“I convoke the 71st Congregation of Procurators which will start on 16 May 2022.”

In a letter sent on 15 January 2021 to all Major Superiors, Fr. Arturo Sosa announces the holding of this important meeting of the universal Society. It will be held in Loyola and will be preceded by a week of Spiritual Exercises that, according to the wishes of the Superior General, will allow the delegates “to attend more deeply to the Holy Spirit who is active in our Society.” An announcement 16 months in advance, isn’t it a bit early?

No, it isn’t! A Congregation of Procurators brings together delegates from each of the administrative units of the Society, Provinces and Regions (to which this time Fr. General adds the two “missions” of Myanmar and Cambodia). They must be elected in a Provincial (or Regional) Congregation and they have the duty to visit Jesuits and Jesuit works in order to prepare a picture of the situation of the Society in their Provinces (Regions) and to answer questions that the General suggests to them for further discussion during the meeting. Such an assembly therefore requires a long preparation.

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History and raison d’être

A bit of history to situate this event. The Congregation of Procurators was not foreseen in the Constitutions. But it was the 2nd General Congregation, already in 1565, which created it. Without going into detail, we can say that from the very beginning of the Society there was a need for more frequent meetings at the universal level than those of the General Congregations, which were to take place especially when a General died. It was therefore thought that a meeting of the “Procurators” could be held every three years. Later it was decided that it would take place every four years and that it would alternate with another body created much more recently, the Congregation of Provincials.

The first role of the Congregation of Procurators is to decide whether a General Congregation should be convoked, after having informed Father General of the “state of the Society.” From the 31st GC (1965-66) another purpose was added: to deal with important matters at the level of the universal Society. This greatly expanded its role. One advantage of this meeting is that it allows a representation of the ‘grass roots’ of the Society, since the Procurators - who have to prepare themselves by visiting their Province or Region - are not Provincials or Major Superiors. The latter have other opportunities to express their views to Father General.

Anecdotally, we can note that several Congregations of Procurators have had to be cancelled over the centuries, once because of the illness of the General, four times because of epidemics, seven times because of wars or European social tensions. The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first ordeal that the Society has experienced at the universal level!

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For 2022, then?

In his letter of convocation, Father Sosa situates the next Congregation of Procurators within the framework of the Ignatian Year, with the same theme: Seeing all things new in Christ. More specifically, he writes: “the Congregation can be a time when we examine together the lights and shadows of the Society, the particular challenges that face us, and action of the Holy Spirit, who calls us to ever greater generosity in the service of Church and our world. There is no doubt that one of the greatest challenges that our world faces is Covid 19, whose consequences will continue to be with us for the foreseeable future.”

With regard to the issues that the Superior General asks the Provincial Congregations to deal with and on which the Procurators will have to report, the first is the follow-up given to the broad project of the Universal Apostolic Preferences, paying particular attention, according to the wishes of Pope Francis, to the first one, that of “showing the way to God with the help of the Spiritual Exercises and discernment.” And secondly, the Ignatian youth ministry and the link with the promotion of Jesuit vocations.

Here we are; the table is set! The Provincial Congregations must meet within a year to elect their Procurator. They are to prepare their report on the state of the Society in their own area and prepare answers to Father General’s questions before arriving in Loyola at the beginning of May 2022. Eighty-seven participants are expected to attend, including Father General and his Assistants.

The photos are from the last Congregation of Procurators, in 2012, in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles public relations.

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