Pope Francis, the first Jesuit to hold the position, comes from an order of priests known around the world as educators and social justice advocates.
Pope Francis comes from an order of priests known around the world as educators, spiritual directors, and social justice advocates.
The Society of Jesus, the name for the grouping of priests founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in 1540, count among their ranks professors, doctors, lawyers, social workers and now a pope. They focus on seeing God in all things, helping people who suffer, and putting their faith into action in missions all over the world.
"To be a Jesuit today is to serve the church and the world," said Father Kevin O'Brien, a Jesuit and vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University. "The church has been sidetracked by sexual and financial scandals. Now, it's about getting back to the basics. It's about preaching the gospel and helping the poor."
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Pope Francis' Jesuit identity means he will be about living a life of poverty and simplicity, O'Brien said.
It also means he's one of the more than 20,000 Jesuits who commit to studying religion, philosophy and other subjects for 10 years before ever being ordained a priest, according to Father Jack Butler, another Jesuit and vice of president of university mission and ministry at Boston College. It takes about 15 years in all to become fully part of the Jesuits, Butler said.
In the meantime, many Jesuits choose to work in schools or as missionaries in places where people are often suffering physically, financially or spiritually.
"We're the people who fell in love with the mission of Jesus," Butler said.
Part of the Jesuit experience also includes taking two 30-day silent retreats in your lifetime. They go through "spiritual exercises," a form of prayer aimed at examining one's daily interactions and seeking God's influence in one's life.
Meanwhile, most people will know of Jesuits because of their schools, O'Brien said. He explained that Jesuits run the largest school system in the world with schools like Georgetown University, Boston College, and St. Thomas University in Florida.
Now, as Pope Francis begins his new life, O'Brien said he's already shown himself as humble.
"It's a sign of humility that he would choose a name that is not a Jesuit," he said, referring to St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of another order of priests. "He will be a great voice furthering the church in the Southern Hemisphere. He will bring the vibrancy of Latin America to North America and Europe."
Mariano Rivas, 63, understands Jesuit practices very well. He's been going on three-day silent retreats led by Jesuits in Maryland and Virginia for more than 25 years.
"They have very good teachings on how to be a good citizen and especially how to be good a person," said Rivas, an engineer who lives in Silver Spring, Md. "They are also very obedient to the pope."