Fr Arturo Sosa SJ was in India recently in his first official trip since being elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus on October 14, 2016. His choice underlines the demographic shift within the universal Society. The Jesuit Conference of South Asia accounts for close to 25 percent of the whole Society and the majority of the 4,027 Jesuits are from India. Fr General spent 11 days, from February 18 to 28, visiting his Jesuit confreres and companions in Delhi, Jabalpur, Ambikapur and Raipur.
Speaking at Vidyajyoti, the Jesuit theologate in New Delhi the morning he arrived, Fr Sosa urged the Jesuits to help humanise the world saying, “it is the primary mission that is given to us”. He added that by contemplating on Jesus and the Gospel, they would receive the wisdom and strength to do this.
He also urged Jesuits serving in higher education to network in order to become more effective in their ministries, pointing out that “the 36th General Congregation makes a strong invitation to Jesuits to collaborate and network as the way of proceeding to be effective in our mission today”.
“Taking seriously the General Congregation’s invitation, I want to insist that you and all the Higher Education institutions in South Asia form an effective network. This would be the best way to improve collaboration among Jesuit institutions,” he said.
Later in the day at his meeting with Jesuits of the Delhi Province at Navjivan Renewal Centre, a spirituality centre in Raj Niwas Marg in Old Delhi, he stressed the need for “affective and effective affinity” toward the poor. “We need to ask ourselves the basic question whether we work for the poor or if we are with the poor,” he said.
Fr General celebrated his first Mass in India the following day. In his homily, he encouraged his Indian confreres to work hard to help people lead a dignified life amid the refugee crisis, terrorist attacks and unjust social conditions
“Every human being is holy and deserves respect. Such respect stems from our experience of God’s love,” he said.
He reminded them that real conversion occurs only when people act according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and go beyond the law, and told them that their religious life should be entirely dedicated to the promotion of justice, to the ministry of reconciliation with others, to the struggle to change social structures and to the establishment of a right relationship with creation.
After two days in Delhi, Fr Sosa headed for the central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where he met Jesuits working in the Madhya Pradesh Province covering the cities of Jabalpur, Ambikapur and Raipur. In Jabalpur, he attended the biannual meeting of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia, which comprises of 19 provinces and two regions.
Fr Sosa commended his South Asian confreres for their “honest search for better ways” to make the Jesuit mission more effective in the region. “I am aware of the many difficulties all of you are facing and the variety of contexts in which you are working,” he added.
He reminded the provincials that they are responsible not just for their provinces but also for the universal mission of the Society. “We are first of all called to move from a province vision to a universal vision. A universal vision means a tension between the local and the global. The universal vision is impossible without local roots,” he explained.
Fr Sosa also met the provincials individually for the “manifestation of conscience”, a personal and spiritual conversation between a Jesuit and his superior who could guide him more efficaciously.
Fr Ranjit Tigga SJ, a research scholar and member of the Madhya Pradesh Province, described Father General’s visit as “a source of strength and encouragement.”