2023 Arrupe Leaders Summits Form High School Leaders, Renew Faculty Members
BY ISN STAFF | April 3, 2023
In February and March of 2023, the Ignatian Solidarity Network gathered over 120 students and 45 faculty members from 24 Catholic high schools at three Arrupe Leaders Summits. Each three-day event invites students to deepen their understanding of leadership through examples from the life and writings of Pedro Arrupe, S.J., and leadership texts such as The Student Leadership Challenge: Five Practices for Exemplary Leaders.
The three summits in the San Francisco, Cleveland, and Baltimore areas featured a wide range of speakers, dynamic activities, and approaches to leadership development. Students engaged with guest experts on Fr. Arrupe, ecology, immigration, restorative justice, mental health, and more.
Throughout the weekend, students learn, pray, and connect with one another, and ultimately, they are called to action. Notably, because of the emphasis on leadership within faith and justice spheres, students are asked to reflect on the difference between charity and justice. While charity responds to immediate needs, justice involves systemic change that addresses the root causes of inequity.
Students are asked to consider how this distinction might apply to injustices in their own communities and determine action steps that lead toward justice. They intentionally consult peers from different institutions and return to their school with an action plan to implement a new justice initiative on campus or in their community. Many of these student conversations and action plans centered around equity and inclusion measures at their schools, especially through affinity spaces that create a culture of welcome for students of all identities in their Catholic schools.
Monroe Terry, a student at Saint Louis University High School and participant at the Baltimore area Arrupe Leaders Summit, emphasized the ways that different affinity groups at the same school can share goals: “Something I really want to take away from Arrupe is the [potential for] collaboration of different affinity groups. Instead of making them act on their own and act individually, you can definitely have affinity groups point towards the same social justice and collaborate with one another.”
Attending faculty and staff, too, are invited into their own spaces during student sessions to discuss their experiences of justice work at their home institutions. In addition to the tangible skills and relationships formed, many faculty members felt reinvigorated in their mission. “Nothing about the Summit feels like ‘work,’” said Luke Hansen of St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco. “Rather, I leave this weekend feeling renewed and energized in my vocation as a minister, teacher, and advocate.”
“ISN is grateful for the renewal and growth facilitated at this year’s Arrupe Summits,” said Erin Brown, ISN’s program director. “We’re looking forward to seeing the flourishing of new faith and justice initiatives envisioned and spearheaded by this group of leaders.”
Leaders who can discern between right and wrong can change the world for the better. Planet Earth is in dire need of upright leaders worldwide. Educational institutions are yet to do justice to their enormous potential.