Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus (SJ), the largest Religious Congregation for men in the Catholic Church.
The Society of Jesus was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish soldier, who, like most men of his time, initially dreamed of bravery, fame, wealth and beautiful women. But while he was trying to recover from the injuries he suffered after being seriously wounded in a battle, the books he read completely transformed him. He wanted to serve God – not the king. ‘For the greater glory of God’ (Ad majorem Dei gloriam) became his motto. Giving up all his possessions and ambitions, he and his six companions took the vows of religious life at Montmartre in Paris , France on 15 Aug 1534. Ignatius and his first companions wanted to work in the Holy Land but later offered to do any work assigned to them by the head of the Catholic Church, the Pope. They were officially approved as a Religious Order on 27 Sept 1540, by Pope Paul III.
Jesuits traveled to all parts of the world to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Realizing the vital role that education plays in humanizing the society, they founded schools and colleges and offered not merely academic education, but also discipline and important human values. Apart from education, they worked in various fields – science, communication, social action, philosophy and theology, spirituality… – all for God’s greater glory. Today more than 19,000 Jesuits work in 112 countries in six continents, with the aim of moulding, with God’s grace, men and women for others. They see themselves as ‘converted sinners’ or ‘wounded healers’ and understand their mission in the world as ‘service of faith and promotion of justice.’ The charming, serene Jesuit recently elected the Superior General to lead Jesuits everywhere is Fr Adolfo Nicolas, SJ. To learn more about Jesuits worldwide, visit www.sjweb.info
For easy administration Jesuits worldwide are divided into regions or what they call Assistancies. India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan come under the South Asian Assistancy, currently the largest in the world, with nearly 21 per cent of the world’s Jesuits working here. It is led by the Provincial of South Asia or POSA, who has his office in New Delhi . Fr Edward Mudavassery, SJ is the present POSA. You can learn more about the South Asian Assistancy if you visit www.jcsaonline.org
An Assistancy is divided into Provinces and India has 20 Provinces (including some vice provinces and regions). About 4,000 Jesuits work in almost all the States of India. Some of the best known colleges and schools in India you would have certainly heard about are run by the Jesuits. Loyola College, Chennai, St Xavier’s, Mumbai, St Xavier’s, Kolkota, St Xavier’s, Ahmedabad, St Joseph’s, Bangaluru, and St Joseph’s, Trichirappalli, Andhra Loyola College, Vijayawada, St Xavier’s, Thiruvananthapuram… are all Jesuit institutions, whose alumni lead India and serve its people in a variety of fields.