Annual Report 2014-2015
Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future
From July 24 to August 1, 2014, ISN took 45 delegates to El Salvador on a trip designed to honor the martyrs and the ongoing impact of their work. Coming from 28 Jesuit institutions, delegates included high school teachers and administrators; university faculty, staff, and alumni; and parish priests and parishioners.
In El Salvador, our delegation explored the lives of the six Jesuits and two laywomen who were murdered at the University of Central America in 1989. We studied the martyrs’ work for justice in conjunction with present-day human rights issues in El Salvador, staying in homes and meeting with community members, NGO leaders, and Jesuits.
Jeff Peak, Assistant Director of the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice at Creighton University, was moved by the experience. “Having been particularly inspired by the story of the UCA martyrs as an undergraduate student, and now teaching the story of the martyrs in my work at Creighton, I felt particularly blessed to be a participant on, what for me was, a pilgrimage,” he said.
Peak continued, “Spending time on the UCA campus–praying in the garden where the Jesuits were killed, celebrating Mass in the chapel where they were buried–I knew that I was walking on holy ground.”
Katie Murphy, a theology teacher at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., said her experiences in El Salvador would reshape her advocacy efforts in the U.S. “Doing justice is hard, messy, and uncomfortable. It means confronting root causes and working for transformation, like the Jesuits at the UCA,” she said.
ISN also marked the 25th anniversary by establishing the “Legacy of the Martyrs” award. Three recipients were chosen in 2014-2015 for their leadership and service in the spirit of the Jesuit martyrs and their companions.
Rep. Jim McGovern is a strong advocate of U.S. policy that honors human rights in El Salvador and across the globe.
Online Feature: Watch Rep. McGovern’s reflection on the Jesuit martyrs
Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC) and Radio Progreso, a Jesuit-sponsored organization in Honduras whose work encompasses grassroots radio programming, human rights training, community organizing, and assisting migrant families.
Online Feature: Watch Fr. Ismael Moreno Coto, S.J.’s keynote at the 2014 Ignatian Family Teach-In
Kino Border Initiative, a Jesuit ministry on the U.S.-Mexico border working for the dignity of migrants through accompaniment, advocacy, and education.
The 17th Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C., on November 15-17, 2014, was another occasion for ISN to celebrate the martyrs’ lives—this time with over 1,500 members of the Ignatian Family.
Throughout our gathering, we shared stories about what we had seen in El Salvador. Sharing his experience of praying with women from a rural Salvadoran community, ISN executive director Christopher Kerr challenged delegates to join their voices with those of the oppressed. “This is a song of peace, a song of justice, a song that goes from this hall here, to the halls of Congress, to halls of our schools and our churches, and our homes,” he said.
At the Teach-In, ISN also hosted the premiere of “Blood in the Backyard,” (now titled “Blood of the Martyrs”), a compelling documentary from Loyola Productions about the social and political environment in El Salvador that led to the murders of the Jesuits and the two women, and why their deaths continue to matter today. The film also included footage from ISN’s delegation to El Salvador.
On the final day, over 1,000 participants went to Capitol Hill to meet with more than 100 Congressional offices. Advocates participated in meetings with lawmakers and staffers to urge Congress to support human rights-oriented policies in El Salvador and other Central American countries, pass humane comprehensive immigration reform, and respond to climate change negatively impacting the poor across the world.
This year marked both the 25th anniversary of the Jesuit martyrs and the 10th anniversary of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, creating an opportunity for ISN’s board of directors and staff to ask: How can we further our efforts to develop faith-based leaders who are equipped to engage the contemporary realities of the poor and marginalized around the world?
The result was the establishment of the “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future” Fund, which will expand ISN’s capacity to create innovative new leadership formation programs that address emerging social justice issues. The fund goal of $100,000 is to be utilized between 2015 and 2020. As of June 30, 2015, over $50,000 was pledged to help ISN reach this goal. To learn more about how you can support the “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future” Fund, contact Christopher Kerr, executive director at 216-397-2088.