Jesuit Highlights from 2016

This past year has been a remarkable one for the Jesuits in our province and around the world. Members of the Society gathered in Rome to elect a new Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ. Nine Jesuits from the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces professed first vows in the Society of Jesus, and two were ordained priests at the Fordham University Church in June. Two major films were released about the Jesuits, including one by award-winning director Martin Scorsese. 

And these are just a few of the many major events that happened this past year in our province and in the Society itself. Below are several other Jesuit stories from 2016 that were popular among friends of the Society of Jesus.


General Congregation 36

From Oct. 2, through Nov. 12, 215 Jesuit delegates gathered in Rome for General Congregation 36 (GC36) to discuss the future of the Society and to elect a new Superior General. Deeply rooted in prayer, the work of GC36 encompassed all manner of concerns that affect the governance and future of the Society, as well as its expansive missions that shape untold numbers of lives in some of the most remote places on the globe. In the nearly 500-year history of the Society of Jesus, there have only been 36 of these meetings. 

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Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Elected 31st Superior General of the Society of Jesus

Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, of Venezuela was elected the 31st Superior General of the Society of Jesus at General Congregation 36 on Oct. 14, in Rome. Fr. Sosa is the first Latin American Superior General of the Society of Jesus and succeeded Father Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, 80, who resigned a week earlier after serving as Superior General since 2008. Fr. Sosa was born in Caracas, Venezuela, on Nov. 12, 1948, 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. He was provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Venezuela from 1996 to 2004. 

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Fr. Daniel Berrigan, SJ, Peace Activist and Writer, Dies at Age 94

Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan, a peace activist and writer, died on April 30, 2016, in New York City, at the age of 94. He was a Jesuit for 76 years and a priest for 63 years. An acclaimed poet who for decades famously challenged U.S. Catholics to reject war and nuclear weapons, he wrote more than 50 books on Scripture, spirituality and resistance to war. To honor Fr. Berrigan’s work and continue his quest for peace, the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces established the Fr. Daniel J. Berrigan, SJ, Jesuit Peacemaking Fund. The Fund supports Jesuits and colleagues in the eastern U.S. working to bring peace to their communities, to encourage dialogue on contentious social issues and to help with organizing research, training, and in-person advocacy for issues related to peace.

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Jesuit Ordinations

On June 11, the Most Reverend Terrence T. Prendergast, SJ, Archbishop of Ottawa, ordained Jesuits Christopher Ryan and Kevin Spinale at the Fordham University Church. They were among the 20 Jesuits ordained priests in the U.S. and Canada at ceremonies that month. Hundreds of friends, family members, loved ones and fellow Jesuits gathered as these men took a major step in their lives of service to the Lord. Their call to priesthood in the Society of Jesus required them to undergo extensive training — from the moment they entered the Society as novices to when they’re ordained — a process that can take anywhere from eight to twelve years.

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Jesuit First Vows

On Sat., Aug. 13, nine Jesuit novices (Henoch Derbew, Thomas Elitz, Brendan Gottschall, Justin Grosnick, Kieran Halloran, Chia-Yang “C-Y” Kao, Joseph Lorenz, Jonathan Pennacchia and Nathan Sparks) from the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces professed their first vows in the Society of Jesus at Holy Cross Church, DeWitt, N.Y. After discerning their vocation to the Society, these men entered the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse two years ago and, since then, have experienced a wide-ranging introduction to Jesuit ministries. They have all taken part in the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, provided spiritual support for the sick and dying at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx and taught at different Jesuit schools.

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Martin Scorsese Releases Jesuit Film Silence

After years in development limbo, Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese released his film Silence.  The film, based on the novel of the same name by Shusako Endo, takes place in 1640s Japan and depicts the harrowing journey of two Jesuits (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) sent to investigate reports that another Jesuit (Liam Neeson) has renounced the Church amidst the persecution of Christians. Scorsese was also the keynote speaker at this year’s Jesuit Province Day this June, when he was interviewed by Fr. James Martin, SJ, editor-at-large of America magazine. Mr. Scorsese spoke about the long process of creating the film, his childhood and his religious background, which included entering New York’s Cathedral Seminary. 

Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Passes Away

Jesuit Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, died in Beirut, Lebanon, on Nov. 26. He was 87, just four days shy of his 88th birthday. He was a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 55, and he served as Superior General from 1983 to 2008. As Superior General, Fr. Kolvenbach visited as many Jesuit provinces and individual Jesuits as he could. In 1995, he directed the Jesuits’ General Congregation 34, which addressed issues including the mission of the Society in the modern world. In February 2006, Fr. Kolvenbach informed the members of the Society of Jesus of his intention, with the consent of Pope Benedict XVI, to step down. His resignation was accepted at General Congregation 35 in 2008. Upon retirement Fr. Kolvenbach returned to Beirut, making his home in a Jesuit community, where he served as assistant librarian.   

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Jesuit Eco-Spirituality Series

During 2016, the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces shared monthly stories that featured ways Jesuits, lay collaborators and Jesuit ministries responded to Pope Francis’ call to care for our common home. All ministries were invited to submit stories. The goal of the series was to share uplifting experiences that encourage each of us to act justly and compassionately. 

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Pope Francis’ Monthly Video Prayer Series

Throughout 2016, Pope Francis (in collaboration with the Apostleship of Prayer) released video reflections of his monthly prayer requests. A new video was released each month with subtitles in ten languages so as to better communicate the pope's intentions to believers and inspire them to be mindful of these requests in their prayers. Click here to view the full series. 


The Jesuit Center: Inspiring Collaboration

Earlier this year, the USA Northeast Province announced a major capital campaign to create the Jesuit Center on New York’s East 83rd Street. This center will be the home to a community of priests, brothers and scholastics, and the Jesuits and their colleagues who, together, oversee the mission and Ignatian identity of Jesuit ministries throughout the Northeast. In 2020, when the Maryland Province unites with the USA Northeast Province in the final stage of a national restructuring of Jesuit provinces, the Jesuit Center will house the offices of the more than 40 Jesuits and lay colleagues who serve ministries from Maine to Georgia. 

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Eastern Point Welcomes Back Retreatants

After the first phase of a comprehensive renovation of the famed oceanfront facility, Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Mass., was officially rededicated on Nov. 12., welcoming friends and retreatants back to the incomparable location that so many have called their spiritual home over the years. In addition to 38 new retreatant rooms, this phase of work also included a new elevator, updated space for retreat directors and administrative purposes, and numerous utility improvements. 

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Film Ignacio de Loyola Released

The last feature film about St. Ignatius of Loyola was a black and white, Spanish language film released in the 1940s. In response to the lack of contemporary material on the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit Communications Foundation in the Philippines produced the feature length film Ignacio de Loyola. Written with the help of Jesuit consultants who offered their expertise on Ignatian spirituality, history and art, and filmed at historical sites in Spain, Ignacio de Loyola depicts the conversion of Ignatius from soldier to saint.

Jesuit Friends and Alumni Sunday

On Oct. 22 and 23, 13 Jesuit parishes in the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces participated in Jesuit Friends and Alumni Sunday by celebrating special Masses and receptions for over 450 Jesuit educated graduates and friends of the Society. These Masses provided opportunities for friends and alumni, joined together in their shared Ignatian heritage, to foster a common bond, while highlighting opportunities for continuing spiritual growth and service to the local and global community. The receptions gave everyone a chance to catch up with old friends and meet fellow graduates striving to be men and women or others. 

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Fordham Prep and Fordham University Celebrate 175 years

On June 24, 1841, the feast of St. John the Baptist, Fordham University and Fordham Prep were founded together as St. John's College a small Catholic college in the Bronx. Exactly 175 years later, the Fordham University community gathered at St. Patrick's Cathedral for a Mass that formally launched Fordham's yearlong anniversary celebration. On June 25, the Fordham Prep community gathered for the Founder’s Day Mass celebrated by President Fr. Christopher Devron, SJ, followed by the dedication and blessing of the new entrance and lobby. 

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Loyola House of Retreats
Loyola House of Retreats is located on 30 acres of beautiful lawns, gardens and woodland in a quiet section of Morristown, N.J.