March 12, 2018 — Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, has named Father Jean Denis Saint-Félix, SJ, the new superior for the Jesuits in Haiti.
A native of Haiti, Fr. Saint-Félix currently serves as the Secretary for the Office of Justice and Ecology at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, the organization that represents the Society of Jesus.
Fr. Saint-Félix says that he and his four siblings were raised as “children of the church” at St. Jean Baptiste Parish in the south of Haiti. While Fr. Saint-Félix’s brother’s calling was to serve as a priest in Congo, Fr. Saint-Félix discerned that his vocation was to the Jesuits. As a novice, he was sent to Panama for two years before being missioned to the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in El Salvador for philosophy studies.
He then returned to Haiti to teach at the diocesan seminary for the next few years, while also working at the Université Épiscopale d'Haiti. His Jesuit formation took him next to Regis College at the University of Toronto, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree and then to Boston’s Weston Jesuit School of Theology (now the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry) for a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. Missioned next to Centre Sèvres in Paris, he earned a doctorate in systematic theology.
Fr. Saint-Félix was part of a delegation to Honduras in January 2018.
In 2013, Fr. Saint-Félix joined the faculty at the Université Notre Dame d'Haïti (UNDH), where he served as general secretary and as a professor. He also served both as a consultor for Haiti and superior of the Jesuit community of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (2014-2017). He was also part of the board of the committee planning the construction of the Jesuit novitiate in Haiti, which opened in 2015. For the past five years, Fr. Saint-Félix taught systematic theology at CIFOR, the Center for Religious Formation of the Religious Congregations in Haiti.
As superior for the Jesuits in Haiti, Fr. Saint-Félix will be responsible for the spiritual life and supervision of the Jesuits there, and he will make decisions on matters related to the missioning of Jesuits and Jesuit formation. He will work closely with the Provincial of the new Jesuit Canadian Province, as well as the presidents of the Conference of Provincials of Latin America (CPAL) and the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, to better structure the life and works of the Jesuits in Haiti. He will also lead the Haitian Jesuits as they continue their discernment on their eventual integration in a new apostolic platform that will better serve the needs of the Caribbean region.
“As Jesuits, our vocation is grounded in our universal call to serve where needs are greatest,” said Father Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. “We have been so fortunate to have Fr. Saint-Félix working with us in Washington, heading up our justice and ecology work. We will certainly miss him, but we know he is needed at home now, where he will bring his energy, vision and deep devotion to his brother Jesuits in Haiti.”
Father Erik Oland, SJ, provincial of the French Canada Province Jesuits, expressed his thanks to Fr. Miller Lamothe, SJ, for his seven years of service in Haiti while noting that the appointment of Fr. Saint-Félix is “a very positive step forward for the territory of Haiti as well as for the future of the Society in the Caribbean region.”