The day after celebrating Mass on July 31 in the Basilica of Loyola in Spain for the Feast of St. Ignatius and the conclusion of the Ignatian Year, Father General Arturo Sosa was on a plane for the USA East Province, his first visit to the province since its creation in 2020. Having tasked the province with creating an Apostolic Plan that will position it to better serve the people of God through the Universal Apostolic Preferences, the trip served as a wonderful opportunity for Fr. Sosa to gain a first-hand perspective of Jesuits USA East, our apostolates, and institutions.
Father General’s first order of business was to speak at the International Association of Jesuit Universities 2022 assembly at Boston College, entitled, “Discerning the Future of Jesuit Higher Education.” In his remarks, Fr. Sosa spoke to the nearly 400 presidents and administrators from Jesuit colleges and universities throughout the world about what they can do to help pave the way to a more just society with fraternal relations among persons, their cultures, peoples, and nations. Another theme that he continued to highlight during his time in the USA East Province, was that true discernment means to let go and open oneself to discovering something new.
Discernment and new discoveries are top-of-mind for Jesuits USA East as the province begins its discernment process this fall for its new Apostolic Plan. It was inspiring to hear Father General liken our apostolic planning journey to that of Abraham’s “Yes” to the Lord despite so much uncertainty. Abraham committed to following the Lord—to letting go and following the Holy Spirit. Jesuits and lay colleagues of the province are gearing up to do the same—to gather throughout the regions, sharing ideas and experiences and letting go of personal egos in a spirit of freedom to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
Following his talk at Boston College, Fr. Sosa spent some time on August 5 at Campion Center in Weston, MA, one of the province health centers for senior and infirm Jesuits. Visiting these men and celebrating Mass in their chapel made for a memorable day for these Jesuits now missioned to pray for the Church and the Society of Jesus.
It was then on to New York City and the headquarters of the USA East Province where Fr. Sosa met with Jesuits and province staff at the Jesuit Center and celebrated Mass at the historic St. Ignatius Church on Park Avenue. On August 8, Father General met with Cardinal Timothy Dolan before heading over to Newark where he had lunch with Cardinal Joseph Tobin and then Mass at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City.
Father General’s travels continued south to meet on August 9 with Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori. In the same way with Cardinals Dolan and Tobin, it was uplifting to hear from Archbishop Lori how he and the archdiocese fully support the mission of the Jesuits. Fr. Sosa then toured St. Ignatius Church in Baltimore before concluding the day with Mass and dinner at Colombiére, a community for older Jesuits who remain somewhat active in pastoral ministry.
On August 10, Fr. Sosa attended a meeting at Loyola University Maryland to engage with directors of Jesuit works from Baltimore and Philadelphia. Usually accustomed to learning about these apostolates from reports via the provincial, it was good for Fr. Sosa to hear and discuss successes and challenges directly from those working in the schools, organizations, and volunteer groups.
The following morning, Father General was in Washington, DC, where he toured the Father McKenna Center, a homeless shelter next to Gonzaga College High School founded by Fr. Horace McKenna, SJ. He then met with Cardinal Wilton Gregory before visiting the Washington Jesuit Academy, where he met with other Jesuit apostolates from the Washington area. He finished the day with the Jesuits of Georgetown University for Mass and dinner.
Throughout the week, Fr. Sosa stressed the need to pray and work for an increase in vocations to the Society of Jesus. It was therefore fitting for him to conclude the week by heading north to Syracuse to meet with men discerning a call to the Society at the St. Andrews Hall Novitiate and to preside at the Vow Day Mass on August 13 for two Jesuits professing their perpetual vows and three professing final vows. He also met with Bishop of Syracuse, Douglas J. Lucia.
The USA East Province is grateful for the time Father General Sosa spent with Jesuits and our colleagues in mission during August 2022. His discussions and homilies were both informative and inspiring. As the superior of the Global Society of Jesus, Fr. Sosa is fully engaged to addressing the important issues of our day. In addition to his focus on the Universal Apostolic Preferences, he also created the Commission on the Role of Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus. And as part of his commitment to minister to minorities, upon leaving the USA East Province, he traveled to the Midwest Province—to the Red Cloud Indian School in South Dakota—where he expressed his desire to walk with Native Americans and apologized for certain Jesuit boarding schools that were a part of the U.S. government’s reprehensible assimilation policies of the past.
Thank you, Fr. Sosa for your visit!