BY JOSIE SCHUMAN | January 24, 2020
On Friday, January 24, 2020, over 100 members of the Ignatian family, including delegations from Jesuit colleges and universities, high schools, and parishes, gathered together to celebrate the Ignatian Mass for Life at Holy Trinity Church, a Jesuit parish in Washington, D.C., before the annual March for Life.Among these Jesuit institutions, there were representatives from Saint Peter’s University, Loyola Maryland University, Regis Jesuit High School, St. Ignatius College Prep, Loyola Academy, University of Detroit Jesuit High School, and Xavier High School.
In his homily, the Very Rev. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, reminded attendees that God is at the heart of all human life: “Our faith teaches us that human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end.”
“We are called to remember that we are all made in the very image and likeness of God and see the face of God in every stage of human life, from conception until death,” he continued.
Leah Finnegan, a senior at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, echoed this sentiment in sharing her decision to attend the Ignatian Mass for Life and March for Life: “We’re here to advocate for life and promote the value of life from the moment of conception to natural death and to commemorate and celebrate the mystery and beauty of all human life.”
When advocating for the right to life, Fr. Kesicki explained that we must be intentional with our actions. “How we engage this fundamental struggle is important, particularly as students, teachers, pastors, and parishioners in Jesuit institutions,” he said. “We don’t gather to separate ourselves from those who think differently than us, we gather to engage one another, especially those who do not share our beliefs, in the hope that our witness and our beliefs might be transformative.”Patrick Pullis, a senior at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, spoke to the necessity of intentional advocacy work surrounding life issues. “Part of Jesuit education is being a man for others—and part of that is speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves,” he said. “We do a lot of work for homeless people and people in need, and part of that is caring for the unborn.” With a focus on preserving the lives of the unborn, Fr. Kesicki called the congregation to work toward the protection of the most vulnerable members of society: “We are in search of a way forward to protect and defend the least among us. We are in search of a way to proclaim that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.” As the Ignatian family defends the right to life in Washington, D.C., this weekend, ISN continues to work for life in all forms through environmental justice, immigration reform, and bringing an end to the death penalty through criminal justice reform, which are, at their core, issues of life. “We are grateful for your presence and willingness to be a witness of faith today here in Washington,” said ISN executive director Christopher Kerr, while welcoming attendees. “Like you, each November over 1,000 students from Jesuit schools come to Washington for the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The Teach-In and your presence today are both examples of the ways that we can live out our faith by standing up consistently for the inherent dignity of all human life. So thank you for being a witness today and for being part of this Ignatian Family.”
Josie Schuman is a former ISN intern and graduate of John Carroll University. She is currently a member of the Urban Catholic Teacher Corp at Boston College, pursuing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction while teaching 5th grade English. Josie is passionate about faith-based antiracist education and hopes to inspire students of color to use reading and writing as tool for social change.