By Deanna I. Howes, Director of Communications, AJCU
When we chose the Connections topics for the 2016-17 academic year, we were hopeful that the timing of General Congregation 36 (a worldwide meeting of Jesuits in Rome to elect a new Superior General, also known as GC36) would coincide with the publication of the December issue. Thankfully, it reached its conclusion just over a month ago allowing ample time for our contributors to write meaningful articles about the impact that GC36 made on them, their institutions and the Society of Jesus.
The articles pay tribute to the newly-elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J. (the first Latin-American to be elected to the position), as well as his predecessors. Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. served as Superior General from 2008 to 2016, succeeding Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., who served from 1983 to 2008. Just last month, Fr. Kolvenbach passed away at the age of 87. His legacy, and that of those who served before him, have impacted our schools in many ways, notably through the landmark Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education conference held at Santa Clara University in October 2000 (for more information on the Justice Conference, please click here).

With this being the last issue of Connections before Christmas (don’t worry: we’ll be back in January!), we know that some of our readers may still be in need of gifts to give to that special Jesuit-educated person (or Jesuit fan!) in their lives. Please check out the AJCU Christmas Gift Guide featuring everything from new books by faculty at Jesuit institutions to charitable organizations to which you can make donations in honor of your loved ones. We will continue to update this list throughout the Christmas season! Please send your gift suggestions to

From all of us at AJCU, we wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year!

All the best,




By Cyndy Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU

The 114th Congress Comes to an End
Late last week, the U.S. Senate finally passed the Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY17 to keep the federal government funded and running until April 28, 2017. It wasn’t without challenges: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) led an effort to block the CR in the Senate for failure to fund coal miner health programs. He eventually dropped his objection to move forward on the CR, which passed in the Senate by 63-36. The 114th Congress came to a close after earning the description of “the do-nothing Congress.”
Unfortunately, by delaying consideration of the CR until April, it will be difficult for financial aid offices to award financial aid packages to students at such a late date. The CR level-funds most programs, but with a 0.19% cut across the board. The year-long Pell grant program was in the Senate bill and was not included in the CR; luckily, the Pell grant surplus was not used to fund other programs in the CR. On the positive side, the CR contains $4 billion in grant aid for NIH grants, which meets a goal to double research dollars.  
The Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) Committee had planned to develop new language for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) (e.g. proposed eliminations of regulations), but was unable to do so in part because of the political climate. The unexpected evolution of Donald Trump from Republican nominee to President-elect was a key issue on Capitol Hill and permeated consideration of any constructive legislation.
Taxes were also supposed to be front and center this year, beginning the arduous task of tax reform. However, given the highly volatile political climate, the tax-writing Committees (House Ways and Means and Senate Finance) opted not to move forward with tax reform.

The House Ways and Means Committee’s focus on institutions of higher education with endowments over $1 billion was also a concern. During a September 13th hearing of the Subcommittee on Tax Policy about reducing college costs, numerous members complained about institutions with endowments over $1 billion, and whether students received enough student aid from those institutions. This issue is yet to be resolved, as there is great concern regarding college costs and general misunderstanding of limitations on endowments.
From a funding perspective, it remains to be seen if there will be a budget for FY18 under the new Trump Administration, or whether funding will be stifled substantially due to the return of sequestration in FY18 and potential changes in national priorities.
May you and yours have a joyful and meaningful Christmas, and may the New Year be one of good health and productive work on behalf of Jesuit higher education.

By Kathleen Sullivan, Office of University Communications, Boston College

Rev. Joseph Costantino, S.J., Pastor of ST. IGNATIUS CHURCH in CHESTNUT HILL, MA (Photo by Gary Gilbert, Boston College)    

Rev. Joseph Costantino, S.J., Pastor of ST. IGNATIUS CHURCH in CHESTNUT HILL, MA (Photo by Gary Gilbert, Boston College)



Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Dean Rev. Thomas Stegman, S.J. and Rev. Joseph Costantino, S.J., a member of the Boston College Jesuit community who serves as pastor of St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill, MA, were among the more than 200 delegates to the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (GC36), where Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., of Venezuela, was elected the 31st Superior General.

GC36 was convened to elect a successor to Superior General Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., who had announced in December 2014 his intention to resign after serving as Superior General since 2008. Fr. Stegman was elected as a delegate representing the Wisconsin Province, while Fr. Costantino served as a delegate from the Northeast Province. Both were participating in their first General Congregation.

