressure that limits the willingness to set out on the road, having as sole guide the Holy Spirit.
Freeing oneself is a process of conversion, through which the experience of the Father's merciful love allows the forgiven sinner to prepare oneself to love one's neighbour as oneself, to listen to the Son's call to offer oneself, to contribute to the proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel. Freedom, experienced as indifference, brings us closer to others, to those who are different, to those who are most in need... to all those who are discarded by a sin that has become a social structure of exclusion. By approaching them as fruit of having experienced the closeness of the Lord, we make ourselves close and ready to be sent, so that we may in all things love and serve.
Young people also have enthusiasm and a strong desire to dedicate themselves totally to accomplishing what has been chosen. For the young man, the liberating experience of mercy, which frees him, is not enough. The conversion that leads him to choose to follow Christ and be sent is not enough. The young man puts all his energy into making real what he has dreamed, desired and decided to do. The young man, as the verse of the Psalm says, which composes the antiphon of today's Eucharist, is the one who has innocent hands and pure heart: he will ascend to the mountain of the Lord, and will remain in his holy place. Innocent hands and pure hearts are the fruit of conversion, which leads to freedom and the desire to love and serve in everything. It is to set out on the road and climb to the mountain of the Lord, collaborating with his mission of reconciliation in this world.
The Eucharist that we celebrate to start this Jubilee Year of St. Aloysius Gonzaga is a good opportunity to ask the Lord for the grace of this youth, with which our heart remains in tune with His plan for the liberation of humanity, and we give ourselves totally to make it possible.
Translated from Italian
Relate mission of CVX-CLC to key elements of Vatican II – Fr Sosa
Father General Arturo Sosa has urged members of Christian Life Community (CLC) define the mission of the movement in relation to the key elements of the Second Vatican Council. He said this when he met with members of the World Executive Council of Christian Life Community at the Jesuit General Curia in Rome on 4 March 2018. Father Sosa noted that the Second Vatican Council took seriously the mission of the laity in the Church.
Father General also reminded the CLC members of the importance of involving the youth in the mission of the movement. Youths will ensure continuity of the mission of community in different parts of the world. He said the members of CLC were apostles within the Church, sent out on mission. As such, their mission should also include reaching the youth, who in recent years are being recognised as a very important group within the Christian family.
Members of the World Executive Council of Christian Life Community were in Rome to attend a weeklong meeting, which was also a preparatory meeting for the CLC World Assembly that will take place in July 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Father General visits the South Asia Conference
Father General is visiting the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (16 February - 3 March). He will attend the meeting of South Asia provincials in Sri Lanka; visit the Jesuits and works of the Society in the Jesuit Province of Sri Lanka, and then later travel to India to visit the Jesuits and works of the Society in Karnataka Province. He is accompanied on the trip by Fr Victor Assouad, the Assistant for Western Europe, as well as the two Assistants for South Asia, Frs Lisbert D'Souza and Vernon D'Cunha.
The Lord calls us to a fundamental conversion – Fr Benoit Malvaux, SJ
The General Curia community began the Lenten journey with Mass presided by Fr Benoit Malvaux, the Society's General Procurator. In his homily, Fr Malvaux invited the community to reflect on the three invitations of Jesus in the Gospel: Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting. Fr Malvaux noted that these invitations correspond to three important axes in our lives: "Almsgiving refers to our attitude towards others, prayer to our attitude to God and fasting to our attitude towards ourselves and material goods. Considered in this way, the Gospel invites us to ask ourselves about the way we live these important dimensions of our lives."
Below is Fr Benoit Malvaux' homily in full:
Ash Wednesday Homily
The readings we have just heard are well known to you. We hear them every year during the Ash Wednesday Mass. The disadvantage of such a situation, especially if we have been participating in this Mass regularly for years or decades, is that these readings tell us nothing more. We already know that the Gospel offers us to pray, fast and give alms in secret. It is familiar music, a routine. And so we do not allow ourselves to be challenged any more.
I think it would be a real pity to reason this way. In fact, the Word of God has such a wealth that it is always possible to allow oneself to be challenged by it, to find a new teaching. It is in this perspective that I would like to say a word on today's readings. I will not pretend to say anything new here, but at least suggest some trajectories that may perhaps provoke new answers in us.
Obviously, today's three readings invite us to a conversion: to return to the Lord with all our heart, as the first reading says; or to let ourselves be reconciled with God, as the second proposes to us. Indeed, the time of Lent, which is a time of preparation to celebrate the mystery of the Resurrection and therefore of the presence of the Risen Jesus in our lives, can be an excellent opportunity to take stock of our life, to ask ourselves: how could I live more in conformity with the message of Jesus?
In the Gospel, Jesus proposes three interesting paths. I think it is important that we do not consider them too narrowly. In fact, we could understand this Gospel literally. Is Jesus talking to us about almsgiving? This is the money we can give to people who ask for alms, and we know that there are many of them in Rome. Telling us about prayer? It is about Our Father, the Hail Mary and other formulas that we use when we want to speak to God. Telling us about fasting? It is the fact of refraining from certain foods, such as meat, or even skipping a meal, if we have the strength. If we reflect on the possibility of conversion with this literal understanding of the Gospel, we can decide for example to give more coins during Lent to the beggar at the door of the church, to recite an extra decade of the rosary in the evening and not to eat chocolate on Fridays.
This kind of resolution is certainly not contrary to the Gospel, but the risk would then be to think that it is enough to make small formal changes to convert. Well, I think the Lord calls us here to a more fundamental conversion.
Considering today's Gospel in this perspective, I was struck by the fact that the three attitudes that Jesus proposes correspond to three great axes of our lives. Almsgiving refers to our attitude towards others, prayer to our attitude to God and fasting to our attitude towards ourselves and material goods. Considered in this way, the Gospel invites us to ask ourselves about the way we live these important dimensions of our lives.
For example, reflecting on almsgiving, we might ask ourselves: what place do my relatives, friends, colleagues and confreres occupy in my life? Do I really dedicate myself to their time, attention, listening? Or am I so worried about myself that I listen to them with a distracted ear, without worrying about what they are experiencing?
Reflecting on prayer, we might ask ourselves: what place do I give to God in my life? Do I really involve Him in what I live, asking for the help of his Spirit before making an important decision, thanking him for what happens beautifully in my life, offering him even the most difficult moments? Or do I consecrate to Him a few minutes a day with a formal prayer and I live all the rest of the time as if God wasn't there?
Reflecting on fasting, we might ask ourselves: what place do material goods occupy in my life? Are they means to help me live, love God and our brothers and sisters? Or have they taken on such an importance in my life that I have become a slave to them, do I suffer from addiction of excessive dependence on them, and this prevents me from fully living the love to which God calls me?
As I said at the beginning, these are some paths that I propose to you at the beginning of this Lent. Everyone is, of course, free to do what he thinks is good for him, to prepare for Easter, but if we have the opportunity to take at least a moment to reflect on one or the other of these fundamental questions, and to see how to grow in this regard, I think we will have make good use of the opportunity for conversion that the time of Lent offers us.
The Society across the world is facing key choices – Fr Arturo Sosa
Twenty-eight Jesuits and collaborators from the six conferences are currently at the General Curia in Rome to attend a workshop on Apostolic Discernment in Common. The workshop, which is organised by the office of the General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning, Fr John Dardis, runs from 6 - 9 February.
Opening the workshop, Father General noted that the Society is a multicultural apostolic body journeying in fulfilment of her mission in the Church. "We want to walk together, religious and lay people, to incarnate the Church-people-of-God (Vatican II). The Society across the world is facing key choices. There are many calls. And yet, we Jesuits and our mission partners cannot keep reaching out to an indefinite number of needs. We have to make choices. That is why discernment in common is urgently needed."
Father General has therefore called on the workshop to "come up with key principles, tools and methodologies for discernment in common." He acknowledged that it is an enormous task, nevertheless, reminded the participants "if we have that common base, that common foundation, we can move forward."
I find myself in the hands of God - Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)
Pedro Arrupe, SJ, was the 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, leading the Society in the realities of serving the Church and people in the post-Vatican II world. Arrupe was a man of great spiritual depth who was committed to justice.Read more...
Haiti: International Jesuit solidarity in action
A fruit of the 36th General Congregation
As the 36th General Congregation of Jesuits opened its doors in Rome at the beginning of October 2016, one of the worst hurricanes in recent decades hit much of Haiti. Hundreds of deaths, thousands of homeless, hectares and hectares of crops lost.
The members of the Congregation, through prayer, joined the stricken populations and their Jesuit confreres working in Haiti. Prayer, as so many times, has led to action. While the Congregation’s attention was focused in the days following the hurricane on the election of a new Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa, once in office the new superior remembered Haiti.
After consulting with his advisors and Fr. Jean-Marc Biron, provincial superior of French Canada and Haiti, he chose, among the first concrete gestures that would mark his generalate, to launch an appeal, before all the delegates, for Haiti. More specifically, after being informed of proposals made by the Haitian Jesuits who had visited the affected areas, he proposed that the universal Society participate in a project to build simple but solid houses for a number of the poorest families who had lost their homes.
A generous response
And the call was heard: from all over the world Jesuit Provinces, including those with very limited resources, made their contributions. Approximately one million dollars (USD) was raised and the proposal of the Haitian Jesuits was clarified: 75 houses would be built in severely affected communities. Every family would be involved in the construction process. It was a project involving the whole community of the beneficiary villages: the mayor and the parish priest participated actively. It all started in May 2017 under the supervision of a construction engineer from the Jesuit Development Bureau of Haiti, represented by Jean Thomas Dabady, SJ, and with the administrative assistance of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.
Results: what is done, what remains to be done
The keys of the first 15 houses were given to the beneficiary families in November 2017 in the municipality of Roseaux. The ceremony was held in the presence of Bishop Gontrand Décoste, SJ. Since December, 30 more houses are under construction, partly in Roseaux and partly in Desormeaux. Then it will be the last phase, in the Port-Salut region, in Cécé and Bergerac. In Haiti, construction materials are not always available, roads to transport them to the affected areas are deteriorated, and few skilled workers are available.
