Compass: A Jesuit Journal was published from 1983 to 1997 by the Jesuits of Upper Canada Province in Toronto. A Jesuit-funded magazine with a social commentary mandate, Compass explored contemporary subjects through articles, book reviews, editorials, and poetry. In the early 1980s, following the changes brought on by the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in 1973, the Upper Canada Province encouraged the promotion of justice through the funding of several projects that emphasized cooperation and social engagement. The 33rd and 34th Congregations later highlighted the importance of mass media and social communications for engagement and outreach. In the spirit of influences such as liberation theology and the “preferential option for the poor” of Superior General Pedro Arrupe, S.J., institutions such as The Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice and the Jesuit Communication Project solidified the Province’s efforts toward ideas of social justice and cooperation between religious and lay organisations.
In 1983, William F. Ryan, S.J., Provincial at the time, commissioned the creation of a national magazine that would “point the way to further collaboration with lay men and women, members of other religious orders, diocesan clergy, and neighbours of good will.” From 1983 to 1986, Grant Maxwell, a seasoned Catholic journalist, was editor of Compass. Though the magazine had significant involvement from Jesuits, laypeople and members of other religious orders were an important part of Compass’ staff and contributors throughout its publication. In 1987, Robert Chodos became the new editor of Compass and brought several changes to the publication. The magazine passed from a subscription-only model to a dual subscription/newsstand distribution model. The magazine’s schedule of four issues per year was also changed to a bimonthly publication schedule in 1988, in an effort to increase efficiency. In the 1990s, Compass also added positions for associate editors to its core team. A thematic shift accompanied this organizational one, the magazine emphasizing exchange of contrasting ideas in this period.
In 1997, following global financial pressure, the Jesuits withdrew their funding to the magazine. The assets were then transferred to the “Compass Foundation,” created to seek sponsorship for a new magazine to follow in Compass’ footsteps. Despite efforts from its editorial team to continue the publication online or to find other sources of funding, the magazine ceased publication. In spite of this, they managed to publish Compass Points: Navigating the 20th Century, a compilation of the “decades” issues, along with newly-selected material for the 1980s and 1990s.