WHO ARE THE JESUITS?The members of the Society of Jesus are commonly known as Jesuits.
The Jesuits are a Religious Order in the Catholic Church. They were founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491- 1556) and his companions. Spread throughout the world, the Jesuits today number around 16,000 and are largest Religious Order in the Catholic Church. They work in 112 different countries and are engaged in diverse fields, including research, mass media, social and legal outreach, counselling, pastoral care, spiritual guidance, etc. However, they are possibly best known for their contribution in the field of education.
Very Rev. Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal SJ is the Superior General of the Jesuits — the head of the Order.
JESUITS IN UMOIDIn August 2016, the then-Bishop of the Diocese of Nongstoin in Meghalaya, Bishop Victor Lyngdoh D.D., invited the Jesuits to consider starting a college in the South West Khasi Hills (SWKH) District because of the evident lack of tertiary educational opportunities. The Jesuits did an exploratory study that year, followed by a more detailed feasibility study the following year, in 2017.
In early 2018, the Jesuits committed themselves to starting a college in the village of Umoid, about 15 km east of Mawkyrwat, where the headquarters of the South West Khasi Hills district are located. The college would be named “St. Xavier’s” in honor of St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit saint who had worked in India in the 16th Century.
In April 2018, Fr. Paul Coelho SJ relocated to Jakrem, 6 kms. from Umoid, to negotiate for land and began the preliminary work. The following year, Fr. David Nukhu SJ joined him. In 2021, Fr. Michael Kerketta SJ joined the team to help with the construction work. The Jesuit Community of St. Xavier’s Umoid continues to live in Jakrem.
ST. FRANCIS XAVIER, PATRON OF OUR INSTITUTIONSBorn into a noble family, St. Francis Xavier came to study at the University of Paris, arguably the best university in the world at that time. He roomed with two other students — Ignatius of Loyola and Peter Favre. Blinded by a strong desire for wealth, success and fame, he was disinterested in the spiritual matters until St. Ignatius asked him, “what would it profit a man if he gained the whole world but lost his soul.” — Matthew 16:26.
Xavier would gradually give up his earlier ambition and join Ignatius and Peter in founding the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
Numerous educational institutions in India and around the world, both Jesuit and non-Jesuit, are named after this popular Jesuit saint.
AN IGNATIAN YEARThe Ignatian Family is celebrating an IGNATIAN YEAR from 20th May 2021 – 31st July 2022. It commemorates the five-hundredth year anniversary of the conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Badly injured on 20th May 1521 in the battle of in Pamplona, when both his knees were shattered by a canon ball, Inigo’s convalescence was a long and painful period. But it was also a time of grace, which ultimately led to his inner conversion. After that, he would strive only for the “Greater Glory of God” (Ad Majórem Dei Glóriam, abbreviated as AMDG), which the Jesuits embrace as their motto and which continues to be the undergirding inspiration of the Jesuit Order.
JESUITS IN EDUCATIONThe Jesuits are probably best known for their educational institutions, which are to be found in almost every country of the world. Jesuit schools, colleges and universities are recognized for their academic excellence and the all-round formation their offer their students.
Jesuit education is characterized by the “Magis” — a Latin word meaning “more.” Students are encouraged to never be satisfied with mediocrity but to strive for more — for excellence — and to realize their fullest potential. They are also motivated to become “Women and Men for Others” — willing to work for a more just and humane society. They expect their students to grow in competence, compassion, commitment and conscience.
In India, the Jesuits run 4 universities, 52 colleges, 17 schools of Business Administration, and 220 high schools. Several Jesuit educational institutions are ranked among the best in the country. This year, for instance, Jesuit institutions took the top three positions in a ranking done by the Education World,a national magazine.
Jesuit Universities-colleges in India include:
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata
Xavier University, Bhubaneshwar
St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore
St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai
St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad
St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata
Loyola College, Chennai
Loyola College, Vijayawada
St. Aloysius College, Mangalore
St. Joseph’s College, Trichy.
The members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) are engaged in a variety of other fields, including media and communications, ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue, social ministry, parish ministry, preaching retreats, the formation of the clergy, etc.
In Meghalaya, the Jesuits run Loyola College at Williamnagar in the Garo Hills. St. Xavier’s Umoid is their second college in the state.
Jesuit schools in Meghalaya can be found at Dawagre, Jalaphet, Maweit and Umbir.