As the only Jesuit high school in New Jersey, Prep is both proud of and inspired by its Ignatian identity.  From the classroom to the athletic field, from retreats to clubs, at band concerts and Model UN conferences, we strive to embody the spirituality and charism of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Society of Jesus in everything we do.

If you are interested in learning more about Jesuit education, the Society of Jesus in general, and how Prep fits into this 575-year-old tradition, you can find the answers to some of your questions below! Click or tap each question to reveal the answers.

Frequently (and Not-So-Frequently) Asked Questions about the Jesuits

For more information, please visit the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States at jesuits.org.

What is a Jesuit?

A Jesuit is a member of the Society of Jesus, a religious order founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in 1540.

What is the origin of the word Jesuit?

It is an anglicized version of the Latin Jesuita, a combination of the two Latin words: and Ita. This translates as “Yes, Jesus.”

Are there different kinds of Jesuits?

Yes. There are Jesuit priests, Jesuit brothers, and Jesuit scholastics:

  • A Jesuit priest is ordained for sacramental ministry after 12 to 15 years of training. Priests use the title “Father,” as in Fr. [Name], S.J.
  • A Jesuit brother (called “Brother [name]”) is not ordained; a brother’s apostolic work supports the overall mission of the community but does not include sacramental or priestly ministry. Brothers use the title “Brother,” as in Br. [Name], S.J.
  • A Jesuit scholastic is a seminarian still in the process of preparing to be a priest. As part of the training process leading to ordination, scholastics work in the field at various Jesuit ministries, including schools. Scholastics use the title “Mister,” as in Mr. [Name], S.J.

What does it mean when the Jesuits are referred to as “a religious order”?

 Members of a religious order take vows of perpetual poverty, chastity and obedience.

What does S.J. stand for?

It stands for “Society of Jesus.” You will typically see these initials appended to every Jesuit’s name.

Why were Jesuits called “Blackrobes?”

For many years, Jesuits traditionally wore a black robe called a cassock that was bound together at the waist by a cincture (belt), and this nickname refers to that appearance. Today, Jesuits usually wear a black shirt with a Roman collar rather than a cassock. When Jesuits are at work, you might also find them in more conventional business attire.

Is it true that the Society of Jesus is the largest religious order of men in the world?

Yes. As of January 2015, there were 16,740 men on six continents and in 112 countries throughout the world. There are about 11,986 priests; 1,268 brothers; 2,733 scholastics (students to become priests); and 753 novices. There are approximately 2,200 Jesuits in the U.S.

What types of work are Jesuits engaged in?

Apostolic works that Jesuits are engaged in are education, parish ministry, preaching, social justice work, pastoral ministry in hospitals, spiritual direction, giving retreats, missionary work in foreign countries, the training of diocesan seminarians, writing and publishing, TV and radio ministry, medicine and psychiatry to name a few. There are 66 Jesuit parishes and 22 retreat houses and spiritual centers.

How are Jesuit works in the United States organized?

 Jesuits in the U.S. currently work in four regional areas called provinces. The four provinces within the U.S. include:

  • East
  • Central-Southern
  • Midwest
  • West

Together with the Canada Province, these provinces belong to the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.

Which province does Prep belong to?

Prep belongs to The USA East Province.

Who leads each province?

Each province is governed by a provincial superior, with support from both Jesuit and lay staff members. Various staff departments for a province are headed by “Provincial Assistants.”

Who is the provincial superior of the USA East Province?

Rev. Joseph M. O’Keefe, S.J. is the Provincial of the USA East Province.

Where are the USA East Province Jesuits active?

The USA East Province covers the states that formerly comprised the New York Province (New York state and North and Central New Jersey), New England Province (all New England states), and the Maryland Province (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Georgia). USA East Jesuits also work in Jamaica, Micronesia, Jordan, and Iraq. The New York and New England Provinces merged to form the USA Northeast Province in 2014. This province, in turn, merged with the Maryland Province in 2020 to form the current USA East Province.

