The Jesuits

We are the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic order of priests and brothers, founded half a millennium ago by the soldier-turned-mystic Ignatius Loyola. But most people call us "the Jesuits."

In the vision of our founder, we seek to "find God in all things." We dedicate ourselves to the "greater glory of God" and the good of all humanity. And we do so gratefully in collaboration with others who share our values, including lay persons. They have become part of the "we," the extended Jesuit family.

Today more than 16,740 Jesuits work in 112 countries in six continents, with the aim of moulding, with God's grace, men and women for others. They see themselves as 'converted sinners' or 'wounded healers' and understand their mission in the world as 'service of faith and promotion of justice.' We are pastors, teachers, and chaplains. We are also doctors, lawyers, and astronomers, among many other roles in Church and society. In our varied ministries, we care for the whole person: body, mind, and soul. And especially in our education ministries, we seek to nurture "men and women for others."

Jesuits draw on the rich tradition of Ignatian spirituality and reflection. In our retreat centers, parishes, campus ministries, and other settings, we offer these resources to all who want to discern God's presence in their lives. At the same time, we also aim to be "contemplatives in action," people who bring this spirituality into the wide world. That includes our work on behalf of global justice, peace, and dialogue.

For easy administration Jesuits worldwide are divided into regions or what they call Assistancies. India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan come under the South Asian Assistancy, currently the largest in the world, with nearly 21 per cent of the world's Jesuits working here. It is led by the Provincial of South Asia or POSA, who has his office in New Delhi. Fr George Pattery, SJ is the present POSA.

Jesuits in Kerala

An outline of early history

Jesuit presence in Kerala dates back to the times of St. Francis Xavier, the first disciple of St. Ignatius and one of the pioneers of the Society of Jesus. Since then, umpteen Jesuits have served in Kerala. In 1577 a Jesuit house was founded at Vaipikota near Cochin. Later this house was developed into a full-fledged seminary at par with similar institutions in Europe. Subjects like philosophy, theology and Latin were taught here.

Till 1601 the Society had only one Province in India, namely Goa. But in 1601, Malabar vice-province was established to organize the works of Jesuits in South India. Its headquarters was in Cochin. At that time Jesuits had houses in Cochin, Vaipikota, Cranganore, Calicut and Quilon.

In 1601, Kerala Church came under Jesuit Jurisdiction with the consecration of Fr. Don Francis Roz, S.J. He was the first Latin Bishop of the Thomas Christians. In 1606, there was a Jesuit house and a church at Tanur near Calicut. According to a catalogue, there were four Fathers working in three residences of Calicut, Tanur and Ponnani in the year 1612. Another important venture of the early Jesuits of Kerala was the College of Ambazhakad near Angamaly, started in 1662. Eminent scholars like Arnos Padiri, Constanzo Beschi (Tamil Scholar), St. John de Britto, and Stephen Joseph Bremer stayed in this college. It was destroyed during Tippu Sultan’s Malabar raid. Thus the 16th and 17th centuries witnessed very vibrant and dynamic Jesuit presence in Kerala. But that chapter of history comes to a close with the suppression of Jesuits all over the world in 1773. They were expelled from the Portuguese dominions even before 1760. With this, almost all the Jesuit institutions were closed down. Suppression put an end to the flourishing Jesuit missions and ventures.

But with the grace of God, the Society was restored in 1814. With the restoration, another phase of the Society of Jesus began all over the world. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the restored Society in Kerala is the diocese of Calicut. The first three bishops of the diocese were Jesuits.

Independent Kerala province

The independent Kerala vice-province was formed in the year 1960. Fr. Joseph Edamaram SJ was the first Provincial of the new born Kerala province. The Province owes a lot to him for what it is today. Most of the Jesuit institutions and centres were started by him. His leadership was unparalleled and pioneering.

Fr. George Mutholil is the present Provincial.. At present there are about 200 Jesuits in the Province.