But the concrete participation of the Jesuits, in a context of international solidarity, is a strong sign of the involvement of the Society of Jesus, which is close to the poorest. It should be added that in addition to building housing, the project includes an important component of psychosocial support, prevention in the area of health, healing and support of people traumatised by the passage of Hurricane Matthew. All this illustrates a Jesuit “way of proceeding” that manifests a committed faith, a faith that builds community, a faith that promotes justice.
Protecting the Least Among Us: A statement of USA Jesuits on Abortion
January 22 will mark 45 years since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision made abortion legal in the United States, and today the Society of Jesus in the U.S. is asking Jesuits and their collaborators to continue to stand in solidarity with the unborn and with mothers in difficult situations.
"Protecting the Least Among Us: A Statement of the Society of Jesus in the United States on Abortion" reiterates the Jesuits' support for the unborn, calling abortion "part of the massive injustices in our society."
"A spirit of callous disregard for life shows itself in direct assaults on human life such as abortion and capital punishment. ... We also seek justice in ensuring that pregnant women and mothers have the resources they need to care for their children and live full lives."
Father Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S., says, "From the beginning, St. Ignatius founded the Jesuits for the promotion of the faith and the progress of souls in the teachings of Christ. As Jesuits, we continue this mission, to accompany the child in the womb and the community into which each one of us has been born."
The statement comes one day before members of the Ignatian family, including many students at Jesuit high schools and colleges, will gather in Washington, D.C., for the annual Jesuit Mass for Life. Noting that the work to end abortion requires not just a change in policy, but a change in culture, it says, "We see great hope in the large number of individuals, especially young Americans, who are active in pro-life efforts."
In addition to calling for Jesuits to stand in solidarity with the unborn - the "least of our brothers and sisters" (Matthew 25:40) - through prayer and political activism, the statement asks Jesuits to deepen their accompaniment with women who have had an abortion.
Jesuits and their colleagues must "find ever new and creative ways to bring the protection of the unborn and solidarity with mothers in difficult situations into whatever mission they serve."
To read the full statement, available in English and Spanish, click here.
Jesuits issue open letter denouncing ‘grave threats’ against Honduran priest
The conference of Jesuit provincials in Latin America and the Caribbean have released an open letter to the international community defending Jesuit Father Ismael Moreno, commonly known as "Padre Melo," against "grave threats," saying they hold Honduran president "Juan Orlando Hernández and his allies responsible for the safety and physical and moral well-being" of Father Moreno and eight other regional leaders.
Solemnity of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (January 3)
Titular Feast of the Society of Jesus
The foundational experience which led Ignatius and his companions to call themselves "Company (Society) of Jesus" is traced back to the vision at La Storta.
Father General presides at Final Vows
On 8 December 2017, Father General Arturo Sosa presided the Mass of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady at the Church of the Gesù in Rome.
During the Mass, Father General received the final vows in the Society of Father Stefano Del Bove of the Euro-Mediterranean Province (EUM), and Father Paul Rolphy Pinto of Gujarat Province (GUJ).
The General Curia is 90 years old
On 8 December 2017, the Jesuit General Curia marked 90 years of presence at the current location on Borgo Santo Spirito 4, close to the Vatican. Here is an entry from the annals of the house for 8 December 1927:
On December 8, Father General (Wlodimir Ledochowski) wished to bless the new Curia under the auspices of the Immaculate Virgin, according to the formula of the Roman Ritual "pro nova domo benedicenda". The ceremony took place this way:
Starting from the lower floors, Father General gradually ascended to the higher floors. All the Fathers and Brothers of each floor, after having received the blessing, also went up following Father General upstairs.
On reaching the top floor, in front of the image of the Sacred Heart, placed at the head of the staircase, the consecration of the whole religious family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was solemnly renewed.
Peter-Hans Kolvenbach Library
Father General Arturo Sosa has named the library of the Society at the General Curia in Rome, the "Peter-Hans Kolvenbach Library". This becomes the first Jesuit institution named after the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Father Kolvenbach (30/11/1928-26/11/2016) was an avid user of the library throughout his stay at the General Curia. The renamed library was inaugurated on 24 November 2017.
The General Curia has a great treasure with regard to the wealth of books it has been collecting, over the years, in two large libraries. The first is the so-called "Father General's Library" composed of books written by the Jesuits around the world on a variety of subjects. Practica Quaedam (handbook of the Society) asks the Socii to be attentive to the publications in the respective Provinces and to send to Father General, two copies of books written by Ours. One of these copies is passed to "Father General's Library", while the second copy is intended for the second library; the "Historical Library" that, formerly, was the Library of the House of Writers. This library contains books written by Jesuits and non-Jesuits, which have to do with any aspect that refers to the Society of Jesus, whether about its members, apostolic works, their history or their spirituality.
From its inception, the Historical Library was under the responsibility of the Director of the Historical Archives. However, in 2015, Father Adolfo Nicolás, then Superior General of the Society, wanted the two libraries to be integrated under the direction of a single Director. From then on, the staff of the two libraries embarked on the project of unifying the two libraries. The process involved various activities. First, the space where Father General's Library was operating from needed to be modernised. Fifty years had passed without good maintenance works being done on the walls, humidity levels, lighting, etc. In response to the governmental requirements for buildings safety, this work was incorporated in the remodelling that was taking place in the entire General Curia. These works were completed by the beginning of October 2017 and by the end of the same month, the books that had been kept for 6 months in a warehouse on the outskirts of Rome were returned to their shelves.
Secondly, a selection of duplicate books, as well as of books that did not match the purpose of the library, was made. These were exhibited and made available during General Congregation 36. A significant number of books that were requested by provincials during GC 36 for their province libraries have since been shipped. This has freed up more space in the library, allowing for a reorganization in the placement of books and magazines that are part of our bibliographic wealth.
Thirdly, the integration of the cataloguing of the books of the two libraries under the CEI-BIB, a system of the Italian Episcopal Conference, has continued with greater intensity, allowing us to network with multiple libraries in Rome and of Italy in general. For this work, we have hired extra staff, thanks to the help obtained from the same CEI and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage of the Italian Government.
Finally, in addition to acquiring modern shelving for the magazine section, a reading room has been created for researchers. Father General Arturo Sosa has enthusiastically accepted and supported the idea of opening the library to the general public.
The Church was born to communicate the good news
Father General Arturo Sosa says, "The church was born to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ." In a video message to Jesuits and collaborators working in communications offices of the Latin American Jesuit provinces, Father Sosa noted that the Society of Jesus, as part of the Church, is called to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ who gave his life to break what divides us. In Christ, "the barrier of hatred that leads to injustice is broken. The barrier, which produces poverty, exploitation, discrimination, which leads us to wars, that's what Jesus breaks from the cross and becomes the bridge that unites us and that communicates to us the true humanity that is based on the love of God. That is what we want to communicate. That reconciliation of Jesus in us and among us." Click to watch video
New Jesuit provincials concelebrate Mass with the Holy Father
Twelve new Jesuit provincials from around the world recently gathered at the General Curia for a colloquium for new provincials. On Monday, November 13, the provincials concelebrated the Eucharist with the Pope Francis at his residence of Santa Marta in the Vatican. In his homily on the day's gospel, the Pope reminded the congregation of the dangers of scandalizing others. "So, be careful not to scandalize. Scandal is evil, because scandal wounds - it wounds God's People where they are most vulnerable, and strikes the People of God where they are weakest - and many times, the wounds inflicted by scandal are borne by the faithful throughout their lives. Not only does it do harm: scandal is capable of murder - of killing hopes, killing dreams, killing families, killing so many hearts."
Francis Xavier relic arm set for Canadian tour
The relic arm of Saint Francis Xavier, which is kept at the Church of the Gesù in Rome, is set for a month-long, 14-city pilgrimage tour of Canada, beginning with Catholic Christian Outreach's (CCO) Rise Up conference in Ottawa December 28-January 1. A Canadian Jesuit, Fr. Michael F. Kolarcik, who is rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, will accompany the relic to Canada after Christmas and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa will accompany it back to Rome in February. Saint Francis Xavier is considered the greatest evangelist in the Church since Saint Paul. His body, considered incorrupt, is at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, India, though his arm was brought to the Church of the Gesù, Jesuit's mother church in Rome. Read more...
International Congress for Jesuit Education Delegates Jesedu-Rio 2017
Indonesian state university honours Jesuit Father Franz Magnis-Suseno, SJ
One of Indonesia's oldest universities has honoured a German-born Jesuit, Father Franz Magnis-Suseno, for his "huge contribution" to the study of philosophy in the country. The state-run Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, presented the priest with the award on Oct. 21 as part of celebrations to mark the philosophy faculty's 50th anniversary.
Our Education mission comes from the Christian faith – Fr Arturo Sosa, SJ
Father General Arturo Sosa says Jesuit schools are a magnificent platform for listening to and serving the youth. Father General said this on 20 October, 2017 in Rio di Janeiro where he addressed the International Congress for Jesuit Education (JESEDU-Rio2017). Addressing the more than 100 Jesuits and collaborators from around the world, Father General reminded them that "Education and schools in particular, are part of the Society's missionary tradition."
Fr Sosa visits medical center and Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro
Father General Arturo Sosa visited the Ambulatório São Luiz Gonzaga, a medical clinic located next to Saint Ignatius College. It is a health care centre that offers a wide variety of free medical examinations to the poor population of the city. The association alumni of Saint Ignatius College runs the outpatient clinic of the centre. Fifty-two medical personnel offer their services to more than 80 thousand people a year at Ambulatório São Luiz Gonzaga.
Father General begins visit to Brazil
Father General Arturo Sosa arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, 16 October for a visit to the Jesuit Province of Brazil, as well as to attend the Jesuit Pre-Secondary and Secondary Education Congress (JESEDU-Rio2017). On Tuesday, October 17, he visited the Colégio Santo Inácio, one of the 17 institutions that make up the Jesuit Education Network (RJE) in Brazil. Colégio Santo Inácio has been in existence for more than 100 years, and has nearly 3,000 alumni in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Jesuit Pre-Secondary and Secondary Education meeting – Rio de Janeiro
More than 100 Jesuits and lay collaborators from Jesuit schools and education networks around the world have gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for a congress on Jesuit education. The meeting will run from Monday, October 16th, to Friday, October 20th. According to a statement from JESEDU-Rio2017, "the participants will be working with the goal of establishing a common agenda as a global network of Jesuit education delegates, in which they will specify the challenges, priorities and responsibilities in order to guide Jesuit networking in secondary and pre-secondary education." Fr. General Arturo Sosa is expected to join the meeting later in the week. Read more...