USA East is the largest province in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, comprising more than 600 Jesuits, 11 colleges and universities, 26 middle and high schools, 17 parishes, 6 retreat centers and 2 international schools.

Who was St. Ignatius Loyola?

 Ignatius Loyola was a Basque nobleman born in Spain in 1491. He was the youngest of 11 children.

What did Ignatius do for a living in his early life?

He was a nobleman, a soldier and a member of the house or court of the Loyola family.

What brought about Ignatius’ founding of the Jesuits?

In 1521, Ignatius’ leg was shattered by a cannonball during a battle in Pamplona, Spain. This disruption to his military career led him to a decades-long period of conversion. He ultimately started a new religious order in 1540, which came to be called the Society of Jesus.

In a Jesuit context, we sometimes refer to “cannonball moments”— unexpected or even initially unwelcome events that prompt us to reflect and lead us to a change of heart, mind, or spirit (or said another way, a conversion). This is a reference to Ignatius’ quite literal cannonball moment.

Why did Ignatius call his order the “Society of Jesus?”

Ignatius referred to his co-workers as “companions of Jesus,” which led to the official name of the order, the Company of Jesus (in Latin, Societas Jesu). In English the order become known as the “Society of Jesus.”

What else do we know about Ignatius?

Ignatius was elected the first Superior General of the newly established order. He died on July 31, 1556. The universal Church celebrates his feast day on July 31.

Why did Ignatius Loyola start the Society of Jesus?

The Society of Jesus was founded to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine.

How did the early Jesuits go about living their mission?

They engaged in public preaching, lectures, giving the Spiritual Exercises, and the administration of the sacraments.

What are the “Spiritual Exercises?”

The Spiritual Exercises are a series of writings by Ignatius, comprising a set of prayer experiences and reflections. These were designed to be experienced over a period of 30 days under the guidance of a spiritual director.

What’s the purpose of the “Spiritual Exercises?”

The purpose of the Spiritual Exercises is to help individuals to live more serious Christian lives, find their personal calling or vocation, discern how to use their gifts or talents to better serve God, to help others, and to find genuine happiness.

I have seen the letters A.M.D.G. associated with Prep and with the Jesuits in general. What does A.M.D.G. mean?

A.M.D.G. stands for the Latin phrase, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, which means, “For the greater glory of God.” This simple phrase, attributed to Saint Ignatius, has been adopted as the motto of the Society of Jesus, and is frequently encountered at Prep and other Jesuit institutions. It serves as a reminder that everything we do is an opportunity to give glory to God, and that when we strive to give our best efforts and make full use of our talents, our work becomes a form of prayer.

Was education one of the major reasons for founding the Society of Jesus?

Initially, no. The early educational institutions of the Society were intended only for the training of Jesuit scholastics or seminarians.

Why did Ignatius decide to open Jesuit institutions to non-Jesuits?

Pressure from lay people who wished to learn alongside the Jesuits prompted Ignatius to rethink the educational goals of the Society; he realized the value of educating leaders for the broader community who shared the perspective and values of the Society.

When did the first Jesuit school open for the public?

The first Jesuit school opened in 1548 in Messina, Sicily. Prep is proud to be a part of this 575-year tradition of educational excellence.

What attracted lay people to these Jesuit schools?

The advanced teaching methods and high moral tone of the Jesuits were major attractions. The Jesuits were among the first to incorporate the Classical teachings of Renaissance humanism into the Scholastic structure of Catholic thought.

In addition to teaching about their faith, Jesuit schools were distinguished in their teaching of Latin, Greek, classical literature, poetry, and philosophy. These schools encouraged the study of vernacular literature and rhetoric and thereby became important centers for the training of lawyers and other public officials.

How fast did the educational apostolate of the Society grow?

At the time of Ignatius’ death in 1556, there were about 1,000 Jesuits maintaining around 100 different educational institutions throughout the world.