Kerala Jesuits are involved in apostolic activities like education, youth apostolate, media apostolate, parish ministry, social work, tribal initiatives, etc. TUDI (Tribal Unity for Developmental Initiatives) in Wynad and AADI ,(Attapadi Adivasi Development Initiatives) in Attapadi , SAMSKRIT ILLAM, PRASANTHI, Counselling centre Pachilakkad, proposed PEACE Institute and JECI ( Jesuit Collaboration Initiatives) are notable Jesuit initiatives. In Kerala, Jesuits run two colleges, seven schools and two ITCs and a centre for differently abled children. In the 1980s Jesuits gave bold leadership for the Fisherman’s Struggles. Counseling programmes, youth camps, retreats and spoken English courses given by the Kerala Jesuits are much appreciated.

Some great Jesuits who worked in Kerala

Fr. Johann Earnst Hanxleden, (1681-1732) popularly known as Arnos Padiri was an eminent Jesuit who worked in Kerala. He was a poet, scholar and a linguist. He composed a Malayalam- Portuguese and a Malayalam –Sanskrit dictionary. He also authored Malayalam-Portuguese and a Sanskrit grammar book. His major poetical works are ‘Puthen Pana’, ‘Umma Parvan’, and ‘Ummade Dhukham’.

Fr. S. Kappen was an original thinker and author of socio religious treatises and books. His works are widely discussed in the intellectual circles of Kerala.

Fr. Peter Caironi (1904-1966) blazed the trail of social reforms among the Dalits of Northern Malabar. He worked relentlessly at the grassroots level for the uplift of the poor and down-trodden.

Fr. L M Zucol, residing near Pariyaram, Kannur received the torch of missionary spirit from Fr. Caironi and has done wonderful work for the poor. The fact that he has built more than 8000 houses for the poor is a proof of his missionary zeal.
Originally Composed by Fr.John Francis SJ

The Jesuit Formation

One of the favorite meditations we use is to let a person imagine himself /herself as a sculpture – a masterpiece by the Master Sculptor, shaped moment by moment, a work in progress. Yes, every person is a sculpture in the hands of the Creator…

Formation is a participation in this work in progress. Each formator is God’s co-sculptor in the shaping of His unique masterpiece. Family life may be likened to the kind of sculpture called “modeling.” “Like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in my hands,” says Yahweh. As flexible as clay or wax is in the hands of the potter or the sculptor, so are we in the hands of God through our parents. At young adulthood, we move on to choose the particular pathway of our life commitment. But God does not cease His shaping and re-shaping of our person.

Formation is a participation in this work in progress. Each formator is God’s co-sculptor in the shaping of His unique masterpiece. Family life may be likened to the kind of sculpture called “modeling.” “Like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in my hands,” says Yahweh. As flexible as clay or wax is in the hands of the potter or the sculptor, so are we in the hands of God through our parents. At young adulthood, we move on to choose the particular pathway of our life commitment. But God does not cease His shaping and re-shaping of our person.

Formation work in religious life participates in a later stage in the Creator’s work in progress. Such a formation may be likened more to another kind of sculpting called “carving.” Whereas modeling permits addition as well as subtraction of the material and is highly flexible, carving is strictly limited by the original block. The person who enters the process of Jesuit formation is still a work in progress – but has formed characteristics, taken from both nature and nurture, each with a peculiar temperament and personality – uniquely sculpted through his life story. The process of Jesuit formation will find God chiseling through each formand a masterpiece – slowly bringing out the grain, and a quality work of art. There are three stages of carving called “Jesuit formation.”


The two years of Jesuit novitiate may be likened to carving out the “bold chiseling strokes.” In this initial stage of carving, formation adopts a psycho-spiritual approach. This aims to bring about an initial understanding of the formand’s personality and his motivation for entering Jesuit religious life. A thirty-day retreat on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius allows the new Jesuit to enter into the basic paradigm of Jesuit life. Different month-long exposures – or “trials” – in apostolic life are undergone (e.g., mission, hospital, urban poor, factory) which challenge him to integrate his own religious ideals with actual life experience. At the end of this two-year period, the Jesuit novice is evaluated as to whether he is fit for a Jesuit lifestyle. If he is deemed ready and fit, he makes his first vows.