First anniversary of the election of Father General Arturo Sosa
The election of the new Superior General was preceded by two earlier phases: the "De Statu Societatis" and the "murmuratio". The De Statu Societatis phase looked at the current state of the Society, and based on that outlined the profile of Superior General the Society needed.
Respecting and protecting the dignity of children: a priority for the Jesuits
In our most recent General Congregation 36, held a year ago here in Rome, the General Congregation, the supreme governing body of the Society of Jesus, instructed me, as Superior General "to continue... to promote, within the communities and ministries of the Society, a consistent culture of protection and safety for minors." (Matters Entrusted to Fr. General, GC 36). The text is brief, but it is very significant. It is the expression of the Jesuit commitment to respecting and protecting the dignity of children.
Father General meets Curia team
On 27 September 2017, the anniversary of the founding of the Society of Jesus, Father General Arturo Sosa held a meeting all the Jesuits and lay collaborators working in the Curia. During the meeting, Father General received a copy of the Apostolic Plan of the Curia. The apostolic plan underlines the role of all the members of the General Curia (Jesuits and collaborators), which is to help Father General in his task of leading and inspiring the Society according to the orientations of recent General Congregations. In particular, the Curia Apostolic Plan emphasises that the members of the Curia have the responsibility of helping Father General in facilitating and deepening the conversation with major superiors around cura apostolica and cura personalis.
Vatican Communications Secretariat signs convention with Jesuits
The Vatican's Secretariat for Communications and the Society of Jesus signed a Convention on September 21, 2017.
Looking back at the just concluded Tempo Forte - Fr. George Pattery, SJ
The inscrutable and untranslatable Roman Curial expression - Tempo forte - of Father General's enlarged council, happened again in the mild warm weather of September. It has infused fresh air into us all.
Secretariat for Ecumenism and Interreligious Relations meets
The Secretariat for Ecumenism and Interreligious Relations had its first meeting with Fr General Sosa from 28-31 August at the General Curia in Rome. Seven of Fr General's advisors for relations with other religious traditions took part in the meeting: Milan Žust (Orthodoxy), who also serves as coordinator for the group, Markus Schmidt (Protestantism), Marc Rastoin (Judaism), Gregory Sharkey (Buddhism), Heru Prakosa (Islam), Felipe Aguilar (Indigenous American Religion), and Mpay Kemboly (Indigenous African Religion). The secretariat's work is aided by the Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning, Fr John Dardis.
Coming Together in the Power of the Spirit - Fr. Antonio Moreno, SJ
Statement of the Philippine Province Jesuits on Fighting the Evil of Illegal Drugs (August 24, 2017)
It is with deep concern for the welfare of our nation that the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus joins His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in appealing to the "consciences of those manufacturing and selling illegal drugs to stop this activity" and "to the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives."
We agree that the menace of illegal drugs is real and destructive. The imperative to defeat this evil does not belong to the President alone, the Philippine National Police, and the instrumentalities of human government. It belongs to us all. The evil that attacks the human with the power of the demonic, should unite us, not divide us. Battling this enemy, we learn how ineffectual, how flawed, our weapons are. Instead of turning our weapons on one another, we must unite, coordinate, and allow good to ally with good; we must fight this enemy together. Truly, the menace of drugs is not just a political or criminal issue. It is evil that attacks our humanity, turns human beings into zombies, policemen into murderers, criminals into lords, and the poor into the victims of their own security forces. The heartless killing of Kian de los Santos proves this. We cannot fight evil with guns and bullets alone. This evil we must fight with insight, cooperation, cunning, the enlightened use of political and economic power, self-sacrifice, prayer and God's grace.
It is in this spirit that we welcome the call of Cardinal Tagle and the Archdiocese of Manila to a multi-sectoral dialogue. We need to come together to understand the situation in depth. We need to understand why the soul of the war on drugs is a human soul, and why the enemy of this war is not human rights, but lack of commitment to human rights. We need to understand why we cannot fight for human beings by denying them their rights. In a society where the human has so lightly lost his soul to corruption, hedonism, and disrespect for the human person, we need to understand how the poor are illegal drugs' worst victims, addicted, trafficked, then shot by the guns drug money buys. We need to understand how denying the international drug cartels their markets does not mean killing the poor who are their victims, but reforming the structure which keep the poor poor. We need to understand that building the drug-free, smart, socially-just religiously diverse society envisioned by the Duterte administration needs patient multi-sectoral collaboration of good people collaborating with good people. We cannot build the Philippine nation on the cadavers of the Filipino people.
In this spirit of dialogue, where it is clear that the rule of law and the respect for human rights thwart evil, the recommendations of our Ateneo de Manila Human Rights Center pertinent to extrajudicial killings and Operation Tokhang Reloaded might be seriously considered.
Truly, we must conquer evil with good. Though we wish to be in solidarity with all victims of injustice, we must move beyond expressions of outrage to constructive action. Teach the youth, wealthy or poor, in our families, schools and our communities, about the evil of illegal drugs; engage them so they are helped to overcome bad habits and engage in good. Join groups that are involved in rehabilitation; many of these are diocesan or parish based; many of them are Civil Society Organizations. Capacitate ourselves to get involved. Join groups that partner with government to strengthen our security forces' commitment to rights-based policing. Involve ourselves in research that studies the drug trade in the Philippines. Work together with the Church, government and CSOs to truly defeat the drug menace in the Philippines. Use privileged power and information to win this war.
From: Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC), Summary & Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines, 2017
• To enact a law clearly defining "extrajudicial killings" in line with internationally recognized standards.
• To conduct an impartial investigation and prosecute all cases of extrajudicial or summary killings. This entails proper documentation of each alleged violation, including the preservation of the evidence gathered.
• To ensure the protection of witnesses to alleged enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings and their immediate families.
• To ensure that police officers engaged in anti-drug operations are aware that killing perpetrated by them where suspects resist arrest does not enjoy the presumption of regularity, and as such, they must prove the legality of such killings.
In relation to the implementation of the Double Barrel Project:
• To ensure that it is not contrary to the Philippine Constitution and other relevant domestic and international laws...
• To guarantee the right of every Filipino to access information, official records, public records, and other documents and papers pertaining to official acts.
• To ensure transparency in processes involved in the Collection and Validation of Information Stage where the identity and criminal activities of suspected illegal drug personalities are documented and verified by police officers.
• To ensure the credibility of intelligence information used as basis for the confrontation of subjects in the House-to-House Visitation Stage.
• To ensure access to the effective remedies, such as the writs of amparo, habeas corpus, or habeas data, which protect the rights to life, liberty, and property of the people. This includes according priority to cases that seek the issuance of these writs.
• To revitalize the efforts in increasing knowledge and awareness of human rights among the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.
• To extend an invitation to the special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to conduct a fact-finding mission on the alleged extrajudicial and summary killings.
16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
When we look at our world today, sometimes we can't help asking why God seems to allow evil in the world. When we learn about all so much bad news-wars, violence, poverty, injustice, corruption-we can sometimes get the impression that in the battle between good and evil, evil seems to be winning. Even when we look at our families, our neighborhoods or our work environments, we can sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by seemingly insoluble evils: misunderstandings, divisions, addictions, and so forth.
We are united in our desire to promote peace and reconciliation, says Fr Sosa after first dialogue with Buddhists
Landing in Siem Seap on the second leg of his first trip to Asia Pacific, Fr General Arturo Sosa quickly found himself in completely different setting. From Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country with about 350 Jesuits and many institutions and collaborators, he was now in a largely Buddhist country, with a small cohort of 26 Jesuits working with a modest number of collaborators.
Six Jesuits ordained priests in Indonesia
The Society of Jesus welcomed six new priests from the Indonesia Province with the ordination of Fathers Antonius Dhimas Hardjuna SJ, Ferdinandus Tuhu Jati Setya Adi SJ, Gerardus Hadian Panamokta SJ, Stephanus Advent Novianto SJ, Thomas Septi Widhiyudana SJ and Thomas Surya Awangga Budiono SJ.
Dialogue with Buddhists
Thank you very much for your time and the wisdom you shared today. I have learned many things from you, and you have given me many things to think about and to pray about.
A new way of seeing
I am very happy to be with you this morning, to celebrate the Eucharist with you. This is my first time to visit a Buddhist country, and to visit Jesuits and partners in mission working together in such a context. So I am looking forward to learning from you and seeing things in a new way from my short visit.
Fr General Arturo Sosa highlights community and collaboration in visit to Indonesia
Fr Arturo Sosa SJ kicked off his first official trip to Asia Pacific as Superior General of the Society of Jesus with a visit to the world's most populous Muslim nation - Indonesia. Fr Sosa, who spent most of his three-day visit from July 11 to 13 in Yogyakarta, stressed that he was there "to learn and not to teach".
Dialogue with Lay Catholics in Public Life
I am grateful to the Jesuit Province of Indonesia for organizing this dialogue with you, lay Catholics who have received what Pope Francis has called "the virus" of Ignatian formation, and who now play important roles in Indonesian society. St. Ignatius used to call himself "the pilgrim," someone actively searching for the will of God. I would like to use that word for myself and for all of us too. I come here as a pilgrim among my fellow-pilgrims, not as an expert with all the answers. I received a list of possible questions that you bring to this dialogue, but I also have a list of questions that I want to ask you! My hope is that, through our brief exchange, we can help each other see a little more clearly what God might be calling us to be and do in our world where there is so much beauty and hope, but also so much suffering and despair.
I. The Situation of the World
II. God's Mission, Our Mission
III. Towards a Renewal of our Service
Jakarta, Indonesia, 13 July 2017
We know that we live in a world in which many are afraid of diversity
In our gospel today, we hear the story of the Lord's choosing and commissioning the twelve apostles. Jesus calls to himself twelve of his disciples and gives them authority to share his mission, a mission of freeing those who are help captive by "unclean spirits," and of healing "every disease and every illness." But what strikes me most today is the diversity of the men he chose to share his mission. They were so different from one another.
"Religion is not a problem but part of the solution" Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ
Dialogue with Muslim Leaders,
Fr. General Arturo Sosa arrives for first visit to JCAP
Superior General of the Society of Jesus Fr Arturo Sosa arrived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia today, July 11, on the first leg of his first visit to the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP).
