On the first full day of his visit to the Philippines, Fr. Arturo Sosa, General Superior of the Society of Jesus, was given a tour around the campus of the Ateneo de Manila University, the flagship school of the Jesuits in the country. With University President Fr. Jose T. Villarin, Fr. Sosa rode on the famous Ateneo E-Jeep (electronic jeep), the University’s environmental alternative to traditional cars. The tour ended at the Arete Complex, the newly constructed art hub of the campus, where student leaders representing various units of the University were waiting for a brief tete-a-tete with the General Superior. Fr. Sosa was asked various questions, including how he became General of the Society, why Jesuit homilies are short but profound, and what his message to the young was. “Reconciliation! Be agents of reconciliation!”—This was the final message of Fr. Sosa to the students, reiterating the call of the 36th General Congregation for Jesuits to seek and promote reconciliation between man and God, reconciliation among men, and reconciliation between man and God’s creation.
In the afternoon, after a brief lunch at the Jesuit Residence with the community of Jesuits working on campus, Fr. General met with around 200 Jesuit priests, brothers and scholastics at the Cardinal Sin Center of the Loyola School of Theology. Philippine Provincial Superior Fr. Primitivo Viray began the conference with a presentation of the situation of the Philippine Province, including the challenges it faces. After the presentation was the awaited talk of Father General, who first gave an update on the status of the Society’s “Universal Apostolic Preferences.” He clarified that he would be presenting them to Pope Francis, so that the Society’s mission for the coming years would come directly from the Holy Father himself. He then talked about the critical challenges facing the Society, such as the tepid living of the Vow of Poverty among Jesuits, the development of a culture promoting the care of minors and vulnerable adults in our communities and ministries, and the issue of “clericalism,” one of the cardinal sins in the Church that was pointed out by Pope Francis early on in his pontificate. The floor was then opened for questions that the General gamely answered till it was time for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
In his homily, Fr. Sosa talked about the virtues of the “Immaculata,” and made the following appeal to the Jesuit congregation: That like Mary, they may also say “yes” to the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society. The evening ended with a light dinner prepared by Loyola House of Studies for Father General and for all the Jesuit attendees. It was made lighter and jovial by the entertainment provided by the scholastics from the Philippines and from the Arrupe International Residence.