Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Inspired by Pope Francis, Jesuits Washed Feet of Young Inmates in Los Angeles on Holy Thursday

Jesuit Father Michael Kennedy

Yesterday, Jesuits washed the feet of young inmates at a juvenile detention facility in Los Angeles, as Pope Francis did for young Italian prisoners rather than for clerics as is the custom on Holy Thursday.

The decision to hold Holy Thursday services with young prisoners exemplified the particular Jesuit calling for “faith that does justice,” Jesuit Father Michael Kennedy told The Los Angeles Times. Fr. Kennedy ministers to inmates and their families for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles through the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative.

The Times reported that “the Jesuits in black shirts and clerical collars knelt before the youths in standard-issue gray sweats as they poured cool water over their feet and dried them, drawing both smiles and solemn looks.”

The young people also read letters to the pope, asking for healing and blessings. The inmates’ letters were then sent to Rome, where Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said in an email that Pope Francis would “surely read them with profound gratitude and he will pray for all the young people that are in the Juvenile Hall, and all that are in prisons.”

According to Fr. Kennedy, the pope’s visit to the Casal del Marmo juvenile jail for his first papal Holy Thursday service electrified social justice advocates across the globe.

“He’s going to places nobody wants to go to be with people who are forgotten,” Fr. Kennedy said of the pope. “It’s really shifting the paradigm of who we need to embrace and who is important in God’s eyes.”

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times website.

What would Los Angeles look like without Jesuit-Founded Homeboys Industries?

In a recent Op-ed piece in the LA Times, columnist Jim Newton reflected on what the city might look like if Homeboy Industries, the Jesuit-founded ministry that provides on-the-job training and counseling to former gang members, was no longer a fixture in the urban area.

“Life without Homeboy would be bleaker, meaner and more expensive in a society already too bleak, too mean and strapped for cash,” says Newton in his column.

Founded at the height of the gang violence that was ripping the city apart in 1992, Jesuit Father Greg Boyle, himself now an icon in the city, started Homeboy Industries  to help gang members leave their lives formed on the streets and in prisons and instead learn skills to improve their lives. Offering tattoo removal, counseling former “homies” in drug rehabilitation and mental health, and even providing jobs in its bakery, café and t-shirt store, Homeboy Industries is a haven for former gang members looking to turn their lives around. The ministry helps approximately 12,000 individuals each year learn life skills to lead them away from the streets.

With the economic downturn pulling back donations a few years ago, the concept of a Los Angeles without Homeboy Industries almost became a reality and Fr. Boyle had to canvas all of his contacts and benefactors to help stave off insolvency. Jobs for the homeboys and homegirls are still scare but the program does help keep these former gang members off the streets. “You want people to make the connection between public safety…and giving these people a chance,” Boyle says.

Read more about Homeboy Industries and what it and Fr. Boyle provide to Los Angeles in this column from the LA Times.

Jesuit Honored with Social Justice Award from Ignatian Solidarity Network

In 1995, Jesuit Father Don MacMillan, a newly minted campus minister at Boston College (B.C.), was approached by a student interested in honoring the memory of the six Jesuits and two lay partners who had been massacred in 1989 in El Salvador.  That chance encounter led Fr. MacMillan on the path to a long and fulfilling new role as a social justice activist, a commitment that will be honored tonight as the Ignatian Solidarity Network presents its “Robert M. Holstein: Faith that Does Justice Award” to Fr. MacMillan.

The Holstein award honors one individual annually who has demonstrated a significant commitment to leadership for social justice grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. The award’s namesake, the late Robert (Bob) M. Holstein, was a former California Province Jesuit, labor lawyer, fierce advocate for social justice and one of the founders of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) – the precursor to the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

The first memorial service commemorating the El Salvadoran victims was organized by Fr. MacMillan and the Boston College students on the B.C. campus, but by the next year, the group had taken their commemoration to Fort Benning, Ga.  Here, they held a prayer vigil at the gate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas in order to call attention to the school that, according to a U.S. Congressional Task Force, had trained those responsible for the executions in El Salvador.

Over the years, thousands of students have been empowered by Fr. MacMillan’s teaching and ministry. At Boston College, Fr. MacMillan coordinates the Urban Immersion Program, a weeklong experience of prayer and service for undergraduates to learn about the lives of those in Boston suffering from poverty and homelessness. He also organizes an annual trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where B.C. students have direct experience with Latin American refugees and the poor of Mexico.

Fr. MacMillan earned two Boston College degrees: a bachelor’s degree in 1966 and a master of divinity degree in 1972. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1960 and was ordained in 1972.  He previously served as both a teacher and administrator at Boston College High School and Bishop Connolly High School.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) promotes leadership and advocacy among students, alumni, and other emerging leaders from Jesuit schools, parishes and ministries by educating its members on social justice issues; by mobilizing a national network to address those issues; and by encouraging a life-long commitment to social justice grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Since the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s inception in 2004, Fr. MacMillan has been an integral part of ISN’s effort to mobilize a national network of leaders committed to justice grounded in Gospel teachings.

The previous “Robert M. Holstein: Faith that Does Justice Award” honorees include Jesuit Father Charlie Currie, former president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities; and Jesuit Father Steven Privett, president of the University of San Francisco.

Learn more about the “Robert M. Holstein: Faith that Does Justice Award” at: www.ignatiansolidarity.net/holstein.

Jesuit Father Mike Kennedy Brings Ignatian Spirituality to Those Behind Bars

When Jesuit Father Mike Kennedy was pastor of Dolores Mission, located in the barrio of East Los Angeles, he witnessed firsthand the impact to the community of having so many of its youth facing life without parole. After serving as pastor from 1994 to 2007, Fr. Kennedy left Dolores Mission to start the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (JRJI) to provide support and hope to juveniles with life sentences.

Through the Spiritual Exercise of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a series of meditative prayers helping people find God in their everyday experiences, the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative provides tools that allow prisoners to find healing and forgiveness and to recognize their lives have meaning and purpose. As JRJI’s Executive Director, Fr. Kennedy also reaches out to victims and their families to provide support and healing. The group’s advocacy outreach from its headquarters in Culver City, Calif., includes mobilizing communities to transform the justice system from one that is solely punitive to one that is restorative.  Fr. Kennedy has been recognized for JRJI’s efforts to transform the lives of incarcerated youth, their families and communities by the California Chief of Probation Officers and the City of Los Angeles.

In this Ignatian News Network video piece below, you can find out more about Fr. Kennedy and the work of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative to bring hope to Los Angeles’ incarcerated juveniles:

Jesuit Father Ed Reese Discusses Brophy Prep’s Loyola Academy in This Month’s NJN Podcast

In this month’s National Jesuit News podcast, we speak with Jesuit Father Ed Reese, who currently serves as the president of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona

A recent addition to Brophy is Loyola Academy, which provides a Catholic, Jesuit education to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade boys who demonstrate academic promise but have had limited educational opportunities. Loyola Academy currently serves one class of sixth grade boys, and will add a new sixth grade class for the 2012/2013 school year.

Fr. Reese recently spoke with us by phone from Phoenix to discuss the work of Loyola Academy and about his own background as a Jesuit. You can listen to our podcast with Reese via the player below.