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Father Johannes Siebner SJ, Provincial of the German Province, was in Rome at the "Colloquium" for new provincials. This time is a framework for intensive exchanges among the new provincial, newly appointed last year, Superior General P. Arturo Sosa and the General Curia in Rome.

Years ago, a former Superior General once said, in connection with the invitation of the new provincials to Rome, that the event should not be called "school for new provincials", as you cannot teach anything to provincials: that’s the reason, why it has been called "Colloquium" for several years. It quickly became clear that Father General P. Sosa is very keen on this kind of introduction or further formation. Father Sosa SJ not only welcomed us warmly at the beginning, he also participated in most of the two-week colloquium. The group: 13 Provincial Provinces of the Northwest Africa Provinces, from the Antilles, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Canada, Bombay (Mumbai), Hazaribagh (in northeastern India), Vietnam, Ireland, Croatia, Hungary, and just Germany. Already the composition is something special, a privilege: worldwide church at it's best. Exchange, conversation, prayer together, listening and telling are in the center - in fact a ‘colloquium’.

In addition to the Superior General, numerous staff of the General Curia are involved and give generous time. The provincials clearly felt the esteem, many of the staff of the curia have been once provincial and know the “job”. Their message: we are here in Rome for two reasons: first and foremost, to help the Superior General to fulfill his task, and secondly, for you, the Major Superiores on the ground. And Siebner and his colleagues realize, it´s really true: the "apparatus" does not take itself seriously, all the assistants, delegates and secretariats put themselves in the service.

Universal and regional

Of course, the reception of the latest General Congregation in October / November 2016 also plays a central role. The decrees of this assembly want to give direction and orientation worldwide for the mission on all continents, regionally and therefore in completely different cultural, religious, political and social contexts they should be implemented. During the conversations, it became clear that the decrees of 2016 are well received: The new provincials are mainly concerned with how they inspire and also motivate the aspect of fellowship. Their most important tasks are to be concerned for each brother, their mission and for community life (cura personalis).

And so the exchange of experiences of the "Young Provincials", not quite so universal, for example, revolves around the so-called visitation of each individual community by the Provincial. How you do that? Where do you set accents? But also: How do you do that with the cooperation between head of work and superiors? In general, the issue of cooperation with non-Jesuits plays a central role in our discussions. A good "practice field" seems to be where Jesuit collaborators are in a work whose leader is a non-Jesuit. Many other topics and aspects of our work are taken up during the days in Rome, some also very practical, almost technical (legal and financial issues).

Siebner and the other “young provincials” also were guests in the Gregoriana and the College Il Gesù, they visited the rooms of St. Ignatius and had an extremely interesting tour through the archives. “Of course, as a special experience stands out the morning Mass with Pope Francis in Santa Marta and the short personal meeting with him after the mass. His warmth touches and his simplicity, the humor and the sincerity. He radiates the "joy of the gospel" of which he always speaks - that is catching,” remembers Siebner.

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