top of page

The Ten Global Identifiers of Jesuit Schools

Characteristics of a Jesuit Education

Glossary of Jesuit/Ignatian Terms

Aloysius Gonzaga

Class Names

Jesuit Schools

Jesuit Works

Two insights are central to understanding Jesuit Education:  The first is ‘cura personalis’ (care for the person); the second is that God, the creator, who knows all knowable and loves all lovable, is to be found in all things and so any search for either truth or love is a search for God, and any every experience of truth and love is an experience of God.


For Ignatius Loyola, the relationship between the educator and the student is akin to the relationship between the retreat director and the one undertaking the retreat during the Spiritual Exercises.  


(The Spiritual Exercises is the thirty day, silent, retreat undertaken by every Jesuit twice during his training.  It consists of a series of meditations and contemplations and forms the bedrock of Jesuit Spirituality.)


In Jesuit Education, therefore, the young person is at the centre of the operation; the educator is an enabler rather than an instructor.  The educator’s job is:


  • to assist the young person in discovering, recognizing, and valuing, his or her unique set of talents;

  • to encourage the young person to develop his or her talents in a balanced and holistic way;

  • to offer the young person the experience of community as the locus in which his or her talents can be validated;

  • to challenge the young person to form, and make a personal commitment to, a consistent and comprehensive system of values;

  • to introduce the young person to, and invite him or her to participation in, a rich and nourishing spiritual life.


Jesuit Education achieves its ends by encouraging:

  • reflection on experience;

  • learning from that reflection;

  • action based on that learning.


Jesuit Education places critical thinking at the heart of the educational project, encouraging a rigorous approach to the evaluation and clear expression of ideas and values.


For Ignatius, and therefore for Jesuit Education, ‘God is to be found in all things’. There is nothing in creation, and no area of human endeavour, in which God is not present or where God cannot be discovered.  All search for truth, whether in the arts, sciences, or humanities, whether personal, communal, or universal, is a search for God; art, science, language, sport, drama, philosophy, theology, spirituality, indeed any human pursuit, can lead, and all at some time will lead, to God.


The purpose of the Spiritual Exercises is to assist the one doing the retreat to experience, accept, and respond to God.  God is Love; to experience, accept, and respond to God is to experience, accept, and respond to love.  Love, therefore, is at the heart of Jesuit Education, and at the heart of the Jesuit educational institution.  It is in context of love, care, and respect, that the project is undertaken; a person of love, care, and respect, is its fruit, what is often spoken of as a person of Competence, Confidence, and Compassion, or ‘a man/woman/person for others’.


In the Exercises Ignatius tells us that ‘Love manifests itself in deeds rather than in words’ and that ‘the lover gives and shares with the beloved something of that which he has or is able to give’. The measure of the success of a Jesuit education is to be found in the living out of these two phrases.  Jesuit education is about the fullest and most holistic development of the individual, but its context is the desire that that individual will then respond to the needs of his or her world by placing him or herself at the service of others, and in doing so, cooperate with God’s ongoing creation of our world.

Click here for an article on the impact of Jesuit Education in the European Union

The Ten Global Identifiers of Jesuit Schools

 Jesuit schools should be:

  1. Catholic; committed to in-depth faith formation in dialogue with other religions and worldviews

  2. Committed to creating a safe and healthy environment for all

  3. Committed to global citizenship

  4. Committed to care for all creation

  5. Committed to justice

  6. Committed to be accessible for all

  7. Committed to interculturality

  8. Committed to being a global network at the service of the mission

  9. Committed to human excellence

  10. Committed to life-long learning

Characteristics of a Jesuit Education

Each person is known and loved personally by God. This love invites a response, and so we begin a search for the destiny and meaning of our lives in freedom and in the company of the other believers.

So Jesuit education emphasises the uniqueness of each person and encourages a life long openness to keep growing ... in search of the will of Him who loves unconditionally


We inherit sin, we commit sin, there is sin in the wrong social structures which oppress. According to Ignatius, with the help of God's grace we are engaged in an ongoing struggle to recognise and overcome the obstacles that block freedom: the effects of sin in its different shades.

