Educating the World

Evangelizers, preachers, missionaries? Yes. Teachers? No. As the first Jesuits attracted recruits to their fledgling society, the need to educate them in a structured manner became apparent, but educating non-Jesuits was not part of the plan.

Part of the original school run by the Jesuits

The Collegio di San Nicolò in Messina, Sicily, the first Jesuit school, was founded in 1548. Its gate stands on a university campus in Messina in testament to a monumental change in the Society of Jesus in its very early days.

The plan, however, changed in 1548, when Ignatius sent ten Jesuits, including Peter Canisius and Jerome Nadal, to Sicily in response to a request from citizens of Messina to open a school for their children. The move established education as a ministry of the Society a scant eight years after it had come into formal existence.

"Never before had a group of this size been gathered and 'sent' for any ministry. Never before had so much talent been concentrated on a single undertaking," writes Fr. John O'Malley, SJ, in The First Jesuits.

Schools were next opened in Palermo, Vienna, and Rome; they numbered 33 by the time of Ignatius's death in 1556 and hit 669 by 1773, when the Society was suppressed.

Start counting Jesuit schools today and you'll come up with over 120 colleges, universities, institutes, and theology schools, and close to 325 high schools and grade schools. Add in Jesuit trade schools, training programs, and other educational efforts and the total will far surpass 500.

Company has gathered here glimpses of a handful of Jesuit schools the world over; we hope you enjoy meeting some fellow members of the very large Ignatian family.

Even the men wear grass skirts in Micronesia!


Xavier High School Chuuk (1952)

Flag Day is a celebratory time for the Chuukese, Pohnpeians, Marshallese, and others from all over Micronesia who attend this coed school. It occupies radio communications buildings the Japanese built during World War II. Jesuit Volunteers International frequently sends volunteers here to serve two-year teaching hitches. Seniors studying marine biology spend a lot of time scuba diving in nearby Chuuk Lagoon.


Colegio San Mateo, Osorno (1959)

Among this year's kindergartners are the first female students at this K-through-12 school; they will be in the class of 2017. Founded by Maryland Province Jesuits in 1959 at the request of the bishop of Osorno, the school was later turned over to the Jesuits' Chilean Province.

Young students in Chile

Students on the tennis team in England


Stonyhurst College, Lancashire (1593)

The tennis team's youth belies the antiquity of this junior high and high school. Originally called St. Omer's, it was established in what is now France to educate the children of English Catholics. It moved to England in '94 (that's 1794) to an estate donated by a former student. Alumni include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Herbert Walker, great-grandfather of President George W. Bush. Other claims to fame are a first-folio Shakespeare and relics of Jesuit saint Edmund Campion.

Students attending a lecture in Lebanon


Université Saint-Joseph Beirut (1870)

Ninety-five hundred students and 1,600 faculty and staff occupy four campuses in Beirut and regional centers in Sidon, Zahlé, and Tripoli that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, medicine, dentistry, and social science, among other fields. Away games for the school's basketball team can involve travel to Egypt, France, Holland, and Turkey.

Australian students


St. Ignatius' College, Sydney (1880)

These choristers were helping St. Ignatius' College, founded by Irish Jesuits, celebrate its 125th anniversary this year. About a quarter of its 1,650 students (grades 5 through 12) are boarders. In the school's early days, students were awakened at 6:15, except for Sundays and holidays, when they got to sleep in until 6:30. At one recent fundraiser, students bested faculty in a human chess match.

Student in Ecuador


San Felipe Neri, Riobamba (1836)

Students at this junior high and high school follow the Ecuadorian tradition of taking a national oath of allegiance their senior year, here in the school's courtyard. Two of Ecuador's presidents, Carlos Arroyo del Río and Osvaldo Hurtado Larrea, are graduates.

Students in Mexico


Instituto Cultural Tampico (1962)

Jesuits responded positively when residents of this city on the Gulf of Mexico asked them to open a school (a story very much like the founding of the Jesuits' first school; see introduction, page 20). Its first students entered at the middle-school level and earned high-school diplomas in '67. The school went coed in '78 and has added primary grades and a kindergarten. Fernando Azcárraga López, Tampico's mayor, is among the school's alumni.

Nigerian students


Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja (1996)

Jesuits and the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus collaborate at this coed junior high and high school for boarders, who come from many different Nigerian tribes and regions. They live in houses named Xavier, Loyola, Regis, and Connolly (after Cornelia Connolly, the founder of the sisters' order) and are under the eye of housemasters and housemistresses.

Students in China


Wah Yan College, Kowloon (1924)

Mr. Tsui Yan Sau, a Catholic, founded Wah Yan as a private secondary school and gradually turned control over to Jesuits from Ireland in the '30s. Its sister school is Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, on nearby Hong Kong Island. Students learn to read and write in Chinese and English and also to speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.

