Our ideal is the well-rounded person who is intellectually competent, open to growth, religious, loving, and committed to doing justice in generous service to the people of God.
–Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ
Superior-General of the Society of Jesus
In 1548, ten members of the then recently founded Society of Jesus opened the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily. That event would have immense repercussions on the character of the Society of Jesus, but it was also a crucial event in the history of schooling within the Catholic Church and in Western civilization.
Jesuit education was founded on the Renaissance and humanist traditions, to which Ignatius and his companions brought a depth of spirit drawn from their experience of the Spiritual Exercises: the firm conviction that all creation is good; all learning is good; and everything in the world can help us find and serve God and one another.
After nearly 500 years of experience, the Jesuit and Ignatian charism can readily be recognized today in each of our schools in:
- A spirituality that encourages our students to find God in all things, an expression of the Catholic sacramental vision that appreciates the radical goodness of everything in creation and leads to a comfort with questioning and exploring within an expansive worldview;
- A spirituality that fosters a relationship with Jesus Christ as a model for adult living;
- A special commitment to the goodness and uniqueness of every person;
- A pedagogy that engages the world through a careful analysis of context, in dialogue with experience, always open to evaluation through reflection, for the sake of action;
- A faith that seeks to do justice in an ever increasing global context, with preferential concern for the poor and marginalized;
- A restlessness to discern and seek the magis—the more—to go deeper, leading to a constant pursuit of excellence and leadership for the greater glory of God;
- A commitment to partnership with companions who share our vision.
This vision informs and challenges the kind of teaching and learning pursued, the kind of caring relationships experienced in and out of the classroom, and the kind of values that permeate our schools. Jesuit education remains committed to excellence and to the fullest development of the human potential of our students called forth by God’s love.
In Jesuit schools, teaching cannot be merely about disseminating information and imparting career skills. In the vision of Ignatius, teaching is a vocation, a mission, and a labor of love. In the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius instructs teachers to “make their special aim, both in their lectures when occasion is offered and outside of them too, to inspire one’s students to the love and service of God our Lord, and to a love of the virtues by which they will please him.” This love is born of a deep respect for each person and lived out in everyday life.
Fr. Joseph P. Parkes, SJ
Provincial Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education
Associate Provincial Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education
Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education
The USA East Province sponsors eight pre-secondary schools that provide quality, low-cost (if not tuition-free) education to students from low-income urban families. The first Nativity school opened in 1971 in New York City providing a rigorous and highly structured program to prepare students for success in high school and college. In seeking to educate the whole person, the Nativity program fosters academic, physical, social, spiritual, and moral development.
- Brooklyn Jesuit Prep, Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Gesu School, Philadelphia, Pa.
- Nativity School of Worcester, Worcester, Mass.
- NativityMiguel Middle School, Buffalo, N.Y.
- Nativity Preparatory School, Boston, Mass.
- St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, Baltimore, Md.
- St. Ignatius School, Bronx, N.Y.
- Washington Jesuit Academy, Washington, D.C.
The USA East Province sponsors 20 college preparatory schools that strive to educate students in the Jesuit ideals of conscience, competence, compassion, and commitment.
- Boston College High School, Boston, Mass.
- Canisius High School, Buffalo, N.Y.
- Cheverus High School, Portland, Maine
- Fairfield College Preparatory School, Fairfield, Conn.
- Fordham Preparatory School, Bronx, N.Y.
- Georgetown Preparatory School, North Bethesda, M.D.
- Gonzaga College High School, Washington, D.C.
- Loyola Blakefield, Towson, M.D.
- Loyola School, New York, N.Y.
- McQuaid Jesuit High School, Rochester, N.Y.
- Regis High School, New York, N.Y.
- St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, Philadelphia, Pa.
- Saint Peter’s Preparatory School, Jersey City, N.J.
- Scranton Preparatory School, Scranton, P.A.
- Xavier High School, Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia
- Xavier High School, New York, N.Y.
- Yap Catholic High School, Yap, Federated States of Micronesia
Our Way of Proceeding: Standards and Benchmarks for Jesuit Schools in the 21st Century was born from a need expressed by the schools for an instrument better suited to the Sponsorship Review Process. The goal was to draft a new, user-friendly instrument that would articulate what should be present in an excellent Jesuit school, using language and descriptors that would make it easier for schools and reviewers to know what to look for. As Jesuit schools we continue “to sustain our Ignatian vision and Jesuit mission of educational excellence in the formation of young men and women of competence, conscience, compassion, and commitment” (JSEA Mission Statement). The Standards and Benchmarks reflect particular ways in which this vision and mission are made manifest in five domains: Jesuit and Catholic Mission and Identity, Governance and Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Educational Excellence, and Faith That Does Justice. The Benchmarks provide observable, measurable descriptors for each Standard. They are both aspirational and prescriptive, in the way the core values of Jesuit schools have always been.
The Jesuit Schools Network is an apostolic work of the Jesuits that initiates programs and provides services that enable its schools networked throughout the Provinces to sustain their Ignatian vision and educational excellence in the formation of young men and women.
The Cristo Rey Network comprises 28 high schools that provide a quality, Catholic college preparatory education to urban young people who live in communities with limited educational options. The schools utilize an innovative Corporate Work Study Program to help make private education affordable to students who might not otherwise have access to a quality education. The USA East Province has three Cristo Rey schools in the province.
- Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School, Atlanta, G.A.
- Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Baltimore, M.D.
- Cristo Rey New York High School, New York, N.Y.
The Jesuit Conference is the national board of the five U.S. provincials and the Conference president. The Conference maintains offices in formation, education, refugee ministries, spiritual ministries and social and international ministries. In 2007 the Jesuit Conference published the document What Makes a Jesuit School Jesuit?
The International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education (ICAJE) has also provided Ignatian educators two significant documents that have shaped our work in Jesuit schools throughout the world: The Characteristics of Jesuit Education and Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach. Many other important resources on Jesuit education from the founding documents of the Society of Jesus, recent General Congregations, and presentations by the Jesuit Superior General can be found here.
Jesuit schools in the USA East Province participate as well in the global network of Jesuit schools which is uniquely suited to educate global citizens able to participate in a globalization of solidarity, cooperation, and reconciliation that fully respects human life and dignity, and all of God’s creation. The Secretariat for Education of the Jesuit Curia in Rome animates this global network of Jesuit schools and organizes several opportunities for networking among our Ignatian educators. For the first time in the history of the Society of Jesus, Ignatian educators from around the world assembled in Boston in 2012 to strengthen our global network of Jesuit schools at the International Colloquium on Jesuit Secondary Education (ICJSE). These efforts continued in 2014 at the International Seminar on Ignatian Pedagogy and Spirituality (SIPEI) in Manresa, Spain. In 2015, Educate Magis launched as a new project with a mission to create a vibrant online community, connecting educators from more than 2,000 Jesuit schools around the world.