BY CHRISTOPHER KERR| November 2, 2019
Finding out 12-months ago that the Ignatian Solidarity Network would be asked to send a delegate to the Jesuit’s Jubilee Congress in Rome to celebrate fifty years of the Justice and Ecology Secretariat was exciting but also left me with a question. Do we really belong there?
What can an organization of lay collaborators that has only been in existence for 15 years offer to a gathering that will be steeped in the history of people like Fr. Pedro Arrupe, documents like the Jesuit’s 32nd and 34th General Congregations that illuminated new ways of living out St. Ignatius’ vision in the context of faith and justice, and events like the founding of Jesuit Refugee Service and the deaths of the six Jesuits and their lay partners in El Salvador?
As I prepare to head to Rome tonight to join 200 Jesuit and lay colleagues from around the world, I am humbled by the complexity of the question and excited to find answers during my time at the Jubilee Congress.
The Jubilee will invite Jesuits and lay colleagues from around the world to do three things: express gratitude for these fifty years of the justice and ecology apostolate—for which there is much to be thankful for; to discern new ways moving forward for social ministry apostolate, particularly in light of the Jesuit’s recently announced Universal Apostolic Preferences; and to build a broader sense of “network” by coming to know colleagues and partners from around the world.
What am I looking forward to during week?
Broadening ISN’s vision of “Ignatian Family” (if this is a new term for you, check out what happens at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice) by coming to know new companions in mission from around the globe. Learning from the experiences of the social apostolate that can offer ISN new avenues to respond to the Universal Apostolic Preferences. And, reflecting on the joy it is for ISN to be part of the work of the Society of Jesus—to be co-laborers for a more just world rooted in God’s vision of human dignity and care for our common home. In short, I am excited to be inspired, to be humbled, and to be reminded that this is God’s work and we are just a small part of it.
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.