Father General’s visit to Milwaukee: inspiration for greater love and service

This story was originally published on the Society of Jesus website. Rev. Arturo Sosa Abascal, S.J., has led the Society of Jesus as father general since 2016. In addition to his interactions with the Milwaukee Jesuit community, Father Sosa met with President Michael R. Lovell; Rev. John Thiede, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry; and the Marquette University Board of Trustees during his visit.

Father General Arturo Sosa, S.J., visited Milwaukee on Sunday, April 7, bringing much consolation to the Jesuits and apostolic leaders of the area. The weather was not very springlike, but the occasion was lively, warm and inspiring. 

Accompanied by the Provincial and the socius of our Province (UMI – United States Midwest), and two of his assistants from Rome, Father General traveled from Chicago to Milwaukee. The day’s events began with a midmorning mass with the Jesuits at the St. Camillus Community. Rev. Paul Shelton, S.J., of the Province Vocation Office pronounced his final vows at this Eucharist, after which Father Sosa joined the community for lunch. 

His group then traveled across town to the O’Brien Jesuit Residence at Marquette University, where he met and conversed with the presidents and board chairs of Marquette University, Marquette High School, Nativity Jesuit Academy and Cristo Rey High School, along with the director of Oshkosh Jesuit Retreat House and the pastor of Gesu Parish. 

After a short break, Father General moved from the living room to the O’Brien Community chapel, where he addressed members of the Marquette, Arrupe and Oshkosh Jesuit communities for over an hour, and took questions afterward. He began by recalling his fond friendship with the late Brad Schaeffer, our former provincial who died recently. Topics moved on to include the Universal Apostolic Preferences, the intellectual apostolates, our observance of poverty, international solidarity and cooperation, and collaboration not as something we do, but as something we embody. In response to a question about Father Arrupe’s beatification cause, Father Sosa updated us on the recent submission of material to the Vicariate of Rome. All were impressed by Father General’s command of English, his energy and his physical stamina over what must have been a long day of speaking and interacting with hundreds of Jesuits and lay leaders. 

A social hour followed in the O’Brien community room, and then an elegant dinner for the assembled Jesuits. Even though we had heard Father General’s call to greater adherence to poverty, we also wanted to provide him and his party with the finest hospitality we could. If the length of time we spent at table was any indication, Father General’s words and witness had fed us abundantly and inspired us to greater love and service. We certainly saw that the Society’s governance is in good hands and were humbled that Father General wished to meet us and hear about our work to further God’s kingdom in the Milwaukee area.