“Our first order of business was to accept the resignation of Fr. Nicolás,” said Fr. Stegman. “That was very solemn. People expressed their warmth and gratitude for [his] service. After we accepted his resignation, Fr. Nicolás stepped down and took his seat in alphabetical order with the rest of us in the aula [in the Jesuit Curia in Rome]. Soon after, he announced that he would not participate in the Congregation [any more].

“That was a grace-filled moment. He was acting out of love and humility, having the Society’s well-being and mission in mind. It was a great model for all of us,” Fr. Stegman continued.

Next, the delegates were presented with the De Statu report (the state of the Society of Jesus). This was the product of one of the GC36 commissions, which took the pulse of the Society and assessed its strengths and weaknesses. The delegates used this document to determine what qualities they would look for in the next Superior General.

The next phase was the Murmurationes: a time of prayer and conversation to discern who would be the best choice for Superior General.

“It is unlike any other election,” said Fr. Costantino. “You don’t campaign. There are no candidates. You are required to pray for indifference to allow the Spirit to select the best person. There are people who have the qualities on paper, but do they really have them? That’s the Murmurationes.”

Delegates have one-on-one conversations with each other, and are to answer only what is asked of them. They are encouraged to speak honestly about the positives and negatives of others as well as of themselves. “Part of the skill is learning to ask the right questions,” said Fr. Stegman.

Rev. Thomas Stegman, S.J. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini, Boston College)    

Rev. Thomas Stegman, S.J. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini, Boston College)



“It’s almost a confessional moment,” added Fr. Costantino. “It’s a rare privilege to be part of that conversation.”

The election was called for on October 14th. The day began with a Mass of the Holy Spirit, after which the 212 electors, upon entering the aula, sat for an hour of quiet prayer. Though computer tablets were used throughout the General Congregation, the voting for the General was done on paper ballots signed by each elector. 

“We were looking for a strong leader, someone who could really animate and inspire us, who would call us to the best of our spiritual roots,” said Fr. Stegman. “I thought it was important for the new General to have international experience and good language skills.”

Fr. Costantino said he was looking for someone with proficiency in multiple languages, an ability to manage, and diplomacy skills.

Fr. Sosa speaks Spanish, Italian and English and understands French. He was Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Venezuela, and most recently served in Rome as Delegate for the Interprovincial Roman Houses of the Society of Jesus. 

“There was great support around Fr. Sosa,” recalled Fr. Costantino. ”Everyone rallied around having a new General. We were excited about his being elected. As time went on, people were confirmed in the fact that the Holy Spirit really was involved.”

Fr. Costantino said that one of the first things the General does after his election, is to kneel before the Cross and say the Creed. “It’s a fantastic moment.”

For Fr. Stegman, one of the highlights of GC36 was the papal visit that followed the election. On October 24th, Pope Francis spent four hours with the delegates in the aula of the Jesuit Curia. He shared morning prayer, gave an allocution, participated in a Q&A session and greeted each member. 

The next phase of GC36 was devoted to business matters (Ad Negotia). GC36 delegates discussed documents drafted based on postulata or petitions received from province congregations and from individual Jesuits. The delegates agreed on a handful of decrees. One will address governance for mission and, among other things, call for more effective ways of assessing how the Society is living out its apostolic priorities.

Another document on Jesuit life and mission, is the “one that will be of most interest to people,” said Fr. Stegman. It will address community life as mission, not just for mission. 

“How do we [educators] serve as instruments through whom God’s reign takes greater foothold? For those of us in the education apostolate, it is about forming young people whose world view is marked by compassion, whose impetus is to serve before taking. It is also about engaging in research and teaching that addresses real needs in the world.”

By Rev. Patrick Lee, S.J., Vice President of Mission & Ministry, Gonzaga University

Rev. Patrick Lee, S.J. (Photo by Gonzaga University)    

Rev. Patrick Lee, S.J. (Photo by Gonzaga University)



As we in the Society of Jesus transition from the leadership of retired Superior General Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. to newly-elected Superior General Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., I am struck by how fortunate we are to have such outstanding men as leaders, and how the Holy Spirit is at work among the Jesuits.

I have been privileged to have had both men as my superior. Fr. Nicolás, a Spaniard, resigned in October at age 80 after serving as the Jesuits’ leader since 2008. Fr. Sosa, a 67-year-old Venezuelan, was elected Superior General on October 14th. Fr. Nicolás was my superior when I was provincial of the Oregon Province from 2008 to 2014. As Superior of the Holy Land, Jerusalem (from 2014 to 2016), I reported to Fr. Sosa, who was then serving as Delegate for Interprovincial Houses of the Society in Rome. I came to like and love both of these extraordinary men as my superiors and as brother Jesuits.

