The priests of the Society of Jesus have long been leaders in the Catholic Church. Founded by St. Ignatius Loyola, they wish to “set the world ablaze,” and from the long list of saints which this order has produced: Francis Xavier, Isaac Jogues, Robert Bellarmine, and the list goes on and on, we can see that they have indeed been among the chief evangelizers and educators in the world over the past 500 years.
Pope Francis is the first member of the Jesuits to be elected as pope. In the U.S., there are several bishops who are members of the Society of Jesus, including Michael Barber of Oakland, Calif., and George Murry of Youngstown, Ohio.
The number of universities throughout the world run by the Jesuits is outstanding. Fordham, Boston College, and Georgetown are among some on the East Coast of the United States. The Pontifical Gregorian University, the first Jesuit university in the world, has trained most Brooklyn diocesan priests who study in Rome for generations.
This week, General Congregation 36 convened in Rome. A general congregation is the supreme governing body of the Society of Jesus and General Congregation 36 was convoked by the Jesuit Superior General, Father Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., who, at the age of 80, announced his resignation after serving as the Jesuits’ leader since 2008.
Pray for these delegates this week. The Jesuits need our prayers. Like all religious, they take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but the members of the Society of Jesus take a fourth vow of obedience to the pope with regard to the missions.
Since their foundations, the Jesuits teach that the purpose of the fourth vow is as follows: “Those who first united to form the Society were from different provinces and realms and did not know into which regions they were to go, whether among the faithful or the unbelievers; and therefore to avoid erring in the path of the Lord, they made that promise or vow in order that His Holiness might distribute them for greater glory to God.”
This fourth vow indicates that the Jesuits will be loyal and available for the service of the Church in whatever the Holy Father asks.
Pray that these delegates make an inspired choice, someone who “sentire cum ecclesia,” who thinks with the Church and has the missionary heart of Ignatius.