BY CHRIS KERR | July 31, 2014
Happy Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola! I am excited to be sharing this message from San Salvador, El Salvador as our ISN delegation in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Jesuit martyrs comes to an end tonight. Our 45 delegates continue to have powerful experiences of ISN’s faith and justice mission. I am confident that this experience will have ripples throughout the Ignatian family for many years to come.
There were many highlights of our time here, but most important has been the time with the Salvadoran people who shared their homes and their realities with us. I joined a group of delegates who spent the weekend with families in Guarjila, a rural community that had to flee as refugees to Honduras during the El Salvador civil war in the 1980’s. Before we departed from the community, the women leaders invited us to pray with them. They closed with this song:
“I want to sing this song.
I don’t want to sing it by myself.
I want a choir with all of the birds
and sing this song to whoever needs this song.
But I don’t want to sing it by myself.
I want 1,000,000 friends to sing it with me.”
For me, this song illustrates the overarching themes of our delegation. Here in El Salvador we have found people committed to working together for social change, who continually recognize the presence of God even amid great evil, and are willing to invite others into their struggle for justice.
We also had the chance to spend with time with Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J., who reminded us that the Jesuit martyrs were people who took their relationships of solidarity with the poor and marginalized very seriously. Fr. Sobrino encouraged us to imagine those who are oppressed in El Salvador and beyond, suffering on the cross just like Christ. He then posed three questions:
“What have you done for those who are suffering?
What are you doing for those who are suffering?
What will you do for those who are suffering?”
He finished by saying, “that is Ignatian spirituality. That is Ignatian solidarity.”
Our closing mass today will be at the chapel where Archbishop Oscar Romero was murdered in 1980. We will sing a prayer of solidarity and want 1,000,000 friends to sing with us. Will you join our song?
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.