In May, more than 100 Jesuits from around the world will gather at the Sanctuary of Loyola in Spain for the 71st Congregation of Procurators. Announced in January 2021, this congregation is an outstanding example of collaboration and communication between Jesuits and their partners in mission, in keeping with Pope Francis’s call for a bottom-up approach to listening and discernment in the Church.
Each province, region and mission has engaged in a process of discernment and prayer to create a report on the “state of the Society” in their respective regions while also electing a single delegate to represent them at the Congregation of Procurators. The delegate for the Jesuits USA Central and Southern (UCS) Province is Fr. Brian Christopher, SJ, superior of the Jesuits of Belize, who has completed his consultation across the UCS Province.
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.
Unlike so many of the other details of Jesuit life, the CP is not part of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. Instead, the 2nd General Congregation, in 1565, recognized the need for more frequent meetings than the 36 General Congregations that have been convened in the almost 500 years’ history of the Society. 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.
CP71 will begin, as all things in Jesuit life do, with prayer. On May 5, the delegates and Fr. General will start an 8-day Ignatian retreat, using the Spiritual Exercises to focus their questions, clarify their understanding of the movement of the Holy Spirit in their part of the world, and move towards a conversion that will make the CP a gathering of hearts and minds. The CP itself will follow, from 15 to 21 May.
Please pray for Fr. General and the delegates of CP71 as they discern how best to place the Society of Jesus at the service of the Church and her people. You can join them in a prayer written especially for this Congregation.