Students in Canada


St. Paul's High School, Winnipeg (1926)

The Crusaders are frequent winners of citywide championships. Originally run by the Oblates, the school became a Jesuit responsibility at the request of the bishop in '32. It has a faculty and student exchange agreement with the Jesuits' Collège Saint-Joseph in Reims, France. Gary Doer, Manitoba's current premier is an alumnus ('66).

Students in El Salvador

El Salvador

Universidad Centroamericana, San Salvador (1965)

Tuition that's steeply scaled according to family income has allowed UCA to offer education to a wide swath of Salvadoran society during its 40 years, though most of its 9,500 students come from a middle-class minority. It was here that government troops murdered six Jesuits and their housekeeper and her daughter in 1989.

German students


Colleg Sankt Georgen, Frankfurt (1926)

The Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Sankt Georgen Frankfurt am Main is similar to the Gregorian in Rome (page 24) as it serves not only Jesuit scholastics studying philosophy and theology but also members of other religious orders and diocesan seminarians as well as laypeople planning for careers in the Church.

Students at Lithuanian festival


Jesuit High School, Kaunas (1991)

Sixth and seventh graders don autumn leaves and harvest fruits to celebrate a traditional fall festival and raise funds for some needy organizations to boot. Jesuits opened this school right after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today's school is educating 730 students, grades 5 through 12.

Students from Jesuit school in Bihar India


Raj Rajeshwar High School, Bihar (1990)

These young ladies are standing in front of their hostel at this diocesan institution dating to the '40s but now run by Jesuits, who staff next-door Nativity of Our Lady parish.

Students from school near Dublin


Clongowes Wood College Naas, County Kildare (1814)

Noted for its rugby teams (and its rugby supporters) as well as academics, Clongowes Wood College is a boarding school for 440 boys on several hundred green acres close to Dublin. Noted alumni: author James Joyce and former Irish prime minister John Bruton, now EU ambassador to the United States.

Teaching refugees in Thailand Student in the library at the Gregorian, Rome


Pontifical Gregorian, University, Rome (1551)

The Roman College opened in a small apartment near the Capitoline Hill as one of the Society's first schools (see introduction, page 20). Now called the Gregorian, it offers graduate degrees in various fields of theology, philosophy, Canon law, and Church history for Jesuits and others. Its alumni include 40 cardinals, 21 saints (including Bellarmine and Gonzaga), 46 blesseds, and 16 popes. (in Italian)


Jesuit Refugee Service School, Ban Kwai Camp (1995)

Children in this camp for Burmese on the Thai-Burma (now Myanmar) border attend classes supported by the Jesuit Refugee Service. The organization has fostered many such schools at refugee camps around the world to bring some normalcy to lives otherwise up in the air.

Students at a vocational school in Delhi


Loyola Vocational Institute, Delhi (1990)

Sewing is one of many vocational skills that about 400 young people are learning here; an additional 300 women who have dropped out of school are involved in a program of academics. The school also offers remedial programs for poverty-stricken children. It's connected to another Jesuit work in Delhi, St. Francis Xavier parish and school.


Fe y Alegría, Yamakai-éntsa (1968)

This school, one of 150 Fe y Alegría (Faith and Joy) schools in Central and South America and Spain, educates boys from Amazon-region tribes in animal husbandry and crop management as well as academic subjects. Fe y Alegría schools derive from one founded in the '50s by Venezuelan Fr. Jose Maria Velaz, SJ, in response to the poverty he witnessed in Caracas slums; today they offer adult literacy training and health care in addition to grammar and high school education. (in Spanish)

Students at a Fe y Alegria school in Peru
Students from the Jesuit school in Tanzania


Loyola High School, Dar es Salaam (1995)

This coed junior high, high school, and junior college for 1,000 students is right on the Indian Ocean. Some students are children of attorneys and professors, but the majority come from poor backgrounds. School days run from 7:30 to 4:30 and include long study periods because many students have no electricity at home. A typical lunchroom tray would include beans, rice, chapati (an Indian flat bread), and a Coke.


Sophia University, Tokyo (1913)

This is what orientation looks like for about 2,400 freshmen and parents at Jochi Daigaku (wisdom university in Japanese), better known as Sophia University. One Japanese, one French, one English, and two German Jesuits opened the school in response to a request from Pope Pius X. It now has exchange agreements with many U.S. Jesuit universities and colleges. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke there last March.

Orientation for students in Japan
Students in Nepal wearing their native dress


St. Xavier's College, Kathmandu (1988)

St. Xavier students, drawn from the Sherpa, Tamang, Magar, and many other of the country's ethnic groups, wear traditional dress instead of their usual jeans and T-shirts for a Xavier Day celebration. Most of the school's 1,600 students are Hindu; Christians number only 30. Originally a junior college, it now offers bachelor's programs, including the country's only social work program. Instruction is in English; one Canadian, two American, and three Indian Jesuits are among the staff.

Page maintained by Company Magazine, [email protected] Copyright(c) 2002-2005. Created: 8/7/2005 Updated: 8/8/2005