SAN DIEGO — The Society of Jesus is the largest men’s religious order in the world, with around 16,000 priests and brothers, many of whom work in education.
The Society was founded in the 16th century by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a soldier who had a profound religious transformation after being wounded and became a priest and theologian. The Jesuits became a leading force in modernizing the Church.
In the San Diego region, the Jesuits have served at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Barrio Logan for 81 years. Three minister the Hispanic congregation, including Father Martin Silva, SJ, its pastor. A fourth serves as the principal of Our Lady’s School.
They are part of the 12-member Jesuit contingent who work within the diocese. They are led by Father Joaquin Martinez, SJ, president of Mater Dei Catholic High School.
The others include two Jesuits who serve in the Newman Center at UC San Diego, and Father Kevin Casey, SJ, a long-time priest in the diocese who currently serves as St. Mark’s Parish. Two Society members work in diocesan administration, Father Eduardo Samaniego, SJ, the director of the Permanent Diaconate; and Father Michael Ravenkamp, SJ, who works in the Tribunal.
“The central character of the Society is availability for mission, whatever we are asked to do, that is our mission,” Father Martinez explained.
In 2019, the Society announced four new core preferences that would guide its mission for the next 10 years: To show the way to God through spiritual exercises; to journey with youth, to walk with the excluded; and to care of our common home.
Pope Francis approved them. After all, he is the first Jesuit pope.
Society of Jesus
Founded: 1540 in France
Active in the San Diego region: 81 years
San Diego leader: Rev. Joaquin Martinez, SJ
Phone: (503) 226-6977
Vocation information: beajesuit.org, Jesuit Vocations (YouTube)