Becoming a Jesuit
The Society of Jesus is a community of priests and brothers dedicated to the service of God and the Church for the betterment of the world around us. Whatever our ministry — from university to parish to the service of the poor and refugees, our work is always for the glory of God and the help and salvation of souls.
As Jesuits and friends in mission, we invite you to become part of our story. In the words of Fr Pedro Arrupe:
“Come if serving Christ is at the very centre of your life.
Come if you have broad and sufficiently strong shoulders.
Come if you have an open spirit, a reasonably open mind
and a heart larger than the world.
Come if you know how to tell a joke and can laugh with others and…
on occasions you can laugh at yourself.”
Jesuit Brothers form an integral part of the Society of Jesus:
“Brothers in the Society today engage fully in a wide variety of ministries and hold positions of leadership in them. They remind us…of the depth of consecration, the loving, joyful dedication of one’s whole self to the Lord in the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.”
(Letter of Fr Arturo Sosa, 31st October 2017)
General Congregation 34 expresses well how we choose our mission:
“Since the foundations of the Society, Jesuits have exercised their ministry most particularly where needs are greatest, where there are not others to minister to these needs, and where the most universal good may be found. […]
This spirit continues to shape what Jesuits do as priests: their ministry is particularly directed towards those who have not heard the Gospel, those who are at the margins of the Church or society, those who have been denied their dignity, those who are voiceless and powerless, those weak in faith or alienated from it, those whose values are undermined by contemporary culture, those whose needs are greater than they can bear”.
(GC34, Decree 6, 11-12)
Availability for Mission
Our special vow of obedience to the Pope means we are available for mission wherever the Holy Father wishes to send us and wherever the need is greatest. We work as pastors, teachers, and chaplains. We are also doctors, lawyers, and astronomers, among many other roles in Church and society. In our varied ministries, we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and care for the whole person: body, mind, and soul.
As Pope Paul VI said – a text repeated by subsequent Popes
“Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme fields, at the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, there has been and there is confrontation between the burning exigencies of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, here also there have been, and there are, Jesuits.”
(Pope Paul VI, Address to General Congregation 32, 3 December 1974, repeated by Pope Benedict in his address to GC35 and by Pope Francis in documents sent prior to GC36).
The formation of Jesuits, whether of brothers or priests, prepares men to dialogue with the culture around them, finding Christ in that culture and helping others to do the same. Our aim is a strong integration of the spiritual with the human and a full development of the person based on the imitation of Christ.
Our formation involves deep academic preparation, so as to prepare us better to help others. The step of tertianship which concludes the formation of a Jesuit, is followed by last vows, signifying definitive incorporation into the body of the Society of Jesus. But, throughout his life, a Jesuit is called to engage in ongoing renewal, and different programmes are organised for his continuing formation, with a creative fidelity to the founding documents of the Society of Jesus.
We Jesuits are friends in the Lord, and in community life, we seek to support one another through our companionship. Community life is an important dimension of our Jesuit identity as well as an integral and fundamental element of the Jesuit mission. Each Jesuit constantly desires that our own apostolic work develop, be stimulated, and helped to bear fruit, through the encouragement of our brothers. For us, the community is a privileged place of apostolic discernment.
Recent General Congregations have highlighted the importance of community as mission. Recalling the experience of the first Jesuits, for whom life and mission were rooted in a discerning community, General Congregation 36 in 2016 declared thus:
The Jesuit community is a concrete space in which we live as friends in the Lord. This life together is always at the service of mission, but because these fraternal bonds proclaim the Gospel, it is itself a mission. (GC36, D.1, No.9).
This re-echoed an earlier declaration by General Congregation 35 in 2008:
Our mission is not limited to our works. Our personal and community relationship with the Lord, our relationship to one another as friends in the Lord, our solidarity with the poor and marginalised, and a life style responsible to creation are all important aspects of our lives as Jesuits. They authenticate what we proclaim and what we do in fulfilling our mission. The privileged place of this collective witness is our life in community, Thus, Jesuit community is not just for mission: it is itself mission. (GC35, D.3, No.41).