A Superior General or General Superior is the leader or head of a religious institute in the Roman Catholic Church. The Superior General usually holds supreme executive authority in the religious order, while the general chapter has legislative authority.
The figure of Superior General first emerged in the thirteenth century with the development of the centralized government of the Mendicant Orders. The Friars Minor (Franciscans) organized their community under a Minister General, and the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) appointed a Master General.
Due to restrictions on women religious, especially the obligation of cloister for nuns, congregations of women were not initially able to organize with their own Superior General. In 1609, Mary Ward was the superior general of a religious institute that imitated the Jesuit model, but the institute was not accepted by the Roman Curia. It was in the nineteenth century that religious congregations of women were able to organize with a General Superior and the role is now very common. Mother Teresa, for example, was the Mother General of the Missionaries of Charity. Following the Second Vatican Council women religious formed the International Union of Superiors General.
In canon law, the generic term Supreme Moderator is used instead of Superior General. Many orders and congregations use their own title for the person who holds this position. Some examples are:
In many cases there is an intermediate level between the Superior General and the superior of the individual monasteries or of equivalent communities, often named the provincial superior.
Adolfo Nicolás Pachón (born 29 April 1936), is a Spanish priest of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the thirtieth Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the largest religious order in the Roman Catholic Church.
Nicolás, after consulting with Pope Francis, determined to resign after his 80th birthday, and initiated the process of calling a Jesuit General Congregation to elect his successor. Until the resignation of his predecessor, Peter Hans Kolvenbach, it was not the norm for a Jesuit Superior General to resign; they, like the great majority of the Popes up until Benedict XVI, generally served until death. However, the Jesuit constitutions include provision for a resignation. In October 2016 the thirty-sixth General Congregation of the Society of Jesus appointed his successor, Arturo Sosa from Venezuela.Aquilino Bocos Merino
Aquilino Bocos Merino, (born 17 May 1938) is a Spanish prelate of the Catholic Church, a member and official of the Claretians. He was Superior General of the order, properly known as the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from 1991 to 2003. Pope Francis made him a cardinal on 28 June 2018.Arturo Sosa
Arturo Marcelino Sosa Abascal (born 12 November 1948) is the thirty-first and present Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He was elected Superior General by the Society's 36th General Congregation on 14 October 2016, succeeding Adolfo Nicolás. As a Venezuelan, he is the first person born in Latin America to lead the Jesuits.Claudio Acquaviva
Claudio Acquaviva, S.J. (14 September 1543 – 31 January 1615) was an Italian Jesuit priest elected in 1581 the fifth Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He is often referred to as the second founder of the Jesuit order. Some older texts, including those illustrated in this article, spell his name Aquaviva.Consultor
A consultor is one who gives counsel, i.e., a counselor.
In the Catholic Church, it is a specific title for various advisory positions:
in the Roman Curia, a consultor is a specially appointed expert who may be called upon for advice desired by a department. Consultors, who can be members of the clergy, female or male religious, or laity, and possibly even non-Catholics, are called upon according to need and according to their competence in specific fields. The decisions are then made by the cardinals and (since the Second Vatican Council) bishops who are members of the department, those of the greatest importance being made at plenary meetings, held in principle every year, at which even those members not resident in Rome take part, while those that are important but of ordinary character are taken at the more frequent ordinary meetings, and the day-to-day routine work is done by the prefect or president of the department, assisted by the secretary and under-secretary and the other members of the staff.
in a diocese, the college of consultors consists of priests charged with advising the bishop; some decisions require that they be given a hearing, others require their consent; when a sede vacante situation arises, the college of consultors is obliged to elect a diocesan administrator within eight days of receiving notice of the vacancy.
in certain regular congregations (i.e. religious orders) consultors can advise the superior-general, (e.g. the six geographically diverse consultors to the superior general of the Passionists), provincial superior (e.g. Redemptorist Vice-provincials), or a local superior.Friar
A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.General Congregation
The General Congregation is an assembly of the Jesuit representatives from all parts of the world, and serves as the highest authority in the Society of Jesus. A General Congregation is always summoned on the death or resignation of the administrative head of the order, called the Superior General or Father General, to choose his successor, and it may be called at other times if circumstances warrant. A smaller congregation of worldwide representatives meets every three years to discuss internal business and to decide the need for a general congregation.Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Latin: Ancillae Cordis Iesu; Spanish: Esclavas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús) is a Roman Catholic religious institute that was founded in Madrid, Spain, in 1877 by two sisters, María Dolores and Raphaela Maria Porras y Ayllon. Rafaela Maria became its first superior general in 1877 and in the same year, the congregation received papal approval. The focus of the institute is on "children's education and helping at retreats", reflected in its 130 convents in 27 countries, and the number of schools that it has founded.
