At the heart of Father General’s visit to Kohima is the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Region. After blessing the commemorative stela of the jubilee, Father Arturo Sosa presided at the Eucharist at Loyola School in Jokhama. An assembly of almost 700 students, parents, alumni and friends of the Society accompanied the Jesuits of the region for this joyful event. The theme of Father General’s entire visit to the region is Reading the past to write the future. Here are some extracts from his homily for the jubilee.
Dear sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ,
We gather today for this thanksgiving Eucharist on the auspicious occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Kohima Jesuit Region, to thank and praise God for his loving presence and constant intervention in the collective story of this Region in the past fifty grace-filled years. On this Jubilee day, the words of Pope Francis come to my mind: “Review the past with gratitude, live the present with passion, and embrace the future with hope.”
This community gathered in worship today represents the many communities of the faithful in all the centres and institutions of Kohima Region. We gratefully contemplate God’s wonderful ways of granting to the faithful of this Region steady and continuous growth in faith as well as in number, in the past five decades. (...)
The graced history of Kohima Jesuit Region reflects the essential missionary character of the Society of Jesus. Our Holy Father Pope Francis, addressing the General Congregation of the Jesuits in 2016, challenged us with the words of our Founder St Ignatius of Loyola: “to think and live in any part of the world where there is hope for greater service of God and help of souls.” St. Francis Xavier, the first Jesuit missionary to come to India, is our inspiring model. Ignatius sent Francis Xavier to India with the words, “Go, set the whole world alight.”
It is in this spirit that the Jesuits came from Karnataka to this land fifty years ago. With the same fire, the present Jesuits too have kept moving constantly, responding to the call of people and places where they discerned a greater need. They handed over to the dioceses those parish centres and institutions that had already been sufficiently well established, to be free to move on to new apostolic frontiers where they discerned the need was greater.
This constant movement onward and outward is in fidelity to the Lord’s missionary mandate to go and make disciples of all nations, preach and teach all that he has commanded us. We continue to hear the Lord’s call to his apostles, “Put out into the deep”, leaving the known and the familiar, venturing out into unknown territory. The life and mission of the Jesuits is a journey, to be ever on the move where the Spirit leads us. Like our Founder St Ignatius of Loyola, Jesuits are challenged “never to be content with the status quo, the known, the tried, the already existing. We are constantly driven to discover, re-define and reach out for the ‘more’, - seeking the Greater Glory of God, as the Jesuit motto reminds us. For us, frontiers and boundaries are not obstacles or ends, but new challenges to be faced, new opportunities to be welcomed, with a holy boldness, a ‘certain apostolic aggressivity’.” (GC 34, D26) (...)
In the reading from the Book of Leviticus, we heard today: “You are to count seven weeks years... forty-nine years... You will declare the fiftieth year sacred... This is to be a jubilee for you.” Reviewing the past forty-nine years, we realize that almost every seven years the Jesuits have launched out to a new outreach. Invariably they chose to go to remote interior hamlets in the hills and valleys of these lower Himalayan Mountains, where others had not gone. And today, in this fiftieth year, you can indeed count the seven times seven years in which the sons of Ignatius have moved into the seven States of North-East India, and can rightly “declare this fiftieth year sacred, ... a jubilee year for you”.
With Paul I can say to you all, dear brothers and sisters: “I thank my God whenever I think of you; and every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy, remembering how you have helped to spread the Gospel from the day you first heard it right up to the present. (Phil 1: 3-5)