How many Jesuit high schools, colleges and universities are there in the world today?

There are more than 800 Jesuit educational institutions around the world. These include primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, seminaries, technical institutes and centers for adult learning.

How many Jesuit colleges/universities and high schools are there in the U.S. today?

There are 28 colleges and universities and 62 Jesuit high schools in the continental U.S.

Are there other schools in the USA East Province?

Yes, in fact, the USA East Province includes the most Jesuit high schools in the country. In addition to Saint Peter’s Prep, there are eighteen other Jesuit high schools in the province. Four of these schools are also part of the Cristo Rey Network. The full list is below:

  • Boston College High School (Boston, MA)
  • Canisius High School (Buffalo, NY)
  • Cheverus High School (Portland, ME)
  • Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School (Atlanta, GA)
  • Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (Baltimore, MD)
  • Cristo Rey New York (Manhattan)
  • Cristo Rey Research Triangle High School (Durham, NC)
  • Fordham Prep (Bronx)
  • Fairfield Prep (Fairfield, CT)
  • Loyola Blakefield (Towson, MD)
  • Loyola School (Manhattan)
  • Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, MD)
  • Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.)
  • McQuaid Jesuit High School (Rochester, NY)
  • Regis High School (Manhattan)
  • Scranton Prep (Scranton, PA)
  • St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia)
  • Xavier High School (Manhattan)

The province also sponsors eight Nativity middle schools, eleven colleges/universities, one early learning center (Loyola School in Baltimore, MD), and is involved in other educational missions. Click here for more information.

When did the first Jesuit school open in the United States?

In 1789, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., became the first Jesuit college to open in the U.S.

Is there a formal network of Jesuit high schools?

Yes, the Jesuit Schools Network (JSN) is an organization serving the needs of Jesuit high schools in the United States. They represent all 78 American Jesuit high schools, five schools in Canada, one in Puerto Rico, one in Belize, and two in Micronesia. Similar organizations exist for other countries.

Is there a parallel organization for Jesuit colleges and universities?

Yes. The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) serves the needs of these institutions.

Where are the offices of the JSN and AJCU located?

Both organizations are located in Washington, DC.

Where can we find today the vision of Ignatius Loyola for Jesuit schools?

In 1986 the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education published the document, Go Forth and Teach: the Characteristics of Jesuit Education, which listed 28 characteristics of Jesuit education, aiming to give administrators and teachers in a Jesuit school a common vision and a common sense of purpose.

Our Way of Proceeding: Standards and Benchmarks for Jesuit Schools in the 21st Century, published in 2015 by the Jesuit Schools Network, provides further guidance and context for Jesuit secondary education.

Are Jesuit schools part of the local diocesan educational system?

Jesuit schools are private, independent schools. However, they do work in collaboration with the diocesan system.

Are there any co-ed Jesuit schools?

Although all Jesuit schools were originally founded for the education of young men, today all the Jesuit colleges and universities are open to both men and women. An increasing number of Jesuit high schools (currently 31) within the JSN are co-ed. They are:

