Jesuit & Catholic Identity

Georgetown is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institute of higher learning in the United States. Jesuits have played a significant role in the growth and evolution of Georgetown into a global research university deeply rooted in the Catholic faith. Georgetown’s Jesuit tradition also promotes the university’s commitment to spiritual inquiry, civic engagement, and religious and cultural pluralism. The Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus, an international religious community which was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century. Today, Jesuits continue to enrich the university through their work as scholars, researchers, administrators, chaplains and counselors.

Identity and Mission

The ideals and principles that have characterized Jesuit education for over 450 years are central to Georgetown’s mission and character. Drawing from this tradition, Georgetown fosters an environment where students can develop their unique gifts and insights through reflection, service and intellectual inquiry. Students are challenged to engage in the world and become men and women in the service of others, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community. These values are at the core of Georgetown’s identity, binding members of the community across diverse backgrounds, faiths, cultures and traditions.

Academic Discourse and Spiritual Enrichment

Catholicism’s rich and diverse intellectual tradition is central to Georgetown’s academic life. The university serves as a forum where issues of importance to society and the Church are considered in a spirit of mutual respect and dialogue. Students have opportunities for reflection and discussion on Catholic thought and teaching through academic coursework and programs, religious services, retreats, residence life programs and campus ministry efforts. In keeping with the Catholic and Jesuit commitment to engage people of all faiths, Georgetown hosts and sponsors rich academic and cultural programs in interreligious dialogue, and the university’s Office of Campus Ministry offers students, faculty and staff the opportunity to worship within their respective traditions.

A Commitment to Faith

Members of Georgetown's Jesuit community celebrate mass with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington.

Members of Georgetown's Jesuit community celebrate mass with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington.

Grounded in the belief that spiritual development is essential to personal growth, St. Ignatius placed prayer and reflection at the center of Jesuit life. Today, Georgetown celebrates this long tradition by providing pastoral care and opportunities for worship, reflection and service to members of the community across a diversity of faiths. On any given week, more than 50 different religious services are taking place across our campuses, including Catholic Masses, Muslim prayer services, Orthodox Christian services, Jewish Shabbat services, and Protestant services and Bible studies.

A Call to Service

The Church’s commitment to social justice and the Jesuit mission to create leaders in the service of others underscore many intellectual and spiritual pursuits at the university. Through scholarship and service, Georgetown students, faculty and staff work together to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems – including poverty, disease and conflict.

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