A NEW JESUIT PROVINCE: THE CARIBBEAN PROVINCE
What we are celebrating today rekindles in us the Spirit and the charism that the Lord has bequeathed to the whole Society of Jesus and to all with whom we share this mission, reminding us that our dwelling place and our area of service is the whole world. The Caribbean Province is, therefore, already an important and fruitful sign, in a particular way, of this universal mission to which we are sent. It is also, and above all, a sign of the communion which unites us as an apostolic body, as Friends in the Lord, which unites us with you with whom we also share this friendship and this service.
From Father General’s letter on the occasion of the creation of the Caribbean Province.
On 31 July of this year, the Society of Jesus established the Caribbean Province - CAR - as a new territorial division integrating the former Antilles Province - ANT - (Cuba, Miami, and the Dominican Republic) with the Jesuits of the English Caribbean (former Guyana Region and Jamaica).
Back in 2008, Fr Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General, stressing our universal dimension, strongly encouraged the Provinces - the territorial structures of the Society of Jesus - to expand their frontiers. In response to this call, the more than 90 Provinces that existed at the time were united or coordinated their activities until today there are just over 60 Provinces. In our particular case, Father Nicolás urged more coordinated work among the Provinces and Regions located around the Caribbean Sea. This gave birth to the “Caribbean Project” and later - from some of its members - to the Province of the Caribbean.
It is not simply a matter of integrating territories, but of thinking and articulating together the response to the common mission. As our current Superior General, Arturo Sosa, insistently reminds us, it is the mission that has always guided and continues to guide the restructuring processes in the Society of Jesus. Today, the awareness of an increasingly interconnected world raises the need for a global response to the most universal problems; and this also at the regional level.
Multiculturalism has been a hallmark of the Society. The first ten Jesuits came from seven different nations and spoke diverse languages. At the same time, they knew how to insert themselves into the culture, the language, and the reality of each place. Today we are also faced with the challenge of interculturality and dialogue, which is fundamental for the mission of reconciliation and justice to which we have been called.
The new Province of the Caribbean emerges to respond, together with those with whom we share this mission of service, to a reality that ranges from the pastoral needs of the City of Miami in North America to the lands of the Pakaraimas and Rupunumis of South America in the Guyanese Amazon. It also includes the apostolic challenges in Jamaica, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.
A great opportunity to broaden our vision and to grow together in the attention to common challenges, enriching us from our diversities and supporting us in our fragilities. Communication, mutual support and work together in a diverse and plural Caribbean - marked by the division left by the colonies - are central elements of our mission.
A bit of historical background: Jesuits from the Province of England arrived in Guyana as early as 1856. Before that, they had come to Jamaica in 1837, and in 1894 they were joined there by the first Jesuits from North America. In the second half of the 20th century, Jesuits from five Indian Provinces joined the Guyana mission, and others from the Canadian Province joined the mission in Jamaica.
The Society returned to Cuba in 1853. The Cuban Vice-Province was created in 1929, attached to the Province of León. In 1936, the Society returned to the Dominican Republic. In 1952, the Independent Vice-Province of the Antilles was created and it became a Province in 1968. In 1961, the Antillean Jesuits expelled from Cuba were welcomed by the former New Orleans Province in Miami.
Today 21 Jesuits work in Guyana and Jamaica, and 113 in Miami, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.