On August 5, 2023, during his apostolic journey to Portugal for World Youth Day, Pope Francis met with Jesuits at the Colégio de São João de Brito, a school run by the Society of Jesus.
He arrived at 5 p.m. and was greeted by the provincial, Fr. Miguel Almeida. “Holy Father, dear Pope Francis, first of all we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time in such a full and busy schedule to be with us. Thank you for being with your brothers; we really feel we are all brothers.” He then briefly described the province.
“Historically,” he said, “we are an ancient province; we have been expelled from Portugal three times and as many times we have returned. They say that weeds never die out… Maybe due to being expelled, we became a province short of money, and historically we have had a strong missionary character. And it seems to me that two things in particular are part of the identity of the province: first, creativity. Perhaps this is because we have had to adapt so many times. And secondly, our works are informal, small, but always close to the people. I think this is a characteristic of our pastoral work, and we consider it a great grace. We are just over 130 companions. Eighteen are not yet ordained, and as many have not yet made their final vows. There are almost 40 in formation. In the European context, we can thank God; we are really grateful to him.”
He then presented the ministries of the Portuguese province: education, university pastoral work, parishes, social work, and engagement with the world of culture. He then spoke about how the Ignatian community and its many friends, colleagues and benefactors share the mission and are a grace for the province.