Looking back, the Society has been blessed with exceptional leadership throughout my life. Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., who, like St. Ignatius Loyola, hailed from the Basque region of Spain, was elected Superior General in 1965, and was deeply committed to peace and justice. He was a visionary leader who guided the Society through the changes following Vatican II. Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.*, Superior General from 1983 to 2008, left a legacy of ministry and leadership grounded in a faith that seeks justice. He gave us great depth into who we are in the Society and all of our collaborated works.

Fr. Nicolás’ major gift was the globalization of the Society and its works. It came mainly in his April 23, 2010 talk in Mexico City to the presidents of Jesuit universities when he discussed the “globalization of superficiality,” a concept in which he identified how explosive technological growth and rampant worldwide consumerism, among other factors, threaten authentic human relationships and the hard work of critical thinking. In particular, Fr. Nicolás said this impacts the lives and futures of youth and their ability to study, pray and discern an individual path.

He wrote:

When one can access so much information so quickly and so painlessly; when one can express and publish to the world one’s reactions so immediately and so unthinkingly in one’s blogs or micro-blogs; when the latest opinion column from The New York Times or El Pais, or the newest viral video can be spread so quickly to people half a world away, shaping their perceptions and feelings, then the laborious, painstaking work of serious, critical thinking often gets short-circuited.

Fr. Nicolás advanced the Society from the inspiration of Fathers Arrupe and Kolvenbach to the revolutionary social teachings within the Church, including the new ideas from Latin American leaders like Pope Francis and now, Fr. Sosa.

Fr. Nicolás helped us move to a place of real depth, which Fr. Kolvenbach had begun, and said we must go to the depths in our search for the truth. That was a call to Jesuit higher education worldwide: to discern how we are serving the marginalized and, in particular, refugees. At the 35th General Congregation, Fr. Nicolás affirmed the call from Pope Benedict XVI for the special mission of the Jesuits to discover new horizons and reach new social, cultural and religious frontiers.

One of the things I remember about Fr. Nicolás is his smile and wonderful warmth and care that he brought to the Society. He is an extraordinarily good man whose care for others and deep love for the Society always showed wherever he went and was evident in my experience in his real care of provincials. He had a strong sense of collaboration, and had all of us call him “Nico.”

Fr. Sosa brings that sense of liberation theology, deep care for the poor, and the belief that we will always find Christ in the poor and marginalized. I think he too has a vision for the world, particularly in the Middle East, and what it could look like. I see him bringing to the Society a vision for the world, and a vision of justice and peace from the Latin American perspective. He was a university president and lived through a very difficult political and economic crisis in Venezuela. He is working with all of our universities to orchestrate our collective advancement. 

Fr. Sosa is also a very warm person whose kindness readily shines forth. He is a great listener who takes a personal interest in who we are. He moves toward solutions, and has a deep respect for higher education and its value in society. I expect he will challenge us to account for how our institutions in the United States and the English-speaking world care for the poor and implement mandates of General Congregation 36. He is saying that Jesuit educational institutions must prioritize the mission of the Society, which is distinct from our institutional missions. His perspective of mission is directed toward the work of the Society in the world. I think he will challenge the Society to integrate faith and justice to carry out our mission in the world more fully and more deeply than ever before.

Like Pope Francis, Fr. Sosa calls our institutions to be counter cultural, to move away from institutional self-centeredness or any sense that we are better than others. The Society calls us to find humility as an institution, and to help our students find a deep love for the poor. One priority will be to find the means within our institutions to provide scholarships for low-income students to help them experience Jesuit education. While St. Ignatius taught us to train leaders, Fr. Sosa insists we develop leaders who care and work for the marginalized. He’s saying that when our students go out into the world, they should think of the world first, not of themselves. And clearly, Pope Francis is saying this as well.

It’s a fascinating moment for Jesuit higher education with a Latin American Pope and Superior General for the first time in history. Our leaders from Latin America bring a different perspective with a greater emphasis on justice, and care for the poor, the marginalized and the voiceless. The Holy Spirit is doing something special with our leadership in the Church and the Society. As Jesuit institutions of higher education, we must search and discern God’s will. I’m very optimistic and feel so fortunate to have this kind of leadership. 