Jesuit Education then, encourages a realistic knowledge, love and acceptance of self

It provides a realistic knowledge of the world and its structures

It enables students to assess values; those for the Kingdom of Christ, against those which glorify self and selfishness

Jesus Christ is the model of human life. Because of his total response to His father's love and will He was without fault in fulfilling his destiny. Jesus invites us under the standard of the Cross to follow him in responding to the father's love.

Jesuit Education then, proposes Christ as the model for life:

It provides adequate pastoral care and religious knowledge instruction

It celebrates faith in personal and community prayer, worship and service

Love is not a theory. It is shown in deeds. Ignatius asks that we pay the cost of commitment to the Gospel Way by our actions.

Jesuit education then prepares for active life commitment to the values of Jesus Christ

Jesuit education stresses that love of God which does not issue in love of neighbour is a pious fraud

Our schooling wishes our pupils to be men and women for others who make all the significant decisions "from the perspective of the poor"


The Church is the instrument of Christ's grace and salvation through his Sacraments.

Jesuit Education then, prepares students for active participation in the Church and the local community for the service of others

Repeatedly Ignatius insisted on 'The Magis' - the more. His constant concern was for greater service of God through a close following of Christ.

Jesuit Education pursues excellence in its work of formation and education. The highest standards in all things are to be our unceasing aspiration

Ignatius formed a group of companions who with him gave themselves in service to Christ's Kingdom. A group of friends in the Lord can together be fruitful and life giving.

Jesuit education relies on a spirit of co-operation, friendship and community among teaching staff, administrators

Jesuit community, governing and managerial bodies, parents, students, past pupils and benefactors. In the service of the Kingdom, team approaches are preferable to individual endeavours


For Ignatius and his companions the practice of evaluating work and reviewing its "fruit" was very important, as a way of seeing whether efforts were still in accord with God's will and destiny.

Jesuit education reviews itself and adapts means and methods to more effectively achieve its purposes

It seeks to promote a system of schools with common aspirations

It provides for professional training and new learning experiences for the different partners in school, especially teachers and administrators.


For Saint Ignatius, God is Creator and Lord. He is present in our lives "labouring for us in all things" ... in all natural and human events, in history, and most especially in the lived experience of each person.

Jesuit education is a means by which all can discover their destiny in God's image and begin the journey of sanctification.

It includes a religious dimension that permeates its whole schooling. God is in all things.

All learning and discovery transcend the immediate and evoke wonder and questioning, as well as the ability to learn how to learn.

Glossary of Jesuit/Ignatian Terms

Ad Maoirem Dei Gloriam: ‘For the greater glory of God’ is the motto of the Society of Jesus.

​Characteristics of Jesuit Education: This document, produced in 1986, elaborated the twenty-eight characteristics of Jesuit Education.

​Colloquium: A conversation or dialogue between people is one of the Foundational Ignatian insights . An expression of this would be the ‘Colloquium on the Ministry of Teaching’ where teachers spend a number of days together exploring teaching as a ministry.

​Examen: Also known as ‘examination of consciousness’ or ‘awareness examen‘, this structured review of each day, developed by Ignatius, is employed to discover God’s movements and action within one’s daily life.

​Foundational Ignatian Insights: Recent scholarship has highlighted four insights that occupy a central place in Ignatius’ way of proceeding:

  • Conversation

  • Life-generating dreams (id quod volo)

  • Helping others, and

  • Seeking and finding God in all things.

​Ignatian/Jesuit: Something is said to be ‘Ignatian’ when it is grounded in the spirituality, ethos or world view of Ignatius. Thus some schools or religious orders describe themselves as ‘Ignatian’ but not ‘Jesuit’. Jesuit refers to that particular ‘Ignatian’ manifestation found in the Jesuit order (Society of Jesus) or in ministries owned and directed by them.

​Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP): The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm is the model of the teaching/learning process in all schools which claim to be Ignatian, which includes the central cycle of the elements experience, reflection, action, taking place in a particular context and always subject to evaluation. The IPP was initially outlined in Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach published in 1993.

Loyola: Saint Ignatius was born in the town of Loyola in northern Spain.

​Magis: The yardstick of Ignatius was always to undertake that which was ‘the better choice’, ‘the more effective enterprise’, ‘the more widely influential’. ‘meeting the greater need’, not simply because such a course was harder, but because it would yield ‘the greater good’ or be more loving. This is the essence of the magis.

​Manresa: Ignatius gained most of his spiritual insights in this small village in northern Spain where he lived for a time after his conversion In some European countries ‘to make a Manresa’ means to go on retreat.

​Province: All the Jesuits in Ireland belong to the Irish Province.

​Provincial: The Jesuit, for a six-year term, who is the leader of a Province of Jesuits.

​Ratio Studiorum: The Ratio is a ‘plan of studies’ for Jesuit schools developed during the latter half of the sixteenth century and used universally in Jesuit colleges until the time of the suppression.

​Repetition: A traditional Jesuit teaching methodology. It is the time afforded to reviewing a subject for a deeper appropriation and understanding of the material covered.

​Retreat: A number of days (usually from three to thirty) spend in prayer/reflection with a director, often following the pattern of the

Spiritual Exercises, frequently and liberally adapted for school students.

​Society of Jesus: The English translation of the name of the Jesuit order. In Latin Societatis Iesu, in Spanish Compania de Jesus.

​Spiritual Exercises: A retreat (usually for thirty days, broken up into four ‘weeks’) developed by Ignatius, which employs an ordered sequence of prayers and contemplations, often undertaken when the retreatant wishes to make a choice in life towards greater love and service of God.



Contemplatives in action: Ignatius ‘in all things, actions and conversations he perceived and contemplated the presence of God and had an affection for spiritual things, being contemplative even while in action – a matter which he explained by saying ‘God must be found in all things.

​Friends in the Lord: The description that the first companions gave themselves when they were discerning the direction of their common life together.

​Helping souls: This is one of the most frequent expressions to be found in Ignatius’ writings. By ‘soul’ Ignatius meant the whole person, so that people could be helped by proving food for the body, learning for the mind or provision of the sacraments.

Id quod volo: Ignatius stressed that in coming to prayer one should articulate ‘that which I desire’. Identifying one’s dreams and desires is one of the so-called Foundational Ignatian insights .

​Men and Women for others: The phrase first appears (in a non inclusive form) in Jesuit General Pedro Arrupe’s letter to the international conference in Valencia (1973), where he exhorts all alumni to use their fights and talents in the service of others.

Service of faith and the promotion of justice: The 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (1975) spelt out the Society’s mission today in the strongest terms: ‘The mission of the Society of Jesus today is the service of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement. Reconciliation with God demands the reconciliation of people with one another.

Service of faith and the promotion of justice: The 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (1975) spelt out the Society’s mission today in the strongest terms: ‘The mission of the Society of Jesus today is the service of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement. Reconciliation with God demands the reconciliation of people with one another.



Aloysius Gonzaga

Luigi Gonzaga was the eldest of seven children. His father, Ferrante Gonzaga, was the Marquis of the small northern Italian town of Castiglione delle Stiviere. Luigi was born in 1568 and was baptised at the very moment of birth because it was feared that both he and his mother might die. Both recovered and his mother lived long enough to build a church in Luigi’s honour thirty years after his death.
Luigi is usually known in English as Aloysius and in French as Louis. As the eldest son Aloysius was heir to the title of Marquis of Castiglione. His whole upbringing was designed to prepare him for this. Thus, from the age of nine to eleven, Aloysius was sent to live in Florence in the household of Francesco de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Such a court was typical of the Renaissance: wealthy, cultured and learned. It was also violent, arrogant and licentious.
These great and important people were so far from ‘the poor, the gentle and the peacemakers’ that Aloysius believed them to be truly wretched. He had no wish to be like them. In 1581 at the age of 13 Luigi was taken by his parents to Spain to the court of King Phillip II where he was made page to the King’s son Don Diego. Despite an interrupted formal education Aloysius was a sharp-witted and a keen learner.
In Madrid he quickly made progress in philosophy. At this time that he decided to enter the Society of Jesus. His father was implacably opposed to Aloysius, whom he wished to become the Marquis, wasting his life by becoming a Jesuit. In 1587 Aloysius took his three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, which made him a Jesuit. Then he continued his studies in philosophy and theology in preparation for the priesthood.
As well as being a willing student, he was also willing to help others for whom learning was more difficult. While praying in Milan Aloysius was filled with a certainty that his death was not far away. He was keen to return to Rome for he had written: “If I have a home on earth, it is Rome - where I was born for Christ.”
Both on the journey and in Rome, Aloysius found evidence of the Plague all around him. He threw himself tirelessly into caring for the sick: the former nobleman begged money to provide for victims and then nursed them himself in the hospitals, which were little more than plague pits. One day, on his way to the hospital, Aloysius found a plague victim on the street. He lifted the man on his shoulders and carried him to the hospital.
That night he felt ill. He had caught the Plague. The disease, usually so swift to kill, lasted twelve agonising weeks before Aloysius died on 21 June 1591. Aloysius wrote to his mother, “Regard my death as a joyful gift of God”. He lies today in the Jesuit church of St Ignatius in Rome.

See here for an article about Aloysius Gonzaga by Fr James Martin SJ.

Class Names

The classes in Gonzaga are named for Jesuits who have worked in various apostolates throughout the history of the Society of Jesus

​A. Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ (1907-1991)

Pedro Arrupe, like Ignatius of Loyola was a Basque. He studied medicine at the University of Madrid, but, after witnessing the poverty in that city, decided to join the Jesuits in 1927. He was ordained in the United States in1936.  In 1938 he went to Japan, where he spent 27 years as a missionary.

In 1945 he headed the first rescue party to go into Hiroshima after that city had been devastated by the atomic bomb. He was elected the Superior General of the Jesuits in 1965. In 1983, following a stroke, he resigned: the first Jesuit Superior General to do so. It was Pedro Arrupe who coined the phrase ‘men for others’ to describe the ideal past pupil of a Jesuit school.

​B. Roger Boscovich SJ (1711-1787)

Often said to be the father of modern atomic theory, Roger Boscovich, a Croatian Jesuit physicist, astronomer, mathematic, philosopher, theologian and poet was the very model of renaissance thinker.  In 1731 he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Rome.  Soon after this he began his work on the atomic structure, which inspired the search for a grand unifying theory of the universe.  As professor of mathematics and physics at the pontifical Gregorian University, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, where he conceived the ideas of Relativity that were later developed by Albert Einstein.  The crater Boscovich, on the moon was named in honour of his contribution to astronomy.  

​C. Blessed Dominic Collins SJ (1566-1602)

Dominic Collins was born into a prosperous family in Youghal, Co. Cork in 1566.  Because of religious oppression in Ireland during the Elizabethan era, Dominic moved to France. He then spent nine years in the armies of the Catholic League rising to the rank of Captain.  After his military service he resolved to join the Society of Jesus as a Brother. In Santiago he nursed Plague victims. He returned to Ireland to set up a Jesuit mission. Collins was arrested, tried and invited to become a Protestant and take a Queen’s commission. He refused and was hanged in his native Youghal.

​D. Fr William Delaney SJ (1835-1924)

William Delaney was born in 1835 in Co. Carlow. He was a leading educationalist in Ireland and served as headmaster of St. Stanislaus Jesuit College, near Tullamore.  Fr. Delaney was a leader in the Catholic struggle for equality in education and the man to whose efforts the establishment of the National University of Ireland in its present form was mainly due. This was achieved by the remarkable success under his presidency of the University College (the successor to Newman’s Catholic University) on St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin. He died in Dublin in 1924.

​R. Fr Matteo Ricci SJ (1533-1610)

Matteo Ricci was born in 1533 in Italy. He joined the Jesuit Order and in 1583 was sent was sent with another Italian priest Michael Ruggieri to China. They dressed in Chinese clothing; studied the Chinese language; adopted Chinese mannerisms, and learned the moral doctrines of Confucianism. Their purpose was to earn Christianity an acceptable place in Chinese society. Through their learning, the two Jesuits were able to impress and win the trust of their hosts the Chinese.

