Spirit of Georgetown

Georgetown University, the first Catholic and Jesuit university founded in the United States, enjoys a distinguished heritage and Jesuit tradition. At the core of this tradition are transcendent values, including the integration of learning, faith and service; care for the whole person; character and conviction; religious truth and interfaith understanding; and a commitment to building a more just world. These values are grounded in Georgetown’s origins and touch all of the university community.

“Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” – (For the Greater Glory of God), the motto of the Society of Jesus. This motto identifies the religious purpose of all Jesuit endeavors. It is not simply doing good that Jesuits propose, but rather doing what will better or more effectively reveal God’s active presence in our work and in our world. Discerning what is better is always an important principle of Jesuit decision-making.

Contemplation in Action – St. Ignatius believed that prayer and reflectivity should so guide our choices and actions that our activity itself becomes a way of entering into union with and praising God. Contemplation is a critical dimension of the spiritual life and it is reflected in Georgetown’s commitment to prayer, worship and retreats.

Academic Excellence – In 1547, the first Jesuits were invited to begin a college in Messina, Italy, so that the young men of that town could receive the same quality of education that the early Jesuits promoted in training their own. Georgetown University is a descendant of this original Jesuit commitment to education. Academic excellence describes the great importance that Jesuits have placed on the life of the mind as a means for uncovering truth and discovering meaning.

Educating the Whole Person –  St. Ignatius believed that God could be discovered in every human endeavor, in every facet of learning and experience, and in every field of study. Consequently, he promoted the development of the spiritual, intellectual, artistic, social and physical aspects of each person.

“Cura Personalis” – This Latin phrase translates as “Care of the Person,” and originally was used to describe the responsibility of the Jesuit Superior to care for each man in the community with his unique gifts, challenges, needs and possibilities. This value now is applied more broadly to include the relationship between educators and students, and the professional relationships among all those who work in the University.

Faith and Justice – In 1965, following the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits made a significant institutional commitment to “the service of faith and the promotion of justice.” This commitment links the authentic following of the Gospel of Jesus with an obligation to address the social realities of poverty, oppression, and injustice.

People for Others – Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1981, employed the phrase “Men for Others” in a notable 1973 presentation in Valencia, Spain. Today, this phrase has become more inclusive and its spirit is evidenced in Georgetown’s promotion of community-based learning courses; our local, national and international service projects; justice immersion programs; and over forty student-led service and justice organizations.

Interreligious Understanding – Reflecting themes from the Second Vatican Council, the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus made a significant commitment to ecumenical and interreligious engagement and understanding.

Community in Diversity – As a Catholic and Jesuit University, the Georgetown community welcomes and sustains rich diversity among our students, faculty and staff. Approximately 52 percent of our student body are women, 22 percent of our undergraduate students are from a minority ethnic background, and over 2,000 students, faculty and researchers come from 130 foreign countries.