Exploring Intergenerational Advocacy at Seattle Prep and St. Joseph Parish


It’s experienced in various contexts—the exuberance after an intense experience that wanes to somewhat of an equilibrium once back in everyday life. The challenge is to hold onto a touchstone of the experience; something that can rekindle the memory of being on fire for something. 

Seattle Prep Panel

Introduced by Vince Herberholt, a St. Joseph Parish parishioners, Seattle Prep students present a panel discussion on their Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice experience.

For students from Seattle Preparatory School, a Jesuit high school in Seattle, Washington, sharing their experiences of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) with parishioners from the neighboring Jesuit-run St. Joseph’s Parish allowed their flames to incite many proverbial fires. First, it allowed for an overwhelmingly positive intergenerational encounter. Second, it allowed future voters to advocate for justice issues to current voters based on how they experience and think about said issues. And, as a culmination, this school and this parish are much more deeply connected than simply being Jesuit apostolates—their real relationship opens up the possibility for much more mutual engagement.

These kinds of intergenerational advocacy conversations have been sprouting across different parts of the west coast, where the Jesuits West province organizes across ministries to serve a faith that does justice. Hearing the call to engage across generations, Vince Herberholt, a Saint Joseoph’s parishioner, reached out to Sarah Miller at Seattle Prep about hosting her students.

Intergeneration advocacy

Students and parishioners share their reflections on their intergenerational conversations following the Seattle Prep panel presentation on their experience at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.

 “Our parish has been puzzling over how to support youth. I’ve attended three Teach-Ins over the years, and I try to connect with students that come from the northwest,” said Herberholt. These connections helped Herberholt realize that many of his fellow parishioners have no idea how these students are learning to connect with justice and equity through a faith lens.

In January 2024, Miller brought six of the students who attended the 2023 IFTJ to St. Joseph’s Parish. “Any opportunity for the kids to revisit what they learned is going to allow it to take a deeper hold on them,” Miller said.

 The evening began with a welcome and a general explanation of IFTJ. The students then held a panel presentation about the workshops they attended, the issues they found most pressing, and the part of the experience that stayed with them the most. After the presentation, students were distributed amongst the small tables with parishioners. Modeled around communal discernment, the spiritual conversations that followed provided the opportunity for each person to say something that resonated with them and something they hoped for as a result of their encounter.

Seattle Prep students at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice

The Seattle Prep delegation at the 2023 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice’s Advocacy Day Public Witness

Miller highlighted how animating the sense of urgency amongst youth can be. This is the primary purpose of intergenerational advocacy—teaming the energy and passion of youth with the resources and knowledge of adults. Layla Schueneman, a 10th grader at Seattle Prep, mentioned that the encounter at St. Joe’s gave her “a sense of reassurance that there are people all around me dedicating their time to fighting for causes that are important to them—the importance of events like this where adults are willing to listen to teenagers, and teenagers can learn about how people are taking action gave me a sense of connection I wasn’t expecting.”

While Miller expressed that these conversations may feel a little forced initially, they are ultimately very impactful, as Schueneman’s testimonial confirms. “There are generational divides and I was really curious as to how it would unfold. I was pleasantly surprised at how willing everyone was…It’s not only good because of the practicality, it’s also really good to feel heard by someone you don’t know.”

Editor’s Note: Learn more about the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice here, and watch a short video with highlights from IFTJ 2023 here!



1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Worldbuilding is a beautiful project. Teaming the energy and passion of youth with the resources and knowledge of adults can be a win-win situation.


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