Getting to know the new General

Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ reflects on the election of Fr Sosa as General.

Last Friday morning we elected a new Fr General, Arturo Marcelino Sosa Abascal.

Arturo was born in Caracas, Venezuela and has been, more recently, the Delegate of the General for the International Houses and Works of the Society of Jesus in Rome. Our Province’s own Theo Overberg has been his Treasurer!

Over the coming days and months we will learn more about him. For those of us at the Congregation we will have the opportunity, also, to listen to him and get to know him better.


Fr Sosa in Rome (photo courtesy GC36 Communications).

One of the things we have had to learn was what to call him. He, like many other South Americans and Spanish people, has two surnames, one taken from his mother and the other from his father. Sosa is his father’s name and Abascal his mother’s.

Arturo is his given name (also, coincidentally, the same first name of the present Provincial of Venezuela, Arturo Ernesto Peraza Celis), with Marcelino his baptism and second name. Many refer to him simply as Arturo Sosa.

He is the first Father General from South America. He was born in Caracas. Caracas is as about as far from Melbourne as Melbourne is from Rome! He comes from the global south, as does our Pope Francis, and both appointments are a first for our Church and Society.

As a nice touch for us, the Sevenhill Winery provided wine for the meal that followed his election. Some months ago they sent some wine by sea for the occasion. This included some 2013 St Ignatius mixed blend and 2016 St Francis Xavier Riesling.

As each delegate personally met the new Fr General in the Aula after his election, I embraced him and invited him to come Australia. ‘Come and visit us, especially if you want a rest’, I suggested. ‘How about tomorrow?’ was his reply.

Hopefully, he will keep his humour in his new and demanding role.

By Fr Brian F. McCoy, Provincial