The intellectual life

September 17, 2022 in Niall's Notes


Today is the feast day of St. Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit, a theologian, and a cardinal. He is a patron saint of theologians and an important saint for us Jesuits as he represents the importance of learning in our way of life.

Who is Robert Bellarmine SJ?

Robert was born in 1542 just as the Protestant Reformation was taking place in Europe and when the natural sciences were rapidly evolving. Br. Guy Consolmagno SJ has written a great article about his life and dealings with the astronomer Galileo.

Jesuit formation

A Jesuit is normally ordained after 10 years of formation, which is a few years longer than most congregations and dioceses. This is not because we spend more time in academic studies—we usually do two years of philosophy and four or five years of theology. The ‘extra’ years of formation are spent in novitiate where we do the 30 days Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and we invest a lot in our spiritual lives, and in regency where we dedicate two years to apostolic work. Some Jesuits go on to do doctoral studies and teach in universities but many don’t. Regardless of one’s academic qualifications, as an order we deeply appreciate the intellectual life and the intellectual life of the Church. It’s just part of our culture.

Education AMDG

Our love for the intellectual life has something to do with our mission to educate. St. Ignatius Loyola did not set out to found a teaching order, but he discerned early on that by founding schools, colleges and universities Jesuits could make a great (Magis) contribution to the church and the world. This network of Jesuit educational institutions is now worldwide and you can see it here

Sons of Ignatius film

It’s nearly ready and I’m very excited about it. Stay tuned!

Vocation promoters around the world

I am the vocation promoter for the Irish Province and I deal principally with the enquiries of men who are living in Ireland (north and south). If you are living in a different country or continent then I suggest you get in touch with the vocation promoter in your country who you can contact through

With every good wish and blessing,

Fr. Niall