Jesuits Celebrate New Deacon, Mass of Thanksgiving in Canada with Superior General

May 27, 2018 — Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, continued his 12-day visit to Canada this weekend, attending a diaconate ordination in Quebec City on Saturday and a Mass of Thanksgiving in Montreal today.

Yesterday, Johnny Masséba, SJ, a Haitian Jesuit, was ordained a deacon at the Jesuit Chapel in Quebec City. Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, presided, and Fr. Sosa shared a few words at the beginning of the celebration and reflected on the international character of the Society.

For the last several years, many Haitian Jesuits in formation have attended Laval University in Quebec City for their theological training. As members of the Society, they can be sent anywhere in the world where they are needed, but most will return to serve in Haiti after their formation is complete.

The link between the Jesuits of French Canada and Haiti began in the middle of the 20th century when the Jesuits of Quebec went to help the Haitian bishops train seminarians. Then in 1964, Haiti’s president François Duvalier passed a law essentially outlawing Jesuits and they had to leave. When the law was lifted in 1986, the French Canadian Jesuits gradually returned.

Since then, many vocations have emerged, and there are now more than 50 Haitian Jesuits. Masséba’s ordination to the diaconate yesterday comes after 10 years of formation; he will continue his theological studies next year.

Today, Fr. Sosa participated in a key moment of his stay in Canada: The Mass of Thanksgiving to mark 400 years of Jesuit presence in Canada. The Mass took place at the Church of the Gesù in downtown Montreal, where, in 1842, Jesuits resumed their service in Canada, at the invitation of the Bishop of Montreal, after the Restoration of the Society.

Fr. Sosa delivered the homily at the Mass, which Fr Erik Oland, SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits of French Canada and Haiti, celebrated, accompanied by Fr. Peter Bisson, SJ, Provincial of the English Canada Jesuits.

At Mass, the Jesuits also looked toward the future. During the Eucharist, Fr. Sosa read the decree — in both French and English — announcing the creation of the Province of Canada, which will come into existence on July 31, 2018. This bilingual Province will unite the current Jesuit Provinces of English Canada and French Canada; Fr. Oland will serve as its first Provincial.

Fr. Sosa at the Mass of Thanksgiving.

During his homily on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Fr. Sosa recalled how St. Ignatius, in the Spiritual Exercises, had imagined the loving and fertile dialogue between the Father, the Son and the Spirit, who contemplated the world with its joys and sorrows. He stressed that God's plan that followed was realized with Mary. Fr. Sosa affirmed that Jesuits have the responsibility to continue God’s mission.

"What are we going to do?" he asked. “To serve the mission of the Church, which is to serve Christ as companions in a mission of reconciliation and justice." In Canada, he said, this means approaching young people with the joy of the Gospel, welcoming strangers, creating new relationships with Indigenous peoples and taking care of the country.

"How are we going to do it?" he continued. By participating, as collaborators, in networks and partnerships with Christians and other people of good will. This needs to be done both by discerning and by concretely planning actions. He added, "Discernment and planning cannot be separated. By planning without discerning, we are administrators. By discerning without planning, we are dreamers.”

Fr. Sosa expressed one last wish at the end of his homily: that the new Jesuit Province of Canada has "the audacity of those who believe that the Divine Word has come into this world, that he has taken flesh in Mary, that he has passed through death and has risen to lead us all to the fullness of life."

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