There are many reasons for Fr. General Arturo Sosa to visit the provinces of the Society of Jesus. Among them: to put faces to the numbers and reports that pass his desk, to see the works and lives of Jesuits in the field, to properly evaluate ministries with all their lights and shadows. There is one reason, however, that stands above all others: Cura Personalis, or "Care for the entire person".
Fr. General is given a duty of care for every Jesuit who has vowed his life to service. By visiting their works, being attentive to their hopes and fears, and sharing with them the vision that the Jesuit Curia in Rome has for the panorama of Jesuit works around the world, Fr. Sosa doesn't just talk about cura personalis, he shows it in action. The last day of Fr. Sosa's Philippine visitation was dedicated to that cura personalis to the younger members of the Society of Jesus: the Jesuits in formation.
Standing on the main stage of the Cardinal Sin Center in Manila, Fr. General addressed dozens of Jesuit novices, philosophers, regents and theologians from around the Philippines and as far away as south east Asia and Africa. He shared some of the graces of his visitation – stories heard, people met, expectations exceeded - and expressed a great joy at being able to be with the formation community at the end of the visit so as to have, "a better picture of the context of where you are".
The formation community then presented their own reflections on the "lights and shadows" of the Society that they will soon be called upon to lead. Not just a meet-and-greet, the assembly pushed Fr. General on topics ranging from the upcoming Universal Apostolic Preferences, the vow of poverty, the safeguarding of minors, youth ministry and vocations – all major themes of Fr. Sosa's visit. Fr. General listened, then offered in reflection, “the most powerful image in the Society is the First Companions, our inspiration for our life and mission. They lived close to the poor, served the poor and lived with the conditions of the poor, and led a spiritual life of prayer.”
He asked the formation community to ensure that our shared vocation goes beyond our "work", to the way we build community with one another. “Being Jesuit means more than just doing what we do, but a way of living together, and collaborating together. To build a community is our mission in the Society forever--from the novitiate to the infirmary.”
Later, during the celebration of the Eucharist, Fr. General offered the same challenge to the Jesuits in formation that he did to Jesuits and their colleagues in Cebu: To think of God's invitations and surprises. "Brothers, do we listen to God in our lives? Are we still being called to go to mass fervently? Let us allow God to surprise us. For a Jesuit to live out the Magis, he must have space in his heart for the ever-greater God. In times of crises, suffering, and vulnerability, how is God creating space in your life? People listen to God when they are open to surprises, when they see them as God's way of opening up space again. Let us listen to God’s voice once more."