Rev. Patrick Lee, S.J. has served as Vice President of Mission and Ministry at Gonzaga University since August 2016 (he previously served in the role from 2005 to 2008). Most recently, he served as Superior of the Holy Land, Jerusalem (2014-2016), and Provincial of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus (2008-2014).

*Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. passed away on November 26, 2016.

By Angeline Boyer, Assistant Director of Media Relations, Saint Peter’s University

Rev. Claudio Burgaleta, S.J. (Photo by Saint Peter's University)    

Rev. Claudio Burgaleta, S.J. (Photo by Saint Peter’s University)



Rev. Claudio Burgaleta, S.J. recently left his position as a professor at Fordham University to become rector of the Jesuit community at Saint Peter’s University. His arrival at the University coincided with General Congregation 36 (GC36) to elect the new Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J.

Timing was not the only coincidence shared by Fr. Sosa and Fr. Burgaleta. As the first non-European to assume the role of Superior General, Fr. Sosa’s Latin-American background gives him a unique perspective that differs from his predecessors. This perspective is one that is deeply understood by Fr. Burgaleta. Born in Cuba, Fr. Burgaleta has traveled widely throughout Latin America ministering to Latinos in a variety of capacities and locations, and has even worked with some of Fr. Sosa’s collaborators.

It is expected that as Superior General, Fr. Sosa will focus on social activism and the promotion of faith and justice. From Fr. Burgaleta’s experience and perspective at Saint Peter’s, these ideals are becoming increasingly important to members of the University community. In a recent interview, Fr. Burgaleta provided an in-depth look at the commonalities he shares with Fr. Sosa, and discussed possibilities for Jesuits under Fr. Sosa’s leadership after GC36. 

Were you aware of Fr. Sosa prior to his election? How is he different from previous Superior Generals?

Fr. Sosa’s name was one that was discussed before he was selected. The most notable or obvious way that Fr. Sosa stands out from former Superior Generals is his heritage as a Venezuelan, given the fact that all former Superior Generals were of European descent. Another distinguishing characteristic of Fr. Sosa is his diverse background. While many of the previous Generals came out of the educational sector, Fr. Sosa bridges the gap between the education and the social sector. He also knows Rome well [having] previously served as the Delegate for Interprovincial Roman Houses of the Society of Jesus in Rome and on the cabinet of [former Superior General], Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. 

How is the election of Fr. Sosa significant to a Jesuit institution like Saint Peter’s? 

The Saint Peter’s community is richly diverse in culture, religion, political affiliations and more. We have a number of students who are immigrants or first-generation college students. The [recent] U.S. presidential election sparked debate and discussion on our campus and some of our students are feeling vulnerable or threatened by the outcome. Working in a polarized country such as Venezuela, Fr. Sosa is exceptionally attuned to the challenges and fears that individuals like our students face. 

Social justice is also of great importance to many members of the Saint Peter’s community and Fr. Sosa shares that focus. He represents the thrust of Latin American Jesuits who are working for and with the poor. 

What are some of the significant decrees coming out of GC36? 

One of the most significant things that the Congregation stressed was better collaboration and networking among Jesuit institutions. This is becoming increasingly critical for institutions such as Saint Peter’s as the number of Jesuits continues to decline in the United States. Fr. Sosa has also been tasked with bringing the Ignatian charism up-to-date in order to be implemented into today’s practice. 

How will your position at Saint Peter’s influence the Jesuit mission and ministry at the University?

In my role at Saint Peter’s I am tasked with looking after the spiritual well-being of the Jesuits at the University as well as those in the local community. I also serve as a representative of the Society of Jesus to the Jesuits and for the communities that they serve. In addition, I am a member of the Saint Peter’s University Board of Trustees and am part of the Ignatian Leadership Team, which is responsible for maintaining the Jesuit tradition of the University. With this said, I closely follow the decrees and focus of the Society of Jesus in Rome as well as in our Province to guide the initiatives and plans for the University. 

What are some of the challenges that Jesuit institutions face in today’s world?

One challenge that I mentioned earlier is the declining number of Jesuits, which enhances the need for collaboration and networking among institutions. Another challenge is separating the Jesuit mission from Catholic identity. While they are both very distinct, they cannot exist separately from each other. Another significant challenge is an economic one…how can we accomplish a lot without a lot of financial resources? The most inspirational thing I have experienced at Saint Peter’s is how the University is accomplishing a lot through creativity [despite] extensive resources. There is certainly a spirit of welcome and collaboration at the University. I look forward to playing a role in the Ignatian spirituality of Saint Peter’s as I move forward in my role. 

