BY KELLY SWAN | May 20, 2019
Each year, the Ignatian Solidarity Network hosts over 100 high school students, in addition to 40 faculty and staff chaperones at three Arrupe Leaders Summits across the U.S.
Through idea sharing, action planning, and a vibrant series of presentations and hands-on leadership challenges, Summits invite emerging student leaders from Jesuit and other Catholic high schools and parishes nationwide to deepen their understanding of “a faith that does justice” and build skills to effect positive social change in their local and global communities.
Faculty and staff are invited into their own spaces during student sessions to discuss themes centering around their own experiences of justice work at their home institutions.
“When I first started attending the Arrupe Leaders Summit, I liked that the chaperones didn’t just sit in the back, but we were instead given a space to be engaged with one another,” shared Justin White, interim director of campus ministry at Loyola Blakefield and former teacher at Cristo Rey Baltimore.
While staff and faculty sessions at each Summit start with similar discussion talking points, the conversation is driven by the participants in the room. At each Summit, the group is representative of a diverse host of schools from various geographical areas, racial and economic backgrounds, and education models, including tradition Catholic private and Cristo Rey Network schools. “This brings a deepened sense of intersectionality,” shared White, of his experience at the east coast Summit. Discussion topics have included race and white supremacy, rights and issues surrounding indigenous communities in the U.S. and Canada, and LBGT inclusion. These lead educators to a discussion of institutional support for justice work on individual campuses, as well as best-practice sharing and brainstorming around specific initiatives and programs.
“The faculty development sessions during the Summit provided a space for me to converse openly with each schools’ faculty and staff chaperones about the ways that each of our school communities and students uniquely understand Jesuit identity and a commitment to doing justice,” shared Maura Rocks, director of the office of Christian service and religious studies and college preparation teacher at Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory, a Cristo Rey school in Chicago, after the 2019 midwest Arrupe Leaders Summit. “These sessions go a step further than traditional networking, and are intentionally structured to provide space for idea-sharing, brainstorming, and dialogue. I was provided with a space to process and deepen a shared understanding of what it means to work at a Jesuit school committed to social justice.”
White went on to reference ISN’s capstone event each year, the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, hosting nearly 2,000 individuals each year in Washington, D.C. for the nation’s largest annual Catholic social justice conference. “Arrupe Summits are like the Teach-In on a smaller scale,” he explained. “This allows for deeper, more intentional work, creating significant waves in our school communities.”
Kelly Swan has served as communications director for the Ignatian Solidarity Network since 2016. She grew up in West Virginia and is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University. Kelly has worked in parish social ministry, child and family advocacy, community education and organizing, and publishing. She lives in the Cleveland, Ohio area with her children.