In a Historic Moment...Jesuits Elect New Superior General

On October 14, 2016, two weeks after the start of General Congregation 36, Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, was elected the 31st Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Fr. Sosa previously served in Venezuela as provincial superior of the Society of Jesus and in Rome as delegate of the general for international houses and works of the Society.

Fr. Sosa was born in Caracas, Venezuela, on November 12, 1948. He entered the Society of Jesus in September 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Catholic University Andrés Bello in Caracas, a bachelor’s degree in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in political science from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Fr. Sosa speaks Spanish, Italian and English and understands French.

Prior to serving as provincial from 1996 to 2004, he was in charge of the social apostolate of the Jesuits in Venezuela, which includes the Jesuit network of schools for the poor, Fe y Alegría. He was also head of the Centro Gumilla, the Jesuit-run social and action research center.

Moments after being named Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, embraces Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, the previous Superior General.
Among his distinguished academic posts, he has served as a member of the founding board of the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas and rector of the Catholic University of Táchira. He has taught and researched political science in many different institutes and colleges, and in 2004 was a visiting professor at the Latin- American Studies Center of Georgetown University.

In the moments after his election, Jesuits from around the world expressed their support, and the news was shared by global media outlets.

“I am delighted to share the good news that the Congregation has elected Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, as our new Father General,” said Fr. John Cecero, SJ, provincial of the USA Northeast Province. “It has been a truly inspirational experience to take part in this election, and I have already extended our prayerful best wishes to Father Sosa. Let us continue to pray in thanksgiving for Father General and his leadership for years to come.”

Fr. Robert Hussey, SJ, provincial for the Maryland Province Jesuits, commented, “Fr. Arturo Sosa is the first Superior General of the Jesuits that is from Latin America—just as we now have a pope from Latin America. He is a man with wide-ranging experience as a Jesuit, who has a natural, personable presence. We are all looking forward to the new inspiration and direction his leadership will bring to the Society and our mission.”

More than 200 Jesuits from around the world, including provincials and democratically elected delegates, gathered in Rome this year not only to accept the planned resignation of Jesuit Superior General Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, and elect a new leader, but to also discuss issues of importance in the Society, including the mission and structure of Jesuit life and work. The process effectively provides the world’s Jesuits with the opportunity to set the priorities of the largest order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church.

The logo for GC 36, which depicts the Jesuit seal amidst waves of water, was inspired by Pope Francis’ message to the Jesuits on the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. In Sept. 2014, in the Church of the Gesù in Rome, the pope urged Jesuits to discern in difficult times; to be receptive of and obedient to the will of God; and to row with him in the service of the Church, echoing the words Jesus used in calling his disciples to “put out into the deep.”

General Congregation 36 was expected to last anywhere between 4 and 7 weeks, and in the months following its conclusion, full decrees, along with accompanying documents, will be prepared and shared with all members of the Society of Jesus.

To learn more about the priorities outlined in GC 36, click here.

Delegates celebrate Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica during the 36th General Congregation.

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