Connecting to the Past, Committing to the Future: the 2012 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice
Tags: Ignatian Family Teach-In, Ignatian Solidarity Network, Jesuit, jesuits, social justice, Society of Jesus
On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests, a housekeeper and her daughter were brutally murdered by Salvadoran armed forces at Central American University in El Salvador, victims of a bloody civil war that raged from 1981 through 1992. This coming weekend, thousands of miles from the site of the murders and 23 years later, more than 1,000 people will come together in Washington, D.C., to remember those martyred and to continue their mission at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ).
Matthew Ippel, a senior at Georgetown University, is one of the attendees. “Those murdered that day in El Salvador continue to remind the world that we are all called to love and serve, especially those who live on the margins. That’s why we’re coming together for the Teach-In for Justice. It connects us with the past and commits us to the future,” says Ippel, currently studying at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. “We are set forth with a challenge: to carry out their mission and their vision of a more just and humane social order and to live a life of human solidarity.”
The IFTJ, commemorating its 15th year, is a national conference for those who are passionate about social justice grounded in Ignatian spirituality and Catholic social teaching. Started in 1997 by a small group gathered for Mass in Georgia, this year’s attendees represent 28 Jesuit colleges and universities, more than 25 Jesuit high schools, Jesuit parishes and many other Catholic organizations.
According to Chris Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network and Teach-In organizer, this year’s Teach-In theme “Imagination Reform: Moving Beyond the Margins” invites people to consider new ways of addressing the issue of injustice and working for social justice.
“In the aftermath of a major election cycle in the U.S., the theme challenges all of us to think with open minds about how to address challenging issues in the U.S. and beyond that impact the poor and marginalized,” Kerr says. “The goals of the Teach-In are to provide a space for individuals from Jesuit and partner institutions from across the U.S. to gather for learning, networking, reflection and advocacy.”
During breakout sessions, attendees will experience global and local perspectives, as they grapple with issues facing those on the margins of society.
Shaina Aber, policy director for the U.S. Jesuit Conference in Washington, D.C., is eager to attend the interactive breakout session run by keynote speaker Meryls Mosquera Chamat, Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will address the question of forced displacements.
“The workshop is a role-play scenario and is designed to invite participants to struggle with the real tensions and concerns generated by forced displacement. The group will examine who the missing players are at the table as they seek to balance the needs and priorities of the different stakeholder groups,” Aber explains.
Joining Mosquera Chamat on the keynote speaker stage will be:
- Jesuit Father Fred Kammer, Executive Director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute and former Executive Director of Catholic Charities USA
- Gabriel Bol Deng, former Lost Boy of Sudan and founder of Hope for Ariang
- Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., Executive Director of NETWORK—A Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Kerr is excited for what the keynote speakers will share: “This year’s keynote speakers represent the tremendous diversity of the Ignatian family and our partners. Attendees will be challenged to explore a broad range of issues through their powerful witnesses, including the injustice faced by refugees, immigrants and those facing domestic poverty. We are excited to welcome Sr. Simone, Gabriel, Fr. Fred and Merlys to this year’s mainstage!”
For more information on the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, visit the Ignatian Solidarity website.
—Kaitlyn McCarthy Schnieders