Social justice is an area of concern for those interested in Ignatian spirituality. The early Jesuits often described their work as simply “helping souls.” The great Jesuit leader Pedro Arrupe updated this idea in the 20th century by calling those formed in Ignatian spirituality “men and women for others.” Both phrases express a deep commitment to social justice and a radical giving of oneself to others. Many organizations and colleges informed by Ignatian spirituality offer opportunities to work for social justice in the world today. Here we highlight some of the social justice work being done by Jesuits and their friends.
Experiences in Ignatian Ministry
Social Ministries Reflection (PDF)
By Suzanne Geaney
A laywoman describes her experiences in Ignatian social ministry. The author is the executive director of the Ignatian Lay Volunteer Corps.
By Gregory Boyle, SJ
A touching, heartbreaking story about a member of a street gang in East L.A. The author is the founder of Homeboy Industries, an outreach to gangs.
They Come Back Singing Excerpts
By Gary Smith, SJ
Read several chapters of Fr. Gary Smith’s powerful book chronicling his experiences with Sudanese refugees in Uganda.
Radical Compassion Excerpts
By Gary Smith, SJ
Read excerpts from Fr. Gary Smith’s journal of his years serving the poor in Portland, Oregon.
To Serve, to Accompany, to Defend
By Louise Zanre
The Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK describes the life of refugees in limbo as they await decisions concerning their admittance into the UK. Most live in a shadow land of detention, with no income or jobs, in need of the basics of life. The JRS does its best to provide some essentials, as well as a listening ear and compassionate concern for the individuals involved.
Accompaniment and Welcome: The Jesuit Refugee Service and its Pastoral Role (PDF)
By Mark Raper, SJ
The article describes the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) as becoming listening companions to those they serve.
Social Justice Journal: Promotio Iustitiae
Promotio Iustitiae, the online social justice journal from the Jesuit headquarters in Rome, has a series of articles and experiences from Jesuits and their partners about working together for justice.
Al Fritsch, SJ, writes daily reflections on ecological issues. The site calls attention to dangers to the environment in Appalachia and nationwide.
Why Are the Jesuits Involved in Social Justice Work?
Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)
By Jim Campbell
As the Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965-1983, Fr. Arrupe led the Jesuits to make a commitment to addressing the needs of the poor.
The Promotion of Justice
The site offers links to the texts of critical documents to help understand the Jesuit and Catholic tradition of the service of faith and the promotion of justice. Includes the decrees of several General Congregations of the Society of Jesus and Arrupe’s Men for Others speech.
Social Justice Activism as Religious Experience: The Transformation of the Jesuits
By Peter Bisson, SJ
Reviews the recent history of the Jesuit commitment to social justice. This commitment articulated in GC 31 and GC 32 has led to a new awareness of mission not as filling empty secular spaces with God, but as a response to the presence of God that is already there, most notably in the poor and marginalized.
Social Commitment and Ignatian Spirituality (PDF)
By Jean Ilboudo, SJ
Jean Ilboudo, General Assistant SJ – Africa, challenges Jesuits to discover that, “A community of insertion, a commitment with the poorest, can be for the companions of a Province a place of true conversion, the discovery of a call to follow Christ, and to follow Christ in poverty”¦ It is important for the Society of Jesus that some of the members of the Body choose to share the condition of the poor and the excluded.”
Features justice initiatives at the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Includes syllabi of courses, Ignatian spirituality resources, research, and publications of interest.
Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice
The Jesuit Forum offers open space for people of goodwill to meet, build relationships, and create communities of solidarity. Its goal is to counteract the growing privatization of faith. The groups within the forum are called to develop a process of communal discernment of social issues and create possibilities for change.