Main photo: (L to R) Fr Fransiskus Asisi Susilo, Local Superior of Bellarminus community, Fr General Arturo Sosa and Indonesian Provincial Fr Petrus Sunu Hardiyanta
Xavier Centre for Historical Research (XCHR) inaugurates Jesuit Studies South Asia
Jesuit Studies South Asia: A Report on the GOA Conference
Xavier Centre for Historical Research (XCHR) inaugurated its Jesuit Studies South Asia programme with a Conference entitled Towards a History of the Jesuits in South Asia: Post-Restoration Period. The Conference was formally inaugurated by the Provincial of Goa, Fr. Rosario Rocha SJ, on June 29th in the presence of around 30 Jesuit and lay participants from the four South Asia administrative zones (North, South, West and Central). The Conference presentations and discussions highlighted the rich and complex Jesuit narrative in South Asia.
Meeting of jesuit editors
It is difficult to date the creation of the network of european jesuit cultural reviews. However, one can say for certainty that it existed 40 years ago, long before internet was widespread. The directors of these reviews meet once a year in order to discuss their mission and identity, share ideas and articles, exchange information on the progress and difficulties encountered working on their reviews, as well as the current political and religious news in their respective countries.
Father General holds extended council meeting
Father General's Enlarged Council consisting of all the Assistants, six Presidents of the Conferences, four Secretaries (Secondary Education, Higher Education, Social Justice, Collaboration) met in Rome for an eight day retreat together and a Tempo forte (intense time of reflection on the life and mission of the Society). The retreat was held outside Rome about 80 km away at Torricella; Ignatian in approach and content, Father Paolo Alonso, SJ, from Spain led us through the retreat. It was a precious quiet time with the Lord and with one another; building ourselves up in the Spirit to function as a Council body.
This in fact is a follow up of GC36, especially of Decree 2, on Governance - a new way of looking at governance in the Society. This enlarged council is ‘the central government of the SJ' as Father General shared in his briefing.
The focus of the council meeting during the tempo forte week was a review of the apostolic preferences as mandated by GC36. The process adopted was in keeping with ‘discernment in common' in the spirit of GC36. After spending time in prayer over the proposed theme, we gathered in smaller groups to share our interior movements, to recognize the movement of the Spirit in the group and in the light of which to discuss various aspects of the issue. It taught us to arrive at a process that could be followed in discerning the apostolic preferences for the Society. Father General will now proceed, to take the matter forward, as he thinks best after listening to the council.
The presidents spent another day evaluating the entire process and also sharing on the Conferences and their responses to GC36.
A new connectivity is emerging between the Central administration and the Conferences, facilitating mutual communications. Father General has hereby invited us to view the Society and its mission as the responsibility of all the Conferences, Provinces/Regions, and has initiated a process that is oriented towards such a goal. The fundamental tool towards such a process is ‘Discernment in Common' - a means to integrate life, mission, community and governance. Let us join in this process by learning ‘discernment in common' as the best means to build up the Society as ‘fervour' as Nadal said.
This note is dispatched from Manresa where I am lecturing to the seventh group of Ignatian Immersion Course. Keep us in your prayer.
George Pattery, SJ
International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education
The International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education (ICAJE) met in Rome from May 24 to 27. The annual meeting is an opportunity for the six regional delegates, the Secretary for Education and the assistants to the Secretariat to come together, share the state of Jesuit Education in the world, the projects of the secretariat and discuss initiatives that can support the construction of the Jesuit School network.
Important topics for this meeting were: (1) The upcoming International Congress of Jesuit Education Delegates (JESEDU-Rio2017), October 2017 and the results of the virtual version held in March 2017. We see JESEDU as an opportunity that will allow us to work on a global agenda to strengthen the international network of Jesuit Schools. The commission worked in the approach to the ideas for a global agenda (2) Educate Magis: the commission had the opportunity to discuss the current development of this project aimed to connect schools and allow for global collaboration at the service of the mission. (3) The commission had the opportunity to reflect around the decrees of the GC36 and the related documents (homilies, letters) . (4) The commission discussed the education delegate role description at the provincial level and began a process to agree on some common basic ground for the job. We also discussed the associated/partnered/endorsed/companion schools as they are classified in each region. (5) The commission met F. General and discussed with him some of the most pressing challenges of Jesuit Education in the regions and worldwide. (6) The Secretary for Education presented the report on Jesuit Education today, the internal and external challenges and the current projects developed by the Secretariat.
Diary of St. Ignatius Loyola restored
The original copy of the Spiritual Diary of St. Ignatius Loyola has been restored. The painstaking work was carried out by a team led by Dr Melania Zanetti of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. In 2016, the same team completed the restoration process of the original manuscript of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Dr Zanetti presented the restored diary to Father General Arturo Sosa on Saturday, April 22.
Father General meets with collaborators and Ignatian family
Bukavu, DR Congo: On May 2, Father General met Jesuit collaborators and the Ignatian family (CLC, Apostleship of Prayer and Eucharistic Youth Movement), as well as the faithful of the local Church at Saint Peter Claver Church, in Bukavu. Father General expressed concern about the political and security situation in DR Congo. The Society will endeavor to respond in the best way possible, he said. The best answer, for Father General, must be part of the ministry of reconciliation to which the GC36 invites us. After a short photo shoot with the faithful, Father General visited the works of the parish, including the St. Peter Claver dispensary.
Father General’s Tour of the Rwanda-Burundi Region
Kigali, Rwanda: On 28 April, Father General visited Ecole Primaire Saint Ignace and Saint Ignatius High School in Kigali, Rwanda. In his address to the students, Rev. Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ praised the staff and students for the work they are doing and encouraged the Jesuits in their trust and commitment. He mentioned that he also is a graduate from a Jesuit High School, which had started very small but with time, little by little has emerged into a big school. He told the school administrative staff that they are not alone. God is with them, and the Society of Jesus is with them too. He encouraged them to keep the spirit of the magis; a spirit that reminds everyone that they can do more and better, he added. "Magis moves you to be always better in service to others, to the African continent, and to the entire human society." He concluded his address inviting students to join the Society of Jesus: "we want to have Jesuits from you. Open your eyes and ears, and pray for that with me, so that we may have more Jesuits to continue the work your instructors are now doing."
Portal on Jesuit Studies
The Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies at Boston College is working on a portal aimed at providing informed direction to the rich primary sources and burgeoning scholarship in the field of Jesuit studies. The Portal will grant free, online access to a curated, aggregated and fully searchable collection of materials - selected from different websites and all related to the history, spirituality, education, and pedagogical approach of the Society of Jesus. Director of the Institute, Fr. Casey Beaumier (WIS) presented the project at the Jesuit Curia in Rome, on March 21. He explained that the Portal, which becomes active on May 2, 2017, will, among other things, provide access to: Essential documents, international symposia on Jesuit Studies, Jesuit Historiography Online, Jesuit Sources, the Institute's Online Library, Boston College Jesuit Bibliography Online, Jesuitica Directory.
Stirring the Waters – Making the Impossible Possible (Voices of Faith 2017)
I would like to thank Voices of Faith and the Jesuit Refugee Service for inviting me to celebrate International Women's Day with you and all of those gathered here today.
The World: Collaboration
The Catholic Church: inclusion
Father General calls for networking in Jesuit higher education
Father General Arturo Sosa has urged Jesuits serving in higher education to draw on networking as a way of becoming more effective in their ministries. Speaking to the Vidyajyoti Theology Faculty in Delhi, on February 18, Father General pointed out that "The 36th General Congregation makes a strong invitation to Jesuits to collaborate and network as the way of proceeding to be effective in our mission today." He observed that Jesuits are responsible for over 200 faculties of philosophy and theology, as well as higher education institutions around the world. "Taking seriously the General Congregation's invitation, I want to insist that you and all the Higher Education institutions in South Asia form an effective network. This would be the best way to improve collaboration among Jesuit institutions," he said. Read more...
Love the Stranger - Statement of California and Oregon Provincials on Immigration
February 1, 2017
Dear Brothers and Friends,
We write to express our dismay at how the national conversation about immigration has taken a sharp and harshly xenophobic turn under the new administration. There is no doubt that the most recent executive order flatly contradicts a fundamental obligation of our Judeo-Christian tradition: "love the stranger, for you were once strangers in Egypt (Dt. 10, 19)" and "I was a stranger and you made we welcome (Mt. 25, 37)". Pope Francis has also been clear: we are called "see a ray of hope...in the eyes and hearts of refugees and those who have been forcibly displaced," and to serve immigrants and refugees however we can. By contrast, the President's Executive Order callously sends large numbers even of women and children back to the horrors of war, starvation, massive repression and even death.
We recently returned from the 36th General Congregation, which declared, "in the face of attitudes hostile to displaced persons [including refugees and migrants] our faith invites the Society of Jesus to promote everywhere a more generous culture of hospitality." As members of a global religious order that works to form men and women of conscience and compassion, we unequivocally denounce the Trump Administration's Executive Order as an affront to our mission, an assault on American and Christian values, and a repudiation of our humanity. No area of the country has benefited more from the contributions of immigrants than the West. We raise our individual and collective voices against the harsh and inhumane policies of the current administration, which thinks nothing of building a wall and slamming the door in faces of the world's most vulnerable people.
In these challenging days, we renew our commitment to be bridge-builders between people of differing political views while also standing firmly for the values of the Gospel and of our Catholic Social Teachings.
Prayerfully yours in Christ,
Scott Santarosa, S.J. (Provincial, Oregon Province)
Fr. General's message for World Day of Refugees 2017
I wish to begin by expressing my gratitude, and how deeply moved I am, to have this opportunity to share with you this moment of reflection and prayer.
This moment presents an important invitation to the Society of Jesus to accompany, with its few resources, and to share in the anxieties and hopes of the refugees here in Italy and everywhere in the world. As you may be aware, I come from Latin America, a continent in teeming with millions of refugees and migrants for the same reasons that we have heard in the moving testimonies of Asiz, Dhurata, Mortezza, Mirvat and Edelawit.
