Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus. Currently, almost 17,000 men serve as priests and brothers in ministries around the world.
The Society of Jesus is the largest men's religious order in the Roman Catholic Church. The Society is especially available for missions from the Pope.
Jesuit formation aims to develop the potential of the whole person - body, mind and spirit - for the universal mission of the Society and at the service of the Church. Hence the formation program spends long periods of time in prayer, spirituality, personal development, intellectual development, cultural and media sensitivity, insertion in the developing world, leading to an availability for the Jesuit mission whose scope extends to all of the academic, cultural and spiritual disciplines throughout the entire world. Ideally, a formed Jesuit is available to be sent on any mission, and the length of formation is to prepare this flexibility.
Jesuits can choose to be priests or brothers. Both groups of men take the same vows and live and pray in a religious community. Priests are ordained and administer the Sacraments and celebrate Mass. Although brothers do not feel called to the life of a priest, they participate fully in the work of the Society of Jesus, whose mission is "the service of faith and the promotion of justice."
Pastors of Catholic parishes can be diocesan priests or members of religious orders such as the Jesuits. All parishes are part of the local diocesan system, and from time to time archbishops or bishops invite Jesuits to staff parishes and other ministries where they believe our talents can foster growth and community.
Roman Catholic parishes are always part of a local diocese, but pastors can be either diocesan or religious priests. Diocesan priests make promises of chastity and obedience; they are under the authority of bishops. Religious belong to communities, such as the Society of Jesus, which are typically guided by a particular mission or spiritual tradition. Religious priests, including Jesuits, take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; they are under the authority of their local superior and provincial. Jesuits take an additional vow of obedience to the Pope, placing themselves at his disposal.
Jesuit provincials are appointed by the Superior General in Rome to serve six-year terms. Provincials oversee geographic units called provinces. There are two Jesuit Provinces in Canada – The Province of the Jesuits in English Canada and the Province of French Canada – each with its own Provincial.