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Jesuits in the New Province of Canada: not administrators, not dreamers, but committed "collaborators"
Church of the Gesù, Montréal, May 27, 2018
Father Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuits, has already spent more than a week in Ca-na-da. After Toronto and Midland, he met for a few days with the provincial superiors of Canada and the United States in Montreal. On Friday, May 25, he went to Quebec City, stopping along the way at the Jesuit infirmary in Richelieu, in the enchanting setting of the banks of the Richelieu River. The infirmary is under the responsibility of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; Oblates and Jesuits, therefore, share the facilities but also part of their community life.
On Saturday, May 26, Fr. Sosa visited Jesuit works in Quebec City and participated in the diac-onal ordination of a young Haitian Jesuit, Johnny Masséba.
He returned to Montreal to participate in a key moment of his stay in Canada, the Eucharistic celebration of thanksgiving to mark some 400 years of Jesuit presence on Canadian soil. This Mass took place at the Church of the Gesù, in downtown Montreal, where, in 1842, Jesuits resumed their service in Canada, at the invitation of the Bishop of Montreal, after the Restoration of the Society of Jesus.
The importance of this celebration, however, was not primarily nostalgic. On the contrary, Father General's presence was an opportunity to make the public announcement of the creation of a new Jesuit Province that would bring together what had hitherto constituted the two Provinces of English and French Canada. The decree from Father General was read, in the two official languages of the new Province, at the heart of the celebration, after the homily of the Superior General. During the homily, Father Sosa took the opportunity to clearly express his vision and hopes for the Society of Jesus in the future, here in Canada but also throughout the world.
In making the link with the liturgical feast of the Most Holy Trinity, Father General recalled how Saint Ignatius, in the Spiritual Exercises, had imagined the loving and fertile dialogue between the Father, the Son and the Spirit who contemplated the world with its joys and sorrows. He stressed that God's plan that followed was realized with Mary in conditions of humility and poverty. And Father Sosa to affirm that we had the responsibility to continue this mission, God's mission.
"What are we going to do?" he asked. "To serve the mission of the Church which is to serve Christ as companions in a mission of reconciliation and justice". In Canada, in his opinion, this means approaching young people with the joy of the Gospel, welcoming strangers, creating new relationships with Aboriginal peoples, and taking care of this beautiful country.
"How are we going to do it?" he continued. By participating, as collaborators, in networks and partnerships with many people, Christians and other people of good will. This will have to be done both by discerning and by concretely planning our actions. He added, "Discernment and planning cannot be separated. By planning without discerning, we are administrators. By discerning without planning, we are dreamers.
Father Sosa drew attention to another point: the first Jesuits were both educated and poor. The Jesuits of Canada must be "learned" to serve effectively; in this sense, every Jesuit apostolate must have an intellectual apostolate dimension. But what a blessing it would be if the Society of Jesus could honestly say that its "learned Jesuits" or "intellectuals" had been taught by the poor!
Father General expressed one last wish at the end of his homily: that the new Jesuit Province of Canada live under the sign of audacity. It would be "the audacity of those who believe that the divine Word has come into this world, that he has taken flesh in Mary, that he has passed through death and has risen to lead us all to the fullness of life".
After a moment of fraternity with those who had come to the Church of the Gesù to participate in this festive moment, Father Arturo Sosa and his Assistants headed to the airport to go to Regina, Saskatchewan.
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