Like all things in the Kingdom of God, the USG was born from a small seed, in this case planted in the Jubilee Year of 1950. It was in that year that the Congregation for Religious (as it was called from 1908-1967) organized an International Congress on "States of Perfection". During the Congress, it was suggested that Religious Institutes should meet, both at provincial and general levels, for the purpose of study and collaboration that would allow for the renewal of religious life. Many National Conferences of Major Superiors owe their existence to this Congress.
Fifteen months later, on 23 January 1952, the Superior General of the Assumptionists, Fr. Gervais Quénard, took the initiative to organize a small meeting with the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. John Janssens, and the Minister General of the Franciscans, Fr. Agostino Sépinski. A month later, on 24 February 1952, as a result of that first meeting, they met with four other Superiors General and decided to invite all the Superiors General residing in Rome (there were 65 at the time) to a meeting at Palazzo Salviati, Piazza della Rovere, 83. This took place on 23 April 1952. No records indicate the total number of participants. The second meeting took place on 11 June of the same year in the hall of the Collegio Roberto Belarmino, in Via del Seminario, 120. [AB1] An animating group was formed, called the Presidential Council, and provisionally appointed President Fr. G. Janssens, General Provost of the Jesuits, and Secretary, Fr. Giovanni Boccella, Minister General of the Third Order Regular of the Franciscans.
After three years of somewhat uncertain but dedicated existence, the organization was officially recognized by the Congregation of Religious in March 1955, as the Roman Union of Superiors General. Despite this official recognition the organization continued to have an undefined existence until the Second Vatican Council. During the preparation and then the celebration of the Second Vatican Council, several meetings of the Superiors General took place in order to study the various documents proposed and to collaborate in the preparation of the corrections of the texts. In particular, the Superiors General contributed to the elaboration of the documents Perfectae Caritatis and Ad Gentes.
In June 1961 Fr. Agostino Sépinski, Minister General of the Franciscans, was elected President of the Union and Fr. Michele Browne, Master General of the Dominicans was elected as Vice-President. Giovanni Boccella, Minister General of the T.O.R. Two years later, in 1963, Fr. Boccella was elected President and Fr. Armando le Bourgeois, Father General of the Eudists, was elected Secretary.
In 1962 the Statutes of the Roman Union of Superiors General was approved.
In 1964, in full celebration of the Council, with the Statutes already approved, Fr. Anastasio Ballestrero, OCD General, was elected President, and Fr. Aniceto Fernández, O.P. Master General as Vice President. Fr. Armando le Bourgeois, CIM, continued as Secretary and Fr. Andrea Guay, Procurator General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, elected as Deputy Secretary.
In 1967, the name of the Union was changed, eliminating the adjective "Roman". From then on, it has been the Union of Superiors General.
[AB1]This address is for Collegio Roberto Belarmino, not the Pontificio Seminario Romano Maggiore