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
Eyes to See: An Anti-Racism Examen
The Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities released a comprehensive and interconnected set of materials to help schools as they discern and plan the concrete steps toward becoming more anti-racist colleges and universities. Includes a video composition of place, a leader’s guide and supplemental materials for guiding groups through the Examen process, and online resources for racial justice.
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 27 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
USA Midwest Province
USA Central-Southern Province
USA Northeast Province
USA West Province
Colleges and Universities
Jesuits of Canada
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.
In addition to working to advance social justice with national Jesuit ministries, different provinces work to help with local needs and issues.
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.
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.
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.
Ignatian Volunteer Corps New England
Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) expanded to New England in 2009.
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.
Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training, and education.
Santa Clara University
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.