Friday, October 08, 2004

Where do Jesuit provinces get their names?

A View from the Dome raised this very a propos question, focused on what seems to be a certain inconsistency in the naming of provinces: some are named for cities (Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans), some for states (California, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Wisconsin) and some for regions (New England). And some, it bears mentioning, have seemingly anachronistic names (e.g., Bohemia and Upper Canada). For an answer on this, I consulted the source of all wisdom in Jesuit matters, Father Walt Farrell - Detroit Province treasurer, former provincial and Jesuit Conference president, onetime theologate rector, a delegate to the 31st and 32nd General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, Loyola House resident, and all around great man. Walt suggests that part of the answer to the conundrum lies in the fact that province names are typically selected by people on the ground in the provinces themselves and not by a central authority like the Jesuit Curia in Rome - hence, there's no common way of proceeding on this. The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus and their Complementary Norms say nothing on the subject of province names, which only supports the thesis that local discretion governs in this matter. One unwritten rule clearly exists, however: unlike in some other religious communities, all Jesuit provinces have names that are in some sense geographic. Not the best answer, perhaps, but hopefully this helps. AMDG.


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