Young Jesuits in Colombia and the challenges they face

Father Arturo Sosa, Superior General, is currently in Colombia. His first activity was to visit the Comunidad de Formación San Francisco Javier (St Francis Xavier Formation Community), where young Jesuits live with a team of formators. They were joined by scholastics from other communities and by candidates to the Society of Jesus. We asked the superior of the community, Jorge Alberto Camacho, to tell us about the challenges faced by Jesuit students during their first years of formation. He also told us about the joys he himself experiences in his responsibility as formator.

After the meeting with Father General, two of the young Jesuits in attendance shared their comments with us. Their reflections are at the end of this article.

Father Jorge Alberto, as formators of young Jesuits, what do you emphasise?

We emphasise the process of consolidating our identity as Jesuit religious in discernment, apostolate, spiritual life and affective maturity.

We try to help young Jesuits acquire a habit and a passion for studies, introducing them to the university world through philosophy and the humanities in the Ignatian tradition.


What are the greatest challenges for a young Colombian (or any Latin American coming to Bogotá for studies) in relation to religious life and preparation for a life in the Society?

I would point out three challenges:

1. Perhaps the greatest challenge is learning to live the vows - and everything religious life implies, more generally - in an open setting, which includes: the university, the apostolate, and social life.

2. For some who are attending university for the first time, the studies become a great challenge. For those who have already had this experience, the challenge is to return to the university environment with the new perspective that being a Jesuit religious offers them.

3. The Colombian reality is constantly challenging us. It challenges our young Jesuits especially in the apostolate and during the intense periods of mission (such as the pastoral experiences in the countryside or in underprivileged areas). Such challenges require constant discernment of our own vocation and mission. The young Jesuits are also confronted with the reality of a multicultural city, oscillating between the cosmopolitan and the precarious and representing all the complexity of Latin America.

What are the joys or consolations you experience as an animator of a Jesuit formation community, here in Colombia?

Witnessing God’s passage through the lives of young Jesuits is a very consoling experience. Discovering new dreams, new perspectives, and new sensitivities reinvigorates our hope for the future of the Society. I believe that young people do not want simply to repeat what we elders have done; they feel called by the Lord to respond, as Jesuits, to new realities and new challenges.

I am very happy that the paradigm of integral ecology, which the UAPs have opened up for the Society, is much better understood and lived out by these new generations.


The scholastics who attended the event were meeting the Superior General of the Society of Jesus for the first time. What struck them most during this meeting?

At this point in my Jesuit formation, I consider the opportunity to meet the General of the Society as a grace that will allow me to deepen my understanding of what it means to be part of a universal apostolic body.

I was struck by the General’s invitation to situate ourselves in our concrete realities from the gaze of Jesus on the cross, for it is from the perspective of an incarnated, crucified and risen God that we will recognise the Lord’s invitation to attune ourselves to his mission of reconciliation.

In a world confronted with the reality of injustice and inequality, with scandalous degrees of misery and precariousness, the Lord continues to invite us through prayer and discernment to be apostles who are able to proclaim him with our lives and our intellectual and spiritual depth.

Fabio Guerra-Acero, SJ

Fabio Guerra-Acero, SJ (left) and Cristian Garnica, SJ.

The meeting with Father General was really very moving and inspiring. While he was speaking in the Chapel of the House of Formation, I imagined Ignatius himself, there in the midst of the first Jesuits centuries ago, speaking to them, sharing his spiritual experience with them. That moment with our present Father General made me call to mind - as Ignatius so often recommends in the contemplations of the Exercises - those men who first embarked on the magnificent adventure of following the Lord and so formed the ‘least Society of Jesus’.

One thing that really struck me, of all that Father General shared with us, was his invitation to see our reality, and that of the world around us, from the perspective of the Crucified Christ. That means viewing things from the height of the cross - with its distress, nakedness, martyrdom and pain - and not from the height of our own selfish pretensions. It is quite true that we often seek a Christianity with no cross, a religious life far removed from the discomfort of seeing things from the height of the Crucified One.

Cristian Garnica, SJ
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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 media relations.

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