Jesuit Mission: Getting to know us!
The mission of the Society of Jesus is the service of faith and the promotion of justice, to be with Jesus as He builds a Kingdom of love, justice and peace. We seek to undertake this mission with spiritual and intellectual depth and with a deep commitment to social justice, solidarity with the poor and respect for God’s creation.
In the Society of Jesus, we have one mission, but many ministries. The mission is summed up in a phrase long associated with our order, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (“For the Greater Glory of God”), often abbreviated as AMDG. Our ministries extend across a world of human need and striving — from parishes to prisons, from retreat centers to refugee resettlements, from schools to hospitals.
And when we speak of “our” ministries, we speak not only of those with the “S.J.” after their names, the vowed members of the Society of Jesus. Growing numbers of lay people are also taking part in our works, helping to steer our institutions, as partners in mission. This is not simply a pragmatic response to fewer religious vocations. It is grounded in a renewed theological vision of mutuality and partnership with the People of God.
We collaborate because we see Christ in the other. Collaboration is at the heart of contemporary Jesuit mission.
For all those animated by the Jesuit vision, ministry is an adventure. Our founder, Ignatius of Loyola, captured this spirit when he sent his good friend, Francis Xavier, on a mission to the Far East. Ignatius told him — “Go, set the world on fire!”
That’s what we say to the young people in our high schools, middle schools, colleges and universities. It’s what we tell business people and others who take part in our many programs linking spirituality to professional vocations. And it’s the spirit behind all of our ministries, which strive to be equal to the glory of the human person and the “greater glory of God.”
This mission is shared by hundreds of our lay collaborators in our parishes, schools, retreat houses, social and international ministries and in our communications in print, the media, and the web.
We invite you to share our mission, part of the mission of Jesus Christ, in a world that thirsts for spiritual depth, social and ecological justice and peace among all persons of goodwill.
How our mission fits into today’s world
For 476 years Jesuit priests and brothers have lived an amazing story of serving the Church in new and unexpected ways. We are still men on the move, ready to change place, occupation, method — whatever will advance our mission in the Church.
Today, that “we” has expanded to include men and women who share this vision of service to faith, and to the justice that faith demands. Together, Jesuits and lay partners we place ourselves in the presence of the God who created all people. We are committed to the service of faith, and this requires that we promote justice, foster dialogue between cultures and religions, and lovingly care for those the Lord puts on our path.
The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Basque nobleman and soldier, and nine of his companions, who placed themselves at the disposal of the Pope for the service of the Church wherever the need was greatest.
Today there are almost 16,090 Jesuits worldwide. This includes 11,574 priests, 1,133 brothers, 2,649 scholastics, and 734 novices, serving the Church on six continents.
During the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (January – March 2008), Pope Benedict XVI entrusted the Jesuits with the mission to take the Gospel message to the “frontiers” of faith, culture and civil society. The Holy Father expressed his confidence and the confidence of the whole Church in the Society’s ability to carry out this mission.
“In this global world marked by such profound changes we want to deepen our understanding of the call to serve faith, promote justice and dialogue with culture and other religions in the light of the apostolic mandate to establish right relationships with God, with one another, and with creation”
“You can find Jesuits, true Jesuits, in every region, in every color, in every activity. I think that is a sign of the Church for the world. What unites us all in our diversity is our connection with Jesus and the Gospel, and that is the source of the creativity of the Society and of the people with whom we share the mission.” – Very Reverend Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General