I have encountered similar situations on the border between Colombia and Venezuela, where I lived for ten years before being called to Rome. I met entire families that had been forced to abandon everything to save lives threatened by injustice and violence that has taken hold of our societies. I met children and young people who had been forced to become soldiers and to participate in wars so far away from their dreams, thoughts and desires. But importantly, I also encountered the generosity of many families who welcomed the refugees as brothers and sisters in search of a new life. I came across some schools, teachers, Christian communities willing to lend a hand to the new arrivals. Through these encounters, I became more and more aware of the challenges states face in facilitating the legal integration for refugees, which would grant the refugees access to job opportunities and personal development. I have witnessed the human pain resulting from abuse by police bodies and human traffickers.
Therefore, the efforts of closely accompanying the refugees and migrants, particularly the young and vulnerable, are close to my heart. I wish to encourage and promote efforts that ensure the protection of life and the hope of the child and adolescent refugees, especially those recruited by traffickers to convert them into the so-called baby-traffickers.
It is necessary to promote citizens' movements that put pressure on states and governments of Europe and other parts of the world in order to create safe access to legal channels for children and teenagers forced to leave their homes, their countries, and many times, even their families to make a future elsewhere. The absence of these channels adds new dangers to the path of migrants and increases the injustice suffered by those who have had to flee their homeland. The absence of adequate protection, the difficulty of access to humanitarian visas and efficient policies of social inclusion nourishes one of the greatest scourges of humanity in our times: human trafficking. And that is what we heard in the testimonies of young people today.
The political development of Europe has created multiplicity of public institutions that aim at protecting the rights of people, especially children and young people. The increasing flow of migration challenges these institutions to ensure that there is reliable and adequate protection for many who arrive each day to knock on the doors of European countries seeking to be included and not excluded. Europeans, children of a culture that claims human rights as a sign of human and social progress, are invited by migrants to deepen their human and political conscience to demand that governments create reception systems, with facilities adequate and conveniently located throughout their territories to ensure a humane reception of migrants, especially to young people.
Europe and all other migrant receiving countries should become a source of pride by creating the circumstances in which those who come find human conditions to rebuild their lives and young people can dream about their future with the ability to make it happen if they too will put in the necessary effort.
Dear friends, we are gathered here today in Gesù Church in honour of so many migrants and refugees who are struggling to rediscover the worthiness of their human life. I invite you all to step up your effort to make our societies places of genuine welcome to those who are suffering because of the need to migrate.
Thank you so much.
Father General meets Rome based Jesuits
More than 200 Jesuits from communities around Rome braved the January 7 cold to come to the Curia Generalizia to meet with Father General Arturo Sosa. At the beginning of every year, Father General hosts the Jesuits based in Rome to wish them well in the coming year. This year was particularly special because for some of the Jesuits, it was their first personal encounter with Father Sosa. In his usual manner, Father Sosa shared a light moment with each of the guests. There are over 400 Jesuits currently residing in Rome, spread across the International Roman Houses and communities of the Italian Province.
Epiphany in the Curia
The Magi have slowly been trickling into the Curia Generalizia in the past few weeks. First to arrive was Father Victor Assouad (PRO), the new Regional Assistant for Western Europe. He was followed by Father John Dardis (HIB), Assistant ad Providentiam and General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning. Father Claudio Paul (BRA), Regional Assistant for Latin America South has also arrived in the Curia. On January 4, the winds of Epiphany blew in Father Vernon D’Cunha (BOM), Assistant ad Providentiam and Regional Assistant for South Asia. Other new members of the Curia Generalizia community include Father Anselm Ekka (RAN), Assistant Treasurer General, and Fathers Joseph Xavier (MDU) and David Holdcroft (ASL), both of whom are joining the Jesuit Refugee Service International Office in Rome.
Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach has died
Rome (Sunday, 27 November 2016): Former Superior General of the Society of Jesus Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, has died. He died in Beirut, Lebanon, on Saturday, November 26, 2016. He was the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, serving from 1983 to 2008. Born on 30 November 1928, Father Kolvenbach entered the Society on 7 September 1948. He was ordained on 29 June 1961. He pronounced his final vows in the Society on 15 August 1969. On 13 September 1983, on the first ballot, he was elected the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus.
As a young man, lived most of his teen years during the German occupation of the Netherlands. He would later note that experiencing war was not an uncommon experience in the formation of a Superior General. It was the experience of Ignatius at Pamplona, and the experience of his predecessor, Pedro Arrupe, who witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb. Father Kolvenbach also lived in the midst of war in Beirut as a professor of linguistics and working with refugees in Lebanon.
In an interview with the Jesuit run America Media in 2007, Father Kolvenbach noted that while living in the midst of war emphasizes the fragility of human life, the sound of a bird singing after a night of terror announces that "death will never have the last word in the Creator's will."
Father Kolvenbach spent many years in academic life, primarily teaching linguistics in Lebanon. He was named the Vice Provincial of the Near East, made up of the regions of Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. In 1981, he was appointed as Rector at the Oriental Institute in Rome, a position he held until his election as Superior General.
Upon his election, Kolvenbach carried out his responsibilities with energy and compassion. He visited as many Jesuit provinces and individual Jesuits as he could. His was a calming presence in the midst of the many questions the Jesuits faced both within and outside the Church. In 1995, he presided over the 34th General Congregation of the Jesuits, which addressed issues including the mission of the Society in the modern world and the impact of the revision of Canon Law.
In February 2006, Kolvenbach informed the members of the Society of Jesus of his intention to step down in 2008. His resignation was accepted at the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus. Shortly after General Congregation 35, Father Kolvenbach returned to Beirut, where he worked as a librarian until his death.
Pope Francis’ Visit to the Congregation
There is a well-established tradition that on the occasion of a Jesuit General Congregation, the Holy Father meets with the delegates. Since most of the time this happens as an audience in the rooms of the Vatican, it is not the first time that the pope himself choose to meet the Jesuits as they are gathered in the General Congregation in the curia of the Society. So this Monday, 24 October, Pope Francis came discreetly to the curia and was greeted by Father General Arturo Sosa and the superior of the curia community, Father Joaquín Barrero.
These two accompanied him into the aula, and the Pope participated in morning prayer with the delegates. The theme of the prayer, the good shepherd, had been chosen for the occasion. The Ignatian tradition reflection made a reference to Fr. Franz van de Lugt, who made himself pastor of his own in Homs, Syria, until he was killed by the insanity of war. The members of the Congregation prayed for Pope Francis, as he often requests of all those he meets.
Pope Francis came to the General Congregation with a message. He gave an encouraging speech that set a direction. The speech gave a good idea of the manner in which he is coming to see the service of the Church and of the world that the Society of Jesus can offer, a relevant way connected to his own ministry. His whole intervention was characterized by an openness to what lies ahead, a call to go further, a support for caminar, the way of journeying that allows Jesuits to go toward others and to walk with them on their own journey.
To start out, quoting Saint Ignatius, the Pope recalled that a Jesuit is called to converse and thereby to bring life to birth "in every part of the world where a greater service of God and help for souls is expected." Precisely for this reason, the Jesuits must go forward, taking advantage of the situations in which they find themselves, always to serve more and better. This implies a way of doing things that aims for harmony in the contexts of tension that are normal in a world with diverse persons and missions. The Pope mentioned explicitly the tensions between contemplation and action, between faith and justice, between charism and institution, between community and mission.
The Holy Father detailed three areas of the Society's path; we will come back to each of them in the coming days.
These three last words of the Pope's speech are graces for which each Jesuit and the whole Society must always ask: consolation, compassion, and discernment.
A "group outing" to the beauty, history and Christian adventure
Almost all the delegates to the General Congregation and many members of the supporting teams left the General Curia to travel to the Vatican Museums, a twenty minute walk. Father Adolfo Nicolás was among them for his last night in Rome before leaving for a new mission of his Jesuit life. For two and a half hours, the delegates enjoyed a visit organized especially for them, outside of business hours. With treasures from different parts of the world, the Vatican Museums are considered the largest after the Louvre in Paris.
First, some praise for the excellent logistics of the organization. Our large crowd was divided into a dozen groups of 20 to 25 people, each led by a professional tour guide offered by the institution. One could choose to participate in a group in English or Spanish. A sophisticated Wi-Fi system allowed each group to hear, with an earpiece, its own guide on a specific frequency. In addition, the groups did not follow the same route to avoid congestion. A successful planning!
The museum director, Antonio Paolucci, with Father General at his side, welcomed the Jesuits and said he was honoured to provide an opportunity for them to enjoy a cultural moment in a place where art meets history and Catholicism. This introductory gathering was held in the hall between the Pauline Chapel and the Sistine Chapel. It is in this room that the cardinals, during a conclave and before entering the Sistine Chapel for the vote, share information informally; one could almost see it as the hall of murmuratio! The frescoes around us stressed primarily the Renaissance Church’s desire to for recognition as a political power. It is a context that seems far from the mind of Pope Francis, but it is a part of history that we need to know and to face.
Each group then left with its guide. Because of the Jesuit character of the visitors, the Redemptoris Mater chapel, decorated by the Jesuit artist Marko Rupnik and his team at the Centro Aletti, was accessible: the visitors discovered the rich illustration of the history of Redemption, through the giant mosaics. The two chapels, the Pauline and Sistine, where several famous artists practised their art – particularly Michelangelo – captured the attention of all groups. We must emphasize the quality of the guides who talked about arts and artists, but we also able to set what we could admire in its historical context and in connection with the different symbolic and spiritual currents evoked.
All participants in this tour would like to thank the ministers and the kitchen staff of the houses were they stay for having prepared for a full meal for them when they came back, around 10 PM.
A few reactions :
“Faces from the Frontiers” – by John Dardis, SJ
When you look around the aula at the General Congregation or share meals with people, it all seems quite ordinary. At first. You see a group of Jesuits - priests and brothers, smiling, joking, eating, having serious conversations, praying. Their dress is ordinary - in fact some could do with a new shirt or two! - with a wide assortment of styles and no uniformity except for official occasions. St Ignatius would approve.
But when you get to know the people and learn their stories you see something different, something quite amazing and inspiring.
