The 71st Congregation of the Procurators came to a close. The process began with an eight-day retreat which opened with Mass presided over by Fr. General in the Santuario de Loyola.

The retreat focused on the De Statu Societatis (a synthesis document prepared by Father General from reports received on the situation of the Society from around the world) which had been presented in a plenary session on May 6th led by General Counsellors Victor Assouad, Claudio Paul and Mark Ravizza. This was followed by the canonical part of the Congregation, to further discuss key themes chosen by Fr. General.

The 6 provinces and 1 region in the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) were represented by: Fr. Virgílio Costa, SJ (SAP) - Procurator, Fr. Jocelyn Rabeson, SJ (MDG) - Procurator, Fr. John Ghansah, SJ (ANW) - Procurator, Fr. Jean Baptiste Ganza, SJ (RWB) - Relator, Fr. Jean Luc Enyegue, SJ (AOC) - Procurator, Fr. Festo Mkenda, SJ (AOR) - Procurator, and Fr. Ntima Nkanza, SJ (ACE) - Procurator. Prior to the CP71 the procurators spent months in communities and ministries in their various provinces so that they could gather information that presents the life-mission in their local contexts.  Father General's Assistant for Africa Fr. Fratern Masawe, SJ was also present.

(Frs) Virgílio Costa, SJ and John Ghansah, SJ share their experiences below.

Fr. Virgílio Costa writes:

For the past two weeks, Jesuits at the Procurators Congregation have been Examining the state of the universal body of the Society of Jesus in an Ignatian way: giving thanks for all the graces we have received in the past years; asking for God’s light and guidance; looking at our life-mission and see where and how we can do more; asking for forgiveness as we are aware of being sinners called to be with and follow Jesus poor and humble; and trying to see where the Holy Spirit wants to lead us.

While examining the state of the Society, we looked at many different aspects of our life-mission such as: our collaboration with others in God’s mission, a mission that Jesus shared with us, as being part of our identity; the seriousness with which we have assimilated and integrated the Universal Apostolic Preferences in our life-mission; the ways in which we are trying to create a culture of safeguarding within the Society of Jesus and all around us; the efficacy of our government structures to respond to the challenges of our times and our life-mission. (Here we evaluated as well the performance of Fr General in the government of the Society). Nevertheless, the main focus has always been to be attentive to the way where the Holy Spirit is leading the Society today and to do it as a universal body, with members in diverse parts of the world, going through different experiences. Thus, it has been, from the beginning, a discernment process, through prayer and spiritual conversations, that was lived with great consolation.

This examination and discernment continue, leading to a process of conversion and renewal of the life-mission of the entire Society. It will be, therefore, the role of Procurators and Relators to communicate now this Examen (De Statu) done here in Loyola to our Provinces. The text, result of this Examen, will come out in time for the feast on St. Ignatius but, as important as the text, is the need to open ourselves to a spiritual dynamics (process) that will put us on the way to where the Holy Spirit is leading us. We need to be willing to enter into this process that will allow us to Examine and renew ourselves, our communities and institutions.

Fr. Virgílio Costa, SJ at the just concluded CP71

Our Province (Southern Africa Province - SAP) is involved in a process of discernment for the next Apostolic Plan. I suppose that this De Statu should not come as a parallel document, yet another one we have to study and know, but be integrated into our process of discernment. I am certain it will alert us for the necessity of entering into this dynamics of renewal and will give us some points for our examination and discernment. The focus would always be the question: “Where is the Holy Spirit leading us today?” It may not answer all the questions we have but it certainly puts us on the way to doing God’s will.

Members of JCAM who attended the 71st Procurator's Congregation, in Loyola Spain

Fr. John Ghansah, SJ writes:

We have spent the last six days delving into the draft document on De Statu Societitas -State of the Society- presented to us by the Fr. General, deepening it and discussing it among ourselves. Our task was to assist Fr. General in his understanding of the Society and to get a sense of the Society so that we could make an informed decision when it came time to vote on whether or not the Society needed a General Congregation at this time. A combination of communal discernment, prayer, and reflections was used in small groups and later at the plenary in the aula.

As we listened to each other during the various discussions and reflections, we all got a sense of where the Society is at on a global level, as well as the specific struggles of each mission area, all struggling to help souls under the banner of the cross. These diverse responses to Jesuit ministries and apostolates around the world did not divide us; rather, they drew us together as a body. There, I discovered the power of the Spiritual Exercises, as well as the connection with Jesus, poor and humble, to which all members of the Society pledges. We were in solidarity with one another; where vocations were dwindling, there was consolation in the promotion of vocations in other areas; and where there was fatigue due to its weight, it was balanced by refreshing and creative apostolates in other very difficult situations. The difficulties were real, as were the consolations we derived from our sharing, reflections, and prayer.

The 21st of May was the last day of the Congregation of Procurators, and the Procurators made a vote on whether to convene a General Congregation or not. Each Procurator arrived at this important session with an adequate and better appreciation of the universal Society, not only through information but also through thinking and feeling about where the spirit is leading the Society of Jesus. The 71st Congregation of Procurators in Spain will came to an end with that vote.

Closing Rituals: To conclude the 71st Congregation of Procurators, the Te Deum, sung in English, "O GOD, we praise Thee!" resounded through the aula with a great sense of gratitude from all the Procurators, Relators, and Guests. Yes, we began in His name, and at the end of the sessions, we praise His name. As we concluded one of the important agenda items, the secret ballot of co-genda or non-cogenda, this was the mood of all the members.

In his closing remarks, Father General thanked many people for their assistance and contributions to the success of the Procurators Congregation. He also expressed his delight at a wonderful congregation.

We all gathered at the Basilica of St. Ignatius at 5.30 PM for the final mass, which was presided over by Fr. General Arturo Sosa. The liturgy was solemn and full of songs and prayers, particularly the prayers of the faithful from all over the world. One of the songs for meditation after communion, Moricone's "Gabriel's Oboe," the signature tune of the film "The Mission," (1986) moved me deeply. Knowing the history and the fate of the Spanish Jesuits' attempt to protect one of the indigenous tribes in Southern America from the Portuguese slaver holders in the 18th century, added to the weight of our missions as we all leave Loyola. All I could say was, Lord, grant us the grace to fight under the banner of your cross today, as our forefathers did with humility, poverty, courage, and may your grace and love not leave us.

We joined the Jesuit community of the Ignatian Sanctuary for socials after Mass. It was a joyous and spirit-filled experience. May God grant each one of us journey mercies as we return to our various provinces.

In the photo from left: Fr. Jocelyn Rabeson, SJ, Fr. Jean-Luc Enyegue, SJ, and Fr. John Ghansah, SJ

We depart from the Congregation with grateful hearts. The many pictures taken by the Jesuits in the aula, the sharing of contacts, and the good wishes expressed to one another demonstrate our heartfelt appreciation for a job well done.

See all the material related to this procurators Congregation on the Jesuits Global website {HERE}

Grateful to Jesuits Global Communications Team for the wide coverage of the CP71.