National Jesuit and Ignatian Social Ministries
New England Province
New Orleans Province
New York Province
Colleges and Universities
Jesuit Refugee Service International
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) serves, accompanies, and defends the rights of refugees held in detention. JRS staff around the world visit people who have been deprived of their liberty simply for entering or remaining in a country or moving without authorization. JRS is concerned about the inadequate conditions in which refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants are being held in detention and their lack of access to proper procedures.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (JRS/USA) witnesses to the reality that God is present in human history, even in the most tragic experiences of persons driven from their homes by conflict, natural disaster, economic injustice, or violation of other human rights.
Ignatian Solidarity Network
The Ignatian Solidarity Network facilitates and enhances the effectiveness of existing social justice and advocacy efforts that are currently present in Jesuit-affiliated high schools, universities and colleges, parishes, retreat centers, independent organizations, and lay individuals across the nation.
Center of Concern
The Center of Concern is a faith-based organization working in collaboration with ecumenical and interfaith networks to bring a prophetic voice for social and economic justice to a global context.
Ignatian Volunteer Corps
The Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) provides men and women, aged 50 and greater, opportunities to serve others, to address social injustice, and to transform lives. IVC matches the talents of capable volunteers with the greatest social needs of our time.
Jesuit Volunteer Corps
The Jesuit Volunteer Corps is a national and international program operated by five regional offices. Thus local JVC staff can continue to understand community needs, retain regional ties, and provide strong personal and programmatic support to the volunteers. Jesuit Volunteers make a commitment to serve where the need is greatest, to work with people who are marginalized by society, and to live in apostolic community with other Jesuit Volunteers.
National Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility
The primary purpose of the National Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility (NJCIR) is to advocate for and effect change in corporate behavior by coordinating shareholder advocacy initiatives at both the province and national levels.
Ignatian Social Ministries Database
“Iggy” (short for the Ignatian Social Ministry Database) was developed by Dr. Chris Huntley of Fairfield University and is hosted by the Jesuit Conference in Washington, D.C. It provides a listing of Jesuit and Ignatian-inspired social ministries in the United States.
In addition to working to advance social justice with national Jesuit ministries, different provinces work to help with local needs and issues.
Jesuit Volunteer Corps Southwest
The Jesuit Volunteer Corps works with other social service organizations to serve people who have the greatest need, especially those whose needs society often ignores.
Jesuit Refugee Service/Southwest Kino Border Initiative
The Kino Border Initiative “is the culmination of a three-year process of reflection, discernment and conversations along the Arizona-Mexico border about the reality of migration and the most urgent needs with respect to migration in general and for our Church in particular,” says Fr. Sean Carroll, SJ, of the California Province, Executive Director of the KBI.
Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training, and education.
Poder Learning Center
Since 1997, Poder Learning Center has responded to the educational needs of immigrants in the primarily Latino areas of Pilsen/Little Village and Back of the Yards, on Chicago’s southwest side. In less than 10 years, 4,500 students have attended tuition-free classes through Poder. But with 20,000 new immigrants arriving annually, the need for Poder’s services has never been greater.
Ignatian Spirituality Project
A remarkable Chicago-based Jesuit ministry which offers retreats to those who are homeless and seeking recovery, to help them find meaning and purpose as they reclaim their lives. The Ignatian Spirituality Project also trains the formerly homeless to assist in giving retreats.
Jesuit Volunteer Corps Midwest
Jesuit Volunteers in the Midwest work and live in inner-city environments, serving populations where the issues of poverty, hunger, homelessness, racism, drugs, abuse, unemployment, and lack of housing and quality education are prevalent.
Ignatian Volunteer Corps St. Louis
Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) St. Louis positions volunteers in grade schools, prison ministry, and in legislative advocacy on behalf of the poor.
Ignatian Volunteer Corps New England
Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) expanded to New England in 2009.
Jesuit Volunteer Corps East
Jesuit Volunteer Corps serving in the East work and live in inner-city environments from North Carolina up to Maine with people from a wide range of ethnic and racial backgrounds. Poverty, homelessness, racism, addiction, abuse, unemployment, and lack of housing and quality education are prevalent.
Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice
The Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice seeks to shape social justice consciousness through education, and to take action on critical social problems confronting society. The Twomey Center acts as a catalyst for research and action on critical issues of workers’ rights, racism, poverty, and justice.
Jesuit Social Research Institute
The Jesuit Social Research Institute (JSRI) exists to promote research, social analysis, theological reflection, and practical strategies for improving the social and economic conditions in the southern United States and in select parts of the Caribbean and Latin America, with a particular focus on issues of race, poverty, and migration.
Centro Altagracia de Fe y Justicia
The Centro Altagracia de Fe y Justicia is dedicated to putting faith into action, promoting social justice, through dynamic collaborations and needs-based initiatives, in service to the communities of Washington Heights and Inwood (New York).
Oregon Province Social Ministries
The Society of Jesus undertakes specific social ministries, like the establishment of interdisciplinary institutes for research, criticism, discernment, and public advocacy, and specific initiatives aimed at defending human rights, struggling for economic justice, alleviating need, protecting the environment, and building peace.
Native American Ministries
Northwest Jesuits currently work with Native American people on reservations in many parts of the Northwest and the Yup’ik and Cup’ik populations of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska.
Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center
The Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center promotes just structures in the church and in the world. IPJC is sponsored by 16 religious communities, including the Oregon Province Jesuits, and collaborates with Catholic, ecumenical, interfaith and other organizations in carrying out this mission.
Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest
Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest connects women and men with one or more years of volunteer service that focus on the core values of community, spirituality, simple living, and social and ecological justice. JVC Northwest provides opportunities for young, motivated individuals to reach out to persons living on the margins of society and vulnerable places throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Wisconsin Province Ignatian Associates
Ignatian Associates are Catholic adults, married and single. Their spiritual formation is rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Following a two-year formation program, Ignatian Associates may accept an invitation to make public “Promises” of Simplicity of Life, Fidelity to the Gospel and to our Associate and Jesuit Companions, and Apostolic Availability.
Red Cloud Volunteers
Red Cloud offers volunteers a unique opportunity to work amid the Oglala Lakota, in some of the poorest counties of the United States. Red Cloud Indian School strives to provide an education that is a key requirement for a better future.
The Appalachia Volunteers Program is committed to working with the poverty stricken populous of the United States.
The 4 Boston program is committed to weekly community service promoting spirituality, community, and social justice.
Ignatian Family Teach-In and School of the Americas Vigil
The Ignatian Family Teach-In is an annual gathering that serves both to honor the Jesuits and other martyrs in El Salvador and to protest the activities of the U.S. military and government in the region.
In Boston College’s Urban Immersion program students engage in direct service with impoverished people, study some of the many issues confronting city-dwellers, and form a community of prayer and hope.
Community Service at Canisius College
Canisius College Campus Ministry offers a variety of ways to become engaged in the pursuit of justice.
Creighton Center for Service and Justice
The Creighton Center for Service and Justice seeks to spark passion for truth and justice and nourish courage and lives of commitment.
Creighton University Justice and Advocacy Action Alerts
The Creighton Center for Service and Justice provides student alerts and links on issues of peace, poverty and economic justice, immigration and refugees, and humanitarian relief agencies.
Fairfield University Service and Social Justice Groups
Social justice opportunities at Fairfield University include advocating for issues and participation in the Ignatian Family Teach-In/Vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia. Students also have the opportunity to volunteer at local soup kitchens, Best Buddies, or spring break service experiences.
Annual Hunger Clean-Up
For over 25 years, Hunger Cleanup has been a Fairfield tradition. 500 students, faculty, staff, and alumni join together to volunteer for a one-day serve-a-thon at 40-plus local agency sites in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Norwalk, and Stamford.
Fordham University Global Outreach teams are challenged to embrace and incorporate the program’s four pillars of community, spirituality, simple living/cultural immersion, and social justice, while fostering an ongoing commitment that embodies these values in the university, local, and global communities.
Center for Social Justice
In order to advance justice and the common good, the Center for Social Justice promotes and integrates community-based research, teaching, and service by collaborating with diverse partners and communities.
Center for Intercultural Education and Development
The Center for Intercultural Education and Development’s goals are to empower people, promote greater mutual understanding, strengthen democratic values, and support sustainable development.
Center for Peace and Security Studies
The Center for Peace and Security Studies is dedicated to examining the full range of political, economic, historical, cultural, and technological factors that influence global peace and security.
Georgetown Law Center Clinical Program
The mission of the Georgetown Law Center Clinical Program is to educate students in the practical art of lawyering while providing quality legal representation to under-represented individuals and organizations.
Pro Bono and Community Service Programs
Georgetown Pro Bono and Community Service Programs are dedicated to the principle that members of the legal profession and those aspiring to enter the legal profession have a professional obligation to assist in providing quality legal services to individuals, groups, or causes that are under-represented in the legal system.
Holy Cross College
Student Coalition on Homelessness and Housing
The Student Coalition on Homelessness and Housing (SCOHAH) is responsible for educating the Holy Cross College campus about hunger and poverty, advocating for the poor, and working directly through local housing groups and shelters to create affordable housing and end hunger and homelessness.
John Carroll University
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. (Jesuit University Students Together in Concerned Empowerment) strives to achieve sustaining social change through its experiences with and for others.
Le Moyne College
Le Moyne College Campus Ministry
Le Moyne College Campus Ministry offers a number of opportunities for students to participate in social justice activities including Ignatian House, Habitat for Humanity, the Ignatian Family Weekend, and Alternative Break Programs.
Loyola College in Maryland
The Jamaican Experience allows participants to learn about the lives of and to be in solidarity with people who have been socially, economically, and/or politically marginalized.
Center for Community Service and Justice
The Center for Community Service and Justice engages students and the broader Loyola College in Maryland community in education through service for a just and equitable world. The Center is committed to collaboration with community partners and to involvement with people who are marginalized, especially those who are materially poor.
Loyola Marymount University
Center for Service and Action
The mission of the Center for Service and Action is to educate and form men and women with and for others, especially with and for the disadvantaged and the oppressed. Through direct personal contact between students and the marginalized in service experiences, the Center for Service and Action fosters a solidarity with the poor that will lead to intellectual inquiry, moral reflection, and social action.
Human Rights Coalition
The Human Rights Coalition (HRC) is a group of Loyola Marymount University students that have united in their common concern for human rights all over the world.
Loyola University Chicago
The mission of Hunger Week at Loyola University Chicago is to cultivate compassion in the community by educating and raising funds while striving to stand in global solidarity with those who hunger.
Loyola4Chicago students work in service teams at various sites including work with children, teens, refugees, low-wage workers, and persons experiencing homelessness.
Loyola University New Orleans
Loyola University Community Action Program
Loyola University Community Action Program (LUCAP) volunteers serve in different ways, including feeding the homeless, tutoring learners of all ages, spending time with the elderly, attending protests, rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and sponsoring speakers and events for social justice.
The nature and dignity of the human person is today threatened on many sides. In the face of these threats to life, Loyola University New Orleans students, faculty, and staff come together for purposes of prayer, witness, and solidarity with the vulnerable.
Marquette University Campus Ministry—Service and Justice
Marquette University’s Service and Justice page has links for ministry and justice initiatives.
Social Justice Committee
The Regis University Social Justice Committee works to enhance the awareness of the student body regarding social justice issues both domestically and abroad.
Center for Service Learning
The Center for Service Learning at Rockhurst University helps students experience the service that is at the heart of Jesuit education. Through service we use the gifts we have developed and put them into action to transform the world.
Saint Louis University
College for Public Health and Social Justice
The college combines SLU’s programs in public health, health management, social work, emergency management, applied behavior analysis, and criminology and criminal justice. As the only accredited Catholic, Jesuit school of public health in the nation, they are committed to social justice and the Jesuit mission.
