Founder's Day
What is Founder's Day?

St Ignatius repeatedly reminds us in his letters and in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus that we should be mindful of our benefactors - those who, by their generosity, make our work possible. Especially important were the founders of Jesuit colleges, churches and other works. To them we owe a debt of gratitude which should be solemnly recalled each year.

Each school is encouraged to celebrate its Founder's Day. This could be the actual day on which the school was opened, if known, or another suitable feast day or appropriate time in the school year. It may be better to choose a different day from the school's patronal feast day as each of these celebrations can contribute something of its own to pupils' experience across the year.

St Ignatius on Founder's Day

St Ignatius writes in the Jesuit Constitutions [309-13]:

"It is highly proper for us to do something on our part in return for the devotion and generosity shown toward the Society by those whom the Divine Goodness employs as his ministers to found and endow its colleges.

Each year, too, on the anniversary of the day when the possession of the college was handed over, let a solemn Mass be celebrated in it for the founder and benefactors. All the other priests dwelling there are to celebrate Mass for the same intention.

On that day a wax candle is to be presented to the founder, or to one of his closer relatives, or in whatever way the founder may stipulate. The candle should contain his coat of arms or emblems of his devotions, as a sign of the gratitude due in our Lord.

If there is, after a time, no descendant of the founder in the place where the college was founded, the candle can be sent to wherever one of his descendents may be found, or it can be placed on the altar on which Mass is offered, in the name and place of the founder."

The Mass on Founder's Day

It is suggested that Founder's Day Mass be a Mass of thanksgiving with readings and prayers chosen to reflect that theme. [See altar Missal p.1387 or p.1348]

There will need to be an introduction to explain to pupils what this Mass is about (a suggested commentary text is given below).

The procession with the wax candle could be included in the liturgy; either at the offertory or as an entrance rite. A very large candle should be chosen for dramatic impact. The school's arms or logo, or those of the Society of Jesus (the IHS monogram), can be printed onto a transfer and fixed to the candle. It might be good for the Head Boy/Girl to carry the candle.

As the founders of our schools are long dead and living relatives usually unknown, the candle should be solemnly placed on the altar as a Founder's Day Prayer (suggested text below) is read. After the Mass the candle might suitably be kept on display in a special place in the school chapel with an explanatory note beside it.

Celebrating Founder's Day

It is also suggested that other ways be found of celebrating Founder's Day. These might include:

  • linked activities in the classroom or in RE or history lessons
  • "trailing" Founder's Day in assemblies leading up to the day
  • giving each pupil a specially made prayer card or similar
  • having an early finish (half-holidays were traditional in Jesuit schools on such occasions) or providing a treat for the pupils

Obviously each school needs to decide what is possible and what is appropriate in its own context. The point is really that these celebrations in Jesuit schools have traditionall been marked by a Mass along with other things (often in the past, a play or speech or musical recital).

Suggested Texts

[This text might be included in the service sheet and/or read out before the procession with the candle. Please feel free to adapt and rewrite.]

Today we celebrate Founder's Day. This is the day on which we remember those who began our school XXX years ago. Their faith, in God and in the future, made our school possible. Over the decades/centuries, generations of young people have studied here and learned about God's creation, about the story and creativity of human beings, and how to be men and women for others. All of this would not have been possible without those who began this school and those who have given generously of their time and resources to continue its work through the years. In a few moments we will bring a candle, bearing the arms of our school, to God's altar. It is a sign of our gratitude: to God, to our Founder(s), to our benefactors and to all who continue to build a future for our school. Today we pray for XXX College/school.

Founder's Day Prayer

today we solemnly gather in your presence
to remember those who founded our school;
and for all our benefactors
who, through their generosity and hard work,
have built up this place for your greater glory
and for the common good.
We pray that, in our sudies,
in our attitudes and behaviour,
in our service of others,
in our sports and pastimes,
we may be worthy of every good thing they have given us.
We pray also that each of us will leave this school a better place
where future generations may grow in faith and in learning.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


By the grace God gave me, I succeeded as an architect and laid the foundations on which someone else is doing the building. Everyone doing the building must work carefully. For the foundation, nobody can lay any other than the one which has already been laid, that is Jesus Christ. On this foundation you can build in gold, silver and jewels, or in wood, grass, and straw, but whatever the material, the work of each builder is going to be clearly revealed when the day comes. That day will begin with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If his structure stands up to it, he will get his wages; if it is burnt down, he will be the loser, and though he is saved himself, it will be as one who has gone through fire. Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? The temple of God is sacred and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:10-17

Gospel Reading

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. 'Sir', he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.'

His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.'
Matthew 25:14-15, 19-20


I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God's counsels, in God's world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name. God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling.
John Henry Newman (1801-90) Meditations


Be still, for the presence of the Lord