The Society of Jesus – more commonly known as the Jesuits – is a Catholic order of priests and brothers founded by St. Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish soldier-turned-mystic who worked to find “God in all things.”
The Jesuits are active around the world, and its 17,000 members (across six continents and 124 countries) makes it the largest religious order in the Catholic Church. Jesuits work in parish and retreat ministry, in high schools and colleges. They may be found working as lawyers and doctors, psychologists and counselors, writers and journalists, theologians and philosophers, researchers and scientists. In short, Jesuits do all kinds of work. And, yet, even with this great array of voices and gifts, Jesuit priests and brothers share a singular mission: to do the world a world of good. In this way, a Jesuit dedicates his life’s work to working for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.
What’s the difference between a Jesuit and diocesan priest?
A great three minute answer from our friends at the Jesuit Post.
What are the stages toward ordination for a Jesuit?
A man is usually welcomed into the Society in August, on Entrance Day.
Novitiate – 2 years
A novice learns to create a community of brothers who grow in prayer, knowledge of the Society, apostolic work, and personal enrichment. He meets the Lord through the 30-day Spiritual Exercises retreat. At the end of these two years, he pronounces vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
First studies – 3 years
The newly-vowed Jesuit moves into academic work as a brother or a scholastic. He studies philosophy and theology, and he deepens his Jesuit identity through other ministerial work which strengthens or challenges his gifts.
Regency – 3 years
The Jesuit brother or scholastic moves into active Jesuit ministry, usually teaching at a high school or university.
Theology – 3 years
Jesuit scholastics usually move on to formal theology studies which prepare them for priestly ordination, but the Jesuit brother might study theology for a shorter time as a way to enhance his effectiveness for ministry.
Ordination – usually in June
A scholastic receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders and is available for his first assignment as a Jesuit priest.
Tertianship – about 5 years later
Jesuit brothers and priests take a year to review their formation, to experience again the 30-day retreat, and to pronounce final vows in the Society. Now initial formation is complete – Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam.
**From a brochure by Fr. Patrick Fairbanks, S.J. and the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus.
Are there more web resources to learn about Jesuit vocations?
Yes! Check out this website from IgnatianSpirituality and be sure to visit beajesuit.org.
Also check out some of these videos featuring Jesuits who studied at BC and were recently ordained in June 2017:
I want to talk more about joining the Jesuits...
We’ll get you in touch with a Jesuit who can talk with you about the Society; simply e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and come by the Manresa House to learn more! There are many Jesuits at BC who would be happy to sit with you and talk about their own discernment.
Students looking for continued discernment might consider living in the Loyola House, a residential program for students considering a vocation to the Jesuits. Interested students can e-mail Fr. Casey Beaumier at email@example.com.