What is a General Congregation?
The Congregation of Jesus (CJ) will be holding its General Congregation at the Divine Word Ad Gentes Centre in Nemi, Italy, when the pandemic allows.
What is a General Congregation and why is it held?
General Congregations are significant meetings held by religious congregations every few years – in the case of the CJ every nine years. General Congregations are very important events in the life of the whole congregation. This is because they both give a “direction of travel” for the congregation and for its mission for the years following the General Congregation, and also elect a General Superior and her four General Assistants, who together form the General Council – that is, the central leadership team – of the congregation. The General Superior and her Council have responsibility for ensuring that the congregation is faithful both to its charism (see: The General Congregation logo and letterhead – context and significance) and to what the General Congregation has identified as being the mission priorities of the congregation for the nine years following the General Congregation.
They share this responsibility with the extended leadership group of Provincial and Regional Superiors of the 13 Provinces and Regions of the CJ. These cover all the countries in which the CJ is present – Argentina, Brazil and Chile in South America; Cuba and El Salvador in Central America; Austria, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine in Europe; India, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Korea and Philippines in Asia; Mosambique and Zimbabwe in Africa.
For its duration the General Congregation is the highest authority in the congregation and all members of it are equal in standing, although the General Superior acts as its President.
Who attends a General Congregation?
The membership of the General Congregation is composed of:
Ex-officio members – those present by right of office:
- all members of the General Council, together with the General Secretary and General Bursar
- all Provincial and Regional Superiors
- Members from the different Provinces and Regions elected by the members in that Province or Region on the principle of “just and appropriate” representation of the whole congregation at the General Congregation
- A member invited from an area of the congregation which would otherwise be unrepresented
- Members of the other branch of Mary Ward’s foundation, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin [IBVM]
Over the course of the next few weeks we will be adding brief biographies of the GC members here.
In addition there is a team of three people who support the General Congregation in achieving its purposes. You can find out who they are and about their respective roles here.
Where will the General Congregation be held?
General Congregations in the CJ are traditionally held in different places – in 1984 the location was Munich in Germany, in 1993 in Ascot, England, in 2002 in Spišska Kapitulá in Slovakia and in 2011 in Loyola in Spain.
The General Congregation will be held in Nemi, one of the “castelli romani” towns not far from Rome. These small towns are south-east of Rome at the foot of the Alban Hills and are often used as a retreat from the heat of Rome by Romans. The town of Nemi lies beside Lake Nemi and just above it is the Ad Gentes Conference Centre, where the General Congregation will be held. The conference centre is run by the Divine Word Missionaries.
Here are some photos of the Ad Gentes Conference Center: