BY ISN STAFF | November 4, 2019
The 2019 event will mark the 30th anniversary of the deaths of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador and their companions
WASHINGTON, D.C.—From November 16-18, 2019, nearly 2,000 individuals will gather for the 22nd annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C.
Initiated in 1997, the Teach-In commences yearly in mid-November to commemorate the lives of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador. The six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter were murdered on November 16, 1989, for speaking out against the country’s tumultuous civil war. Through work with the poor and marginalized, the Catholic Church and its leaders, including the Jesuits and now-Saint Óscar Romero, sought to address the long history of inequality and injustice in the country.
Each year, the Teach-In connects Catholic faith and justice, addressing timely issues through two days of dynamic speakers, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. Known as the largest annual Catholic social justice gathering in the U.S., the gathering attracts attendees from over 130 Jesuit and other Catholic universities, high schools, parishes, and organizations in the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico, Spain, and El Salvador. While all ages are represented at the event, the majority of attendees are ages 16-22.
On the morning of Monday, November 18, attendees gather at Columbus Circle in Washington, D.C., for a public witness to pray, hear from active advocates, and recommit to work for justice. The Teach-In then culminates with what is estimated to be the largest Catholic advocacy day of the year. More than 1,500 individuals will proceed to legislative advocacy meetings with members of Congress and their staffs on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to advocate for immigration reform and action on environmental justice issues.
2019 keynote presenters include Sr. Peggy O’Neill, founder of Centro Arte Para la Paz, a regional educational cultural center promoting peace through dance, art, and theological reflection, in Suchitoto, El Salvador, Marcia Chatelain, Ph.D., a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University and scholar on race and ethnicity in America, and Reyna Montoya, founder and CEO of Aliento, a community organization that is DACA, undocumented, and youth-led, addressing the needs of those impacted by the inequalities of lacking and immigration status.
Other presenters will include Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Fr. James Martin, S.J., bestselling author and editor-at-large at America Magazine, and Alfred Dewayne Brown, who was released from Texas’ notorious death row on June 8, 2015 and is the subject of an upcoming Netflix documentary.
Joanna Williams, director of education and advocacy at the Kino Border Initiative, and José Aguto, associate director for Catholic Climate Covenant will provide mainstage policy updates on immigration and environmental justice.
“For more than twenty years, the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice has brought people together to honor the legacy of the Jesuit martyrs and their companions through learning, prayer, and action,” says Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “As we mark the 30th anniversary of their deaths, we stand together at the margins of today’s world as they did in El Salvador as advocates for a world that better upholds the dignity of all people.”
The 2019 theme, Radical Hope, Prophetic Action, is rooted in the legacy of the Salvadoran martyrs who “stood with those at the margins of society at the cost of their lives, taking prophetic action that expressed God’s love for all people and all creation.” In this anniversary year, this theme affirms that, as a people of Radical Hope, we trust in God’s promise of peace and justice—the vision of equality and dignity—and that, as a people of Prophetic Action, we read the signs of the times and join together to care for one another and our common home.
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The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is generously sponsored by Magis Americas, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Georgetown Center for Social Justice, Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, Jesuit Schools Network, Spes Nova, Creighton University, Theology of Healing Earth in Action (THEA) Institute at Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University Maryland, Sojourners, the University of San Francisco, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, EthixMerch, the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, National Catholic Reporter, International Samaritan, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, America Media, Villanova University Campus Ministry, Be the Light Youth Theology Institute at Canisius College, Commonweal Magazine, Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Xavier University, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, Catholic Volunteer Network, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners.