Although most people encounter Jesuits locally in schools and other ministries, the Society of Jesus is in fact a missionary order — the largest such order in the Catholic Church. Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., Superior General of the Jesuits, has reaffirmed what he calls;“the vision of our universal vocation, which is “to go anywhere in the world where there is hope for God’s greater glory.”
A less typical ministry is the Vatican Observatory, one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world. It is run by Jesuit astronomers who peer through their telescopes in Tucson, Arizona, and at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence.
Educating Church Leaders
The Jesuits carry out this task at a number of institutions including the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the Pontifical Oriental Institutes. Those three now serve more than 3,500 students from 120 countries on six continents. The students are preparing for service as priests, sisters, religious brothers, and lay leaders. They have a strong impact on the Church: graduates of the three institutions include one fourth of the world’s current bishops and half of the cardinals who voted in the most recent papal conclave.