ABOUT JESUIT VOCATIONS
Q: Can anyone be considered for the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits)?
A: Men who are Roman Catholic and not married can be considered for a vocation in the Society of Jesus.
Q: Is there an age limit?
A: Most applicants to the Society of Jesus are in their 20s or earlier 30s. A Provincial (the head Jesuit of a particular geographical region) requires special permission from the Superior General of the Society of Jesus to accept a man who is 50 or above. This permission is very rarely given.
Q: Is there any problem if I have only just become a Catholic?
A: The Society will not accept you into the novitiate until you have been a Catholic for three years. But there is no reason why in the meantime you should not begin the process of exploring whether or not you have a vocation to the Society.
Q: Do I have to have been to university in order to be considered for the Society?
A: No. The British Province is very pleased to hear from men who have just left school and have not yet been to University or from older men who have been in work rather than studied. Clearly having the capacity for university study will be essential if you wish to be a priest in the Society.
Q: What if I haven’t been a very good Catholic in the past – would that prevent me being considered for the Society of Jesus?
A: It is worth remembering that St. Ignatius himself was hardly an angel in his youth, but once he heard the call of Jesus Christ he began to live his life in a new way. If you wish to be considered for the Society it will be important to be living a life that is in tune with the vocation you are exploring, a life in which you are chaste in your relationships, faithful in your celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of reconciliation, generous in your service of others.
Q: What other things do I need to bear in mind when considering whether I might be the right kind of person to be a Jesuit?
A: One very important matter is health. Because of our way of life, we need men who are in general good health, men whose health does not limit their availability for the work that we do.
ABOUT THE JESUITS
Q: What is the Society of Jesus?
A: The Society of Jesus is a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Jesuits are the largest male religious order in the world, with approximately 19,000 members internationally.
Q: How is the Society of Jesus organized?
A: Jesuits around the world are organized into 91 geographic areas called provinces governed by a provincial superior who is appointed by and reports directly to the Society’s Superior General. Jesuit provinces are grouped into 10 regional “assistancies,” each with an “assistant” to Father General in Rome. In the United States, ten provinces form a single assistancy.
Q: Where does the name Jesuit come from?
A: It was first applied derisively to the Society, meaning “one who used too frequently or appropriated the name of Jesus.” While never employed by its founder, members and friends of the Society in time appropriated the name in its now positive meaning.
Q: What are the vows that Jesuits take? What is the fourth vow?
A: Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. The fourth vow is of obedience to the Pope with regard to mission.
Q: Do Jesuits have a formal habit?
A: Jesuits do not have an official habit. In the Constitutions of the Society, it gives these instructions concerning clothing; “The clothing too should have three characteristics: first, it should be proper; second, conformed to the usage of the country of residence; and third, not contradictory to the poverty we profess…” (Const. 577)
Q: Some Jesuits are priests, some are brothers: what’s the difference?
A: Jesuits can choose to be priests or brothers. Both groups of men take the same vows and live and pray in a religious community. Priests are ordained and administer the Sacraments and celebrate Mass. Although brothers do not feel called to the life of a priest, they participate fully in the work of the Society of Jesus, whose mission is "the service of faith and the promotion of justice."
Q: What is the difference between diocesan and religious priests?
A: Roman Catholic parishes are always part of a local diocese, but parish priests can be either diocesan or religious priests. Diocesan priests make promises of chastity and obedience; they are under the authority of bishops. Religious belong to communities, such as the Society of Jesus, which are typically guided by a particular mission or spiritual tradition. Religious priests, including Jesuits, take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; they are under the authority of their local superior and provincial. Jesuits take an additional vow of obedience to the Pope, placing themselves at his disposal.
Q: What is the difference between a bishop and a Jesuit provincial?
A: Bishops are appointed by the Pope to administer geographic units called dioceses, which contain parishes, schools, service groups, and other organizations. Jesuit provincials are appointed by the Superior General in Rome to serve six-year terms. Provincials oversee geographic units called provinces.