BY ISN STAFF | July 20, 2022
On June 15, 2022, 103 parish staff and parishioners from 48 parishes in the Jesuit and broader Catholic network across the U.S. gathered virtually for the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s 2022 Ignatian Parish Justice Summit.
The 2022 theme was Moving Forward Together, emphasizing the need for renewal and revitalization as a network and community of collaborators working for a more just world.
The Summit opened with a keynote address from Dr. Cecilia González-Andrieu, a professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University. She asked attendees to envision the ways in which personal faith can be the “the engine for social transformation.” She touched on themes of communal power and imagination, playing a role in change for justice, and discernment.
Annie Fox, provincial assistant for social ministry organizing for Jesuits West, served as the second keynote speaker. She guided participants through a session considering the ways in which justice-oriented members of parish communities can build institutional support, recruit leaders, and mobilize in ways that create real impact. They were tangibly guided through processes to create a year-long momentum building plan for their parish communities, as well as an exercise to build a congregation map to understand where support and challenges can be found in their parishes.
Fox’s session centered on the ways in which justice work can feel isolating and frustrating and built on the imagery of drops of water coming together to form a raging torrent that shapes rock and builds God’s Kingdom through community and collaborative work.
“Participating in the recent Parish Justice Summit was a reminder of something that is foundational for me,” shared Kate Carter, parishioner at St. Agnes, a Jesuit parish in San Francisco. “Being connected to persons of faith is what keeps me sane when I am otherwise completely frustrated with our church and society. Work for justice does not happen overnight or in isolation. We all need help to be who we are and do what we can in creating a more just world. This work is a labor of love that requires commitment of time and trusted companions.”
Following the two keynotes, participants were invited to join a series of breakout sessions on topics including parish antiracism work and ministry, crafting a plan to implement the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, migrant accompaniment and action, and networking around the issues of migration, ecology, and racial justice.
The final session, presented by ISN staff member Brenna Davis, explored a holistic approach to faith-justice in the parish setting. She specifically looked at ways to break down silos in parish communities and foster collaboration through uplifting the interconnections between issue areas.
“As a participant in past parish summits, I was delighted to be able to once again connect with fellow Jesuit parishes who are doing work we love and believe in: work for justice,” shared Margie Legowski, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. “As I look back on this year’s virtual summit, I know that what will stay with me is the sense of hope and possibility. If we as Jesuit parish communities could raise our voices with other Catholic and non-Catholic faith communities, we could impact the direction of immigration, anti-poverty, environmental, and racial justice policy, and build and sustain welcoming communities.”