There is Francisco de Roux, from Colombia, who has been involved in the peace talks there between the rebels and the government. Then there is José Minaku, the Provincial of Central Africa. His territory, so rich in its traditions, not to speak of its mineral wealth, has been torn by the conflict in the Kivu region near Rwanda and Burundi. Dany Younes is the Provincial of the Near East. His province includes Syria, Turkey, Lebanon. He has to accompany and support his men and those who work alongside them as they deal with the war in Syria, instability in Turkey and the over one million refugees who have arrived in Lebanon. One of his men, Frans van der Lugt was murdered just about 18 months ago in Homs. You can meet Jean Baptiste Ganza, Regional Superior of Rwanda-Burundi, who lost most of his family in the genocide back in 1994 and who is helping to build a new Jesuit region with reconciliation and mutual understanding as foundations. I've met up again with Korean Jesuit In-don Oh - I first met him a few years back just outside Phnom Penh in Cambodia, a country that had suffered so much under Pol Pot. Tony Corcoran is Superior of the Russian Region and Ukraine where a torturous war still rages. Hung Pham, from the Southern Province of the USA, is the son of Vietnamese refugees who left in the 1970s as boat people. The Regional Superior of Nepal is among us - Boniface Tigga. That country is still coming to terms with the aftermath of the earthquake there. And then the new Fr General, Arturo Sosa, an expert in Political Science who has worked for years at the political frontiers in Venezuela and now has come to lead the Society of Jesus to new frontiers.
All of these men represent frontier ministry. Frontiers where Jesuits are somehow at home; where they can be creative; can love; can serve; can give their lives if necessary. And what is most impressive is that they are not special. They represent the thousands back home who are quietly working away while all of us here are speaking, sharing, praying, dreaming...and imagining new ways of serving at the side of Jesus as he heals and liberates people today.
And finally, the most recognised frontier face, Pope Francis himself. He will soon address the Congregation from his perspective at the frontiers of the Church. What will he say? What directions will he indicate? One thing for sure is that he will keep us moving, draw us forward, point out new challenges. We're looking forward to it.
Who helps the General to govern?
Since the General Congregation in the coming days will have the task of identifying the people who will form the government of the Society, in these early days of the "ad negotia" phase, thought is focused on the structure of the central government of the Society. Several presentations have been offered to the delegates to allow them to reflect on the current structure of the General Curia.
In particular, the presentations traced the historical development of the role of the assistants, and the demanding job of identifying their current job-description. Four General Congregations (GC1, GC31, GC34, and GC35) reflected and defined the role of the assistants.
At present, the governance of the Society comprises the Assistants ad Providentiam and Regional Assistants. The Assistants ad Providentiam are four and they take care of Father General, his lifestyle, his health, his manner of governing, so that he can properly carry out his mission of leadership. Regional Assistants help the General in the universal government, considering their specific geographical area. Together, they constitute the board of the General. The efforts at renewal of the Curia in recent years have been carried out keeping in mind that Ignatius himself invited the Society to take care that the central government would not become a bureaucratic office but maintain the awareness of being a means to grow the body of the Society in service of God and of the Church.
Another topic of discussion was the situation of the conferences in the world. Several aspects have been taken into account: the enormous diversity of shape due to the different historical origins, the relationship between them, the connection with the central government, and the relationship with the provinces. Currently there are six conference in the world: Africa and Madagascar, Asia Pacific, South Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America.
To continue their work on these topics, the delegates manifested an interest in hearing the opinion of their new Superior General.
A First Encounter with the Press
Just a few days after his election, Father General Arturo Sosa met with some 70 journalists in the aula of the General Congregation, his baptism to this kind of event as Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He was introduced by Fr. Federico Lombardi who mentioned that the new General had been part of the 33rd General Congregation in 1983 as the youngest delegate. Fr. Lombardi emphasized the good relationship between Fr. Sosa and the previous General, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás. He noted that Fr. Sosa was the first non-European General of the Jesuits.
In his initial remarks, the new Superior General stated that he was at peace, that although he certainly did not expect to be elected, he was confident in God and ready to serve the Society of Jesus and the Church in this new role. He also mentioned how grateful he was, on behalf of the whole Society, to his predecessor, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, who had given himself entirely to his service; he mentioned that the previous Superior General will be returning serve according to the instructions of his superiors, as any Jesuit does whatever his responsibilities has been within the Order. Finally, he stated that this General Congregation was not expected to change the direction the Jesuits have been involved in for decades now, that is, the service of the faith and the promotion of justice. Rather, there is a need to find the best and most efficient ways to serve today in a diversified and multicultural world and in a context that is asking for multiple types of collaboration.
There were some 40 minutes available for questions from the journalists. There were a dozen questions asked from media members from a number of countries among them Spain, Chile, Argentina, France, the USA and Italy.
The first question was not unexpected: what would the new General say about the situation of his country, Venezuela? Fr. Sosa acknowledged that he had spent a large part of his academic life studying and commenting on the political life of Venezuela. He explained briefly how a country that was living only on the income from one natural resource, within a system entirely managed by the government, could not easily live a true democracy. On the other hand, he insisted on the fact that a large part of the population is hoping for new bridges between all so that a real dialogue could start in view of building something that would profit all.
Two or three questions were related to Pope Francis, his expected relationship with him and more broadly the relationship of the Jesuits with the pope whom they vow to serve. The General was also asked if he liked to be considered "the Black Pope". To this last question, he answered that he was not fond of this designation. He explained that since the beginning the Jesuits have wanted to respond to the popes' requests to serve where there was need, because they believe in the universal vision the pope has as universal pastor. He also mentioned that he had several opportunities to meet the present Pope, first during the 33rd General Congregation, then within the context of his work with the social centres in Latin America, in Argentina, and more recently in his duties as Delegate of the Father General for the Interprovincial Roman Houses and Works. Their encounters have always been cordial and fruitful.
Father General was also asked about the way he was elected, the reasons for the resignation of his predecessor and the fact that he was elected for life, about his priorities, about the main challenges the Jesuits are now facing. To each one of these questions he shed light on the meaning of his function and moreover on the commitment of the Jesuits to contribute, humbly, and through their attachment to Jesus, to the building of a world that would give the priority to each human person.
The Congregation continues after the election...
For the first two weeks of October, the attention, not only of the Jesuits but also of many people, was centred on the election of the new Superior General of the Jesuits. Now that Father Arturo Sosa has been elected, what will the Jesuits gathered for the General Congregation do for the next several weeks together at the General Curia?
On Monday morning, October 17, the delegates gathered again in the Aula. The first to speak was the newly elected Father General; he underlined once again the legacy that his predecessor, Father Adolfo Nicolas, leaves behind. Fr Sosa remarked that Fr Nicolás had requested to absent himself from the work of the Congregation, so as to give it complete freedom: he added, of course they could count on his prayers. The outgoing General will enjoy a short break before starting his new ministry in the Philippines. Fr Sosa then sketched an overall picture of the work that remains to be done.
The Secretary of the Congregation, Fr Orlando Torres, then outlined in more detail what the next stages of the Congregation will involve. One of the most important tasks of the Congregation is to provide the new General with "assistants". In Jesuit jargon, they are spoken of as "assistants ad providentiam", charged with the task of ensuring the good running of the Society, and of an 'admonitor', a close companion who mainly looks after the health of the Superior General, understanding the term 'health' in a broad sense.
Following the recommendations of the Coordinating Committee, it was proposed to the Assembly to postpone the election of the assistants. We believe that it is preferable for this election to take place once the Congregation has fulfilled another important task: updating the governance structures of the Society at the universal level, in order to achieve the greatest possible apostolic effectiveness.
Then, a member of the Commission on Governance, Fr. Mark Raper, presented the issues that have arisen in the preparatory works of the plenary assembly. Without going into detail on the content of those works or the different presentations, the Congregation is being asked to reflect and analyse the relationships between the General Curia, the Jesuit Provinces and the Conferences, with a view to better service.
Fr Raper proposed to the delegates to take some time for personal reflection and schedule time for meetings by geographical groups (called "Assistencies") in order to prepare possible decrees concerning the organisation of the central Governance of the Society. After presenting the contributions from these meetings, and taking into account the opinion of some experts, it is expected that in the following days decisions can be made on these issues.
Once this is accomplished, the Congregation will be able to identify and elect the Assistants to work with Fr. General within the new governance structures.
First Homily of the new General
A few days ago, in this very Church of the Gesù, where the remains of St. Ignatius and Pedro Arrupe are laid to rest, Fr. Bruno Cadorè invited us to have the audacity of the improbable as the distinctive stance of persons of faith, who seek to bear witness to such faith in the complex reality of human life. He invited us to leave behind our fear and to row out into the deep, as a kind of attitude for being at once creative and faithful during the General Congregation.
Certainly, the audacity that we need in order to be servants of the mission of Christ Jesus can flow only from faith. For this reason, our gaze is directed first of all to God, since you have only one Father, and He is in heaven, as the passage from the Gospel which we have just heard reminds us. And as the Formula of the Institute reminds us at paragraph no .1: "Let (the Jesuit) have before his eyes, as long as he lives, before anything else, God, and then the form of this his Institute." In fact, it is the whole heart that we wish to have in tune with the Merciful Father, the God who is only Love, our Principle and Foundation - the heart of each of us and also the heart of the body of the Society.
If our faith is like that of Mary, Jesus' own mother and the Mother of the Society of Jesus, our audacity can go even further and seek not only the improbable, but the impossible, because nothing is impossible for God, as the Archangel Gabriel proclaims in the scene of the Annunciation (Luke 1:37). It is the same faith held by St. Teresa of Avila, or St. Teresa of Jesus, whose memorial we celebrate today. She too, without fear, entrusted herself to the Lord in order to undertake the improbable and the impossible.
Let us ask, therefore, for this faith from the Lord, so that we, as the Society of Jesus, can also make our own the words of Mary in her response to the extraordinary call that she received: "Behold the servant of the Lord: Be it done to me according to your word." Like Ignatius and the First Companions, like so many Jesuit brothers who have fought and who fight today under the banner of the cross, in service only to the Lord and to his Church, we too desire to contribute to that which today seems impossible: a humanity reconciled in justice, that dwells peacefully in a well-cared-for common home, where there is a place for all, since we recognize each other as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters of the same and only Father.
For this reason, we reaffirm even today the conviction of Ignatius as he wrote the Constitutions: "Since the Society of Jesus was not instituted by human means, it is not through them that it can be preserved and increased, but with the all-powerful hand of Christ, our God and Lord; in Him alone must our hope be placed."
With our hope placed in God and in God alone the General Congregation will proceed with its deliberations and it will contribute to its duty to preserve and grow this whole body (Const. 719).
