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Frequently Asked QuestionsA priest standing in church

Q. Who is a Jesuit?
Q. What is the relationship of the Society of Jesus to the Roman Catholic Church?
Q. Some Jesuits are priests, some are brothers: what’s the difference?
Q. Why don’t Jesuits work in all parishes?
Q. What is the difference between diocesan and religious priests? 
Q. What is the difference between a bishop and a Jesuit provincial?

Who is a Jesuit?
Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus. Currently, about 20,000 men serve as priests and brothers in ministries around the world.

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What is the relationship of the Society of Jesus to the Roman Catholic Church?
The Society of Jesus is the largest men's religious order in the Roman Catholic Church.

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Priest praying in a crowdSome Jesuits are priests, some are brothers: what’s the difference?
Jesuits can choose to be priests or brothers. Both groups of men take the same vows and live and pray in a religious community. Priests are ordained and administer the Sacraments and celebrate Mass. Although brothers do not feel called to the life of a priest, they participate fully in the work of the Society of Jesus, whose mission is "the service of faith and the promotion of justice."

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Why don’t Jesuits work in all parishes?
Pastors of Catholic parishes can be diocesan priests or members of religious orders such as the Jesuits. All parishes are part of the local diocesan system, and from time to time archbishops or bishops invite Jesuits to staff parishes and other ministries where they believe our talents can foster growth and community.

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What is the difference between diocesan and religious priests?
Roman Catholic parishes are always part of a local diocese, but pastors can be either diocesan or religious priests. Diocesan priests make promises of chastity and obedience; they are under the authority of bishops. Religious belong to communities, such as the Society of Jesus, which are typically guided by a particular mission or spiritual tradition. Religious priests, including Jesuits, take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; they are under the authority of their local superior and provincial. Jesuits take an additional vow of obedience to the Pope, placing themselves at his disposal.

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Two Jesuits talkingWhat is the difference between a bishop and a Jesuit provincial?
Bishops are appointed by the Pope to administer geographic units called dioceses, which contain parishes, schools, service groups, and other organizations. Jesuit provincials are appointed by the Superior General in Rome to serve six-year terms. Provincials oversee geographic units called provinces. The California Province is composed of the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.

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