By Kristin Austin & Mike Gabriele, Maryland Province Jesuits

Very Rev. Robert M. Hussey, S.J. and Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J. (Photo by Rev. Itua Egbor, S.J.)    

Very Rev. Robert M. Hussey, S.J. and Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J. (Photo by Rev. Itua Egbor, S.J.)



Very Rev. Robert M. Hussey, S.J. began his term as Provincial Superior of the Maryland Province Jesuits on July 31, 2014. Prior to this position, he served for six years as Pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Church in Raleigh, NC. Fr. Hussey entered the Jesuits in 1989 and was ordained a priest in 2000. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Louisiana State University, a M.Div. from Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University. Fr. Hussey is fluent in Spanish and served on the faculty of the ILADES/Georgetown University Graduate Program in Economics in Santiago, Chile. He later joined the economics faculty at Georgetown University. During his time in Washington, D.C., he was also involved in pastoral work at Georgetown, and Hispanic ministry at a local jail.

GC36 was Fr. Hussey’s first General Congregation. After he returned, he shared his reflections on the experience in a new video interview for the Maryland Province Jesuits. He said, “It is wonderful to have a sense of fraternity and ease among men from all over the world and sometimes men you’ve never met before. It comes out of who we are, our commonality, our spirituality: there’s a freedom that Jesuits have that makes us open to each other.”


It’s that time of year! If you’re still looking for Christmas gifts, we’ve got some great ideas for you inspired by Jesuit colleges and universities.

(Jesuit Basketball Spotlight)



For Jesuit basketball fans, there’s nothing better than the brand-new poster from the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight, featuring all 80+ games between Jesuit opponents for the 2016-17 season. Click here to purchase yours online.

Two new books by faculty at Canisius University and Le Moyne College are available for purchase on Amazon. Girls in the Moon is a new young adult novel by Canisius professor Janet McNally that was recently featured in Kirkus Reviews. For history buffs, Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments That Redeemed America by Le Moyne professor Douglas R. Egerton has received great reviews in The Christian Science Monitor and The New Yorker.

Saint Joseph’s University has published a new book, Pontifex @ SJU, to commemorate Pope Francis’ historic visit to campus last fall featuring photos and tributes from students, faculty and staff. Click here to purchase it online. Xavier University‘s Center for Mission & Identity also has books available for sale: popular titles include An Ignatian Journal and Leadership Mastery and Moxie in 31 Days: A Guide and Journal for Career Women.

Loyola Press has a number of new books for readers of all ages including Dear Pope Francis; 2017: A Book of Grace-Filled Days; and My Life with the Saints (10th Anniversary Edition). The latter features a new epilogue by author Rev. James Martin, S.J. More titles are available on

(Saint Joseph's University)    

(Saint Joseph’s University)



For coffee lovers and fans of the Blue Streaks, John Carroll University has just the thing for you: Gold & Brew Fair Trade Coffee! A portion of the proceeds will support the University’s Carroll Fund for student scholarships. And speaking of blue and gold, Marquette University has highlighted the top 14 gifts for fans of the Golden Eagles, all of which can be purchased on the Marquette online gift shop.

Last month, Creighton University hosted the 2016 Opus Prize Award Ceremony, which was awarded to Sarah Lance, founder of Sari Bari, an organization that helps women in Kolkata, India escape the city’s sex trade and learn to become artisans. Creighton has a link to an online store where you can you purchase garments made by Sari Bari artisans, along with several other Omaha-based organizations selling gifts this Christmas.

Looking for additional Jesuit ministries and organizations to make donations to this Christmas? Please consider the following: Homeboy Industries (gang rehabilitation center in Los Angeles, CA founded by Rev. Greg Boyle, S.J.); Red Cloud Indian School (Jesuit-founded high school on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD), Kino Border Initiative (binational migration organization in Arizona and Mexico); and Jesuit Refugee Service / USA (international organization that advocates for refugees).

Finally, treat the movie buff in your life to tickets to Martin Scorsese’s new film, SilenceSilence depicts the true story of Jesuit missionaries in 1640s Japan and will open nationally on December 23rd. Click here for the film’s trailer and here for a brand-new interview by America Magazine with Mr. Scorsese.

We will continue to update this list throughout the Christmas season! Please send your gift suggestions to Deanna Howes: