The 36th Jesuit General Congregation ended on Saturday 12 November after six weeks of prayerful deliberations and discernment. After the closing Mass in St Ignatius Church the members of the Congregation went to the Gregorian community for snacks and a drink to celebrate the birthday of their new Father General who shares a birthday with his 90 year old mother. According to Irish delegate John Guiney, “It was a time for saying goodbyes to our companions from different corners of the globe after what was an experience of great companionship, being friends of the Lord with Jesuits from across the oceans, the continents and seas.
He says the whole event was “a celebration of our diversity and richness in the one mission in bringing consolation, justice and peace to a divided world. It was also a historic occasion. There are only 36 such Congregations since the foundation of the Society of Jesus. One felt that one was a part of history making.”
During the Congregation delegates from around the world elected a new leader, Fr General Arturo Sosa, from Venezuela. This was followed by a memorable visit from Pope Francis who gave them an inspirational talk that moved all those present and will bear fruit for in their deliberations for years to come.
They elected John Dardis SJ of the Irish Province, as one of the four Assistants Ad Providentiam, special assistants who work closely with the Father General. The other three are Fr. Vernon D’Cunha (Bombay Province), Fr. Douglas Marcouiller (US Central-Southern Province), and Fr. Fratern Masawe (Eastern Africa Province). Fr Marcoullier has also been appointed Admonitor to Fr Sosa. Earlier in the Congregation Fr Dardis was also appointed to the General Council by Fr Sosa. He will hold a newly-created post, that of General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning (DPA).
Delegates also discussed a variety of topics impacting on the Society in the 21st century and it’s mission into the future. They will publish a document known as a ‘decree’, arising from those deliberation.It will be the result of long conversations both in small groups and in the large group of all delegates that met in the ‘aula’. This major decree will fall under the general theme of “Life and Mission of the Society”.
This type of deliberation was really important, according to John Guiney. “Perhaps the greatest gift the Jesuits can bring- underlined by many including Pope Francis- is the gift of discernment – look at the world as God looks at it and make decisions out of that God space by listening and with a real sensitivity to how the Spirit of God is moving within and without.”
Irish Jesuit Provincial Tom Layden SJ was one of the Irish delegates in Rome. During the Congregation Fr General announced Leonard Moloney SJ as Tom’s successor when his term as Irish Provincial finishes at the end of this year.
John has been blogging and videoing almost daily from Rome, with his own take on the happenings at GC36. He sent a video summing up the whole unforgettable experience. “The hospitality of the Roman communities was fantastic in accommodating over 200 Jesuits,” he says, adding, “The weather overall was good and the Italian peoples’ warmth, good food and good wine made such a difference.”
The Jesuit communications team at GC36 made a huge contribution to Jesuits and colleagues around the world by updating them daily with multi-media material. All the above issues and more are explored in-depth on the GC36 website.