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An adventure of discovery … a unique opportunity to listen to the Spirit
—Father General Arturo Sosa, SJ

May 16, 2023 — On May 6, the Society of Jesus’ 71st Congregation of Procurators began in Loyola, Spain, with more than 100 Jesuits from around the world taking part. An essential governing body of the Society of Jesus, the assembly consists of one delegate from each of the Society’s provinces and regions, in addition to Father General Arturo Sosa, SJ, and his assistants.

“The Congregation of Procurators is a unique opportunity to listen to the Spirit,” said Fr. Sosa. “We live in a period of enormous change and the Universal Apostolic Preferences have launched us on an adventure of discovery. Our common home is threatened as never before; poverty is on the increase and people feel increasingly alienated and marginalized; men and women are hungry for the life-giving Spirit; the young long for a hope-filled future. The meeting here in Loyola will be a chance to reflect on how this adventure is going and help us to deepen it.”

The Congregation began with an eight-day retreat that concluded on May 14. The retreat focused on the themes of the De Statu Societatis — the state of the Society of Jesus — by Fr. Sosa, which had been presented in plenary session on May 6. Among other topics, the De Statu reflected on the Universal Apostolic Preferences and how they are shaping the Society’s life and mission.

As the procurators move on to the next part of the Congregation, further discussion of key themes chosen by Fr. General will take place. After the Congregation concludes on May 21, Fr. General will publish the definitive version of his text based on this process of discernment in common. The revised De Statu Societatis will be shared with the whole Society as a renewed call to go forward on its journey of conversion.

Fr. Victor Cancino, SJ

Fr. Victor Cancino, SJ, is representing the Jesuits West Province. He spent the last 11 months visiting communities and works so that he can reflect what is on the minds and in the hearts of those in the province.

The Congregation of Procurators is not part of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. During the second General Congregation in 1565, Jesuits recognized the need for more frequent meetings than the General Congregations. The Congregation of Procurators was envisioned to be held every few years, primarily to recommend whether a General Congregation should be convoked. The last General Congregation was held in 2016 and elected Fr. Sosa as superior general; there have been 36 General Congregations in the more than 450 years of the Society.

The Congregation of Procurators is also a way to bring before the global body of the Society any pressing issues that have arisen in the work, life and prayer of Jesuits around the world. It comes after extensive discernment at the local level through Province Congregations. In addition, after his election, each procurator went around his province to listen and discern with communities and individuals. These visits culminated in a written report to Fr. Sosa, and each procurator will have a chance to discuss his report in a private meeting with Fr. General during the Loyola meeting.

Santuario de Loyola in Loyola, Spain

This process has resulted in a wealth of information on how the Society is moving and responding to new calls. After the Congregation, Fr. General will be asking the whole Society to reflect on the De statu Societatis and to discern how to deepen the way forward in the Society’s mission.

“This meeting in Loyola is a chance for us to listen deeply to the Spirit,” said Fr. Sosa. “St. John tells us that ‘we do not know where this Spirit is coming from … or where it is going.’ And so we hear a call to enter into a space of vulnerability, to admit that we do not know where we are being led, to let go of our own plans and dreams and, instead, let God dream in us. Just as Ignatius and his Companions, when they met in Venice, had to let go of their dream of going to Jerusalem, can we also be open to a new future, letting go of past dreams in order to embrace more fully the dreams of the Spirit? That is the invitation to each of us, every day, but especially so in this Congregation of Procurators.”

Jesuits and their partners in mission are invited to join in this unique moment of Spirit-led discernment by saying the prayer for the Congregation. You can also join the morning prayer of the Congregation, which will be livestreamed every day from May 16-21, and video of each day’s prayer will be available afterwards on the Congregation of Procurators website.

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