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Towards a restructured Society in Southern Africa

Seventeen Jesuits from southern Africa met in Beira, Mozambique on 23 and 24 January 2019 to continue the discernment process that is charting the way for a new Jesuit province in southern Africa. When created, the new province will bring together the current provinces of Zambia-Malawi, Zimbabwe-Mozambique, and the region of South Africa.

Before he left office, Father General Adolfo Nicolas encouraged the major superiors in southern Africa to reflect on ways of closer collaboration in the mission of the Society of Jesus in the region. Over time and after a process discernment, it became clear to the major superiors that the Lord was inviting the Jesuits in southern Africa to forge closer bonds that would eventually culminate in the creation of a new province. The major superiors communicated this to Father General, and since then the discernment process for the creation of a new Jesuit province has been going on.

The meeting in Beira was facilitated by the president of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), Fr Agbhonkianmeghe Orobator. Using Father General Arturo Sosa’s letter, “On the restructuring of provinces and regions,” Fr Orobator took the group through a prayerful reflection which helped to set the tone for the rest of the meeting.

Throughout the deliberations, “mission” was the overarching theme.

The meeting made recommendations to the major superiors relating to the mission of the Society of Jesus in education, the social apostolate, formation of ours, migrants and refugees, youth ministry, media and communications, and so on.

On day three, the major superiors and their respective consultors met together as a joint consult to consider the recommendations from the restructuring steering committee.

The discernment continues, the journey goes on, and the mission of the Society of Jesus in southern Africa forges ahead.

In the coming months, the various subcommittees that have been set up will have their meetings and work on various aspects of restructuring the Society in southern Africa. There is energy and excitement. There are fears and anxieties. But above all, it is clear to all involved that the Spirit of the Lord is at work. Our task is therefore to listen. To listen to one another. To listen to the Spirit of the Lord.