Over the next four days, Rome’s Jesuit population will increase by about 50 percent. The Society of Jesus’ 35th General Congregation, convoked to elect a new superior general, begins Monday morning with Mass in Rome’s Gesu Church, the site of the tomb of St. Ignatius, the Jesuit founder. The 225 delegates to the General Congregation will be joined by many of the 446 Jesuits who live and work or study in Rome full time.
About 20 of the delegates live in Rome, working at the Jesuit headquarters, the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University or at the Vatican, like Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Center. The remaining 200 are being housed in remodeled or modified rooms in Jesuit institutions all over the city.
While reporters are not allowed into the General Congregation sessions, several Jesuits are preparing to share the inside story with cybernauts: U.S. Jesuit Father Don Doll, an award-winning photographer, already is in Rome and posting photos on his site; U.S. Father Thomas Rochford, the head of communications for the Jesuits, has a blog and a relatively new podcast going; and, of course, the Jesuit press office has prepared a Web site to keep Jesuits and other readers informed.