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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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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Jesuits

A. Who are the Jesuits?

The Jesuits are one of the many religious orders of men in the Roman Catholic Church. The more official name is "the Society of Jesus." Thus Jesuits write S.J. after their name.

B. How and when did they come to be Jesuits?

St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) was a Spanish Catholic who after his own deep conversion, gathered nine followers, including St. Francis Xavier (the patron saint of missionaries), to serve the Church. They formed themselves into a religious group in 1534 and offered their service to the Pope. They were officially approved in 1540.

C. Are there Jesuits in Nigeria, Ghana, and any other West African countries?

There are about one hundred Jesuits in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia, both indigenous and expatriates. There are also Jesuits running schools, parishes, and doing other kinds of apostolates in Algeria, Angola, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte D'Ivoire; Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mauritius, Mozambique, Republic of Central Africa, Congo, Réunion, and Rwanda. There are also Jesuits in Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Chad, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Although there are relatively no Jesuit presence in some countries such as the Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, these three countries will soon become mission territories under the North West Africa Province.

D. Are there only priests and seminarians?

Although those studying for the priesthood in the Catholic Church are universally called seminarians, the technical name for a Jesuit seminarian is scholastic. In addition to Jesuit priests and scholastics, there are also many Jesuit brothers who are involved in both works of the Jesuit communities and Jesuit apostolates. Jesuits are also assisted in carrying out their ministry by lay collaborators. As at 2004, there were about 20,408 Jesuits around the world.

E. What activities are Jesuits involved in?

Jesuit works are diverse. According to St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, Jesuits must be ready to do whatever is "For the Greater Glory of God." This gives rise to the famous Jesuit motto, in Latin, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, usually abbreviated as A.M.D.G.
Jesuits run more than 400 educational institutions around the world, including for example, 47 secondary schools and 28 colleges/universities in the United States alone. They teach or direct numerous seminaries and theological centres in Rome and around the world. They are chaplains in prisons and hospitals, chaplains to university students and the military. They serve as parish priests and direct retreats and retreat houses. Many Jesuits are involved in communication, through writing, publishing, and working with radio and television. Jesuits publish more than 1300 periodicals, and several books every year.

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North-West Africa Province

P. O. Box 223,

Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: +234 907 177 3535


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