Doerr Center for Social Justice Education and Research
The Emmet J. and Mary Martha Doerr Center for Social Justice Education and Research is an independently funded center within the Saint Louis University School of Social Work that promotes long-range solutions to social problems through education and research.
Service Through the Saint Louis University Office of Community Outreach
The Saint Louis University Office of Community Outreach operates in the Ignatian paradigm to provide students, faculty, and staff a variety of service opportunities that develop individuals into lifelong learners while they serve the community as a response to their faith.
Saint Peter’s College
Service, Justice, and Leadership Opportunities at Saint Peter’s College
In cooperation with the Office of Community Service and Service Learning, Saint Peter’s College Campus Ministry organizes Global Outreach service projects, domestic and abroad. Past destinations have included Mexico, Appalachia, Washington D.C., and Haiti. Activities also include the Hunger Banquet and the Ignatian Family Teach-In at the School of Americas.
Santa Clara University
Arrupe Community Partnerships for Community-Based Learning
The Arrupe Partnerships for Community-Based Learning create opportunities, through community placements in Santa Clara County, for active engagement, research, and service oriented toward questions of social justice.
Center for Social Justice and Public Service
The Center for Social Justice and Public Service provides Santa Clara students with a legal education that instills a commitment to social justice, public interest, and public service.
Northern California Innocence Project
The Northern California Innocence Project works to create a more just and humane world through working to exonerate innocent prisoners and pursue legal reforms that address the causes and consequences of wrongful convictions.
Sustainability at Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is dedicated to improving environmental sustainability, to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Seattle University Campus Ministry
Seattle University Campus Ministry invites students to participate in social justice initiatives locally and nationwide, including the School of Americas Watch, Jesuit Refugee Services, and Global Exchange.
Soup with Substance
Soup with Substance gathers Seattle University students, faculty, and staff in a discussion about current social justice issues within the context of faith while sharing a simple meal of soup and bread.
Spring Hill College
Faith and Justice Formation
Faith and Justice Formation at Spring Hill College outlines a variety of ways students can participate in faith and justice activities, including March for Life, Mardi Gras Break Immersion trips to Belize and Guatemala, and participating in the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice at the School of the Americas Protest.
St. Joseph’s University
Service and Social Justice at Saint Joseph’s University
Many opportunities are available for Saint Joseph’s University students to get involved in service and social justice.
University of Detroit Mercy
Ignatian Family Teach-In
Each year a group of students and leaders travel to the School of the Americas Vigil / Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The Ignatian Family Teach-In (IFT) is an annual event marking the anniversary of the slain Jesuits and laywomen of El Salvador. During this gathering of the Ignatian family, participants reflect on our collective commitment to live “a faith that does justice” and rally around our Catholic call for peace.
Peace and Justice Floor
The Peace and Social Justice Floor is a unique place on the University of Detroit Mercy campus to learn and grow in a community devoted to encountering issues of peace and social justice.
University of San Francisco
University Ministry Community Action
University Ministry’s Community Action program collaborates with a variety of other Bay Area non-profit agencies to provide students with opportunities to serve in their local community.
The Arrupe Immersion Program provides students with the opportunity to experience different cultures and socioeconomic environments, to witness firsthand the challenges faced by marginalized communities and to begin asking difficult questions.
Justice Lecture Series
The Justice Lecture Series brings speakers who are actively committed to promoting social change to the University of San Francisco campus.
University of Scranton
Community Outreach Office
The University of Scranton Community Outreach Office allows students to meet, work with and develop relationships with people—other college student volunteers, community agency personnel, and the population they are serving.
International Service Programs
University of Scranton international service trips provide opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to be immersed in cultures and experiences in developing countries of our world.
Wheeling Jesuit University
The Service for Social Action Center
The Service for Social Action Center (SSAC) coordinates service and course-based service-learning activities for members of the Wheeling Jesuit University campus community.
Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning
The Eigel Center is a catalyst for Xavier University’s involvement in partnerships that advance learning and pursue social justice through practices of direct service, community building, and public policy advocacy.