As 2018 ends and 2019 begins, we invite you to view some of the news stories that captivated and engaged our readers. These past 12 months brought us Jesuit anniversaries, the canonization of new saints, Jesuit alumni at the Olympics and a number of men continuing their Jesuit formation. We invite you to join us in reflecting on just some of the events that made this year so remarkable.
March 9, 2018 marked the 450th anniversary of the birth of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a Jesuit who gave up a privileged life to enter the Society of Jesus and died young — at age 23 — from the plague, which he contracted during his selfless care for the sick. To mark the anniversary, the Holy See has announced the celebration of a Jubilee Year of St. Aloysius from March 9, 2018, to March 9, 2019.
It has been five years since white smoke wafted from a tiny chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, signaling that the papal conclave had chosen a new successor of St. Peter, first Bishop of Rome. Just over an hour later, a little-known Argentine cardinal named Jorge Mario Bergoglio appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica — the first Jesuit pope, the first pope to hail from the Americas, and the first to take the name “Francis.”
On May 3, Fr. John Cecero, SJ, provincial of the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus officially missioned Grace Regan as president Boston College High School. More than 40 Jesuits attended the missioning mass, which celebrated Regan as the first female lay leader for the historic Jesuit school in Boston, which serves boys from grades 7-12.
On June 9, 2018, six Jesuits from the East Coast provinces (Brian Konzman Keith Maczkiewicz, Patrick Nolan, Timothy O’Brien, Henry Shea and Eric Studt) were ordained priests at the Fordham University Church. Their priestly ordinations came after extensive formation experiences that are deeply rooted to the traditions and the vision of our Jesuit founder, St. Ignatius Loyola. Their ordination symbolized life and hope for the Church, the ongoing proclamation of the Gospel, and humble and loving service of God’s people.
During 2018, the Society of Jesus began the first steps toward the process of beatification for Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe, 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa, current Superior General, announced the opening of the process at the meeting of the International Association of Jesuit Universities in Bilbao, Spain, on July 11.
From August 21-26, the 2018 World Meeting of Families (WMOF) was held in Dublin. Held every three years, the theme was “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.” USA Northeast Jesuit Father James Martin, author and editor-at-large of America magazine, spoke on August 23 about welcoming LGBT Catholics, a topic on which he is well-versed after penning his book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.
Twenty-six Jesuit novices in Canada and the United States professed first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in August. A novice spends two years at the novitiate for the first stage of Jesuit formation, culminating in first vows — a public profession of commitment to the Society of Jesus.
During September, the USA Northeast Province held two Masses in celebration of our Jesuit jubilarians. Both Masses were celebrated by Fr. John Cecero, SJ, provincial of the USA Northeast Province. The province is grateful to these men celebrating jubilees for their wholehearted response to God’s call to serve.
The Society of Jesus in the U.S., Canada and Haiti welcomed 40 new Jesuit novices this fall at novitiates in California, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Quebec and Haiti. They have taken the initial step on their journey toward Jesuit priesthood or brotherhood, known as “Jesuit formation,” which can take a total of eight to 12 years.
On October 14, 2018, Pope Francis canonized a pope and a martyr: Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador. Carrying Pope Paul VI’s pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Romero, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church.