A long history of education continues at St Aloysius’
Ignatius Loyola gathered an energetic band of educated men at the University of Paris, who desired nothing more than to help others find God in their lives. Ignatius' original plan was that they be roving missionaries, who would preach and administer the sacraments wherever there was a need, a lack of others to respond, and with the hope of accomplishing the greater good (the magis).
Since then, Jesuits have served the Church in a wide array of areas – missionary work, schools and universities, social ministries, retreat houses, parishes, always going to the boundaries. They have distinguished themselves throughout history as scientists and theologians, poets and philosophers, explorers and missionaries, pastors and preachers.
They have served as missionaries in Asia, India, Africa and the Americas – always applying the principle of ‘accommodation’, that is, finding where God and grace are already present in new lands, and respectfully enculturating. They were instrumental in the time of the Counter Reformation – where their style was always dialogue, respectful conversations, trying to find common ground. They willingly sacrificed their lives in the English and Japanese missions in order to minister to God’s people.
In establishing the first ‘system’ of schools, Jesuits were called ‘the schoolmasters of Europe’ during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, not only because of their schools but also for their pre-eminence as scholars, for the textbooks they authored, and the influence of their graduates.
Then in 1773, Pope Clement XIV, yielding to pressure from the Bourbon courts of Europe and fearing the loss of his Papal States, suppressed the Society of Jesus because of its perceived influence. The Society (23,000 strong) was disbanded. The property of their many schools was taken over, while their libraries and museums broken up.
The Society was restored in 1814 by Pope Pius VII. Since then, it has experienced remarkable growth and has surpassed the apostolic breadth of the early Society in its educational, intellectual, pastoral and missionary endeavours.
As the Holy Father, Paul VI, said to the Jesuits gathered for a General Congregation in 1974:
"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."
The rich and varied history of “this least Society” (as Ignatius described it) has its current incarnation in the near-140 years at St Aloysius’ College. In that tradition of embracing and transforming the world, the students of today will pen the present chapter.
Find out more about the Jesuits.