As the Church continues to celebrate the election and installation of Pope Francis, USCMA would like to highlight the missionary activity of the Jesuits, the religious order that he entered as a novice in 1958. As the first Jesuit to be elected Bishop of Rome, we see how his Jesuit identity is highlighted in his coat of arms by the inclusion of the Jesuit insignia.
The Jesuits were founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th Century. Shona Johnson, writing for Oxford Bibliographies, wrote about their training and missionary activity. She highlighted how the Jesuits, “became great linguists, anthropologists, and ethnographers, learning all they could about host societies in order to use indigenous structures to explain the tenets of Christianity and secure a solid footing for their missionary churches. Jesuit missionary tactics helped to preserve many aspects of indigenous culture even as the missions transformed indigenous societies beyond recognition.” (Click here for the Oxford Biography article)
The Jesuits in their own words:
For over 450 years Jesuit priests and brothers have lived an amazing story of serving the Church in new and unexpected ways. We are still men on the move, ready to change place, occupation, method — whatever will advance our mission in the Church. We are expected to do anything or go anywhere to teach Jesus Christ and preach his Good News.
Today that “we” has expanded to include men and women who share this vision of service to faith and to the justice that faith demands. Jesuit Volunteers are called to the mission of serving the poor directly, working for structural change in the United States, and accompanying people in developing countries. Together Jesuits and lay partners place ourselves in the presence of the God who created all people and ask ourselves the questions that St. Ignatius suggested to his first companions during the period of prayer that led to their permanent companionship:
- What have I done for Christ?
- What am I doing for Christ?
- What will I do for Christ?