From its simple roots of seven men, the Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Today, the Society numbers almost 17,000 members who work in 80 provinces worldwide, five of which are in the United States.
Bellarmine College Preparatory is one of more than five dozen Jesuit high schools in the U.S., each built upon the principles of the Ratio Studiorum, the spiritually-based education system initially developed by Ignatius for new members of the Order. The program proved equally valuable to non-Jesuits in their service of God and the Church, and quickly and quite unintentionally gave rise to the educational thrust of the Society of Jesus.
Ignatius saw education as a way to lead young people not simply to care for others but to "find God in all things."
Archbishop John Carroll founded Georgetown Academy, the first school of the Society of Jesus in the United States, in 1789. From that one institution, the enterprise has grown today to a network which educates nearly 50,000 students annually. Bellarmine, the second oldest Jesuit high school west of the Mississippi River, was founded in 1851 by John Nobili, S.J., and his companions, as Santa Clara College, a school for secondary and college-age students. Santa Clara College was separated into 2 schools in the early 1920s—Santa Clara University and the University of Santa Clara High School, or Santa Clara Prep. In 1925, Santa Clara Prep moved from the grounds of the University to our current location on University and Elm Streets in College Park. In 1928, the school became Bellarmine College Preparatory, in honor of Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, a Jesuit of the sixteenth century who had recently been canonized a saint and recognized as a Doctor of the Church.
Bellarmine finds inspiration in the Jesuit motto "ad majorem Dei gloriam"—for the greater glory of God—and is honored to carry on the tradition of education mindful of cultivating one's gifts and talents, not for our enjoyment, but rather for the service of advancing God's work in today's world.
Our Jesuit Community
Bellarmine is very fortunate to have a community of Jesuits who live on campus in Wade Hall. These men are involved in teaching, administration, Campus Ministry, and support services. Their presence on campus means that Bellarmine is able to offer Mass three times a week before school. Other Sacraments are offered over the course of the school year, which include Reconciliation services via Religious Studies classes and Confirmation classes for seniors desiring to take this important step in their faith life.
While the presence of these men on campus is significant and meaningful for the school community, Bellarmine also recognizes that with the decreasing number of men entering the priesthood, the school can no longer rely exclusively on the Jesuit community to fulfill the school’s spiritual needs. The good news is that many Bellarmine faculty and staff members are deeply rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, as evidenced by their own study and personal experience. For the past several years, all Bellarmine employees have been growing in a deeper understanding of Ignatian Spirituality, and strive to translate the vision of Ignatius of Loyola into a real and meaningful experience for students inside and outside of the classroom, in every activity in which students are engaged.
Sustaining the Ignatian vision and Jesuit mission of educational excellence in the formation of young men of competence, conscience, and compassion requires the partnership of teachers and students, each striving to fulfill the pedagogy laid forth for all Jesuit schools. The particular way in which all Jesuit schools, including Bellarmine, fulfill this mission is articulated in Our Way of Proceeding, which indicates the standards and benchmarks for Jesuit education in the 21st century as categorized in five domains—Jesuit and Catholic Mission and Identity, Governance and Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Educational Excellence, and Faith That Does Justice.
The Ignatian Educator
Ignatian educators serve as guides for students as they continue on their formational journey. In collaboration with their colleagues, Ignatian educators engage in ongoing personal, professional, and religious development in order to grow in their commitment to Jesuit education. The Jesuit Schools Network (JSN) identifies characteristics and practices which describe what it means to be an Ignatian educator in the Profile of an Ignatian Educator. With this document as its basis, Bellarmine drafted Ignatian Educators, Companions in Ministry, which employs the standards put forth by the JSN, as well as the California Standards for the Teaching Profession. In the fall of 2017, the JSN articulated three goals to help schools fulfill their mission as Companions in a Mission of Reconciliation and Justice.
Partnering with the Jesuits West Province of the Society of Jesus
Bellarmine College Preparatory is sponsored by the Jesuits West Province of the Society of Jesus. Sponsorship is the affirmation that Bellarmine is a work of the Society of Jesus, in the Jesuits West and is a Catholic, Jesuit school.