“Jesuit Weeks” in schools

Pascal Gauderon, SJ - Province of French-speaking Western Europe
[From “Jesuits 2023 - The Society of Jesus in the world”]

Since 2017, Jesuit schools in France have been holding regular festivals intended to familiarise the pupils, staff and parents with our life and missions. It is a lovely way of re-inventing the “missions” of times past.

THE PRINCIPLE: During “Jesuit week”, a school will partner with us to hold exhibitions, talks and pedagogical workshops. It will organise times for socialising and spirituality, testimonies, special meals, cultural and recreational activities, entertainment, disputatios, meetings and celebrations. The timetable is specially designed to allow students, parents, teachers and former students to benefit from the week as far as possible. We offer the schools various options or formats. They choose the one that suits them best. The school asks the Society to deliver any “services” they deem necessary. We do our best to satisfy their requests.

THE GOAL: To establish a close link with the Society in a lively, fun and accessible format especially in places where our presence is less visible day-to-day. What is the point of the exercise? To ensure no one forgets the spiritual roots of Jesuit pedagogy, our missions and modus operandi; above all, to lend this charism new life by sharing experiences and encounters. The goal, in a nutshell, is to highlight the unique traits of Jesuit education and link our educational commitments to the faces and names of real people.


Everyone should leave the week a winner including:

• The schools, who, via a high-profile event that has a lasting impact, strengthen their ties to the Society and deepen how they live out Ignatian pedagogy on a daily basis.

• Adults, including parents, teachers, other employees and the school’s board of governors, who have possibly never met Jesuits in the flesh before, but now have the chance to do so at meetings and by listening to Jesuit testimonies.

• The school students, who learn how we live out the Gospel in the distinctive style of St. Ignatius. They gain an understanding of the origin of their school and its uniquely Jesuit traits. They find out about our missions (the JRS, Jesuit education, pastoral ministry, the spiritual exercises) and have the opportunity to reflect on vocations to religious life... But the main thing is they get to hear about Jesus and the Gospel! The week opens up a space for dialogue about faith, the meaning of life, freedom, commitment, fidelity, service and forgiveness.

• The Jesuits, who gain a chance to (re)-discover our schools and experience mission together.


SEASON 1 & SEASON 2: Seven major Jesuit weeks took place between November 2017 and March 2021 in seven different cities and 16 educational establishments, involving a total of 15,000 pupils. The pandemic may have disrupted the weeks but it did not manage to stop them altogether!

Since 2021, several more basic formats of the week requiring fewer resources have also taken place. A pilot format, for instance, was held in an engineering institute while a longer version of the week happened in Namur, Belgium. These extended or flexible formats are certainly highly promising. And what’s more, Jesuit Weeks are fast becoming an established part of the school timetable. In the schools we have visited to date, the Week is being repeated every three to four years.

Season one was intense and highly rewarding. Season two has gotten off to a good start. What surprises does season three hold in store?


What the teachers said afterwards:

“We had lively, face-to-face meetings with Jesuits. What they had to say was heartfelt, meaningful and easy to understand. Everyone was just amazed... All in all, a touch of grace.”

“For me, it was a revelation!”

“Sharing these special moments with the Jesuits was exciting and very rewarding.”

“The week was incredibly fulfilling! There was a real joy, simplicity and spirit of surrender in the meetings. All the Jesuits planted seeds in the children’s hearts and I’m positive we’ll see the fruit, not only in the children but in the adults too.”

“I’m leaving the week behind feeling refreshed and joyful.”

“You were the best! You were encouraging, full of joy, straightforward, funny, helpful and deep. You were witnesses, and endlessly resourceful! You were musicians but also magicians, available to everyone, and stimulating.”

“We’ll be having the week again as soon as possible.

And the parents...

“Our four children were impressed, moved yet also challenged by everything they’ve experienced. It’s been an absolute joy to hear them chat in the evening about the Jesuit fathers, and see them share with each other the testimonies that they heard, the songs they have learnt, what they have discovered... The Jesuits really managed to touch the hearts of every single child.”


And the Jesuits...

“It was a real consolation for me to share the mission with my brothers.”

“I’m taking everyone I met this week into my heart and bringing them all to my prayers.”

“A beautiful experience of mission as ‘an inside job’ that is helping to promote the Jesuit charism in our schools.”

What stayed with the young people after hearing the Jesuits’ testimonies:

Being a Jesuit is all about...

...giving oneself wholly to God.
...staying close to Jesus and being poor.
...being close to other people.
...evangelisation and service.
...being faithful to your commitments right until the end.
...conveying joy to the world.
...devoting your life to doing good to those around you.
...being open to other people.
...starting from scratch to be in a better place with God.
...being more human, more altruistic.
...staying connected to what really counts in life.
...putting yourself in other people’s shoes so you can understand and help them better.
...abandoning your own dreams in order to make new ones.
...helping other people, waking up to the meaning of life and finding your own path.
...believing in what you do and loving what you do.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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