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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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U. How are the Jesuits around the world organized?

A basic unit of government is the Jesuit Province, led by a priest called Provincial. A province may have perhaps 50 or more Jesuits as members.

V. Who is in charge of all the Jesuits?

Jesuits are led by their Superior General who resides in Rome. As of January 2013, he is Very Reverend Father Adolfo Nicolás, the 29th (30th?) successor of St. Ignatius, and he was elected in January 2008. He is elected for life. In a special way he is responsible to Holy Father, the Pope in carrying out his duties as Superior General. In fact, many Jesuits take a special vow of obedience to the Pope, indicating that they will go on mission to wherever the Pope may wish to send them.

W. Have there been any Jesuit saints?

Yes, thanks to the grace of God, we have just mentioned St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. We also have St. Francis Xavier, one of St. Ignatius' companions, and a great missionary to India. All together there are 49 Jesuit priests, scholastics, and brothers who have been canonized. In addition there are 147 who have been declared blessed, which is the stage before canonization as saints. Of these 147 who are blessed, 136 were martyrs  for the faith in Brazil (41), France (27) Britain (17), Japan (33), Spain (5); Mariana Islands (1), Aubenas (2), Mexico (1), India (5), Ireland (2), and Madagascar (2).

X. Have there been any prominent Jesuits in recent years?

Only history can answer that question, but a number of Jesuits have become well known. Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1954) was a French Jesuit who wrote about the links between science and Christianity. Fr. Karl Rahner (1904-84), a German Jesuit, was important in assisting the bishops at the Vatican Council II, and has written thousands of articles and books on most areas of theology. Fr. Walter Ciszek (1904-84) was imprisoned in Russia for more than 20 years. Jesuit friends and relatives thought he had died. Fr. Jon Sobrino and Fr. Juan Luis Segundo are prominent Latin American theologians, who have written important books on theology, justice, and liberation theology in Latin American countries. Fr. Englebert Mveng, S.J. (d. 1995) from Cameroun, was a prominent African artist, theologian, and historian. Fr. John Courtney Murray, S.J. (1904-67), an American theologian and expert on church and state, was responsible in large part for the "Declaration on Religious Liberty" issued by Vatican II.

Y. What else do Jesuits do?

The guiding principle of our apostolic activity is the “Greater Glory of God” (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam). Thus depending upon the needs of the Church, and depending upon their own gifts and talents, there have been and are Jesuits who are pastors, musicians, lawyers, charismatic leaders, writers, artists, astronomers, scientists, doctors, retreat directors, and historians. And we should recall that the Jesuits are also the largest missionary order in the Church today, with more than 6,000 members serving in mission lands.

Z. If I have any more questions, what should I do?

Feel free to approach or write to any Jesuit priest or scholastic or brother who will try to answer your questions, or put you in contact with another Jesuit who would answer your questions. You can always write to the Vocation Director at the address listed above.

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North-West Africa Province

P. O. Box 223,

Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: +234 907 177 3535


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