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Men and Women for Others

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On July 31, 1973, the feast day of St. Ignatius, Jesuit Superior General Fr. Pedro Arrupe coined the term “Men and Women for Others” in an address to the Tenth International Congress of Jesuit Alumni of Europe. This has become the foundational element of Jesuit education worldwide. The term has come to mean that if one person graduates from a Jesuit school lacking a sense of social justice, the school has not achieved its primary mission. The idea of "Men and Women for Others" is lived out in the life of St. Ignatius, as well as other Jesuits throughout history, and has many practical implications in contemporary life.

The Quote

"Today our prime educational objective must be to form men [and women] for others; men [and women] who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ - for the God-man who lived and died for all the world; men [and women] who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men [and women] completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce." [1]

-Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., twenty-eighth Superior General of the Society of Jesus


Jesuit Schools have not always had this as their primary objective, so Fr. Arrupe's address was meant to be stirring. He wanted it to be radical. He spoke as he did because Jesuit schools had adopted ideas of social justice at a theoretical level, but were not implementing them through action. Furthermore, Fr. Arrupe addressed the fact that, while other schools around the world often follow contemporary fads, Jesuit schools must take the effort to maintain a sense of mission animated by the spirituality of Saint Ignatius. The address was originally given to an audience of primarily men, so his speech has been modified to include "men and women" to account for the fact that many Jesuit schools and universities are now coeducational.

Examples in the Life of St. Ignatius

St. Ignatius of Loyola, the principal founder of the Society of Jesus, exemplified this idea of Men and Women for Others throughout his life.

Soon after his call to conversion, upon his arrival in Montserrat, St. Ignatius gave his nice clothes to a poor man, opting to wear very basic clothes instead. This is an early example of Ignatius choosing to live selflessly, dedicating his life - and, in some cases his well-being - to the betterment of others. Much later, after his founding of the Jesuit order on the directive to "help souls," Ignatius consistently emphasized the imperative of ministry to a world in need.

Ignatius' personal acts of social justice would continue throughout his life: when he was given unnecessary sums of money he would distribute that money amongst the poor, and he had no qualms confronting societal social inequalities such as the inequality of women. Ignatius and his early friends offered themselves as spiritual directors to women as well, even at the risk of being accused of promiscuity.

Ignatius dedicated the rest of his life to following God’s will, often in the form of being a “person for others.” He saw serving his fellow human beings as a necessary aspect of living fully with God.


There are many implications of Fr. Arrupe's idea of "Men and Women for Others" for contemporary Jesuit schools.


Arguably the most important implication of Fr. Arrupe's speech is that the teachings of Jesuit institutions must be carried out in concrete action to drive social change. This means that the school must not only teach ideas of social justice, but it must offer students opportunities to practice social justice. This means that the school must provide ample opportunities for service, and opportunities for students' senses of social justice to grow through immersion. In St. Ignatius' First Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises, he says, "The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by doing so to save his or her soul." In this, the most basic and straightforward summary of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius uses the word "serve," in order to place an emphasis on the fact that doing God's will involves action.


Becoming a Person for Others requires a certain degree of humility. In one of Pedro Arrupe's famous quotes, he says that we must "Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." Applying this to being a Person for Others is relatively straightforward: we must fall in love with God, and as a result fall in love with helping others; and once we do, continuing to help others will come more easily. However, it is relatively easy to fall in love with close friends and family; many people, whether they know it or not, are Men and Women for Others if that 'other' is a loved one. To truly fall in love with a person on the other side of the world whom you do not know, requires a special humility or selflessness. To acknowledge that another person in this world is suffering, and to be truly outraged by that fact applies the idea of being a Person for Others to the global community.

Social Justice

Deeply ingrained in Fr. Arrupe's speech is the idea of social justice. This means that being a Person for Others requires that one must fight for equality and justice in all aspects of society for all people. Again, ingrained in social justice is that there is action involved. Fr. Arrupe's idea means that Jesuit schools must seek to be a vehicle of change in all aspects of society until true social justice for all is achieved.

Examples in Contemporary Universities

Many examples can be seen of contemporary Jesuit schools carrying out Fr. Arrupe's call for the education of Men and Women for Others. For example:

  • Boston College's Pedro Arrupe International Program sends students to a variety of locations throughout the Americas (including Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Belize) for international education / service immersion and to be in solidarity with those in extreme poverty.
  • Xavier University's "academic service learning semesters" allow students a chance to study abroad in a variety of global locations in order to integrate academic learning with service.
  • Georgetown University's “Magis Immersion and Justice Program” sends students to El Salvador and Tanzania to learn about international social justice and be in solidarity with the poor.

Jesus as a Man for Others

The idea of "Men and Women for Others" is, underneath everything, very simply modeled after the life of the ultimate Man for Others: Jesus. Jesus lived his entire life in obedience to the will of God, and was Ignatius' model for right relationship with God and others.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, one must be humble enough to ask God to help him/her carry out God's will in the form of being a Person for others. St. Ignatius of Loyola's Prayer for Generosity does so very simply and eloquently:

Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

save that of knowing that I do your will.

External Links



  1. Men for Others: Pedro Arrupe S.J. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.

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