The Jesuit tradition begins in 16th century Spain. In 1540, former soldier Saint Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus (members are called Jesuits). Under Saint Ignatius, the organization grew rapidly, spreading across Europe. From there Jesuit missionaries traveled across the globe, often at great risk. Today the Society of Jesus continues its mission on every continent and in many countries, including in the United States, where Jesuit learning flourishes.
From the beginning, the Society of Jesus has held that scholarly excellence plays an integral role in helping men and women reach their highest potential, and Jesuits continue to emphasize education today. The Jesuit educational network is one of the largest systems in American higher education, with more than 200,000 students currently enrolled in the country’s 28 Jesuit universities. Worldwide, Jesuit universities and colleges have graduated more than 1,000,000 students.
The Jesuit Ideals
In front of Loyola University New Orleans’s J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library, there is a walkway, a joint gift from the classes of 2002 and 2003. This gift reminds all who walk Loyola’s campus of the following Jesuit ideals:
- Pursuit of Excellence
- Respect for The World, Its History and Mystery
- Learning from Experience
- Contemplative Vision Formed by Hope
- Development of Personal Potential
- Critical Thinking and Effective Communication
- Appreciation of Things Both Great and Small
- Commitment to Service
- Special Concern for The Poor and Oppressed
- Linking Faith with Justice
- International and Global Perspective
- Discerning Mindset: Finding God in All Things
What is the Jesuit vision of education?
Jesuit education is a call to human excellence, to the fullest possible development of all human qualities. This implies a rigor and academic excellence that challenges students to develop all of their talents to the fullest. It is a call to critical thinking and disciplined studies, a call to develop the whole person, head and heart, intellect and feelings.
The Jesuit vision of education implies further that students learn how to think critically, examine attitudes, challenge assumptions, and analyze motives. All of this is important if they are to be able to make decisions in freedom, the freedom that allows one to make love-filled and faith-filled decisions.