SOCIETY OF JESUS
The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola and his companions with the approval of Pope Paul III. St. Ignatius Loyola gathered around him an energetic band of well-educated men who desired nothing more than to help others find God in their lives. It was St. Ignatius’ original plan that the Jesuits be travelling missionaries who would preach and administer the sacraments wherever there was the hope of accomplishing the greater good. Since its foundation the Order has grown from the original ten to more than 15,000 Jesuits worldwide.
ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
Inigo Lopez de Loyola, who later took the name Ignatius, was the youngest son of a nobleman of the mountainous Basque region of northern Spain. Trained in the courtly manner of the time of King Ferdinand, he dreamed of the glories of knighthood and wore his sword and breastplate with a proud arrogance. When Ignatius was born in 1491, the Middle Ages were just ending and Europe was entering into the Renaissance. So Ignatius was a man on the edge of two worlds.
Europe of the late 15th Century was a world of discovery and invention. European explorers sailed west to the Americas and south to Africa, and scholars uncovered the buried civilizations of Greece and Rome. The printing press fed a new hunger for knowledge among a growing middle class. It was the end of chivalry and the rise of a new humanism. It was a time of radical change, social upheaval, and war.
In an attempt in 1521 to defend the Spanish border fortress of Pamplona against the French artillery, Inigo’s right leg was shattered by a cannon ball. His French captors, impressed by the Inigo’s courage, carried him on a litter across Spain to his family home at Loyola where he began a long period of convalescence.
During that time, he read several religious books, the only reading material readily available. These books and the isolation of the recovery period brought about a conversion which led to the founding of the Jesuits. Ignatius began to pray. He fasted, did penance and works of charity, dedicated himself to God and, after some troubles with the Spanish Inquisition, decided to study for the priesthood.
As a student in Paris he drew a small band of friends to himself and directed them in extended prayer and meditation according to his Spiritual Exercises. After further studies, the first Jesuits were ordained to the Catholic priesthood in Venice and offered themselves in service to Pope Paul III. In 1540, Paul III approved the Institute of the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius was elected General Superior and served in that post until his death in 1556 at the age of 65. [SOURCE: U.S. Jesuit Conference – www.jesuit.org]
Father Arturo Sosa was born in Caracas, Venezuela on 12 November 1948. Studying in the College of San Ignacio, he discovered the beauty of helping others through the Marian Sodality. The Jesuit brothers he met during his studies impressed him and he began to consider a Jesuit vocation. He entered the novitiate of the Jesuits at the age of 17 in September 1966, a time of transition in the Church following the end of the Second Vatican Council the previous year. As a young man he was very passionate about improving his country, so after the normal philosophical and theological formation of a young Jesuit, he studied for a doctorate in political science from the Universidad Central de Venezuela.
In 1975 while he was studying in Rome, he met Father Pedro Arrupe (then the Jesuit General) and was fascinated by him. After being ordained to the priesthood in 1977, Fr Sosa became the province coordinator for the social apostolate, during which time he was also director of Centro Gumilla, a centre for research and social action for the Jesuits in Venezuela. This role also involved working with the Jesuit network of schools for the poor, Fe y Alegría. He was also committed to academic work as a professor. Father Sosa participated in the 33rd General Congregation of the Society where, at 34 years of age, he was the youngest delegate. He was also present at the 34th General Congregation, where he came to know his predecessor as Superior General, Father Adolfo Nicolás.
Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ
Fr Sosa was the provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Venezuela from 1996 to 2004. As provincial, he led the province in a common discernment, creating a province plan with a vision that has lasted for 20 years. At the end of his term as provincial, he was assigned to the Catholic University of Táchira and he was determined to make this a border university on the frontier.
In 2008, Father Nicolás appointed Fr Sosa to the role of General Counsellor, based in Venezuela. In 2014, Fr Sosa joined the General Curia community and took on the role of Delegate for Interprovincial Houses of the Society of Jesus in Rome, which include the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Vatican Observatory, La Civiltà Cattolica, as well as international Jesuit colleges in Rome. Fr Sosa speaks Spanish, Italian and English, and understands French. He was elected Superior General on the 14th October 2016.