There are some 850 Jesuit secondary schools in the world; if we add the schools of the Fe y Alegría movement and those of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), the number exceeds 2,000. It is therefore not surprising that Father General’s journeys often find him visiting our many schools. Between the 29th and 30th of April, during his visit to the Central African Province Father General was able to visit three schools: Kubama College in Kisantu, Bonsami College, located in a working-class district on the outskirts of Kinshasa, and Boboto College, an institution with a long Jesuit tradition in the heart of Kinshasa.

Kubama College [“Getting prepared” in Kikongo]

During a meeting with the 450 students of Kubama College in Kisantu, the theme of Fr. Sosa’s visit to Central Africa was: “With young people, for the safeguarding of our common home”. In his welcome speech to Father General, the Rector of the college, Fr. Jean-Pierre Luzolo said: “We will do our best to implement the mission of the Society of Jesus. For example, we will remind our students and staff of the sacred obligation to protect our planet, the wonderful gift that God has given us. Every day, we will ensure that our environment is kept clean and every year, we will plant trees to answer the call to make the planet our living space. We will shape the conscience of these young people to think about how to protect the common home in order to preserve our precious world for future generations.”

In response, Fr. Sosa replied: “Dear students, (...) I wish everyone to be happy and concerned about their own training, always striving for excellence. Excellence in academic work will enable you to acquire the skills and practical know-how or the ability to adapt and integrate harmoniously into life with success, determination and creativity. You are becoming messengers of hope for Congolese and African youth. As the Society of Jesus, we want to accompany you in creating a hopeful future for you and future generations.”

[The full text of this speech can be read by clicking here. Also look at the photo album.]

Bonsomi College [“Freedom”, in Lingala)

Located in a working class neighbourhood of Kinshasa, Bonsomi College serves 1,400 students, mainly from the city’s outlying districts. It was founded in the late ’60s in response to the call of the Jesuit General Pedro Arrupe, who invited his companions to boldness in ministering directly to underprivileged populations. In addition to impressive cultural and sporting infrastructure that it makes available to the surrounding communities, the college’s slate of after-school program is extensive.

Father General’s visit was a festive occasion (as shown in the photos). In addition to the traditional greetings and tours, Fr. General was able to visit the art workshops, which are part of Fe y Alegría’s network of which the school is a member. While looking at a photo of Faith and Joy network founder Fr. Velaz, Fr. Sosa took the opportunity to point out that he shares a Venezuelan heritage with Fr. Velaz and is a proud admirer of the educational network. A group of students presented traditional African dances, which added to the joyful character of the meeting.

Boboto College [“Inner peace”, in Lingala]

Fr. Sosa’s final education stopover was at Boboto College, perhaps the most famous Jesuit school in the DRC. Located in a more bourgeois section of Kinshasa, the college has been carrying-on the Jesuit tradition of education since 1937 and now has nearly 4,000 students from kindergarten to secondary. During his visit, Father General was told how the school strongly values a partnership with staff and parents. It was at the Cultural Centre, linked to the school and which includes a performance hall, that Fr. Sosa met a large group of people connected in one way or another with the apostolates and mission of the Society of Jesus in the Kinshasa area: parents of students, members of Ignatian spiritual groups, partners in the mission in different works.

He was also able to visit the African contemporary art gallery of the cultural centre (see photos).