Learning to find God in all things, advocating for the poor and underserved, and using rigorous scholarship to engage with global issues—these are a few of the hallmarks of a Jesuit education, inspired by the life and teachings of St. Ignatius Loyola.
Drawing on the Ignatian spiritual and educational tradition assists us in meeting the challenge of the Magis: to be ever more attentive, reflective, and loving women and men for others as we engage in the serious study of theology—understood as “faith seeking understanding” (St. Anselm).
A Basque courtier and soldier, Iñigo de Loyola was gravely wounded during the battle of Pamplona in 1521. During convalescence, he experienced a profound spiritual conversion that began his lifelong commitment to God and service. Under his direction, the Society of Jesus established schools and, over time, emerged as the largest religious order in the Catholic Church. From his personal experience and prayer, St. Ignatius Loyola 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. Today, the Society of Jesus ministers in more than 100 countries.
The Ignatian tradition, originating mostly from St. Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises, emphasizes finding God in all things—discerning God’s presence in our lives, every day. The Ignatian tradition—both a spirituality and a way of being—is characterized by:
Jesuit education involves commitment to seeing God in all things, learning to distinguish those choices that lead to God from those that lead away from God. The art and skills of discernment play a central role in sensitizing our minds and hearts to imagine God’s desires for the world so that as individuals in community we can work for a world of justice and peace. A spirit of deep freedom must ground this life stance so that the individual and the community desire only what God desires.
We recognize the passion and depth of conviction that all at STM bring to the study of theology and ministry and presuppose the good will of our teachers and fellow students. In keeping with the spirit of generosity and trust, we are called to discover the truth as a community of learners so as to follow Christ and serve God’s people and the world.
In Ignatian spirituality, God and the world, as well as faith and reason, are never opposed to one another; rather, God is to be found in the world for those who know how to study and discern God’s ways. Learned ministry calls us to critical thinking about faith, history, doctrine, Scripture, pastoral realities, and the signs of our times, with appreciation for all areas of human inquiry, which is essential to being ministers who can faithfully lead God’s people in a just engagement with the world.
Imagination is vital for a contemplative reading of Scripture, helping to personalize the stories. Adapted and expanded, this approach invites us to place ourselves in the “story” of our community: It calls us to be fully present together. It calls us to implicate ourselves in the theologies we teach and learn—to find where our beliefs fit into those theologies and vice versa. It calls us to be attentive to our peers' lived realities—to strengthen community by honoring the details of each other’s lives.
Ours is an international community where students unite for formation in the Ignatian tradition, serving as learned ministers, scholars, and leaders. We strive to embody St. Paul’s vision of unity in diversity in our shared mission to serve the people of God. As an alternative to the competition that is characteristic of many contemporary cultures, we are called to a spirit of collaboration and mutual support in all aspects of our common life—in the classroom, the liturgy, and social and pastoral activities.
St. Ignatius Loyola emphasized improving the world through education, advocacy for the poor, and missionary work—establishing a precedent for the Jesuits to work toward reducing the gap between rich and poor, combatting hatred, and helping those who have suffered or are still suffering to heal.
In 2019, the Church established four Universal Apostolic Preferences—focus areas for service to God and the world. These include showing the way to God, accompanying young people in the creation of a hope-filled future, caring for our common home, and walking with the poor, the outcasts of the world, and those whose dignity has been violated—in a mission of reconciliation and justice.
At the conclusion of a school-wide assessment involving faculty, staff, administrators, students, and alumni, the STM Committee on Race and Ethnicity developed the Formation for Racial Justice Strategic Plan, which established four focus areas:
Curriculum & Pedagogy: The STM curriculum requires students to engage with scholars of color and to minister to multiracial and multicultural communities.
Formation & Training: The STM community engages in critical reflection and honest dialogue around issues of racial injustice and works to create racially just communities of faith.
Representation: Students, faculty, staff, and administrators reflect the multiracial, multicultural communities that make up the global church.
Communication & Accountability: STM publications, reports, physical spaces, and social environments define our commitment to and identity as a racially just theological institution.
Jesuits are contemplatives in action who use rigorous scholarship and sustained intellectual inquiry to engage with the world's most pressing challenges. Jesuits look inward and turn outward, transforming their reflection into action through ministry and service to the Church and world. God has endowed each of us with gifts and aspirations to be channeled through a life of service to His vision of love and justice—nurtured, cultivated, handed down, and practiced in the context of an ecclesial community.
Ministry is service rooted in faith and marked by a sense of vocation. Such leadership can manifest in ways we might traditionally understand as ministry: working at a parish, teaching theology/religion, or serving as a chaplain in a school or hospital. Our understanding of ministry includes these paths and extends beyond them. To us, ministry is as diverse as the backgrounds and experiences of our students and includes the academy, social services, non-profit work, and even digital media.