BY ISN STAFF | November 6, 2013
“SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCATES LEARN, PRAY & ADVOCATE DURING IGNATIAN FAMILY TEACH-IN FOR JUSTICE IN WASHINGTON D.C.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Over 1,300 individuals connected with Jesuit institutions and the larger Catholic Church converged at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) from November 16-18, 2013, in Washington D.C. The IFTJ is a nationwide social justice conference sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network, a national lay-led social justice organization that works primarily with Jesuit universities, high schools, parishes, and other ministries throughout the United States. The 1,300+ crowd was the largest since the Teach-In moved to Washington DC in 2010.
Keynote speakers at the IFTJ included:
• Sarita Gupta – Executive Director of Jobs with Justice
• Kyle Kramer – Author of “A Time to Plant Life: Life Lessons in Work, Prayer and Dirt”
• Fr. James Martin, S.J. – Author of “A Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything” & editor-at-large at America Magazine;
• Dan Misleh – Executive Director, Catholic Coalition on Climate Change
• Sr. Peggy O’Neill – Director of Centro Arte Para La Paz
The IFTJ also included a Lobby Day on Monday, November 18, on Capitol Hill. Over 800 individuals mobilized to advocate their legislators for humane comprehensive immigration reform, an increase to the federal minimum wage, and continued access to food assistance for U.S. families in need via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In total, nearly 100 U.S. Congressional offices received Ignatian advocates for lobbying meetings.
“This year’s Teach-In came at a significant time for faith-based advocacy in our country,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “Not only were IFTJ participants moved by powerful presentations and prayer, but their advocacy on Capitol Hill made a difference. Now is the time for humane comprehensive immigration reform, greater respect for minimum-wage workers, and action in support of our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Teach-In attendees represented over sixty Catholic institutions in twenty-three states. Constituencies included students, faculty, alumni from the twenty-eight Jesuit universities and approximately twenty-five Jesuit high schools, Jesuit parish members, Jesuit Volunteer Corps communities and former volunteers. Over fifty faith-based and secular social justice organizations were represented as sponsors, advertisers, exhibitors, and breakout presenters.
“The Teach-In has been a place I return to each year to find energy and inspiration to continue working for social justice,” said Natalie Terry, a graduate student at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University who has attended the teach-in since 2006. “The Ignatian Family gathered at the Teach-In illuminates my path with hope. This is where I find a community and church that ignites and enlivens God’s call for me to ministry.”
Jesuit Father Thomas H. Smolich celebrated the closing Teach-In Liturgy on Sunday, November 17. ”The Teach-In is a tremendous opportunity for people to learn, pray, and act for social justice,” said Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference. “The Ignatian Solidarity Network’s efforts to provide opportunities for those affiliated with Jesuit institutions to gather in this context is very important for our ministries around the country. I was deeply honored to celebrate the closing liturgy at this year’s Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.”
The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is sponsored by the University of San Francisco, Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, The Fund for Theological Education, America Magazine, Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Bread for the World, Catholic Relief Services University, Fairfield University, John Carroll University, Kalmanovitz Initiative, Loyola Press, and The University of Scranton.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) is a national social justice network inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. ISN was founded in 2004 and is a lay-led 501(c)3 organization working in partnership with Jesuit universities, high schools, and parishes, along with many other Catholic institutions and social justice partners. More information can be found at: www.www.ignatiansolidarity.net