The preservation and growth of the body of the Society is tightly bound to the depth of the spiritual life of each of its members and of the communities in which we share life and mission with our companions. At the same time, it is necessary to have an extraordinary intellectual depth in order to think creatively about the ways in which our service to the mission of Christ Jesus can be more effective, in the creative tension of the Ignatian magis. To think about ways of deeply understanding the unique moment of human history in which we are living, and to contribute to the search for alternatives for overcoming poverty, inequality, and oppression. To think so that we never cease posing pertinent theological questions, and so that we continue to deepen our understanding of the faith that we ask the Lord to increase in ourselves.
We are not alone. As companions of Jesus we too want to follow the journey of the incarnation, to identify ourselves with the human beings who suffer the consequences of injustice. The Society of Jesus can develop only in collaboration with others, only if it becomes the least Society that collaborates. Let us be attentive to the linguistic pitfalls here. We want to increase collaboration, not just to seek that others collaborate with us, with our own works, only because we don't want to lose the prestige of the position of who has the last word. We want to collaborate generously with others, inside and outside of the Church, in the awareness, which comes from the experience of God, of being called to the mission of Christ Jesus, which doesn't belong to us exclusively, but which we share with so many men and women who are consecrated to the service of others.
In the journey of collaboration, with the grace of God, we will also find new companions to increase the number, always much too small no matter how great, of collaborators who, along with the others, are invited to be part of this body. There is no doubt about the need to increase our prayer and our work for vocations to the Society, and to continue the complex commitment to provide the formation that makes of them true Jesuits, members of this multicultural body that is called to testify to the richness of interculturalism as the face of humanity, created in the image and likeness of God.
Let us, therefore, today make our own the words of the Apostle Paul: may the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded toward one another according to the example of Christ Jesus, so that you may give glory to the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ with one heart and one voice. (Rm. 15:5-6)
In the Church of the Gesù in Rome, October 15, 2016
(Original in Italian)
In the Rooms of St. Ignatius
On Saturday morning, before the first Eucharist presided over by the new Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa, a short and discrete ceremony took place at the Gesù, in the chapel of the rooms of St. Ignatius, the Camerette. The New Superior General was accompanied by a member of the General Council, Fr. Joaquín Barrero, by the archivist of the Society, Fr. Brian Mac Cuarta, by two electors, Father Bienvenido Nebres (the oldest of the electors) and Brother James Edema (the youngest elector). A deacon also accompanied them. Our photographer was also present.
After a moment of silent prayer, an excerpt from the Gospel of Saint Matthew was read. In this passage, Jesus reminds his disciples that they have only one 'Master' and that the greatest among them must be their servant.
In the same spirit, Father Bienvenido Nebres reminded the new General of the qualities he must possess, according to what St. Ignatius described in the second chapter of Part IX of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. Particular attention was drawn to the following words:
"Do not seek esteem or honour from men, but rather seek to be pleasing to the Lord alone.
At the end of this reading, Father Nebres and Brother James Edema, presented to the General the Formula of the Institute and the book of the Constitutions with these words:
"Receive the Formula of our Institute and the Book of the Constitutions of which today you have become the custodian: be attentive to the universal welfare of the Society so that with the grace of God and of your good governance, this apostolic body entrusted to your care may persist and grow in charity and at the service of Christ and of the Church his spouse."
In silence, the small group joined the large number of concelebrants, downstairs, for the beginning of the Mass of Thanksgiving.
Mass of Thanksgiving presided by the new General
The afternoon of Friday, October 14, after the election, the congregation members were able to take a well deserved break. They met this morning at the Gesù Church for the second time in two weeks. They had the joy to be around their new Superior General, Father Arturo Sosa, who therefore had the opportunity, in his homily, to offer for the first time a spiritual message inspired by the Holy Scripture.
The first reading was taken from the wisdom tradition, the book of Sirach. It emphasized how the search for wisdom provides the intelligence and opens the way for just decisions. Whoever has this wisdom coming from the Lord will spread it to all nations. Psalm 88 reminded that the Lord is pleased by the fidelity of his servant. An excerpt from the letter of St. Paul to the Christians of Rome exhorted them to avoid causing scandal and division, but mainly to show perseverance and hope by doing everything for the good of their neighbour. In the Gospel of St. Mark, Jesus invited his disciples to be watchful at all times.
In his homily, the new Superior General first recalled that a few days earlier, at the opening of the General Congregation, the Master of the Dominicans had invited the Jesuits to the audacity of the improbable, something that characterizes a person of faith. Fr. Sosa was even more daring: referring to Mary, he opened the way to the audacity not only of the 'improbable' but also of the 'impossible', because "Nothing is impossible for God", had said the angel Gabriel.
The General added: "We ask the Lord for that kind of faith, because we can make it our own, as Society of Jesus, the faith expressed in Mary's words in response to receiving the extraordinary appeal: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord, all be done according to thy words.' As Ignatius and his first companions, like so many brothers who fought and lived under the banner of the cross in the service of the Lord and his Church, we also want to contribute to what seems impossible today: a humanity reconciled in justice, living in peace in a common house well kept, where there is room for everyone because we recognize that we are siblings, son and daughters of the same and unique Father."
Father General then stressed the fact that we are not alone to accomplish this task; we do it in collaboration. Not only that of collaborators in our works, but by making ourselves collaborators of people, inside and outside of the Church, who are involved in a mission that is not ours exclusively, a mission we share with many men and women dedicated to the service of others.
Father Arturo Sosa SJ, 31st General of the Society of Jesus
The 36th General Congregation has elected Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, of the Jesuit Province of Venezuela as Superior General.
Father Sosa was born in Caracas, Venezuela on 12 November 1948. Until his election, Father Sosa has been Delegate for Interprovincial Houses of the Society in Rome, as well as serving on the General Council as a Counsellor. He obtained a licentiate in philosophy from l'Università Cattolica Andrés Bello in 1972. He later obtained a doctorate in Political Science from l'Università Centrale del Venezuela, in 1990. He speaks Spanish, Italian, English, and understands French.
In 2008, during General Congregation 35, Father General Adolfo Nicolás appointed Father Arturo Sosa as General Counsellor, based in Venezuela. In 2014, Father Sosa joined the General Curia community and took on the role of Delegate for Interprovincial Roman Houses of the Society of Jesus in Rome, which include: the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Vatican Observatory, Civiltà Cattolica, as well as international Jesuit colleges in Rome.
Between 1996 and 2004, Father Sosa was provincial superior of the Jesuits in Venezuela. Before that, he was the province coordinator for the social apostolate, during which time he was also director of Gumilla Social Centre, a centre for research and social action for the Jesuits in Venezuela.
Father Arturo Sosa has dedicated his life to research and teaching. He has held different positions in academia. He has been a professor and member of the Council of the Andrés Bello Catholic Foundation and Rector of the Catholic University of Tachira. He has pursued research and teaching in the field of political science, in various centers and institutions, as the Chair of Contemporary Political Theory and the Department of Social Change in Venezuela at the Faculty of Social Sciences.
In 2004, he was invited as a visiting professor by the Latin American Studies Center at Georgetown University in the United States while he was a professor in the Department of Venezuelan political thought of the Catholic University of Tachira.
While Father Sosa election as superior general completes one of the main tasks of GC 36, the group's work is not over. Now the delegates will tackle matters of mission, governance and the state of the Society. Topics may range from the Society's changing demographics to challenges in worldwide ministries, to the Jesuit response to a rapidly changing world, environmental concerns, poverty and violence.
The Mass of the Holy Spirit or "The Holy Eucharist in view of the election"
The day of the election of the future General, the electors gather to celebrate the Eucharist; they invoke the Holy Spirit once again that he inspire them at the moment of the vote which will commence immediately after the celebration.
This year, the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit will be presided over by Fr. James Grummer, who until the election of the new superior general, is acting as vicar general of the Society after the General Congregation accepted of the resignation of Father Adolfo Nicolás. The opening monition of the celebrant clearly speaks about the intention, which has reunited Jesuits. Thus: In this Holy Year, during which the entire Church is called to live the grace and the tenderness of the mercy of God, we are invited to pray without ceasing to the Holy Spirit that he favor Christian unity and that he give us the courage to throw ourselves forward, generously, in requesting the intercession of our blessed martyrs, baptized in blood for the love of Christ and of his Church.
The Liturgy of the Word stresses the importance of the Holy Spirit. In the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, the Apostle recalls that the gifts of grace are varied but that it is always the same Spirit who acts. All things considered, "each receives the gift of the manifestation of the Spirit for the good of all." The gospel, it places us at the Cenacle, when the disciples are reunited in prayer. They harbor fear, but Jesus appears to them and saying "Peace be with you." He also says to them "Receive the Holy Spirit."
After the celebration of the Eucharist, the electors will return in silence to the aula where, after a last admonition from one of the Assistants ad providentiam, Fr. Lisbert D'Souza, the vote for the election of a new General of the Jesuits begins.
Fr. Orlando Torres SJ, Secretary of the Congregation
Today, October 7th, the electors voted for three major officials of the General Congregation.
Father Luis Orlando Torres, a Jesuit from Puerto Rico and a member of the USA Central and Southern Province (UCS) was elected Secretary of the Congregation. At present he is the rector of the Jesuit Community of Collegio Internationale del Gesù in Rome.
The first Assistant Secretary is Father Agnelo Macarenhas from Goa Province. He is also the Under Secretary of the Society at the General Curia in Rome.
The second Assistant Secretary is Father Francisco Javier (Patxi) Alvarez from the Spanish Province. He works in the General Curia as Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology.
Their principal task is to prepare, throughout the Congregation, the Acts of the Congregation, and all the official documents that will be used by members in the Aula.
Not the same tongue, but the same language - Interview with Arturo Sosa, SJ
One may wonder how this group of men from hundreds of countries, gathered in this beautiful hall, can truly understand itself, given that each person brings with himself a cultural baggage that necessarily influences his understanding, the way he interacts, and the way he intervenes. We met with Father Arturo Sosa, a Venezuelan, and we asked him this question.
If cultural differences are real, those gathered at the General Congregation also have a common baggage, the one linked to their experiences of the Spiritual Exercises and their practices of discernment. They have a great desire to hear the same voice, that of the Holy Spirit. This is also what has been felt in recent days, leading to the first major decision taken by the meeting: to allow more time before starting the four-day murmuratio that will lead to the election of Father General. This exercise has made space for the Spirit and, perhaps surprisingly, led to an unanimous decision that involved a change in the program that had been planned by the Coordination Committee.