  • Arrupe Jesuit High School (2003), Denver, CO
  • Bellarmine Preparatory School (1928), Tacoma, WA
  • Brebeuf Preparatory School (1962), Indianapolis, IN
  • Cheverus High School (1917), Portland, ME
  • Christ the King Jesuit College Prep (2008), Chicago, IL
  • Cristo Rey High School (1996), Chicago, IL
  • Cristo Rey New York high School (2004), New York, NY
  • Cristo Rey Sacramento High School (2006), Sacramento, CA
  • Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (2007), Batimore, MD
  • Cristo Rey Jesuit High School – Twin Cities (2007), Minneapolis, MN
  • Cristo Rey Jesuit College Prep (2009), Houston, TX
  • Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School (2014), Atlanta, GA
  • Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School (2014), San Jose, CA
  • Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (2015), Milwaukee, WI
  • Cristo Rey Research Triangle High School (2021), Durham, NC
  • Gonzaga Preparatory High School (1887), Spokane, WA
  • Jesuit High School (1956), Portland, OR
  • Loyola Academy (1909), Wilmette, IL
  • Loyola Sacred Heart High School (1974), Missoula, MT
  • Loyola School (1900), New York, NY
  • Monroe Catholic High School (1955), Fairbanks, AK
  • Red Cloud Indian School (1937), Pine Ridge, SD
  • Regis Jesuit High School (1877), Aurora, CO*
  • St. Ignatius College Prep (1870), Chicago, IL
  • St. Ignatius College Preparatory (1855), San Francisco, CA
  • St. John’s College (1887), Belize
  • Scranton Preparatory School (1944), Scranton, PA
  • Seattle Preparatory School (1891), Seattle, WA
  • Walsh Jesuit High School (1965), Cuyahoga Falls, OH
  • Xavier College Preparatory School (2006), Palm Desert, CA
  • Yap Catholic High School (2011), Yap, Micronesia

*Regis Jesuit High School, in Colorado, is co-institutional, meaning that its male and female students go to the same school but take separate classes and programs.

Are all Jesuit high schools college-preparatory schools?

Yes. Jesuit schools help to prepare their students for entrance into college and strongly adhere to the mission of preparing leaders for tomorrow.

Do Jesuit high schools focus only on academic excellence?

No. Jesuit schools strive for cura personalis, which translates literally as care of the person. This means we aim to form the whole person, going beyond mere academic excellence. A Jesuit school is a place for students to grow intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, morally and spiritually.

Are Jesuit high schools Catholic schools?

Yes. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is a religious order of the Catholic Church. However, Prep (like other Jesuit schools) proudly welcomes students of any faith who qualify for admission.

Why do Jesuit schools teach theology?

We believe that as Catholic schools we have a mission to continue the religious education of our Catholic students while also strengthening the faith and spiritual development of those who are not Catholic.

Are there other programs that foster students’ religious and spiritual development?

Yes, Jesuit schools have pastoral programs that include school Masses, retreats, and common prayers.

Why do Jesuit schools demand a certain number of hours of community service?

Jesuit schools believe in developing “men and women for others,” individuals who recognize the needs of others and are willing to volunteer their services for the benefit of people who are marginalized.

Who are some notable graduates of Jesuit schools?

  • Ignatius of Loyola, S.J.
  • Francis Xavier, S.J.
  • Francis Borgia, S.J.
  • Stanislaus Kotska, S.J.
  • Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.
  • John Francis Regis, S.J.
  • Francis Jerome, S.J.
  • Paul Miki, S.J.
  • John Soan de Goto, S.J.
  • James Kisai, S.J.
  • Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J.
  • John Berchmans, S.J.
  • Peter Claver, S.J.
  • Peter Canisius, S.J.
  • Robert Bellarmine, S.J.
  • René Goupil, S.J.
  • Isaac Jogues, S.J.
  • John de la Lande, S.J.
  • Anthony Daniel, S.J.
  • John de Brebeuf, S.J.
  • Gabriel Lalemant, S.J.
  • Charles Garnier, S.J.
  • Noel Chabanal, S.J.
  • Andrew Bobola, S.J.
  • Bernardine Realino, S.J.
  • John de Brito, S.J.
  • John Pignatelli, S.J.
  • Alexander Briant, S.J.
  • Edmund Campion, S.J.
  • Robert Southwell, S.J.
  • Henry Walpole, S.J.
  • Nicholas Owen, S.J.
  • Thomas Garnet, S.J.
  • Edmund Arrowsmith, S.J.
  • Henry Morse, S.J.
  • Philip Evans, S.J.
  • David Lewis, S.J.
  • John Ogilvie, S.J.
  • Claude de la Colombière, S.J.
  • Peter Faber, S.J.

