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Frequently Asked Questions About the Jesuits - Jesuits of North-West Africa Province | Society of Jesus

Gratitude Magazine March 2015 Edition

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F. Can a Jesuit become a bishop?

In a few special cases, mostly in mission lands, and by exception, some Jesuits have been asked to serve as bishops. In most recent times the Holy Mother Church entrusted a Jesuit Cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, with the humble mission of serving her as Pope. On March 13, 2013, the second day of the papal conclave, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope on the fifth ballot of the papal conclave. He took the name, Francis. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to become Pope of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Thus there are a number of bishops who began as Jesuits, and several Cardinals who are members of the Society of Jesus. 
However, the Constitution of the Society of Jesus discourages Jesuits from nursing any desire to become bishops and even urges novice masters to close the door against any candidate with such ambition. Therefore, under normal circumstances, a Jesuit cannot become a bishop, save for the circumstances mentioned above and when the Pope insists on a Jesuit becoming a bishop.

G. How does one become a Jesuit?

If a young man is interested, he should write to the Vocation Director for advice and assistance:


P.O. BOX 223





P.O. BOX 1054 



vocations /at/

Although applications are accepted all year round, processing an application takes at least a year (in some cases, it may be longer). Thus, those to be accepted into the Novitiate in August of a given year are expected to have sent in their complete application by July of the previous year. A complete application includes: a) A formal application letter; b) Baptismal certificate; c) Academic credentials (WAEC/SSCE) or undergraduate degrees; d) Submission of an essay when requested by the Vocation Director (with two passport photographs with your name written behind it). The process of acceptance into the novitiate includes companionship program, medical tests, and interviews (etc).

H. What else should I do?

In addition to writing, you should pray to God for guidance, to know and do His will. And you should talk with your Parish Priest, or a Reverend Sister, and ask for their prayers and guidance. Since your parents have guided you to where you are, you should also talk with them about your desire, and seek their advice and permission. You should try to find out more about religious life, and the Jesuits in particular, through reading and browsing Jesuit websites on the internet. And of course it helps to meet Jesuit priests, and scholastics, and talk with them about your desire to be a Jesuit priest.

I. What qualifications and qualities are needed?

The young man must be a baptized, practicing Roman Catholic, between 18 and 25 years of age. Academic standards are high, and the person must have 6 credits in WAEC/GCE in one sitting including English and Mathematics, or 8 credits in WAEC/GCE in two sittings including English and Mathematics. Those who have completed or are about to complete their university (or tertiary) degrees in any area are also encouraged to apply and contact the vocation director in Nigeria or Ghana.

J. Any other personal qualities?

We are looking for healthy, interesting young men, who can relate to others, live in community, have a healthy prayer life, are close to the Church, especially through the Eucharist, and who are willing to entrust their life and future generously to God through the Society of Jesus and its Superiors. They must be open, ready, and willing to be assigned to whatever work and location the Superior judges best. They should also show leadership qualities and willingness to face difficult challenges. They must be attracted to working with people in need.

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North-West Africa Province

P. O. Box 223,

Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: +234 907 177 3535


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