A Brief History of Jesuit Memorial College
Jesuit Memorial College (JMC) rose out of the ashes of the tragic Sosoliso plane crash of December 10, 2005 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Among the passengers on that flight were sixty-one students of Loyola Jesuit College (LJC), Abuja, Nigeria. Sixty of them died in the crash: a tragedy of epic proportions. Fifty-four families lost their children; one family lost all three children, and seven lost two children each.
To assuage the pains of the bereaved families and immortalize the Sixty Angels (as we now call them), the then Governor of Rivers State, Chief (Dr) Peter Odili, graciously acquiesced to the request of LJC parents who lived in Port Harcourt. The request was to give seed money and land to the Jesuits to begin a Jesuit secondary school in Port Harcourt so that the lives of other children might blossom out of the ashes of their own children. The idea was to honour the Sixty Angels in the living memorial of other children who would live out the same ideals in view of which the parents of the former sent them to LJC in the first place. This would then be a source of ongoing healing for the bereaved families.
JMC is now on twenty-one hectares of land provided by the Greater Port Harcourt City Development and approved by Governor Odili’s successor, Honourable Chief Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. The pioneer class was admitted on October 22, 2013 and graduated on July 21, 2019. The school is open to all children across the world irrespective of religion, ethnicity, nationality, race or gender. Its graduates, having been transformed, should in turn become agents of transformation wherever they may be.
Our Roots As A Jesuit School
Jesuit schools have their roots in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola. Among other things, we are a community of faith, a community of scholarship and a community of service.
We are a community of faith: Rooted in the Catholic tradition, we focus on Jesus Christ as the definitive revelation of God. We foster knowledge and love of God and neighbour and welcome the gifts that non-Catholic and non-Christian members of our community bring to the mission to which we all have been called.
We are a community of scholarship: At the heart of Jesuit education is the rigorous study of the humanities and sciences. This is based on the conviction that study of great ideas is inextricably linked to the formation of character. Our programme of study emphasizes much more than the acquisition of knowledge; it also insists on reflection, critical thinking, creativity and action in view of excellence.
We are a community of service: St Ignatius mentioned in the Spiritual Exercises that “Love ought to manifest itself more in deeds than in words”. This statement is embodied in Jesuit schools in the call to be persons for others. We put our faith into action by seeking and finding opportunities to serve others especially those who are most in need.
A Brief History of St Ignatius of Loyola
St Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556) is the founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a soldier and son of the minor Basque nobility of North-western Spain. His life, mainly given over to military glory and romantic reveries until 1521, was utterly changed in the wake of a battle injury he sustained that year. After reading a life of Christ and Lives of the Saints during his convalescence, Ignatius began to reflect on where his life was heading and what God wanted him to make of himself. In his early 30’s, in the wake of profound spiritual experiences, he began his secondary education along with young boys to prepare himself for a life of service to God and others.
He eventually completed his university education at the University of Paris where he had gathered around himself an international group of like-minded, idealistic young men with whom he began what they called “Companions of Jesus.” The religious order (in English: Society of Jesus) descended from Ignatius and his companions. In their beginnings, they proved a formidable intellectual and spiritual force in sixteenth century Europe and beyond. St Francis Xavier was the most venerated of the original companions; he was the first missionary to bring the Gospel message to Asia (India and Japan).
Although Ignatius of Loyola and his companions did not originally set out to be teachers, they realized early that the challenges of 16th century Europe and the emerging New World in that age of exploration could best be served with the tools of humanistic education. They saw education as the fitting tool in the formation of the young for the service of God and others. Since 1548 in Messina, Sicily, when they opened their first public school, the Jesuits have given much of their time and energy to the work of inculcating in young people a liberal education like the one Ignatius of Loyola and his first companions received in 16th century Paris.