Here are some examples, though this list is by no means exhaustive:

  • Kathleen Abernathy, FCC Commissioner, Marquette University 1982
  • Alan Alda, Actor and TV star of M.A.S.H., Fordham University 1956
  • Pearl Bailey, Singer and entertainer, Georgetown University 1985
  • William Bennett, Former U.S. Secretary of Education, Gonzaga College High Washington D.C. 1961
  • Enrique Bolanos, President of Nicaragua, Saint Louis University 1962
  • John Bourgeois, Director of the U.S. President’s Marine Corps Band, Jesuit High School in New Orleans
  • Andre Braugher, TV actor of Homicide, Gideon’s Crossing and City of Angels, St. Ignatius College Prep (Chicago) 1980
  • Joseph Brennan, Two-term Congressman and two-term Governor of Maine, Cheverus High 1952
  • Jerry Brown, Two-term Governor of California and Mayor of Oaklan, St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco 1955
  • Pat Buchanan, Former Senior White House Advisor and TV personality, Gonzaga College High, Washington, DC 1956
  • Campbell Brown, Co-anchor of NBC’s Today Weekend, Regis University 1991
  • August Busch IV, President of Anheuser-Busch, Saint Louis University 1987
  • L. Scott Caldwell, Tony Award-winning actor, Loyola University Chicago
  • Brandi Chastain, Two-time Olympic gold winning soccer player, Santa Clara University 1991
  • Sandra Cisneros, Author whose novel The House of Mango Street started a whole movement in Hispanic literature, Loyola University Chicago 1976
  • Thomas L. Clancy, Jr., Author, Loyola Blakefield 1965 and Loyola College in Maryland 1969
  • Will Clark, Baseball player with the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers, Jesuit High School in New Orleans
  • Will Durant, historian, philosopher, and author of The Story of Civilization, Saint Peter’s Prep 1903/Saint Peter’s College 1907
  • Mary Higgins Clark, Suspense writer, Fordham University 1979
  • Bill Clinton, President of the United States, Georgetown University 1968
  • Tony Coelho, Former Congressman who authored the “Americans with Disabilities Act,” Loyola Marymount University 1964
  • David Cone, Baseball player with the New York Mets, Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays, Rockhurst High School
  • Harry Connick, Jr., Singer and entertainer whom Sinatra referred to as “The Kid,” Jesuit High School New Orleans 1985
  • Christopher Connor, CEO of Sherwin Williams, Walsh Jesuit High 1974
  • Darren Criss, actor and singer, St. Ignatius College Prep (San Francisco)
  • Bing Crosby, Singer and actor, Gonzaga University 1924 and Gonzaga High School
  • Bob Denver, TV star of Gilligan’s Island, Loyola Marymount University
  • René Descartes, Philosopher and Mathematician, Collège LaFlèche (Anjou) 1612
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author, Creator of Sherlock Holmes, Stonyhurst (Lancastershire)
  • Manuel Esquivel, Former Primer Minister of Belize, Loyola University New Orleans 1962
  • Patrick Ewing, NBA All-star of the Knicks and Magic, Georgetown University 1985
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro defensive back, Saint Peter’s Prep 2015
  • Geraldine Ferraro, 1984 Vice Presidential Candidate, Fordham University 1960
  • Thomas Foley, Former U.S. Speaker of the House, Gonzaga University
  • Doug Flutie, NFL player, Boston College
  • Missy Franklin, competition swimmer and five-time Olympic gold medalist, Regis Jesuit High School (CO)
  • John, James, & Leon Gorman, Owners of L.L. Bean, Cheverus High School 1949,’50,’52
  • Jim Hendry, General Manager of the Chicago Cubs, Spring Hill College 1977
  • Alfred Hitchcock, Director, St. Ignatius College (London)
  • Khaled Hosseini, writer, Santa Clara University
  • Robert Kennedy, Attorney General and Senator, Georgetown Prep (DC)
  • John Kerry, Senator and 2004 Democratic Presidential Nominee, Boston College 1976
