International Refugee Advocate to Share Social Justice Message with Young Adults

November 12, 2012

Contact: Christopher Kerr, Executive Director
O – 216-397-2088
C – 216-410-7351
[email protected]


WASHINGTON, DC – Merlys Mosquera Chamat, regional director, Jesuit Refugee Service – Latin America and Caribbean will address a crowd of nearly 1,000, the majority high school and college students, at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ).  IFTJ is a national conference for those passionate about social justice grounded in the Catholic Social Teaching and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  The 15th annual Teach-In will take place in Washington, DC, from November 16-18, 2012.  The program is sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

The Teach-In is an opportunity for members of the Ignatian family (those connected with Jesuit institutions and the larger church) to come together in the context of social justice to learn, network, reflect, and act for justice.  Teach-In attendees represent twenty-eight Jesuit universities, over twenty-five Jesuit high schools, Jesuit parishes, Jesuit volunteer communities, and many other Catholic institutions and organizations.

Started in 1997, in Columbus, Georgia, the IFTJ takes place in mid-November to commemorate the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador. The six Jesuit priests and two companions were murdered on November 16, 1989, in El Salvador for their work advocating on behalf of the economically poor in that country.  The IFTJ moved from Georgia to Washington, DC, in 2010, to respond to the growing interest in integrating educational opportunities and legislative advocacy into the Teach-in experience.

Merlys Mosquera Chamat started her career working with vulnerable teenagers in Caracas. In 2003 she went to work with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, where she helped to accompany immigrants and refugees and advocate for human rights. Ms. Mosquera gained her degree in pedagogic sciences, and holds a master’s degree in learning processes of education, a master’s degree in migration and a specialization in research and social intervention, and a master’s degree in humanitarian action. She has also taught in a local university in Caracas and is a trainer in courses on gender based violence and the management of social projects.

Merlys as the Regional Director of JRS-Latin America and Caribbean, she is the first lay person to hold the title of Regional Director within Jesuit Refugee Service internationally.   Her role involves managing and supervising  the JRS mission in Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador, Panamá, and Venezuela.

Other keynote speakers at the IFTJ include:
Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director of NETWORK Catholic Social Justice Lobby;
Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans;
Gabriel Bol Deng, founding director of Hope for Ariang, and former Lost Boy of Sudan;

The Teach-In also offers 50+ breakout sessions presented by national and international speakers including Most Rev. Bernard Unabali, Bishop of the Diocese of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

On Saturday evening, attendees will gather at Lower Senate Park (adjacent to Capitol Hill) for a public vigil to call attention to the importance of legislative advocacy in working for social justice and build momentum for ISN’s Ignatian Family Advocacy Month in February 2013.  Speakers include Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University.

The celebrant for the Teach-In Liturgy on Sunday, November 18, is Rev. Drew Kirchman, S.J., a teacher at Arrupe High School in Denver, Colorado.

The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is sponsored by the University of San Francisco, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkley, America Magazine, Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and Loyola Press.

MEDIA NOTE: Teach-In, Liturgy, and Public Vigil include photo, video, and interview opportunities

Click HERE to view the Teach-In schedule.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network 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 the “service of faith and the promotion of justice.”  ISN is an independent lay-led 501(c)(3) organization.  More information can be found at:


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