At his final mass with the MAGIS pilgrims at World Youth Day in Panama, Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ – General Superior of the Society of Jesus – missioned a thousand young men and women with a simple message: “You are called to be a sign of the times, hope for the Church, unifiers in a broken world.” Continuing his Central American visitation in Nicaragua, Fr. Sosa brought the same message of hope and reconciliation to Jesuits and lay colleagues in a series of meetings about the challenges faced by the Church and Society in the country.

Listening to Jesuits and laity who have served Nicaragua for decades as part of 13 Jesuit apostolates, Fr. Sosa heard first-hand accounts of a society wearied by generations of poverty, corruption and broken promises. Fr. General heard of how Jesuit institutions are routinely monitored, threatened and repressed by the Military and government-backed paramilitary forces. He was told that Fr. José Ideáquez, rector of the University of Central America, regularly receives death threats for his actions on behalf of the University and of its students who have been imprisoned and killed for protesting against the government. Lay colleagues explained how punitive change in the country’s constitution has resulted in a more than 25% drop in aid to students, making education almost unattainable for non-wealthy families.

In response Fr. Sosa, repeated the message of hope that he had given to the MAGIS pilgrims just days before. “What the Lord wants for us is a happy life, a life where everyone can develop him or herself, where everyone has security, where there is not only food and shelter, but also an environment of mutual enrichment. Hope is the virtue that drives you to do what you would want to do in adversity instead of cowering in fear.”

Fr. Arturo Sosa, the first Superior General from Latin America, likened the ministry in Nicaragua to the mission of promoting reconciliation that he received from General Congregation 36. Fr. General was missioned to promote reconciliation between human beings, cultures, nature, and ultimately God. As that is precisely that mission of the Church in Nicaragua, Fr. General and the Society must be in solidarity with Nicaragua. Looking around at men and women who are putting their lives at risk for the good of the mission, Fr. Sosa promised them that the Society would stand with them because that mission “is worth taking risks” when what is at stake is the possibility of “doing good and defending life.”

“If we really want to contribute to reconciliation, we have to be messengers of hope. We need as peoples an immense hope to mobilize in the direction of that which now seems impossible to us, but that it is possible if our faith in God is kept strong and deepened.”

Link to Flickr album

Watch the video on the visit of Fr. General to Nicaragua (available in Spanish)