November 15, 2016 — Yesterday in Rome, the nine Jesuit provincials of Canada and the U.S. had their first meeting with newly elected Superior General, Father Arturo Sosa, SJ. The provincials comprise the board of the Jesuit Conference, the organization that represents the Society of Jesus in Canada and the U.S. and handles matters of governance. The provincials are among the 215 delegates to General Congregation 36, which began on October 2 and concluded on November 12. Before the Jesuits leave Rome, Fr. Sosa is holding similar meetings with the provincials who comprise the other five conferences around the world.
Father General Arturo Sosa (front row, center) met with the Jesuit provincials of Canada and the U.S. Photo by Itua Egbor, SJ.
The primary agenda of the meetings was for Fr. Sosa to learn more about each of the six conferences and discuss items unique to each conference.
A major theme in the meeting with the provincials of Canada and the United States was the relationship with the General Curia — the Society’s headquarters in Rome — and with the provinces in North America. Many major decisions in the Society are made by the Superior General, such as the appointment of provincials, rectors and superiors; the approval of final vows; the opening and closing of Jesuit communities and apostolic works; as well as financial reporting and other business. As Fr. Sosa develops his General Counsel in Rome, he will do so in coordination with the conferences and provinces.
Photo by Itua Egbor, SJ.
Coming from Venezuela, Fr. Sosa knows the Americas well and the relationship between the Conference of Latin American Provincials with Canadian and U.S. provincials. In May 2016 these two conferences met in San Salvador to outline common goals in preparation for the General Congregation. During the meeting, the provincials examined a wide range of issues, from the needs of migrants and educational opportunities for the poor to environmental protection and the rights of native people. The group also discussed ways to increase collaboration.
Now that the Congregation has concluded, the provincials revisited some of these goals with Fr. Sosa. The two conferences in America will continue their strong collaboration, particularly in the area of Jesuit formation and in regions such as the Caribbean where both conferences work together.
While there was not much discussion of specific apostolates, they did discuss the effects of the recent hurricane in Haiti and the conference’s role in accompanying the Jesuits in Haiti at this time. According to Father Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S., “The meeting was an open and uplifting exchange of ideas and plans. The provincials and I are eager to work with our new General and aid his assistance of the global Society.”
Photo by Itua Egbor, SJ.
Father Scott Santarosa, SJ, provincial of the Oregon Province said, “I liked and appreciated his open and clear style. I’m impressed with his decision to meet with every conference to ask us what we need from him and to tell us what he needs from us.”
The members of the Congregation are all making their way home to their respective provinces. The provincials of Canada and the U.S. return with the experience of GC 36 and some clear initial directives from their new Superior General.