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Jesuit, Catholic Tradition

Over time, Holy Cross has continuously evolved to reflect the needs of our students and changing times. Our Jesuit, Catholic identity has remained a constant throughout that evolution — informing and influencing everything we do. 

A Living Legacy

Bishop Benedict Joseph Fenwick of the Society of Jesus founded Holy Cross in 1843 with the goal of educating the Catholic men of Massachusetts. At the time, Roman Catholics were not welcome at most colleges and universities. The College sought to instill the love of knowledge, the spirit of reflection and contemplation and respect for one’s fellow man that characterizes Catholic and Jesuit teachings. While much has changed — at Holy Cross and in the world — the College is still committed to the same highly personal, meaningful education that Bishop Fenwick imagined for this special place. As it approaches its 175th year, Holy Cross remains true to the mission of its founder, which invites us to engage in an ongoing dialogue around questions of faith and meaning.

Mission and Action

The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) is a Catholic religious order founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola and his first companions. The order is known for its spirituality, commitment to education and service, and active engagement with the world. 

Here is how we honor the Jesuit legacy:

  • From the beginning, the Jesuits were active in promoting Humanistic studies. Today, the liberal arts emphasize personal freedom and discovery. Intertwined with this is the effort to free ourselves of bias and ignorance, helping us to become more open-minded citizens of the world. Just as learning at Holy Cross is defined by asking more, each individual’s relationship with their faith is an ongoing process of exploration. We give students, faculty and staff tools and programs that enable them to think deeply about their beliefs — and we never tell anyone what to believe.
  • The Jesuits have also promoted living in solidarity with the poor and disenfranchised. This not only involves acts of service, but also encompasses a profound love and respect for all human beings. This is reflected in the College’s mission statement; it’s also a unifying message for our campus community. Through activities such as alternative spring break and Student Programs for Urban Development, our students live out the call to be “men and women for and with others” in places near and far.
  • Fostering a true and fruitful dialogue requires a diverse community of participants. The Jesuit mission has always sought to engage with people of all cultures, value systems and faith traditions. Today, we do this by bringing people of all backgrounds and beliefs here to The Hill and by sending our students out into the world. As Holy Cross becomes an increasingly diverse institution, we add new and enlightening voices to this dialogue, which bring us to greater understanding of the world and ourselves.
Learn more about the intersection of faith and our community: