Sharing the Experience of the Congregation
David Schultenover, S.J.
January 7, 2008

Fr. Don Doll, S.J. took photos
of the opening liturgy:
January 7th photos

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Dave Schultenover, S.J. is a delegate to the Congregation from the Wisconsin Province, in the US Assistancy.

He is a Consultor to the Provincial of the Wisconsin Province and a professor of historical theology at Marquette University.

He is the editor in chief of THEOLOGICAL STUDIES, A Jesuit Sponsored Journal of Theology.


Today we opened the congregation with the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Society’s mother church, the Church of the Gesù.

To be vesting with some 240 Jesuits from around the world, and then to process down the very long central aisle at the entrance procession, was very moving. The principal celebrant was Cardinal Franc Rodé, former Archbishop of the church of Slovenia and currently Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of the Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. He reminded us in his homily of our tradition of a vowed special relationship to the pope and of how influential we are with many other religious communities around the world because of our colleges, universities, and seminaries where so many of them receive training. He clearly wanted to impress upon us the seriousness of our congregation and the necessity of maintaining fidelity to the Holy See and the magisterium. The various occasional parts of the Mass underscored the universality, plurality, and diversity of the Church and the Society of Jesus by including women and men from many countries who spoke in numerous languages, for example, in the prayers of the faithful.

At the end of Mass, the Cardinal, flanked by Father General Kolvenbach and Father Frank Case (Oregon Province), Secretary of the Society, processed from the high altar down the main aisle and then over to the side altar where St. Ignatius of Loyola is buried. At the appropriate moment, the very large painting in the niche above the altar was gradually lowered in silence and revealing behind it the magnificent baroque silver statue of St. Ignatius (struck after the original which had been hauled off and melted down by Napoleon’s troops in 1798). As the new heroic-sized statue was gradually unveiled, the congregation seemed awestruck at its grandeur. Father General Kolvenbach then lit the votive lamp before the tomb and prayed the special prayer to St. Ignatius to intercede for us as we enter Congregation 35; all were invited to close by praying in common Ignatius’s Suscipe.

The church was filled, the liturgy was carefully choreographed, and the music, led by a well-rehearsed schola of Jesuit students, was inspiring.

This afternoon, we spent several hours taking care of essential preliminary details — not the least of which was learning how the wireless voting mechanisms work. We are now poised to enter into the very solemn process of discerning the election of our new superior general. Father Kolvenbach was in great humor and form as he presided over the opening session. He has been a superb general. But now, verging on 80 years of age, he recognizes that it is time to let younger hands take the helm.

David G. Schultenover, S.J.

Rome, January 7, 2008

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