On Monday 29 January, as part of his recent visit to Australia, Jesuit Father General Arturo Sosa met with Archbishop Peter A Comensoli while in Melbourne.

The previous week in Sydney, Fr Sosa, accompanied by a number of his Jesuit brothers from Rome, joined Jesuit major superiors from across the Asia-Pacific region at an intimate evening on 24 January. Attended by some of Jesuit Mission Australia’s most loyal long-term supporters, it was an occasion marked by a spirit of gratitude and friendship.

‘You are part of the family of the Society of Jesus, not because of what you give, but because of who you are—because what you are giving is your own life, your own heart,’ said Fr Sosa.

The evening featured a panel session during which the Jesuit major superiors from Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Timor-Leste shared moving stories and updates from their nations on the life-changing, global impact of the Jesuits’ ministry—a ministry made possible by the generosity of Australian Catholic supporters.

Led by the CEO of Jesuit Mission Australia, Helen Forde, the panel discussion was a great opportunity for supporters from the Sydney, Broken Bay and Paramatta dioceses—as well as some who had travelled from the Melbourne and Adelaide dioceses—to hear from the major superiors and Fr Sosa, and for supporters to engage and meet in person.

‘It was an evening of great joy and encouragement, a reminder of the positive change we make when we collaborate and uplift our sisters and brothers in need together,’ said Ms Forde.

The major superiors were invited to share how their ministries are ensuring that young people in their countries have a hope-filled future, and have opportunities to become leaders who strive for justice.

‘We are providing not only education but holistic formation to youth where their values, culture and spirituality are grounded,’ said Fr Erik John Gerilla SJ, Regional Superior of Timor-Leste, referring to the Jesuit educational institutions that are forming thousands of Timorese students and trainee teachers to be the county’s next leaders and change-makers.

Even amid the political upheaval in neighbouring Myanmar, beacons of hope and opportunity are evident.

‘Despite the challenges of the country, the youth of Myanmar have hope … the fighting will one day cease, and with the education they receive, they will breathe in something new,’ said Fr Girish Santiago SJ, Regional Superior of Myanmar.

Despite the challenges of the country, the youth of Myanmar have hope.

In Cambodia, poverty and a lack of opportunity prevent many children living in rural areas from receiving a quality education.

‘We opened Xavier Jesuit School in Cambodia near the Thai border, as many children are left behind while their parents seek employment in Thailand. Our school motto is to “Dare to Dream of a Brighter Future”,’ said Fr Kwon Oh-Chang SJ, Delegate of Cambodia Mission.

Similarly, in Thailand, Australian Catholics are supporting the Jesuits’ work in two refugee camps providing education and social and pastoral services.

According to Fr Miguel Garaizábal SJ, Regional Superior of Thailand, the Jesuits work in about 11 schools, ‘improving their curriculum, supporting teacher salaries, providing textbooks as well as seminars for teacher training and child protection. We visit families, take care of the elderly, the sick and the outcast,’ he said.

Fr Sosa is the 31st superior general of the Society of Jesus, the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church. As he is only the third father general to visit Australia in the history of the Jesuits, it was a truly memorable occasion for the Jesuit Mission Australia family.

The Society of Jesus cannot exist ... without those who support, who have been partners in this mission.

‘The Society of Jesus cannot exist, cannot have a long history as it has, without your generosity, without those who support, who have been partners in this mission,’ he said. ‘May the Lord bless each of you, your families, your intentions. May you be blessed with good health and interior strength so that we can encourage one another in doing God’s work.’

Fr Sosa emphasised the importance of working together as one Church, insisting that ‘the mission does not belong to Jesuits. The Lord called all of us. All of us are called … together for the same mission.

‘Even though we have different ways of fulfilling [it],’ he said, all must ‘work together to fulfill the mission entrusted to us by God and the Church.’