A Jesuit Superior General Returns to Sophia after Eleven Years
On July 31, Jesuit Superior General Arturo Sosa gave a special address on the theme “Jesuit Higher Education in the Global Context” that was held in Room 101 of Building 6, with about 350 students, faculty, staff, and others in attendance. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which established Jōchi(now also called Sophia) University, is a Catholic religious order founded about 500 years ago, which includes Pope Francis as a member. Known for its special contributions to education, the Society is involved in the management of over 2,000 educational institutions worldwide.
This visit by a Jesuit Superior General to Sophia follows on that of the previous Superior General, Father Adolfo Nicolas, a former Professor of the Theology Faculty, who visited in 2008. A native of Venezuela, Father Sosa holds a doctoral degree in political science from Universidad Central de Venezuela. He served as Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Venezuela and General Counselor of the Jesuit Superior General before becoming the 31st Superior General in October 2016.
The address, referencing the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society, considered three themes: the significance of the role of Jesuit universities, the intellectual apostolate as expressing the activities in the field of learning since the Society’s founding, and the social engagement of Jesuit universities.
Father Sosa said that the true value of a Jesuit university is to be found in forming men and women who care for the world, the planet, and human life itself, and who bear a sense of responsibility as global citizens who contribute to a project of social transformation “for others.” The university should not be a place to merely pile up knowledge; the goal of the intellectual apostolate is to seek wisdom.
Father Sosa pointed out that a university is a privileged place for deepening understanding, gathering diverse people, and providing opportunities for mutual understanding and dialogue. It offers freedom to search and find paths of social transformation through research and teaching. Faculty, staff, and students at Jesuit universities need to realize individually the importance of this role and value in the complexities of higher education.
Following the address, Trustee for General Affairs Sali Augustine moderated a discussion among Father Sosa, Chancellor Sakuma Tsutomu, and President Terumichi Yoshiaki. Their topics included ways of collaboration in schools within Japanese society in which Christians are a minority, and how to promote the spirit of Jesuit education today when learning is expected to bring practical results. A student joined in the discussion by proposing a question.
Afterwards, Yamamoto Natsuki, a third-year student in The Department of Education of the Faculty of Human Sciences, presented a bouquet of flowers.