New provincial for the Philippine Jesuits

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Fr Primitivo “Jun” E Viray Jr SJ was formally installed as Provincial of the Philippine Jesuits on November 17 in a Eucharistic celebration at the Oratory of St Ignatius, Loyola House of Studies. He took over from Fr Antonio Moreno SJ who has been appointed as President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific.

Fr Viray did basic education at the Jesuit-run Sacred Heart School for Boys in Cebu and obtained a BS in Business Economics at the University of the Philippines before entering the Society in 1984. He has an MA in Rural Development Studies from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, as well as a doctorate in Development Studies.

“I am forever grateful to our least Society of Jesus for accepting me as one of his own – a sinner yet called to be a companion of Jesus,” he said. “And here today he is calling me to a new mission. The appointment is not a promotion but a call to mission.”

Fr Jun Viray SJ with his predecessor Fr Antonio Moreno SJ

He thanked his brother Jesuits and friends for assuring him of their full support. “It gives me confidence that I am not alone.” He also thanked his predecessor, Fr Moreno, for the compassion and love the former Provincial showed his men throughout his term. “I have seen the charity, the compassion and the mercy that Tony has shown in his job,” he said.

Fr Viray enters into his work as Provincial with a wide range of apostolic engagements. He was Assistant Director and later Director of the Prenovitiate programme in Haggerty Hall from 1989 to 1991 and Arvisu House from 1992 to 1994. After being ordained to the priesthood in 1995, he served as Assistant Parish Priest and Parish Priest in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. He then taught Economics at Ateneo de Zamboanga University, where he became Local Superior and, from 2006 to 2009, was Delegate of Regents.

After Zamboanga, Fr Viray served as Rector of the Loyola House of Studies, functioning too as Delegate for Formation and Vice-Superior of the Theologians subcommunity. In 2011, he was elected President of Ateneo de Naga University (AdNU) and made Superior of the Jesuits in Naga. He was President of AdNU and Chair of the Jesuit Higher Education Commission prior to his appointment as Provincial.

Asked during an interview with the Province Vocation Promotions team what he will bring into his provincialate from his previous assignments, Fr Viray said he will be “bringing everything”, in particular his experience with formation, which has been a significant part of his life and work as a Jesuit. “Familiarity with the formation process and an understanding, certainly, of how we are as human beings, psychologically, spiritually—I think those contribute to knowing the work of the Provincial,” he said. [Philippine Jesuits]

Updated 21 November 2017

Related story: Quiet service: an interview with Fr Jun Viray SJ