Like thousands of other pilgrims before them, 215 Jesuit priests and brothers will walk through the Holy Door of Mercy at Saint Peter’s Basilica tomorrow, Friday 7 October. Processing from the Jesuit Curia, the worldwide headquarters of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), a short walk from the Vatican, the group, gathered in Rome for General Congregation 36, will celebrate Mass at the altar of the Chair of Saint Peter. Father Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, 76, of the Philippines, the eldest elector to the congregation, will preside at Mass.
During their processional tomorrow, the Jesuits will wear traditional clerical vestments, including a stole that was specifically designed for General Congregation 36. Embroidered in gold thread on white cloth, the stole bears the starburst logo and IHS, (symbol for Jesus), typically associated with the Jesuits.
Near the statue of Pope Paul III, (1534-1549), the Pope who approved the Society of Jesus in 1540, the Jesuits will pray for the work of the congregation, particularly for the upcoming vote to select the new leader who will replace Superior General Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, 80, who retired earlier this week. The new general will be only the 31st in the history of the Society of Jesus, which was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola and his companions.
The Jesuits who were appointed and elected to serve as members of General Congregation 36 represent 66 countries.
Fathe John Guiney SJ, is the elected delegate from Ireland attending the congregation in Rome with Irish Jesuit Provincial, Tom Layden SJ.
Earlier in the week and for the first time in the Society of Jesus’ four hundred and seventy five year history, Irish has been used at a General Congregation. The occasion was the opening Mass of GC36 in the magnificent Gesù church, on the evening of Sunday 2 October 2016. Two hundred and twenty delegates, together with several hundred Jesuits in Rome, and a number of friends and well-wishers, filled the church. Before the conclusion of the Mass, there was a solemn moment of prayer in front of the casket containing relics of Jesuit saints. The presidents of the six conferences each said a prayer in a language of the region: Mike Lewis, from Africa, in Zulu; Jorge Cela, from Latin America, in Spanish; George Pattery, from South Asia, in Bengali; Mark Raper, from Asia Pacific, and Tim Kesicki, from North America, in English; John Dardis, from Europe, in Irish. John Dardis’ prayer referred to the Lord of the harvest who calls, and prayed for a deep love of our vocation, and generosity in working for the Kingdom.