Toronto, Saturday, May 19, 2018 -- On day one of his first official visit to Canada since being elected Superior General of the Jesuits in late 2016, Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J., started his agenda-packed day at Regis College in Toronto doing something he loves: meeting Jesuits in formation. The 40 men, called Jesuit scholastics, are preparing for the priesthood, a process that can take anywhere from 8-12 years.
Founded in 1930 to train Jesuits, Regis College, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto, today offers degrees and programs for lay students, preparing men and women for pastoral ministry and academic careers. While Regis College has been preparing Jesuits for ministry for more than 80 years, Jesuit formation in Canada dates to 1635.
As a Jesuit, Fr. Sosa has always been close to men in formation. As Delegate for the Interprovincial Roman Houses of the Society of Jesus in Rome, he had responsibility for the universities in Rome that train Jesuits for ministry, including the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
In his conversation with scholastics, Fr. Sosa said that reconciliation is at the core of a Jesuit's vocation - reconciliation with human beings, with the environment and with the Trinity. He spoke about the need for men in formation to promote justice and be merciful and to live an austere, ecological lifestyle in proximity to the poor. Another theme was the universality of a Jesuit vocation, calling on Jesuits to be "world citizens, deeply inculturated in the light of the Gospels, sharing with other cultures."
Describing the Society's ongoing discernment about new apostolic preferences as a dynamic process, Fr. Sosa said all Jesuit works should be part of the one and only mission of the Society of Jesus at the service of the Church and humanity. Saying that "we cannot and do not want to do things by ourselves," Fr. Sosa also spoke about the need for collaboration with lay partners.
Heading next to St. Paul's Basilica in downtown Toronto, Fr. Sosa concelebrated the ordination of seven Jesuits, two of whom were ordained to the priesthood and five to the diaconate. The Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Archbishop of Ottawa, himself a Jesuit, presided at the noon Mass and ordained the Jesuits. All seven men have been preparing for this moment during the last several years of theology studies at Regis College.
In his address at the beginning of Mass, Fr. Sosa, who will celebrate the 41st anniversary of his own ordination this summer, spoke about his joy at being able to begin his trip to Canada with the celebration of ordination. He said, "When young men, young people to whom contemporary life offered so many different vocational choices opt for the service of their brothers and sisters and the service of the Lord...they are living testimony of the current relevance of the ideal that Jesus proposed to his close disciples."
The newly ordained priests and deacons hail from both Canada and the United States. Edmund Kwok-Fai Lo, S.J., and Artur Robert Suski, S.J., both members of the Jesuits' English Canada Province, were ordained to the priesthood, while Edward Dawson Penton, S.J., also from English Canada, was ordained a deacon.
The other deacons are Christopher Ewing Grodecki, S.J., from the Jesuits' Maryland Province; Alex Anthony Cazcarro Llanera, S.J., and Robert Bruce Van Alstyne, S.J., from the USA West Province; and James Ronald Sand, S.J., from the USA Midwest Province.
Jesuit formation is a top priority for the Society of Jesus as evidenced by the breadth of Canadian formation houses. In addition to Regis College, the Jesuits of Canada operate novitiates in Montreal and in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as well as a house of first studies in Toronto and two houses of special studies in Ottawa and Quebec City. Committed to formation in Indigenous culture, history and spirituality, the Jesuits established an Indigenous immersion experience for Jesuits in formation two years ago. This summer, the two Jesuits ordained today, Frs. Lo and Suski, will have pastoral assignments in First Nations communities.
Fr. Sosa's concelebrants for the ordination Mass included Fr. Peter Bisson, S.J., the Provincial of the Jesuits' English Canada Province, and Fr. Erik Oland, S.J., the Provincial of the French Canada Province, which includes Haiti. This summer, the two Provinces will form one new Province of Canada. Fr. Sosa named Fr. Oland as the new Province's first Provincial. He assumes his new role on July 31, 2018, the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
After a reception with new priests and deacons, Fr. Sosa headed to an on-camera interview with Salt + Light, a Catholic media ministry in Toronto.
At the end of his first day in Canada, which concluded with a casual barbeque with scholastics at their residence near Regis College, Fr. Sosa expressed joy, consolation and excitement about the rest of his visit.
"What a beautiful way to start a trip. One down, one to go. I can't wait," he said, referencing the Quebec City ordination he will attend next weekend.