BY CHRIS KERR | December 4, 2012
“Loyola Blakefield High School Attends the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice”
WASHINGTON, DC – “Imagination Reform” was the theme of the 15th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) attended by Loyola Blakefield High School. The national conference for those passionate about social justice grounded in the Catholic Social Teaching and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, took place November 16-18, 2012, in Washington DC. The Loyola Blakefield High School group joined approximately 1,000 other attendees from more than fifty Jesuit and partner institutions in twenty different U.S. states. The Teach-In was sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
Keynote speakers at the IFTJ included:
Gabriel Bol Deng, founding director of Hope for Ariang, and former Lost Boy of Sudan;
Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, 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;
Merlys Mosquera Chamat, regional director of Jesuit Refugee Services-Latin America and Caribbean.
Student Student Speakers Included:
Felicia Carter – Saint Joseph’s University; Jordan Denari – Georgetown University (and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School alumni); Andrew Herman – Seattle Preparatory School; Beth Keenan – St. Joseph’s University; Vail Kohnert-Yount – Georgetown University; Beth Mueller – Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University; Nestor Pimienta – Loyola Marymount University; Trevor Schramm – Boston College High School; Laura Snowden – Santa Clara University; and Natalie Terry – Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University.
Click here to view a list of delegations that attended the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.
Each year 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, 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.
Reflecting on the 15th annual teach-in, Christopher Kerr, Ignatian Solidarity Network executive director said, “This year’s teach-in embraced the true spirit of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Attendees gathered with a strong desire not just to learn about injustice, but also seeking ways to be better connected with those facing and injustice and those who work for justice. The energy surrounding Ignatian Family Advocacy Month in February 2013 is already building. We look forward to continuing to work with the Loyola Blakefield High School delegation on this unique advocacy effort.” Ignatian Family Advocacy Month, is a national advocacy campaign initiated by the Ignatian Solidarity Network which will focus on three priority areas: domestic poverty, humane immigration reform, and sustainable environmental policies.
The Teach-In also offered 50+ breakout sessions presented by national and international speakers including Most Rev. Bernard Unabali, Bishop of the Diocese of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. A list of all of the breakout sessions can be found here.
On Saturday evening, attendees gathered 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 included Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University, Maria Ibara, a Jesuit Volunteer and graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy, and Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice was 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.
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: www.www.ignatiansolidarity.net
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.