“What is a Jesuit high school?”
Canisius High School is different. As a Jesuit school, we focus not only on academic excellence but even more so on care for the whole person – mind, body, spirit and soul. From the classroom to the fields and from the chapel to nearby communities, a Jesuit high school is called to form students into intellectually competent, loving, healthy, mature and faithful young adults.
Many people have heard of Jesuit education because of our widespread and global presence with over 400 educational institutions worldwide; yet, many people still ask that great question, “what is a Jesuit high school?”
We continue to ask the same question ourselves! On one hand, a Jesuit high school is simply an institution of secondary education founded by the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious order whose members are known as “Jesuits”, and as such a Jesuit school is always Catholic. But, Catholic schools aren’t always Jesuit. On the other hand, the heart of Jesuit education is the mission of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, who, as a medieval disciple of Jesus, sought the greater glory of God in all things – and thus, how this mission is lived out, and what Jesuit identity is, is constantly changing, growing and deepening.
Jesuit education is inspired by the person of Jesus, whose way of proceeding guides our vision. With Jesus, Jesuit schools strive to build communities of faith, form deep critical thinkers, and mold individuals committed to social justice and mercy. Jesuit contemplation of the person of Jesus in the Scriptures grounds our pedagogical model: As Jesus looks with mercy upon the whole person, seeks God the Father in all things, and inspires those who feel outcast to recognize the Holy Spirit in them welcoming them into community, we too strive to follow this example. Jesus educates his followers and all people of good will in the way of knowledge, peace, and goodness. We too further that educational mission.
That said, students do not have to be Catholic, or Christian, to attend a Jesuit school. Students of all faith and beliefs, or those who come from none at all, find value in our commitment to intellectual exchange, social responsibility and call to build communities of servant-leaders. Guided by the vision of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, Canisius is inclusive of, and grateful for, students and faculty of all backgrounds; at Canisius, there is much joy in experiencing relationships of mutual respect and learning together within the diverse community.
At the core of being a Jesuit school is the mission to awaken each member of the community to the presence of God in one’s own life, wherever the good and gracious God may be found: in the classroom, on the courts, within liturgies, and – most of all – in our students and their interior lives.
The following are characteristics of a Jesuit education:
- Magis: Literally translated “the more.” This is the challenge to strive for excellence.
- Women & Men for and with Others: Sharing gifts, pursuing justice, and having concern for the poor and marginalized.
- Cura Personalis: “Care for the individual person.” Respecting each person as a child of God and all of God’s creations.
- Unity of Heart, Mind, & Soul: Developing the whole person. Integrating all aspects of our lives.
- Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG): “For the Greater Glory of God.”
- Forming & Educating Agents of Change: Teaching behaviors that reflect critical thought and responsible action on moral and ethical issues.
Canisius High School is rooted in the Jesuit tradition of education established nearly 500 years ago by St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Canisius is part of a network of nearly 60 Jesuit high schools and 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. As a Jesuit school, we encourage students to be guided by principles of ethical living, service to others, the search for truth, and a passion for justice.
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