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New assistant to Socius appointed

johndunne_01.jpgWhile Fr John Dunne (pictured here) is ill, Fr Liam O’Connell will be fulfilling the functions of Socius to the Jesuit Provincial in Ireland. He will be based part-time at the Curia Office, IMI, Sandyford Road. Liam can be contacted at socius@jesuit.ie. What is a Socius? Paul Andrews SJ explains below. Click on ‘Read more’.

What is a Socius?

The job of Socius is not mentioned in St Ignatius’ Constitutions, nor does it turn up in a search of the Ignatian Wiki website. Yet it is of great importance in a Jesuit Province. The Socius is the companion, secretary, sounding-board and friend of the Provincial in his onerous job. In 1944, when the Province numbered over 500, the central administration consisted of the Provincial and Socius with questionable help from an aging Treasurer. No emails, cars, faxes or secretaries, just a single phone and a shaky bus service.

Some Socii – Irish Jesuits will think of John Coyne, John Humphreys and John Dunne – have held the job through several Provincials. No socius in living memory has gone on to be Provincial. He is typically an approachable discreet Jesuit of high competence, with a small ego and a capacity for enduring stress. The strain of the job persuaded Paddy Meagher that he should move to calmer pastures. Philip Fogarty’s heart almost gave way under the pressures. And now John Dunne is sick. He ranks high in our prayers.