FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Christopher Kerr | 216-410-7351 | ckerr@ignatiansolidarity.net

MURDERED JESUITS REMEMBERED DURING OPENING NIGHT OF IGNATIAN FAMILY TEACH-IN FOR JUSTICE

Crowd of 1,600+ Continues Preparations for Human Rights Advocacy on Capitol Hill

The crowd of 1,600+ offers prayers of thanksgiving for the legacy of 53 contemporary Jesuit martyrs. [Source: ISN]

The crowd of 1,600+ offers prayers of thanksgiving for the legacy of 53 contemporary Jesuit martyrs. [Source: ISN]

WASHINGTON, DC – Over 1,600 individuals affiliated with Jesuit institutions and the larger Catholic Church will converged during the first night at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ), in Washington, D.C. The 17th annual Teach-In coincides with the 25th anniversary of the murders of six Jesuit priests, killed in El Salvador on November 16, 1989, by Salvadoran military for their defense of the economically poor.

Beyond inspiring speakers, policy briefings, and networking events, participants will rally on Capitol Hill on Monday, November 17, before collectively meeting with more than 100+ Congressional offices. Advocates will visit with their respective lawmakers to urge Congress to pass humane comprehensive immigration reform, support human rights oriented policies in Central America, and respond to climate change and effects marginalizing the economically poor.  It is estimated that nearly 1,000 people will advocate to Congress, making Monday the largest Catholic advocacy of the year.

ISN executive director Christopher Kerr, welcomed the crowd with stories from a recent trip to El Salvador.  He said, “we can sing the song left to us by the martyrs — 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. A song that never ends,” referring a song sung during a prayer service with members of a rural community named Guarjila.

Speaking about libration theology, keynote Michael Lee, Ph.D, “to many people see it is a dirty word…but it is the witness of the Jesuit martyrs.  It is a way of seeking God.”  Lee is a professor of systematic theology at Fordham University and has written numerous books on the Jesuit martyrs and liberation theology movement.

Citing the long history of persecution toward the Catholic Church and marginalized populations, keynote Marie Dennis said, “It has to be dangerous enough to the status quo, to the powers that be, that it may get its proponents killed.”  Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi international continued, “We are still called to live the Gospel, to act in solidarity with people who are threatened, to work for a just peace.”

The IFTJ is a nationwide social justice conference sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network, a national lay-led, faith-based, social justice organization that works to mobilize Jesuit universities, high schools, parishes, and ministries and the larger church throughout the United States in order to effect positive social change on critical issues facing the world.  Teach-In attendees represent over ninety Catholic institutions in twenty-five states, Canada, El Salvador, and Mexico.  The IFTJ started in 1997 in conjunction with the School of the Americas Watch movement to close the former U.S. Army School of the Americas. In 2010, the IFTJ moved from Georgia to Washington, D.C., to more directly impact public policy with legislative advocacy.

Sunday’s speakers include Fr. Ismael Moreno Coto, S.J., a Honduran human rights activist; Caroline Brennan, Senior Communications Officer at Catholic Relief Services; Fr. James Martin, S.J., editor-at-large at America Magazine; Fr. Tom Reese, S.J., columnist at National Catholic Reporter; and Daniel Misleh, Executive Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant.

The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is sponsored by: Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, Loyola University Chicago Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University Maryland, University of San Francisco, Xavier University, America Magazine, Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University, Bread for the World, Fairfield University, U.S. Jesuits National Advocacy Office, John Carroll University, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, Loyola Press, Oxfam America, and Villanova University.

Listing of University, High School & Parish Delegations: http://igsol.net/1u

Press Release Available in Spanish: http://igsol.net/iftj14es

Full schedule of events: http://igsol.net/iftjsch

A Live Stream of the main stage events will be available on Saturday (11/15) & Sunday (11/16) at: http://igsol.net/iftlive

Social Media Connections for the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice:
ISN Twitter Handle: @IGsolidarityNET
Teach-In Hashtag: #IFTJ14
Facebook: /ignatiansolidarity
Instagram: ignatiansolidarity

SUMMARY OF EVENTS:

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Crystal Gateway Marriott, Ballroom and Adjacent Breakout Rooms
8:30 AM – 9:00 PM

Monday, November 17, 2014 (Weather Permitting)
U.S. Capitol Building
Rally – 9 AM – 9:45 AM (corner of Independence & First St., across the street from the National Archives)
Advocacy Day – 10:00 AM (Advocacy will proceed after the public witness)
Click here to view the full schedule of events.

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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 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.ignatiansolidarity.net.

Christopher Kerr

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.

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