Members of the institute carry the letters A.C.I. or A.C.J., after their names.Ignatius of Loyola
Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Basque: Ignazio Loiolakoa; Spanish: Ignacio de Loyola; Latin: Ignatius de Loyola; c. 23 October 1491 – 31 July 1556) was a Spanish Basque Catholic priest and theologian, who co-founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General at Paris in 1541. The Jesuit order served the Pope as missionaries, and they were bound by a vow of special obedience to the sovereign pontiff in regard to the missions. They therefore emerged as an important force during the time of the Counter-Reformation.Ignatius is remembered as a talented spiritual director. He recorded his method in a celebrated treatise called the Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of meditations, prayers, and other mental exercises, first published in 1548.
Ignatius was beatified in 1609, and then canonized, receiving the title of Saint on 12 March 1622. His feast day is celebrated on 31 July. He is the patron saint of the Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa and Biscay as well as the Society of Jesus, and was declared patron saint of all spiritual retreats by Pope Pius XI in 1922. Ignatius is also a foremost patron saint of soldiers.John M. Systermans
John M. Systermans (died May 28, 1989) was born Jean-Marie Systermans, but was better known as Father Henry Systermans or Pater Henri Systermans. He was a 20th-century Belgian-born missionary and priest with the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
He served for most of his life in Hawaii most notably during the 1950s at the leper colony at Kalaupapa on Molokai. His service there followed in the tradition of fellow Belgian priest, Saint Damien, and his contributions were part of the research gathered by Gavan Daws for the definitive biography Holy Man: Father Damien of Molokai.On August 9, 1958 he was elected as the seventh Superior General of the order.
He served as a Council Father in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965.
On April 17, 1967 Systermans was part of a delegation meeting Pope Paul VI to present petitions advocating beatification of Father Damien.
He retired in 1970, and died on May 28, 1989.List of Jesuits
This is an alphabetical list of historically notable members of the Society of Jesus.Marist Brothers
The Marist Brothers of the Schools, commonly known as simply the Marist Brothers, is an international community of Catholic Religious Institute of Brothers. In 1817, St. Marcellin Champagnat, a priest (Marist Father, SM) from France, founded the Marist Brothers, with the goal of educating young people, especially those most neglected. While most of the Brothers minister in school settings, others work with young people in parishes, religious retreats and spiritual accompaniment, at-risk youth settings, young adult ministry and overseas missions.Pedro Arrupe
Pedro Arrupe (14 November 1907 – 5 February 1991) was a Spanish Basque Jesuit priest who served as the twenty-eighth Superior General of the Society of Jesus (1965–83). Stationed as novice master outside Hiroshima in 1945, he used his medical background as a first responder to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He led the Jesuits in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, especially with regard to a faith that does justice and preferential option for the poor.Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter
The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (Latin: Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri; FSSP) is a traditionalist Catholic society of apostolic life for priests and seminarians which is in communion with the Holy See.
The society was founded in 1988 under the leadership of 12 priests who were formerly members of the Society of Saint Pius X, another traditionalist organization, but were unwilling to remain part of it following the Écône consecrations, which resulted in its bishops being excommunicated by the Holy See.
Headquartered in Switzerland, the society maintains two international seminaries: the International Seminary of St. Peter in Wigratzbad-Opfenbach, Bavaria, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska. The society is officially recognized by the Holy See and its priests celebrate Mass in locations in 124 worldwide dioceses.Provincial superior
A provincial superior is a major superior of a religious institute acting under the institute's Superior General and exercising a general supervision over all the members of that institute in a territorial division of the order called a province—similar to but not to be confused with an ecclesiastical province made up of particular churches or dioceses under the supervision of a Metropolitan Bishop. The division of a religious institute into provinces is generally along geographical lines, and may consist of one or more countries, or of only a part of a country. There may be, however, one or more houses of one province situated within the physical territory of another since the jurisdiction over the individual religious is personal rather than territorial. The title of the office is often abbreviated to Provincial.
