Every third Jesuit who succumbed to Covid-19 in the world since June 2020 was Indian, according to a list circulated by Father Arturo Sosa, superior general of the Society of Jesus. The list, sent with a letter to all heads of 83 provinces, six independent regions and ten dependent regions, shows that as many as 158 Jesuits died of Covid-19 within a year starting June 2020. Among them 50 were Indians and two Sri Lankans.
Father Sosa recalled the death of another 44 Jesuits due to Covid in the previous year. “This list is long, and it would be even longer if we added the names of all our relatives who have left us,” he says.
The Covid toll adds to the already dwindling numbers among the Jesuits. As of 2018, the Society of Jesus had 15,842 members: 11,389 priests and 4,453 men in formation. This was 56 percent less than 36,038 in 1965, when the congregation’s membership peaked.