The Jesuits have elected their first-ever Latin American leader, following in the footsteps of the cardinals who elected the Jesuit Pope Francis as history's first Latin American pope.

A gathering of Jesuit priests from around the world on Friday elected the Rev. Arturo Sosa of Venezuela to lead the order. Sosa replaces the Rev. Adolfo Nicolas of Spain, who is retiring.

The Society of Jesus, as the Jesuits are formally known, is the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church.

Francis joined the congregation as a teenager in his native Argentina and became both the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to ever be elected pope in 2013.

Since its foundation in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuits have been led by Europeans.