The much awaited 70th Congregation of the Procurators has begun in Nairobi, Kenya. From 28th June, Jesuit delegates from around the world have arrived in Nairobi for the Congregation of the Procurators of the Society of Jesus. We were warmly received by the organising committee of the Jesuit Province of Eastern Africa (AOR). All the delegates present here joined the pre-Congregation retreat which will end on 7th July 2012. The Congregation is supposed to start on 9th July and is supposed to last for one week, that is, 9th to 14th July 2012.
A Historical Note
St. Ignatius looking at the hard labour and distraction could involve, discouraged meeting of General Congregation at definite intervals (Constitution No. 677). But later clarified that the Superior General maintains communication with the Society through letters and through the persons who should come from the provinces, at least once every three years from each province (and every four years from the Indies) (Constn. No. 679).
These texts of Ignatius, and the wish expressed by the Pope, led the second General Congregation (1565), presided over by St. Francis de Borgia the newly elected Superior General, to propose the establishment of a Congregation of Procurators which will be called every three years. The first Congregation of the Procurators was called in 1568 and until the beginning of the 18th century the General Congregations and Congregation of the Procurators proceeded regularly. General Congregation 34 (1995) ruled that the Congregation of the Procurators should be held every four years.
As the present practice goes, the Congregation of the Procurators is called by Fr. General every four years after the General Congregation. Procurators are those who have been elected by the Provincial Congregations (one per Province) to represent them at the Congregation of the Procurators. Dependent and Independent Regions are not entitled to send a member, but they send a report to Rome and Fr. General can invite them to be present.
The Purpose of the Congregation of the Procurators
The most important purpose of the Congregation of the Procurators is to decide whether a General Congregation should be called. Another important task of the Procurators is to discuss the overall state of the Society especially in its more universal dimension. The Congregation of the Procurators has no power to legislate, but if the members think it necessary, they can suspend decrees issued by previous General Congregations. The suspension will be valid until the next General Congregation meets.
Most of the Procurators’ Congregation were held in Rome, except those of 1886 and 1889, which took place in Fiesole (Florence) and that of 2003, which took place in Loyola.
The present Congregation of the Procurators, which is number 70 in the series, is being held in Nairobi, Kenya from 9th to 15th July 2012. This is for the first time the Congregation of the Procurators is held outside Europe. [Source: Press release, Borgo Santo Spirito, Rome.]
The Profile of the Participants
There are 84 procurators who are elected by their provinces and 13 others who are participating as ex officio. The number of procurators as per assistancies is as follows:
Africa – 7
Asia Pacific - 7
Latin America – 14
South Asia – 18
South, Central, Eastern and Western Europe – 29
United States - 9
Procurators from South Asia:
1. Kishore Gujjula – Andhra
2. Arun De Souza – Bombay
3. Charles Pollet – Calcutta
4. Joseph Parakad – Darjeeling
5. Thomas Kuriacos – Delhi
6. Stephen Koitharayil – Dumka-Raiganj
7. Agnelo Mascarenhas – Goa
8. Francis Parmar – Gujarat
9. Santosh Minz – Hazaribag
10. John Mundu – Jamshedpur
11. Joseph Lobo – Karnataka
12. Mathew Elanjipuram – Kerala
13. Satyaprakash Tigga – Madhya Pradesh
14. Francis Jayapathi – Madurai
15. Prakash Louis – Patna
16. Peter D’Cruz – Pune
17. Ranjit Toppo – Ranchi
18. Philips Stanley – Sri Lanka.
Joseph Lobo, the delegate of Karnataka would join others one of these days. Thus, there are 17 delegates of South Asia who are participating in the retreat. Along with these delegates, we also have Tony Da, the former provincial of Goa who at present is the Assistant to Fr. General for Collaboration with Others has also joined the retreat like some other assistants. These assistants along with others would also join the Congregation of Procurators as ex officio members.
The Congregation of Procurators has two major parts: 1) The 8 day Ignatian Retreat; 2) The Congregation of the Procurators proper. On 29th evening we began our retreat and it is going on well. Our retreat director is Fr. Isaac Kiyaka former Novice Director of this province and also a delegate who attended the GC 35. He is the Superior of the Jesuits in Uganda and Director designate of JRS Great Lakes Region.
The retreat is also the time that the delegates meet with Fr. General assistancy wise. During this meeting Fr. General reflects with the delegate the state of the province of each delegate based on the data the report of the delegate and also other data and information that is available to him. Fr. General meets with the delegates from 9.15 am to 7.00 pm. He also joins the delegates for meals. All of us are of the view that this meeting was a time of grace for the province and the delegates. Further, as per our modus operandi, Fr. General will send his communication to the Provincials for their consideration.
We conclude the retreat on the 7th evening and 8th is a free day for some arranged programme. From 9th July we begin the Congregation of the Procurators and it is reported that this would go upto 14th July.
Location of the Delegates and Retreat
All the delegates present are accommodated in two places:
1) The Spanish speaking group is accommodated in Mwangaza Jesuit Spiritual Centre which as the name indicates is the spirituality centre of Eastern African Province. The retreat preacher of this group is Fr. Benjamin Gonsalez.
2) The English speaking group is accommodated in Chemi Chemi ya Uzima Centre, also known as Association of Sisterhood of Kenya (AOSK). This centre is the formation centre for the sisters of Kenya and is one of the most preferred venues for conferences for the religious. This is about a km from Mwangaza Jesuit Spirituality Centre.
Before the Congregation of the Procurators was to take place fears were expressed due to the growing attacks by Somali militant group called Al-Shabab. Even this week, there were attacks by this group on some churches. But these are in the border regions of Kenya and Somalia.
It is significant to note that some of the early missionaries came also from South Asia, especially from provinces of Ranchi, Bombay, Calcutta, Goa, Patna etc. Some of them are buried in the cemetery at Mwangaza Jesuit Spirituality Centre. There are some who are praying for the Society, giving retreats and spiritual direction. More about these Jesuits of South Asia in the next update.
Note: It is reported that due to some health reasons, Lisbert D’Souza the Regional Assistant for South Asia may not participate in the Congregation of the Procurators.
Prakash Louis, SJ- Delegate of Patna
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