As 31 July draws close, Jesuits around the world will be especially focusing on our founder, St. Ignatius Loyola. And we Jesuits associated with the new Loyola Jesuit Secondary School in Kasungu, Malawi, are very happy that our school bears the name of our founder!

From the first years of the Society of Jesus, over 475 years ago, we Jesuits have been associated with education of young people.  And so in Malawi, when we welcome 144 young boys and girls boarders into Form One (Grade Nine) of LJSS, it will be with great joy in keeping alive a wonderful tradition.  But it is a living tradition that must be responsive to the challenges and opportunities of today.

Ignatius emphasized “finding God in all things” – and we will try to assist our LJSS “learners” (the wonderful phrase used in Malawi for secondary pupils!) to do just that.  By opening eyes and ears, by strengthening hearts and hands, all of us with LJSS will work to form “women and men with and for others” who find God in the deeds of love, faith, peace and justice that can really make a difference in our contemporary and wonderful Malawi.

Our LJSS website loyola-malawi.org  blog of 30 July 2014 told the story of St. Ignatius and the early Jesuit involvement with education of youth.  It’s a story worth telling again – so here it is, ready for our 2015 commemoration of someone we can really call the “original founder” of Loyola Jesuit Secondary School.

Why “Loyola” in the name of our New 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

St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)

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!

Please help us keep alive the Loyola tradition in LJSS but your prayers.  And your financial support will mean much to us as we construct and equip our school and provide scholarship assistance to needy students.  Please consider going to “Support Us” – thank you!

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