On October 14, 2016, the Society of Jesus elected their first Latin American Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal of Venezuela, at the Jesuit’s 36th General Congregation held in Rome. He is also the first non-European to be elected. As the 31st Superior General, he will be leading the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Church, succeeding Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJ., who had served since 2008. There are 16,740 Jesuits worldwide, including approximately 12,000 priests; 1,300 brothers; 2,700 scholastics; and 753 novices. The country with the largest number of Jesuits is India, with over 3000!
Fr. Arturo was born in Caracus, Venezuela, in 1948, entering the Jesuits in 1966. He speaks several languages and knows Pope Francis, having met him in 1983 during a previous General Congregation and at other times. The Holy Father was the first person notified after the election.
When asked what initially attracted him to the Jesuits, Father Arturo responded: “Everything….They are an apostolic power in many areas.” The areas of priority for him in the mission fields are poverty, helping migrants and refugees, and inter-religious dialogue. The Jesuits profess four vows: poverty, chastity, obedience, and “obedience specifically in regard to worldwide mission,” or as it said in the previous decrees of the 35th General Congregation: “Total availability to serve the Church wherever the Pope sends us.”
The day of the election began at the beautiful church of Santo Spiritu in Sassia in Rome where in his homily Fr. James Grummer, SJ, Vicar General, said: “Our mission this morning is to elect a General. We will be locked into an upper room, not for fear but for concentrated listening to the Spirit’s whisper. We are not afraid because we believe so strongly that the Spirit guides the balloting that according to Formula 84 ‘The man elected cannot refuse the election.’”
May the Holy Spirit guide grace Fr. Arturo Sosa with the wisdom to guide the Society of Jesus with clarity of vision, compassionate service and dedication to the mission.
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit www.JesuitVocations.org for more information.