Jesuit Juniorate and Philosophy years attempt to chisel the formand more finely. The stress of a year of Juniorate formation is towards greater socialization – exposing the formand more and more to the interactions of community life visà-vis the rigors of university studies and continuing apostolic endeavors. Interpersonal skills are stressed. Communication subjects are taken – stressing proficiency in both English and mother tounge – chiseling them to greater sensitivity through literature and the other arts.
Two years of philosophy studies follow. What is significant in these years is the development of critical thinking, or the ability to question his basic presuppositions of thinking. This equips the philosopher with a way of understanding his own choices in life. What is important is an examined, reflected life. These years aim to challenge the formand to move beyond a conformist paradigm, hopefully liberating him from his myopic ways of thinking through a process of deeper, critical self-awareness.


At regency, the sculptor takes a back step to scrutinize His masterpiece in process. The two years of regency are usually spent teaching in particular Jesuit schools, although some regents are sent to peculiar assignments according to need. Regency is an entry into the regular rhythm of Jesuit life. Here he has to learn how to deal with everyday stresses of living – this time in peer relationship with his fellow Jesuits. He enters into this regular rhythm while attending to his regular apostolic assignment – usually dealing with students and faculty, and being involved in outreach programs. Regency aims to help the regent learn how to integrate contemplation and action, and come as close as possible to the Ignatian ideal of ‘contemplatives in action’. At the end of regency he is assessed as to whether he is ready for theological formation. For those who are judged not yet ready, another year of regency awaits them. Some may decide to leave Jesuit life.


Through four years immediately preceding ordination, the Master Sculptor carves through his finishing touches. Central to these four years is the academic theological formation. Aside from this, however, the theologian is evaluated in terms of stability of personality, clarity of vocation, and the richness of his spiritual life. What is most important in this stage of formation are the answers to the following questions: Will the individual be apostolically effective? Are there still unresolved personal issues that hinder apostolic effectiveness? Can the formand deeply appreciate his God-given gifts, and the way God has slowly molded and carved his personality through all his years of formation? These questions have to be attended to – and sufficiently answered – before ordination. At the end of the four years of theology is a final evaluation. All the years of formation In the spirit of ‘contemplatio ad amorem’, contemplating to attain greater love, the whole formation program of the Society of Jesus is a learning to love. At the end of the long stages of Jesuit formation, at ordination time, the new Jesuit priest asks himself: Can he now be a work of art His Creator can hold proudly in His hands – bearing the Standard of Christ in poverty of spirit, detached from a life of honor and applause, begging to decrease as the God he proclaims with his life increases, walking ever humbly before his God? Truly, the work of formation never ceases.

Stages in Jesuit Formation

1.Pre-Novitiate (0 to 2 years) – exposure to Jesuit community and apostolic life
2.Novitiate (2 years)– Spiritual Exercises, experiments and “trials“
3.Juniorate (1 year)– Studies in Humanities and Communication
4.Philosophy (2 years)– Studies in Philosophy
5.Regency (2 years)– Teaching assignment,Living in an Apostolic community
6.Theology (4 years)– Studies in Theology,Preparation for Ordination
7.Ordination - Priestly Ministry

Challenges to our mission today:
Sent to the frontiers

In this new world of instant communication and digital technology , of worldwide markets , and of universal aspiration for peace and well being ,we are faced with growing tensions and paradoxes,We live in a culture that shows partiality to autonomy and the present and yet we have a world so much in need of building a future in solidarity .we have better means of communication but often experience isolation and exclusion.some have greatly benefited ,while others have been marginalized and excluded .our world is increasingly transnational and yet it needs to affirm and protect local and particular identities.scientific knowledge has reached the deepest mysteries of life and yet the very dignity of life itself and the world we live in are threatened.

In this global world marked by such profound changes we want to deepen our understanding of the call to serve faith, promote justice and dialogue with culture and other religions in the light of the apostolic mandate to establish right relationships with God, with one another, and with creation

[35 th General Congregation Society of Jesus, 2008, Decree 3]



A new society in Kerala which is rooted in God, characterized by equality, freedom, love, justice, peace and joy and which lives in communion with the cosmos


Drawing inspiration from Jesus Christ and led by the Ignatian legacy, we, Kerala Jesuits, commit ourselves to building such a society through our involvements in the spiritual , intellectual, social, pastoral, educational, psychological, ecological and cultural dimensions of human existence.

Core Values:

Magis (Excellence)
Social Justice
Ecclesial sensitivity
Inter-religious perspective
Multi-cultural sensitivity

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