The policy of accommodation was so successful that it won the friendship and respect of many powerful figures. In 1601 Frs. Ricci and Ruggieri were allowed to move to Beijing, where the Emperor resided. Ricci died in 1610

​S. Fr John Sullivan SJ (1861-1933)

John Sullivan’s father was Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was brought up a Protestant though his mother was Catholic. He was educated at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen and at Trinity College. He qualified as a barrister and was called to the English bar in 1888. In 1896 a visit to Mount Athos in Greece confirmed him in his desire to live a life of prayer. John was received into the Catholic Church by the Jesuits at Farm Street in London.

He decided to become a Jesuit and was ordained at Milltown Park, Dublin in 1907. He then went to Clongowes Wood College where he spent most of the rest of his life teaching Latin and Greek and acting as Spiritual father to many of the boys.

At the same time Fr. Sullivan built up a remarkable ministry; visiting people in the area surrounding Clongowes. He especially cared for the sick and dying and among the local people he had a reputation for being able to work miraculous cures. John Sullivan died at Clongowes in 1933.

Jesuit Schools

Belvedere College SJ
The College is a Catholic school under the trusteeship of the Society of Jesus. Set in the centre of Dublin city, it continues today a tradition of over 170 years in the Jesuit approach to education. The school is fee-paying but provides a scholarship scheme, independently funded, out of a desire to be socially just. The family, as the primary educator, through its commitment to the values of the school, shares the responsibility for the students' education.


Clongowes Wood College SJ
The mission of Clongowes Wood College is to educate its pupils according to the best traditions and highest standards of Jesuit schooling and the values of the Gospel, as expressed in The Characteristics of Jesuit Education.
As a boarding school located in beautiful surroundings twenty-one miles from Dublin and drawing its 450 pupils from all over Ireland and abroad, Clongowes aims to create an open, happy, stimulating, mutually respectful community in which young people are able to develop the full range of their talents and abilities in a balanced, integrated and generous way.
A Clongowes education seeks to inspire a sense of wonder in God’s creation, providing the wider community with resourceful and determined young men, with strong inter-personal skills and leadership qualities. In an overall sense, the aim is to educate each pupil to think and speak for himself, use his initiative, and provide leadership where required. In the famous dictum of the late Fr. General of the Society of Jesus, Pedro Arrupe, a Clongownian should be a "man for others".
Morale at Clongowes is high among pupils and staff. In co-operation with parents we are dedicated to ensuring a happy living and learning environment in order to produce confident and well-rounded young adults.


Coláiste Iognáid SJ
Coláiste Iognáid today is a co-educational voluntary secondary school with a student population in excess of 600. As a voluntary school it is non fee-paying and publicly funded, although it depends greatly on the generosity of benefactors, alumni and parents alike to enhance its facilities and fund the large variety of extra and co-curricular activities considered essential to a Jesuit education.

Crescent College Comprehensive SJ.

Crescent College

Comprehensive incorporates the characteristics of Jesuit Education. It seeks to develop fully each students' religious, moral, social, intellectual, physical and cultural sensibilities. As an important means of doing this the school strives to create a strong sense of community between parents, students and teachers.




Jesuit Works

Almost 200 Irish Jesuits are engaged in a wide range of work both at home and throughout the world.

Jesuits dedicate their work to the Greater Glory of God.

​For more information click here

Sacred Space: Sacred Space is a prayer website which has achieved considerable fame since its foundation in 1999. The site is updated daily, guiding users through a ten-minute session of prayer centered on a passage of scripture. Sacred Space attracts over five million visits annually.

​For more information click here

​Peter McVerry Trust: The Peter McVerry Trust supports young homeless people to break the cycle of homelessness and move towards independent living through the provision of a continuum of care services.

​For more information click here


​Educate Magis: Educate Magis is an online community that connects educators from Jesuit and Ignatian schools all over the world.

For more information click here



Characteristics of a Jesuit Education
Glossary of Jesuit Terms
Aloysius Gonzaga
Class Names
Jesuit Schools
Jesuit Works
Global Identifiers
Global identifiers.png
bottom of page