Among the friars and Third Order Religious Sisters of the Augustinian, Carmelite and Dominican orders, the title "Prior Provincial" or Prioress Provincial is generally used. The Friars Minor, in contrast, use the title "Minister Provincial", in line with their emphasis on living as brothers to one another.Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel
The Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel are members of a Carmelite religious institute dedicated to female education. It was founded in the latter part of the 19th century by Mother Veronica of the Passion, O.C.D., under the guidance of her mentor, Bishop Marie Ephrem of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D., who had envisioned the birth of a "Carmel for the Missions" in India, devoted to teaching and education.
Sister Veronica of the Passion had come to India as a member of the teaching congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, founded in France in 1832 by Saint Emily de Vialar (+ 1856). She had entered the congregation in 1851, shortly after her conversion to the Roman Catholic Church from the Church of England. She met Bishop Ephrem upon her assignment to India in the early 1850s. Like the other Discalced Carmelite friars providing pastoral care to western India, they had sought to provide Catholic education to the women and young girls under their care.
Inspired by his vision of such a religious institute of Carmelite Sisters, Sister Veronica entered the Carmel of Puy, France, as a novice in the Discalced Carmelite Order. After her profession, she began to train a group of young European women of varying nationalities for the task of education in India.
On November 19, 1870, the first group of Sisters arrived in Mangalore, under the leadership of Mother Mary of the Angels, who was the first Superior General and novice mistress, to start the Mission. St. Anne Convent, which became the Motherhouse, was the cradle of the Apostolic Carmel.
The Apostolic Carmel has spread its branches into the various parts of India, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Pakistan, Kenya, Rome and Bahrain. The Congregation is governed under Six Provinces and centrally administered by the General Team from the General Motherhouse in Bangalore, with Sister Agatha Mary as the present Superior General (2008).
The mission of the religious institute was and remains Catholic Education. It provides a Catholic value-based education, with special attention given to the disadvantaged sections of society through various levels of education: pre-primary, primary, secondary, pre-university, higher, technical and special education for the disabled.
The other ministries include: healing ministry, nursing care, de-addiction and rehabilitation of alcoholics and drug addicts, self-help groups, prison ministry, ministering to persons with different disabilities, community-based-rehabilitation, Catechism and faith education.Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus (SJ; Latin: Societas Iesu) is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church for men founded by Ignatius of Loyola and approved by Pope Paul III. The members are called Jesuits (Latin: Iesuitæ). The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a Basque nobleman from the Pyrenees area of northern Spain, founded the society after discerning his spiritual vocation while recovering from a wound sustained in the Battle of Pamplona. He composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius and six other young men, including Francis Xavier and Peter Faber, gathered and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and later obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope in matters of mission direction and assignment. Ignatius's plan of the order's organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by a bull containing the "Formula of the Institute".
Ignatius was a nobleman who had a military background, and the members of the society were supposed to accept orders anywhere in the world, where they might be required to live in extreme conditions. Accordingly, the opening lines of the founding document declared that the society was founded for "whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God to strive especially for the defence and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine." Jesuits are thus sometimes referred to colloquially as "God's soldiers", "God's marines", or "the Company", which evolved from references to Ignatius' history as a soldier and the society's commitment to accepting orders anywhere and to endure any conditions. The society participated in the Counter-Reformation and, later, in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council.
The Society of Jesus is consecrated under the patronage of Madonna Della Strada, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is led by a Superior General. The headquarters of the society, its General Curia, is in Rome. The historic curia of Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit mother church.
In 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the first Jesuit to be elected Pope, taking the name Pope Francis.Superior General of the Society of Jesus
The Superior General of the Society of Jesus is the official title of the leader of the Society of Jesus – the Roman Catholic religious order which is also known as the Jesuits. He is generally addressed as Father General. The position sometimes carries the nickname of the Black Pope, because of his responsibility for the largest Catholic, male religious order and is contrasted to the white garb of the pope. The thirty-first and current Superior General is the Reverend Father Arturo Sosa, elected by the 36th General Congregation on October 14, 2016.Vicar general
A vicar general (previously, archdeacon) is the principal deputy of the bishop of a diocese for the exercise of administrative authority and possesses the title of local ordinary. As vicar of the bishop, the vicar general exercises the bishop's ordinary executive power over the entire diocese and, thus, is the highest official in a diocese or other particular church after the diocesan bishop or his equivalent in canon law. The title normally occurs only in Western Christian churches, such as the Latin Church of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Among the Eastern churches, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Kerala uses this title and remains an exception. The title for the equivalent officer in the Eastern churches is syncellus and protosyncellus.
The term is used by many religious orders of men in a similar manner, designating the authority in the Order after its Superior General.
of the faithful