Last month, I had the privilege of serving as one of 21 delegates representing North America at the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) at the Jesuit Curia in Rome.
The conference gathered a combined 210 Jesuit and lay delegates, alike, from 62 countries to commemorate the organization’s 50 years of promoting a faith that does justice. During this five-day gathering, we examined how the Society of Jesus promotes faith and justice across all works. Delegates also prayerfully identified challenges and opportunities so as to discern where God is calling us in the coming years.
Signorino in front of St. Peter’s
Rev. Arturo Sosa, SJ, superior general of the Society of Jesus, addressed the Congress on the first day and called upon us to be bold, collaborative and creative as we considered the priorities of our gathering. I had the good fortune of meeting the Father General during one of our breakout sessions.
Signorino (right) poses with Rev. Arturo Sosa, SJ, superior general of the Society of Jesus (center) and Sr. Erin McDonald, University Minister for Service and Social Justice at University of Detroit Mercy, during a breakout session at the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome
Father Sosa addressing Pope Francis during the Congress’ private papal audience
I was similarly blessed with a private audience with Pope Francis. The Holy Father first addressed the Congress and then spent time greeting each of us. Since we had only a few seconds with him, I shook Pope Francis’ hand and said “Thank you for your joy.”
Pope Francis greets Signorino
The Congress concluded with Mass at the Church of Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus, which houses the tomb of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Afterwards, delegates toured the original rooms of St. Ignatius, where he spent his final years. I found walking through the simple spaces to be so moving. Visitors can see St. Ignatius’ shoes, a first edition of the Spiritual Exercises, and they can pray in the chapel where St. Ignatius celebrated Mass and where he died.
The SJES filled me with hope, inspiration and a fire for justice, and I look forward to continuing to further our mission and identity at Canisius.
Pope Francis, in his address, reminded us that “we need a true cultural revolution, a transformation of our collective gaze, of our attitudes, of our ways of perceiving ourselves and of placing ourselves before the world.”
Let us transform!