A Decision for Life: Rupert Mayer Becomes a Jesuit

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Father Rupert Mayer was a Jesuit. The way to full membership in the Jesuit order, the Society of Jesus, proceeds through different stages. The society’s rules and customs have to be studied in the process. At the end of the different periods of preparation, superiors judge suitability and aptitude through examinations and assessments.

This document is an excerpt from the novice’s semiannual exam book in which candidates had to provide information on their personal development. It reveals that Rupert Mayer was born into an affluent businessman’s family in Stuttgart in the Protestant diaspora of the Kingdom of Württemberg and received a superior education: not only attendance of a high school but also music lessons (violin) at home and sports, including riding, which is cited here and was beloved by Rupert Mayer. Evidently, he also served in the armed forces.

Almost exceptionally, Mayer first studied theology and attended seminary to prepare for his ordination as a priest for his home diocese of Rottenburg before he decided to join the Jesuit order, which had been banned in Imperial Germany during the Kulturkampf.

Mayer was examined by Fathers Löffler and Schäffer before his novitiate, i.e. the initial probationary period, finally admitted by provincial P. Haan and placed in the care of the master of novices P. Thoelen in the novitiate house in Feldkirch, Austria. Full membership in the Society of Jesus, which is shaped by the strict, profound spirituality of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius von Loyola, the order’s Spanish founder, stood at the end of the many years of education.

Both his background as an outsider as a Catholic in Stuttgart and his Jesuit education that trained him to be exceptionally disciplined probably played an important role in his unwavering steadfastness as a divisional chaplain, not only under the ordeals of World War I but especially also in his struggle against National Socialism in the decades afterward. The Jesuits’ “motto”, as it appears above the entry in his exam book, particularly expresses the intended aim of the members’ activity: Omnes ad maiorem Dei gloriam – Everything for the greater glory of God.

Source / title

  • © Archiv der Deutschen Provinz der Jesuiten, Abt. 48 – 13 J, Nr. 178