Second week of General Congregation 36.


Monday 10th to Thursday 13th October 2016. In the Constitutions St. Ignatius insisted forcefully that the election of the General take place in an atmosphere of prayer and discernment, an atmosphere that gives pride of place to the Holy Spirit. The delegates were able to inform themselves about the persons whom they might judge suitable for taking on the governing of the entire Society of Jesus. Traditionally the Congregation has 4 days of murmuratio, after that comes the election.

Those days in the Curia have the same schedule, after the customary morning prayer in the Aula, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the main chapel of the General Curia. Day and night, in an atmosphere of silence, the electors take heed under the weight of their responsibility of the information they have gathered from their interchanges. At the end of the day all the electors gather in the same chapel for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. During these four days the Jesuits invited all the men and women who are united with what is taking place here in Rome at the General Congregation, to share in the same spirit of prayer.

Friday 14th October 2016. 

Mass of the Holy Spirit 

The day of the election of the General, the electors gathered to celebrate the Eucharist; they invoke the Holy Spirit once again that he inspire them at the moment of the vote which commenced immediately after the celebration.
The Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit was presided by Fr. James Grummer, who until the election of the new superior general, was acting as vicar general of the Society after the General Congregation accepted of the resignation of Father Adolfo Nicolás.
In the gospel chosen for this mass, Jesus appears to his disciples who are gathered in the Upper room in a state of pure fear. The Lord appears to his own with a message of peace and he gives them the Holy Spirit. Fr. James interpreted this passage in the following way:
“One will notice that the movement that St. Ignatius proposes is quite simple: a journey from fear to joy and from the gift received to the mission, a journey that is proposed to each Jesuit and each General Congregation.”

Click here to read the complete text of the homily in English

Election of new General Superior: Fr. Arturo Sosa

After the celebration of the Eucharist, the electors returned 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 began with an hour of silent prayer.

The 36th General Congregation has elected Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, of the Jesuit Province of Venezuela as 31st Superior General after Saint Ignatius. 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.

Mass of Thanksgiving at the Gesù Church

Saturday 15th October 2016

The electors once they have completed the election work are now called delegates. After a deserved break on Friday afternoon, they met on Saturday morning at the Gesù Church for the thanksgiving mass for the election of the new Superior General, Father Arturo Sosa. 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.” 

You can read the original homily in Italian by clicking here.
Official English translation here.

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.