I would like to begin by asking a question: What do we mean by “A Jesuit School”? Surely, it is one of the many schools run by the Jesuits or members of the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious Order of men which was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyala, in Rome, in the year 1540. This Order, today runs a number of reputed educational institutes in India and over 120 countries all over the world. In India, the Jesuits run about 120 schools, 20 colleges, several technical institutes and a couple of management institutes like XLRI in Jamshedpur and XIM in Bhubhaneshwar. St. Xavier’s High School, Dhobi Talao, too is run by the same group of religious men.
All these institutes are inspired by the vision of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who, through a number of spiritual experiences arrived at the firm conviction that “all things come from God, and all things are destined to go back to God and all things are in God”. Hence, his motto and that of the Society he founded is, “ad majorem Dei gloriam” (all for the greater glory of God or A.M.D.G.). It is, therefore, expected that a Jesuit School will orient all its programmes to instill in its pupils this sublime motto. God must come first in their lives and not wealth, position and power.
Another major source of inspiration in the life of Ignatius was the person of Jesus Christ. A Jesuit School, therefore, must strive to communicate to its pupils the vision of a man based upon the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, whom Mahatma Gandhi referred to as the “greatest teacher mankind has ever known”. Jesus Christ proclaimed the supreme dignity of the human person as a “child of God” or “an image and likeness of God” and gave his life to uphold this truth. He once said of himself, “The Son of Man himself came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”. He even washed the feet of his own disciples at his Last Supper with them to teach them how they also “ought to wash the feet of one another”. Thus, students in a Jesuit School must be taught to respect every human being, without discrimination of any kind, on the basis of race, religion, caste, language or culture. The various subjects taught and activities organized must be geared to inculcate a spirit of selfless service to humanity – the kind proposed also by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
Today, while we do our best to make our pupils professionally competent and well-versed in the latest technologies, we cannot forget that these efforts are to be subordinated to and oriented, always, towards the higher values of Service of God and Service of humanity, with true humility, deep commitment, and compassion for all God’s creatures on Planet Earth and in the Universe – the real hallmarks of Jesuit Education.
– Dr. (Fr.) Francis Swamy S.J.