The following is directly taken from the opening statement of the “Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus,” which as John O’Malley notes in his book, The First Jesuits, is “the fundamental charter of the order, of which all subsequent official documents were elaboration and to which they had to conform.”
It was written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus and we suspect it was on the mind of John Carroll when he started Georgetown.
We present it here for two audiences.
The first are those students, faculty, administrators, and alumni who are unaware of why the Jesuits and Catholic universities like Georgetown exist.
Our second audience are the Jesuits of Georgetown, especially those involved in student life, to remind them of why they took their vows in the first place.
Here it is:
“Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the Cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the Name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty and obedience, keep what follows in mind.
He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lecture and any other ministration whatsoever of the Word of God, and further by means of retreats, the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity, and the spiritual consolation of Christ’s faithful through hearing confessions and administering the other sacraments.
Moreover, he should show himself ready to reconcile the estranged, compassionately assist and serve those who are in prisons or hospitals, and indeed, to perform any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good.
More about the founding of the Jesuits can be found here.