“Reconciliation! Be agents of reconciliation!”
These were the words of Fr. Arturo Sosa, General Superior of the Society of Jesus, to student leaders on the Campus of the Ateneo de Manila in the Philippines. Fr. Sosa was on the first day of a visitation to the various ministries and institutions of the Society around the islands. It was fitting that his first stop, riding in one of Ateneo's now-famous "E-Jeeps", was to the newly-constructed Arete Art Complex where he toured the works Ateneo students have created on campus. As a guest of University President, Fr. Jose T. Villarin, Fr. Sosa engaged a group of students representing the various departments of the University and exhorted them to "be agents of reconciliation", a reiteration of mission that was given to Fr. Sosa by the delegates of General Congregation 36, at which Fr. Sosa was elected to lead the Jesuits.
In the afternoon Fr. Sosa met with more than 200 Jesuit brothers, priests, scholastics and novices at the Cardinal Sin Center on the campus of the Loyola School of Theology. Not just a meet-and-greet, Fr. Sosa was introduced by Fr. Primitivo Viray, provincial of the Philippine Province, who took the opportunity to name the multitude of challenges, from caring for the vulnerable to supporting the faithful of the most Catholic country in the world, facing the Society of Jesus in the Philippines.
In response, Fr. Sosa spoke about the much-awaited "Universal Apostolic Preferences", guidelines for the ministry of the Society of Jesus going into the future. Fr. Sosa told the attendees that the UAPs, which every Jesuit community in the world has been discerning for the past year, will be first presented to Pope Francis who will himself decide if they represent what the Church needs from the Society of Jesus. As such, the UAP's won't just be a document to be shared, but a real, tangible mission for the Society from the Holy Father.
In an open Q&A, Fr. Sosa spoke of the challenges Jesuits must address to be worthy of the mission they give to students and partners: the tepid way Jesuits live the Vow of Poverty, the reluctance to create a culture that cares for minors and the vulnerable, and the rise of “clericalism” which the Holy Father denounced as a cancer of the Church.
With the work of the day finished, Fr. General was treated to the Filipino way of celebrating. Amid singing and laughing at the Loyola House of Studies, Fr. General made a final exhortation of his brothers to follow the example of our Blessed Mother by saying "YES" to what the future holds.