Last month, Jesuits from every Province and Region where the Society of Jesus is working gathered at the “Sanctuario de Loyola” in Spain for the 71st Congregation of Procurators. The CP was envisioned to be held every few years, primarily to recommend to Fr. General as to whether or not a General Congregation should be convoked, but also as a way to bring before the global body of the Society any pressing issue that has arisen in the work, life and prayer of Jesuits around the world. “The Congregation of Procurators is a unique experience in the Society of Jesus,” said John Meehan, SJ, elected last summer procurator of the Jesuits of Canada. “Called four years after a General Congregation (CP71 was delayed due to the pandemic), it offers Father General and the Universal Society an opportunity to discern ‘from the bottom up’ how the Spirit is at work in the Society.”
Indeed, once elected, a delegate’s responsibility is to visit all the communities in his purview: listening to lights and shadows, and gathering information that he will pass on to Fr. General and his fellow delegates. “I am grateful to the many Jesuits and lay partners who shared their insights into the Province, which I included in my report and discussed in my meeting with Fr. General,” underlined Fr. Meehan.
This year, the delegates have been asked to focus their reports on the theme, “Seeing all things new in Christ.” Specifically, Fr. General has tasked the delegates with reporting on how the Universal Apostolic Preferences—given to the Society of Jesus by Pope Francis in 2019—have changed life and ministry across the global Society.
“I am grateful to the many Jesuits and lay partners who shared their insights into the Province, which I included in my report and discussed in my meeting with Fr. General.”
How was the CP71? Fr. Meehan shared the fact that the place chosen for the event, in itself, was a cause for consolation: “Our retreat and meeting (from May 6 to 21, 2023) were marked by spiritual conversation as we reflected on Fr. Sosa’s De Statu Societatis, a major document on the state of the Society. For the 76 Jesuits gathered at Loyola, the site of St. Ignatius’s birthplace and conversion, it was an experience of great consolation.”
During the CP, the Province of Canada’s procurator endorsed a new role. Elected Secretary of CP71, Fr. Meehan thus also chaired sessions, oversaw the minutes and was part of the Steering Committee. “Fulfilling our main purpose, we discerned key questions regarding the Society (as outlined in the De Statu) and voted on whether to hold a General Congregation (the result was no).”
Overall, the CP71 was a source of consolation, that will be shared with the rest of the Society: “All of us felt a strong desire to share with the Universal Society this fraternal, hope-filled experience of being ‘friends in the Lord.’ I look forward to helping the Province live out the Spirit of the De Statu after its forthcoming release. Thank you so much for your prayer support!”