Education is a cornerstone of the Society of Jesus, and has been since 1548 when the first Jesuit school opened in Messina, Sicily. Today, 3,730 schools carry on this tradition all around the world, caring for 2.5 million students in places ranging from Egypt and Kenya to Nepal and Belize. The Jesuits have founded 28 colleges and universities in the United States as well as over 50 high schools and 17 pre-secondary schools. One distinctive aspect of Jesuit education at all levels is the emphasis on cura personalis — caring for the whole person in mind, body, and spirit. The schools foster not only intellectual development, but also moral and spiritual growth.
Men and Women for Others
On the 200th anniversary of Jesuit education in the United States, Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, described the purpose of Jesuit education:
"Our purpose in education, then, is to form men and women for others. The Society of Jesus has always sought to imbue students with values that transcend the goals of money, fame, and success. We want graduates who will be leaders concerned about society and the world in which they live. We want graduates who desire to eliminate hunger and conflict in the world and who are sensitive to the need for more equitable distribution of the world’s goods. We want graduates who seek to end sexual and social discrimination and who are eager to share their faith with others. In short, we want our graduates to be leaders-in-service. That has been the goal of Jesuit education since the sixteenth century. It remains so today.”
In the USA Northeast Province, the Jesuits have founded seven colleges and universities, ten high schools and six pre-secondary schools. Jesuits from the Northeast have also joined with Maryland Province Jesuits to establish the new Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School as the first shared educational work of these three provinces. The schools include:
To learn more about Jesuit education around the world, visit the Jesuit Curia website. The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) is a national service organization whose mission is to serve the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. The National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education publishes a quarterly periodical, Conversations. The Jesuit Schools Network (JSN) initiates programs and provides services that enable its member schools to sustain their Ignatian vision and educational excellence in the formation of young men and women of competence, conscience and compassion.