Catholic Educational Heritage: Jesuit

Editor, Carnegie Communications

Jul   2012



Okay. I’m finally going to shine a light on the Catholic educational heritage Mack daddy of them all, the Jesuits. I’ve been holding off on covering the Jesuits, because it always felt like this venerated tradition got plenty of attention on its own, especially compared to educational heritages. But, then again, it’s not undeserving of attention. Some of the top schools in the nation are rooted in the Jesuit tradition, and the Jesuit tenets are worth emulating across academia, both in religious schools and non. There’s little wonder why so many schools flourished from this tradition—28, more than any other Catholic educational heritage.

The tradition of Jesuit schooling began with the institutions started by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish knight and scholar who founded the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, in the mid-1500s. Like most colleges, Jesuit schools push their students to learn and grow; they also emphasize, not so surprisingly, spiritual formation and service to others. 

Part of that spiritual formation is the search for God—seek and you shall find God in all things. And when Jesuits say “all things,” they mean all the things. So whether you’re majoring in theater or physics, political science or history, God can be found in any discipline, any study. In the vein of seeking God broadly through knowledge, the Jesuit curriculum is based in the liberal arts (that jack of all trades of college majors), steeped in Christian humanism (a combination of Christian reverence for God and the humanist reverence for humanity).

With Jesuit education, everything is intertwined. Your academic studies are tied to your spiritual development, as described above, but they’re also related to your personal and social life. How does your Calculus II class relate to your personal growth and development? Well, that’s for you to figure out. Students at Jesuit colleges and universities are encouraged to reflect on their lives and studies to find these connections.

The Jesuits actually make their educational principles nice and neat (and easy to cover in a blog post!). They’re rooted in a few main tenets.

The first is cura peronalis, a.k.a. “the care of the individual person.” Jesuit schools—and all the students, faculty, and staff within them—strive to create a community of caring.

Second is magis, a.k.a. “the more.” Do more, be more. Always push yourself and your world toward excellence and toward God’s vision as outlined in the Gospels.

Third is ad Majorem dei Gloriam, a.k.a “for the greater glory of God.” What, exactly, are you doing for the glory of God, you may be wondering? Again, everything. Every class, club, rugby practice: it’s to honor Him. (This is also the Jesuit motto.)

To learn more, visit the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and check out the detailed profiles of some of the Jesuit schools below.

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About Jessica Tomer

Jessica Tomer

Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief at Carnegie Communications. She is responsible for developing and copyediting content for Private Colleges & Universities, Public Colleges & Universities, Graduate Colleges & Universities, American Colleges & Universities, and CollegeXpress magazines. Like many of her fellow Emerson College alumni, Jessica is a news junkie and true bookworm.

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