Long before the St. Louis Arch, the St. Louis Zoo and even the city of St. Louis itself, the Jesuits responsible for forming Saint Louis University took their place at the frontier to the West. They came to go anywhere and do anything to "help souls," to do the work others had neglected, to -- in short -- change the world.

Nearly 200 years later, the Jesuit tradition of seeking truth in all things continues to inspire SLU students and faculty to seek fresh perspectives and to serve.

Who are the Jesuits? 

It is a mission that started with St. Ignatius Loyola, the youngest child of a noble Basque family who spent his early life not as a priest, but as a courtier. An injury led him on a spiritual journey and to a circle of friends with whom he would found a Catholic order dedicated to the good of all people, the Society of Jesus. 

Early Jesuits served in hospitals, worked in prisons and opened halfway houses and schools. They believed education could produce effective leaders and equipped their students with the vision and skills to become good citizens. They still do.  

Living the mission 

Jesuits are thinkers but most importantly, they are doers.

It is the Jesuits who inspired SLU's Prison Program in Bonne Terre, Mo., the only on-site program in the United States serving both prisoners and correctional center employees. It not only offers a degree program and arts and education programming, but investigates the connections between education and recidivism.

The Jesuit spirit is alive at the Center for World Health and Medicine at Saint Louis University, which seeks new affordable solutions for neglected diseases such as childhood diarrhea and malaria, and at Casa de Salud, which offers immigrants and refugees in St. Louis high quality health care and wellness education.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam

At SLU, the Jesuits are here still, teaching, leading prayer and offering reflections through mission programs and retreats. You don't have to be Catholic, or even Christian, to embrace their desire to set the world on fire. Students of all faiths learn, live and volunteer at SLU, resulting in a campus repeatedly honored for its dedication to student engagement and community service.

They go on immersion trips to Mexico, Honduras and underserved areas in America. They spend their spring breaks in inner cities and remote villages, coming home not with a tan but with the leadership qualities that form career paths and life paths.

At Saint Louis University, students discover what the Jesuits have always known: a passion to explore what is inside of them and imagine what could be ahead of them. A higher purpose. A greater good. 

About "Higher Purpose. Greater Good."
These words embody the Jesuits' nearly 500-year history of service for the greater glory of God and represent SLU's mission to pursue truth and serve humanity. In a substantial way, the phrase "Higher Purpose. Greater Good." touches on all the things that make SLU special -- outstanding academics, faith, service and history. Learn more.