Jesuit Students Converge on Nation’s Capital for Ignatian Family Teach-In
Tags: Georgetown University, Ignatian Family Teach-In, Ignatian Solidarity Network, Jesuit, jesuits, Society of Jesus
About 1,200 people participated in this year’s Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, an annual reunion of Jesuit social justice activists from universities, colleges, high schools, parishes and ministries across the nation.
The Teach-In was held Nov. 13-15 at Georgetown University and included speeches and breakout groups on key issues, culminating in a Monday morning send-off rally and public witness on Capitol Hill. In meetings with their local congressional representatives, students focused particularly on the passage of the Dream Act and immigration reform, climate change legislation and the closure of the School of Americas.
After years of holding the Teach-In at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., the event’s organizers, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, took advantage of this year’s location in the nation’s capital to have participants engage in direct advocacy with Congress and other policymakers.
“The idea behind this is to build some political power here in D.C.,” said Mike Schloss, the network’s program director. “Pretty soon, people are going to know who the [Ignatian Solidarity Network] is, know what the Ignatian Family Teach-In is, in the halls of Congress, and pick up our phone calls and really work with us.”
The weekend’s theme was “Prophetic Lives: Caminando Juntos,” drawing inspiration from the Jesuit martyrs killed for their work in El Salvador on Nov. 16, 1989. Speakers frequently referenced the martyrs to highlight the often-heavy sacrifices of social justice work and the anniversary of their deaths.
“We know the path of justice requires sacrifice, but the legacy of martyrs tells us [that] the culture of fear and individualism isn’t the whole story,” said Jesuit Father Mark Ravizza of Santa Clara University (pictured). “It is a promise that if you truly pour out your life and have love for one another, though you may face suffering and death, in the end you will find life.”
The weekend’s main objective was to build a strong movement for the future. By informing high school and college students on the key issues of their time and constructing a broader network of activists, the Ignatian Solidarity Network hopes to show that the Jesuit peace and justice community is a force to be reckoned with.
Moving the teach-in from Fort Benning to Capitol Hill was, for many participants, a way of acting on the network’s pledge to future growth.
Jesuit Father Donald MacMillan of Boston College, who has attended all but one of the twelve Teach-Ins, said that though it was a “difficult emotional move” to leave Georgia and his many friends involved at the School of the Americas vigil, the movement’s demands are now being heard more directly. The challenge is to stick behind those demands after students return to their homes and college campuses.
“There’s always a challenge, always a struggle. But struggle is a good word. That means there’s life there. Nobody’s sitting here being complacent,” Fr. MacMillan said. [National Catholic Reporter]