General Congregation 36, Rome, October 2, 2016

In the almost 500 years since its founding, the Society of Jesus has convened 35 general congregations. The first took place in 1558, two years after the death of St Ignatius, delayed because of a war between King Philip II of Spain and Pope Paul IV. Fr Diego Laynez SJ was elected to succeed Ignatius as Superior General.

The 36th General Congregation (GC 36) will convene in Rome on October 2, 2016. GC 36 was convoked by Jesuit Superior General Fr Adolfo Nicolás SJ who announced in December 2014 his intention to resign after serving as the leader of the Society of Jesus since 2008.

When it is in session, a general congregation is the supreme governing body of the Society of Jesus, outranking even the Superior General. In addition to electing a new superior general, GC 36 delegates will discuss postulataor petitions/requests received from province congregations. The number of postulata sent to a general congregation usually comes to no more than several hundred, but not all postulates are accepted by the general congregation.

At GC 32 (1974-75), the "service of faith and the promotion of justice," was established as the specific and overriding characteristic of all Jesuit works.

GC 36 logo

Rowing into the Deep

The GC 36 logo was inspired by Pope Francis' message to the Jesuits on the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. On September 27, 2014, in the Church of the Gesù in Rome, the pope urged Jesuits to discern in difficult times; to be obedient to the will of God; and to row with him in the service of the church according to the call of Jesus to his disciples: “Put out into the deep.” (Lk 5:4)

In the logo, the IHS represents the Society's boat in the church, and the waves represent the sea that Jesuits are invited to enter and row out into, toward frontiers. The cross represents the sail where the Spirit blows, helping the Society to row. The flame above the cross represents “a fire that kindles other fires”, a link to GC 35 Decree 2; a fire that continues to burn, illuminating how to discern the direction and how to row into the deep in the current context. [JCU website and GC 36 website]

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