Fr. Lisbert D’Souza is leaving the General Curia after
nearly 16 years of service as Father General’s Assistant for the South Asia
Assistancy. Few Assistants, in the modern history of the Society, have held
this type of responsibilities for so long. And very few had the opportunity to
offer their advice to three different Superiors General. We asked him about his
Father Lisbert, when did you arrive at the General
Curia and in what circumstances?
Fr. Julian Fernandes, my predecessor, could have
continued until GC 35 after nearly 13 years of distinguished service; he asked to
be relieved for health reasons. I was completing my term as Provincial of South
Asia and President of the Conference. Fr. Kolvenbach appointed me Regional
Assistant and Assistant ad providentiam, one of the four Assistants who
oversees the global “life” of the Society. Arriving in September 2004, I assumed
office on 1 January 2005. With GC 36, I should have stepped down. However, Fr. Sosa
asked me to stay on. My successor took over on 3 December 2019. Circumstances,
not competence, explain my long tenure.
Have your responsibilities evolved over the years?
Indeed, yes. With Fr. Kolvenbach we were primarily
Regional Assistants and somewhat secondarily General Counsellors. Fr. Nicolás created
intra-Council Committees, which made my role as General Counsellor more
prominent. Fr. Sosa’s commitment to follow expeditiously up the GC 36 mandates
(Universal Apostolic Preferences,
protection of minors, relationship between Superiors and Directors of Works,
etc.) and the creation of the Expanded General Council, which included
Conference Presidents, the Apostolic Secretaries and General Treasurer, further
strengthened the General Counsellor role.