Even when it is true that the CoCo [Coordination Committee], responsible for the proper functioning of the work, should make proposals, the Formula of the Congregation allows for much flexibility for members to organize their work. The common feeling that has been experienced – gradually formed by listening to the Spirit in the days that we have just experienced – has pushed members to ask for time enough before the Murmuratio begins. We are 212 electors; those of us who know the most electors, upon starting the process, know at most only a third of them. Some do not personally know anyone since they have not had the chance to participate in this kind of international meeting of Jesuits. We have clearly expressed the need for more time in order to grow in mutual knowledge.
There was already, in the method that we have used, a procedure that encouraged this knowledge of each other. Ten times we have found ourselves in a group of a dozen or so of companions, and every time we have met some new companions. But these gatherings of 90 minutes were somewhat short, after all. If English is understood by the vast majority of participants, it is often the 2nd, 3rd or 4th language of many; the same goes for Spanish or French. It is not sufficient therefore to use a common tongue [fr. langue –lit, tongue] for the type of work that falls to us; we must arrive at a common language [fr. langage]. This is our challenge: to use a common language that will allow us to listen to each other while, at the same time, allow the Spirit to speak. Indeed, the Holy Spirit does not speak directly; he always speaks through human voices, through each one of our voices.
Therefore, we have found it important to take time to ensure that we find a common language that will allow us to make decisions that are the expression of the Spirit’s inspiration in us; this is what we call, in the language of the Society, “the will of God.”
Eucharist in Saint Peter's Basilica
This morning, Friday, the members of the Congregation with the staff members had to wake up early. To begin the day, they all took the short trip from the General Curia to Saint Peter’s Square. They walked under heavy rain: was it the blessings of heavens pouring on them?
They went first through the Holy Door of the Year of Mercy. This jubilee year promulgated by Pope Francis opened on 8 December 2015 and will soon draw to a close, on 20 November 2016, the Feast of Christ the King. This tradition linked to jubilee years refers first of all to Jesus himself, who said, “Whoever enters through me will have Life” (John 10:9). The symbol of the door implies, too, the invitation to take a step forward and to leave something behind. This process is meaningful at the moment when Jesuits prepare to elect a new general superior.
The electors then celebrated the Eucharist in the “Chapel of the Cathedra” or of the chair of Saint Peter. The window representing the light shed by the Holy Spirit fits perfectly the context of the General Congregation. This chapel is located directly behind the main altar of the Basilica. Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, the oldest member of the Congregation, was the main celebrant.
In his short homily, the celebrant underlined the relations between Peter’s experience with Jesus and ours, as companions of Jesus. Making a reference to the place where we were, St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as the basilica of St. Peter in Gallicantu, in Jerusalem, he described the scenes of the denial of Saint Peter, of his profound grieving after his fault and of the breakfast on the shore of the lake, when Jesus, after his resurrection, invites his disciples to share a meal with him. What comes out of the three scenes – and can inspire us – is Jesus’ love for his disciples. To this love we are invited to respond, like Peter did: “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.” On the occasion of this first Friday of the month, we are invited to let the Love of the Heart of Jesus to touch our own hearts.
The first session in the aula and Father Nicolás’ resignation
The members of General Congregation 36 had the opportunity to participate, during the preceding days, in information sessions about their work and technical environment in the aula, including the use of the electronic tablets through which they are getting access to the majority of the working documents and materials. Therefore, on this Monday morning, at 9:00 a.m., they were all set to begin the work of the Congregation in earnest.
On the feast day of Saint Francis Borgia, patron of the General Curia, Fr. James E. Grummer invited the assembly to stand and invoke the Holy Spirit by singing the Veni Creator. Immediately after, he invited Father General to say a few words. Fr. Nicolás stated that he was handing over the facilitation of the Congregation to Fr. Grummer and that he had chosen him to be the Vicar General of the Society for the time before the election of a new General. Father Nicolás then opted to leave the rostrum and to sit among the other members of the Congregation. The assembly went on with the prayer. Every day, it is possible to pray along with the members of the Congregation since the prayer of the aula is available to all in the "prayer room" section of the website gc36.org.
Father Grummer then introduced the team of copy secretaries who take notes of everything that is said during the Congregation. Then, each one of the simultaneous translators introduced himself specifying the languages he would handle. A word was said about the IT team. At that time, the assembly was ready to start its official business, the first step being to recognize that everyone was present and that the Congregation was "complete". The media team of the Congregation left the room because all the Congregation work is done in camera.
Later during the first morning, Father Nicolás submitted his resignation to the General Congregation. After deliberations, the Congregation voted to accept Father Adolfo Nicolás resignation as Superior General of the Society of Jesus. From that moment on, Fr. James Grummer took the responsibility of the Society of Jesus as Vicar General.
Fr. Bruno Cadoré, OP, to the Jesuits: The faith of audacity – the faith of the humble servant
The 215 members of the Jesuit General Congregation 36 celebrated Mass at the Church of the Gesù on October 2, to launch the Congregation. The main presider was Father Bruno Cadoré, the Master of the Order of Preachers (also known as the Dominican Order). The relationship between the Dominicans and Jesuits goes back to the conversion of Saint Ignatius, who would ask himself, "If Saint Dominic did such and such, why can I not?" Additionally, there is a tradition that when the General of the Jesuits dies, the Master of the Dominican Order is invited to celebrate the Eucharist. In this case, Father Cadoré was invited to preside at the Mass to launch the Congregation, which will accept Father Adolfo Nicolás' resignation as Superior General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Father Nicolás along with the General Counselors and all the other electors were present. Also present was a large number of Jesuits who live and work in Rome.
Father Cadoré, delivered a homily inspired by the Scripture readings of the day, the 27th Sunday of Ordinary time. These were excerpts from the prophet Habakkuk, from second letter of Saint Paul to Timothy and from the 17th chapter of Saint Luke's gospel.
Father Cadoré began by drawing attention to the apostles' request to Jesus: "Lord, increase our faith!" This is the mindset that is needed at the beginning of this General Congregation. The homilist explains: "This faith is necessary - even if it remains as modest in appearance as a mustard seed - because it is about daring to aim for the improbable: 'you can say to this mulberry tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it will obey you'. It is even more necessary, because it is to understand that, even if we aim for the incredible, it is about daring to say: 'we are unworthy servants: we have only done our duty'! An assembly such as yours (...) will without doubt move between the duty of constantly calling the Society to dare the audacity of the « improbable » and the evangelical willingness to do it with the humility of those who know that, in this service where the human engages all his energy, « everything depends on God".
This audacity to aim for the improbable was Ignatius' characteristic at the time he founded the Least Society of Jesus. Is it still possible in our time of crisis, while violence in so many forms is experienced? It is possible, says the Dominican to the Jesuits, if it is "this audacity to make heard through your commitments, your words, your solidarity, the always unexpected voice of the One in whom the world hopes, who reverses death and establishes life, the One to whom you seek to give the greatest glory?" It is only possible if it is solidly founded on Paul's advice to his friend Timothy: "To find the strength and creativity of fidelity in the breath in which the Spirit holds us as he leads us to encounter and to listen to the other, who creates a well of compassion in the heart of the person, who consolidates the unbreakable alliance with those who are entrusted to us."
Finally, Fr. Cadoré insists on the fact that if the faith the apostles need has to be characterized by audacity, it has to be, at the same time, the faith of the humble servant, the faith of a life truly given for others. "Of what, precisely, are you the servant? Of a table, a table of sinners, a table of welcome for all to which are invited the blind and the lame, Pharisees and publicans, adulterers and good people. Your founder, Ignatius, prayed like this: 'Lord Jesus, teach us to be generous, teach us to serve You as You deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and to ask for no reward save that of knowing we are doing Your will'. Is this not an invitation, once more today, to place ourselves, all of us, at the service of this table?"
On Monday, October 3, the 215 electors will gather in the Aula of the Congregation to begin the first session of the plenary session of General Congregation 36. Father Adolfo Nicolás is expected to present his resignation on the first day of the Congregation.
What is a General Congregation?
In the 476 years since its founding, the Society of Jesus has convened only 35 general congregations. The 36th General Congregation will convene in Rome on October 2, 2016. A general congregation is always summoned on the death or resignation of the head of the Society - the Superior General - to choose his successor, or when the General decides action is needed on serious matters that he cannot or does not want to decide alone.
Chest of Relics
All along its history, the Society of Jesus has given the Church many Saints and Blessed, among whom not a few were martyrs. Since the ‘Chiesa del Gesu' is the Mother Church of the Jesuit Order, an important number of relics is kept in its sacristy and most of which are kept in very simple containers.
Original Manuscript of the Exercises restored
The oldest manuscript of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius has been restored. Over the years, acid had corroded the paper inks, perforating many pages and threatening the preservation of the document. Complete with the handwritten notes by Ignatius Loyola, the manuscript was presented at a conference held at the Gregorian University in Rome. Father Ignacio Echarte, the Secretary of the Society, represented the Society at the conference. Melania Zanetti of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, explained the painstaking process that resulted in the restoration of the manuscript. The project was funded by the Fundación Gondra-Barandiarán de Getxo, Bizkaia, a province in the autonomous community of the Basque country. The restoration was designed by Carlo Federici of the Ca 'Foscari University of Venice and the Vatican School of Library Science. The restoration was commissioned by the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, where the manuscript is now safely kept.
Father General's Visit to San Salvador
From April 30 to May 6, Father General traveled to San Salvador, El Salvador, for a joint meeting of the Jesuit conferences of Latin America and Canada-USA. One of the major discussions of the meeting centered on reflecting on how best the Society can serve the Church in the Caribbean region. In his address to the gathering, Father General focused on the importance of moving towards a universal mission. Serving a common mission, Father General observed, begins from acquiring knowledge about different regions, which will in turn lead to collaboration. It requires building networks, reflecting on common apostolic priorities, and eventually establishing common apostolic projects. The meeting ended with visits to the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero in the Cathedral of San Salvador, the hospital chapel where Romero died, and a visit to the site of the martyrdom of the Jesuit priest, Rutilio Grande.