30 JulWhy “LOYOLA” Jesuit Secondary School?
So the name of the new school in Kasungu is “LOYOLA Jesuit Secondary School.” OK, but who is this “Loyola” whose name appears first? And why use his name?
For those of you who are faithful readers of our LJSS website, and who know something about the Jesuits who are building LJSS, you may not need to be prompted to answer the question, “Who is this Loyola person after whom our new school gets named.” Others, however, may not know much or anything at all about this Loyola person….
But for all of us, especially as we commemorate this coming 31 July the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, a few words would be appropriate about this great man and his contribution to education around the world.
Ignatius Loyola was a Spanish nobleman and soldier who lived and died between 1491 and 1556. After suffering a battle injury, he experienced a profound spiritual conversion while recuperating. Drawn now to seek serving Christ as his leader, he shared his experiences with others through what came to be known as the “Spiritual Exercises.” This attracted a group of fellow seekers who eventually formed in 1540 a “companionship” that grew to become the Society of Jesus or Jesuit Order of religious priests and brothers.
From the start, education was central to the Jesuit mission of promoting faith and development. While based in Rome, Ignatius Loyola sent Jesuits throughout Europe and into Asia. Schools were set up to teach youth not only religious lessons but also the basics of human learning. But from the start, the education was geared not only to benefit the individual but also to help the individual benefit the wider society.
Over the past four hundred years, Jesuits and their colleagues have established thousands of schools, offering good education from primary classes through graduate courses.
We Jesuits of the Zambia-Malawi Province early established schools in the areas we worked. Charles Lwanga College (a tertiary teacher training institution) and Canisius High School are located in the southern province of Zambia; Leopard’s Hill Jesuit Secondary School is in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. In the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi, nearly five thousand refugee youth attend schools set up by the Jesuit Refugee Service.
And when we decided to open a school in Kasungu, Malawi, we happily decided to clearly identify it in the Jesuit tradition by naming it “LOYOLA Jesuit Secondary School.”
So, as we celebrate the 31st of July Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, we are especially inspired to remember Loyola and his vision of education!