Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, known colloquially as the Jesuits. They're a large order of priests, with a long tradition of intellectual, academic, and spiritual excellence. Pere Jacques Marquette is perhaps the best-known Jesuit around here, as he and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to seriously explore Illinois. Jesuits were the eyes and ears of the Catholic Church during the early exploration of the Midwest. The order even sent priests to China, where they became members of the Imperial Court for a short time. All this time they were observing the world around them, looking for God in all things in imitation of their order's founder. Consequently, Jesuits were often regarded as spies, especially as they observed Europe during the Reformation. The order does have a little controversy in that regard.
The way that most Catholics have met Jesuits has been through education. Jesuit priests are quite often teachers at many levels of education. If you look at some of the schools in the NCAA Tournament, sometimes you'll see Xavier, Gonzaga, or Loyola in the first round. The Jesuits loved to found universities. They still turn out well-qualified graduates from what I've seen. If you have an academic problem, there's probably a Jesuit who will help you find the right answer.
I guess I found a little time to blog after all, eh?