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The story behind

The members of General Congregation 36 explicitly asked the newly elected Superior General, Fr. Arturo Sosa, to review the apostolic preferences of the Society of Jesus. The General chose to involve a broad spectrum of people in this process, Jesuits as well as our partners in mission, lay and religious, all over the world. We used the method of Spiritual Conversation. All were invited to discern the needs of the world, the calls of the Spirit, and the ways for the Society of Jesus to serve better.

 
 

Every Jesuit Province prepared a report of their findings, which then provided the material for discernment at the level of the Jesuit Conference of Provincials in the six regions of the world where Jesuits are present. In early January 2019, the Presidents of the six Jesuit Conferences took part in an Extended Council of Father General for a time of discernment. Fr. General presented the proposals to Pope Francis on January 17.

The Holy Father, after making his own discernment, officially gave to the Superior General and to the whole Society of Jesus, the Universal Apostolic Preferences for the period 2019 to 2029.

 

What is a Universal Apostolic Preference

“The universal apostolic preferences… have been above all the Society’s response to the needs of the Church… They have expressed and should still express in concrete terms our readiness, as a universal apostolic body, to work beneath the banner of the cross, to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff. Thus, apostolic preferences create for us the tension of seeking the most universal good as the ultimate goal of the numerous apostolic activities the Society carries out...

The universal apostolic preferences, therefore, have been and are precisely what their name signifies: points of reference for the whole Society, that inspire its discernment in common and its apostolic planning at all levels of our life-mission. At the same time they are a guide for restructuring the Society’s governance and for creating working networks, both among ourselves and with others, in this same ministry of reconciliation.

We are all too well aware of the disproportion between the needs of humanity which the Church seeks to meet and the resources we have at hand. The preferences provide us guidance about how to use those resources effectively, without dispersing them, so that they serve the greater glory of God, which has been the Society’s aim since its foundation. The preferences do not establish a hierarchy of the needs of humanity or of the Church, but they do indicate the best ways for the Society to make use of the resources it has available for the service of Christ’s reconciling mission in the world.”

Letter of Fr. General Arturo Sosa, October 3, 2017