The roots of Boston College lie in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the 2,000-year Catholic intellectual tradition, and the faith experience of St. Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Society of Jesus in 1540.
A Basque courtier and soldier, Inigo de Loyola was gravely wounded during the battle of Pamplona in 1521. During his convalescence, he experienced a profound spiritual conversion that began his lifelong commitment to God and service.
From his personal experience and prayer, he articulated a guide for finding God and self called the Spiritual Exercises that for centuries has enabled individuals to grow in faith and willingness to work for the greater glory of God, the motto of the Society of Jesus.
Under his direction, the Society of Jesus established schools throughout the continent beginning in Messina, Sicily, in 1548. The Jesuits became known as the schoolmasters of Europe, and over time emerged as the largest religious order in the Catholic Church and one of the greatest influences in Western civilization.
Today, the Society of Jesus totals 17,000 members who minister in 112 countries through education, advocacy for the poor, and missionary work. In the US alone, the Jesuits sponsor 28 colleges and universities and 47 high schools, while worldwide they educate approximately 1 million students in 2,300 schools.
True to their heritage, Jesuits remain contemplatives in action who, like their founder, engage critical challenges of the world. Their students and alumni are encouraged to develop their God-given talents and use them in the service of others to help make the world a more just and humane place.
Boston College seeks to provide an education that will promote integration of the intellectual, social, religious, and affective dimensions. It urges students to reflect deeply on who they are and how they want to live their lives.
Drawing on the heritage of St. Ignatius Loyola, Boston College invites students into a conversation that asks enduring questions and promotes engagement with the complex problems in today’s world.
In addition, Boston College encourages members of its community to be attentive to their own experiences, to reflect on them, and to use their talents to respond to the world’s needs, based on the conviction that God can be found in all human activity, especially in the search for truth and meaning.
Boston College wants its students to connect their talents and strengths to the needs and opportunities of wider society through classes, curricula, and student formation efforts. Below are several examples that provide a sense of the Jesuit, Catholic dimensions of Boston College’s mission.
Boston College celebrates its Catholic faith in many ways, including daily Mass and the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit. It also welcomes all faith traditions and encourages students to explore their spirituality and engage in discussions of faith-based issues.
The Division of University Mission and Ministry helps to foster relationships among students, faculty, and staff and assists them in developing their academic, social, and personal gifts. Its Center for Student Formation enables students to explore the connections between their talents and dreams and the world’s deep needs through programs such as the Freshmen League, Ascend, Halftime, and a 17-day pilgrimage in Spain called "Self-Knowledge & Discernment: The Experience of Pilgrimage."
The Church in the 21st Century Center promotes engagement of issues in the contemporary Catholic Church through lectures, symposia, and publications, as well as through informal gatherings for students about faith and life, such as the Agape Latte program.
Jesuits at Boston College
Jesuit Colleges & Universities in the U.S.
Jesuits in the U.S.
At least 10 men have graduated from Boston College and entered the Society of Jesus during the past 20 years. Many cite common themes—the charism, community, and traditions of BC —that helped support their vocation to the priesthood.