During his visit to the Northern Jesuit Province of Poland, Father General met with the team of Jesuits working in Denmark. This is a country where Protestantism has had strong roots since the Reformation in 1537. However, religious freedom – with the possibility for Catholics to practice their faith – was proclaimed in 1848. In 1870, the first official Jesuit institutions were established in Denmark. Most of the Jesuits came from Germany, having been expelled from their country by Bismarck. Until 2016, German Jesuits were responsible for the mission. Now Denmark is the responsibility of the North Polish Province, although now the members of the pastoral team in Denmark come from both Polish Provinces.
From the very start until the present, the Society of Jesus has been involved in two core fields: education and parish ministry. Copenhagen and Aarhus (the second largest city in Denmark) have been the two centers of Jesuit presence in the country. However, a number of the brothers have also worked in diocesan parishes outside of these two cities. For 30 years, from 1965 to 1995, the bishop of Copenhagen was a Jesuit: Hans Ludvig Martensen.
In Copenhagen, the Society took care of a parish in the city center, as well as of a school that has changed its location a number of times over the years. In Aarhus the Jesuits established a parish church and a school. In both places, some Jesuits have been active in universities in a variety of ways. This is in line with our traditional mission – reinforced now as one of the Universal Apostolic Preference – of accompanying young people wherever they are assigned.