Fr. Arturo Sosa spoke with six young Jesuits one from each of the six Jesuit Conferences about the meaning of the Universal Apostolic Preferences for them, about the future of the Society, and especially about their own future.

Fr. Joseph Mboya, SJ, from the Jesuit Province of Eastern Africa Province (AOR) represented the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM). He shares his experience engaging with Fr. General in this series on Jesuit Futures.

On 23rd April 2022, Fr. General, Arturo Sosa SJ in a worldwide premiere, responded to key questions by Jesuits in formation on the Universal Apostolic Preferences. This came after a series of meetings by Jesuits in formation globally. Their views and questions were presented in Fr. General’s expanded council that met in January and dedicated three days to listen to the voices of Jesuits in formation. The major questions arising from this process were asked by the six Jesuits in formation who attended the expanded council.

I was privileged to be among these six Jesuits asking Fr. General questions. I can summarize this session in two themes and by using two images. The themes are Hope and total dependence on God. The images are those of Abraham and St. Paul. Abraham was a man of hope, trusting that the Lord was leading him in the right direction. Likewise, Jesuits in formation are invited to live with the hope of a future that is fully in God’s hands. Yes, we have the Universal Apostolic Preferences as a road map, but that should not limit our creativity and initiative as young people. Instead, always learning to listen to the movements of the Holy Spirit which is not an easy task. Even when young Jesuits feel hindered by institutional inertia, they should trust that the processes are in God’s hands.

The image of St. Paul also captures this well. Paul was a man driven with great zeal by what he believed in. During his conversion he becomes blind, and others had to lead him by the hand. Jesuits in formation should also trust those leading them, and give the processes their time, for ultimately, like Paul, we are being led to Christ. The first UAP intends to show us the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises. To do this well, Fr. General invited Jesuits in formation to integrate the Spiritual Exercises at all levels of their formation.

Jesuits in formation were invited to witness through their lifestyle a closeness to the poor and marginalized, as well as an interest in the care for the environment. The matter of vocations came up. Fr. General acknowledged that the majority of vocations to the Society of Jesus are coming from Africa and Asia. He challenged African Jesuits to live with the conviction that they belong to one apostolic body. This he said should be done in two ways. The first is to acknowledge where we come from and what our cultures uniquely enable us to bring to the Society. The second is to recognize how our cultural diversity fits in the larger picture in which a Jesuit belongs to this universal body and is involved in the same mission. In the end, to ask oneself, how can I/we contribute to the mission of the Society of Jesus.

The General Curia also produced a one-hour video programme broadcast, you can access it {HERE}