  • Gene Krantz, Former NASA Director of Mission Operations, Saint Louis University 1954
  • Nathan Lane, Actor, Saint Peter’s Prep 1974
  • Vince Lombardi, Nine-season Green Bay Coach with a 98-30-4 record, Fordham University 1937
  • Nick Lowe, editor at Marvel Comics (Spider-Man, X-Men titles), St. Ignatius High School (Cleveland)
  • Lisa Madigan, First woman Attorney General of Illinois, Georgetown University 1988 and Loyola University Chicago 1994
  • Ellis Marsalis Jazz Pianist and father of musicians Wynton and Branford, Loyola University New Orleans 1986
  • Rob McElhenney, actor and creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, St. Joseph’s Prep 1995
  • Jim McKay, sportscaster, Loyola College in Maryland
  • Sean McManus, President of CBS Sports, Fairfield Prep 1973
  • Jennifer Morrison, actor, Loyola University Chicago
  • John Mulaney, stand-up comedian, St. Ignatius College Prep (Chicago) and Georgetown University
  • Frank Murkowski, Two-term Senator and Governor of Alaska, Seattle University 1955
  • Bill Murray, Actor, Loyola Academy in Wilmette and Regis University
  • Bob Newhart, actor, St. Ignatius College Prep (Chicago) 1947 and Loyola University Chicago 1952
  • Chris O’Donnell, Actor, Loyola Academy (Wilmette) 1988 and Boston College 1994
  • Lou Piniella, New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals Rookie of the Year, and manager of the Seattle Mariners, Jesuit High School Tampa 1961
  • Peter Rozelle, Former NFL Commissioner created the Super Bowl, University of San Francisco 1950
  • Tim Russert, NBC moderator of “Meet the Press,” Canisius High 1968 and John Carroll University 1972
  • Antonin Scalia, Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Xavier High School New York 1953 and Georgetown University 1957
  • Don Schula, Former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, John Carroll University
  • Rusty Staub, Former Houston Astro and announcer for the New York Mets, Jesuit High School in New Orleans
  • Clarence Thomas, Justice of the United States Supreme Court, College of the Holy Cross 1971
  • Alejandro Toledo, President of Peru, University of San Francisco 1971
  • Spencer Tracy, Actor, Marquette High School
  • James Tynion IV, comic book writer and GLAAD Award winner, Marquette High School
  • Denzel Washington, Oscar wining actor, Fordham University 1977
  • George Wendt, Actor who starred as Norm in Cheers, Campion Jesuit High 1966 and Rockhurst University 1971

Are there any Jesuit saints?

 Yes, there are 53 canonized Jesuit saints and 137 other Jesuits who have been declared blessed, the first step to canonization (sainthood). Following is a list of most of the Jesuit saints according to the order of their canonization:

What does the word magis mean, and how does it fit into Jesuit spirituality and ministry?

Magis is a Latin word meaning “more.” In the Jesuit context, striving for the magis means a focus on what is judged to be the greater good, or the more courageous response to the challenge of the times. It refers not only to ideas and vision but to action.

Have any Jesuits been in space?

Not yet! However, 35 craters on the moon have been named after Jesuits to honor their work as astronomers and scientists.

Who is the present Superior General of the Jesuits?

They are, in chronological order:

Who were the other Superior Generals of the past century?

  1. Luis Martín, S.J.
  2. Franz-Xavier Wernz, S.J.
  3. Wladimir D. Ledóchowski, S.J.
  4. Jean Baptiste Janssens, S.J.
  5. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.
  6. Peter Hans-Kolvenbach, S.J.
  7. Adolfo Nicolas, S.J.

His name is Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J. He was elected General in 2016 and he resides in Rome.

Where are the headquarters of the Society of Jesus?

The international office is in Rome. The national office in the U.S. is in Washington, DC.