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2024 Arrupe Leader Summits Facilitate Social Justice Action Planning


Over 120 students and nearly 40 faculty from 24 Catholic schools attended one of the three Arrupe Leaders Summits that the Ignatian Solidarity Network held in California, Maryland, and Ohio, respectively, in February and March of 2024. The three summits offered students the opportunity to engage social justice issues with a variety of facilitators. Four sessions over the respective three-day experiences were presented through the lens of the life of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. and challenged students to apply the lessons and themes in their own social justice action planning.

Participants from Arrupe Summit Central strike a pose in a group photo.

The weekend facilitated much learning, praying, and connection as students edified and motivated one another through their common desire to live out a faith that does justice. Some students, such as Ava Roman from Walsh Jesuit in Cuyahoga Falls, had a new experience of integrating faith and justice.

Students learn about justice-inspired iconography to sharpen their lens of a faith that does justice.

It’s really neat to see how my faith informs justice work because impacting others also impacts how I think and also my relationship with God. I’m not just building [relationships] with other people or just with myself, I’m also building my relationship with God.

Reflecting on a phone call to her mother from the retreat center, Maritza Velazco Moran from Cristo Rey Milwaukee mentioned she was “genuinely” happy to be at the summit. “I was actually pretty nervous about opening up to people and I admire how quick this program is to [facilitate] relationships with others. I admire how vulnerable we are in certain aspects, too. I could literally just share my whole life story because I feel some sort of trust with these people.”

Dr. Menkhaus presents at Arrupe Summit East.

Inspiring students for over 10 years, the Arrupe Summits are also refreshing and reinvigorating for participating faculty, staff, and chaperones. Dr. Jimmy Menkhaus facilitated the first session at the East Summit and mentioned that, over his years of involvement with the program, he never fails to be impressed at how students sustain the connection they make over these experiences. “It seems that every year, more and more students come to this event with the desire to work for justice that I really think inspires the chaperones just as much as the other students,” Menkhaus commented.

Asked why he thought it was important for high schoolers to participate in conferences like the Arrupe Leaders Summit, Evan Mitowski of Canisius High School in Buffalo responded that “high schoolers are still figuring it out. We haven’t really seen the real world and this gives you a different view on how others are treated; on other people’s opinions that you really don’t get to see in your own school.”

Students participate in a small group sharing at Arrupe Summit East.

Pierre Monette Jr., a faculty member at Cristo Rey Atlanta, pointed to the etymology of the word educate to iterate the purpose of the Summit. Coming from the Latin educat, “to be led out”, Monnette Jr. emphasized that educators ought to be ”leading our students out of ignorance. And so coming to a summit like this, we’re helping to lead them from a state of not knowing to a state of knowing.

Students at Arrupe Summit West engage a dynamic activity between breakout sessions.

While knowledge certainly applies to social justice issues, David Melendez of Cristo Rey Milwaukee gave an everyday example of the fruitfulness of being open to different perspectives and giving space to realities with which someone may not be familiar. After meeting some fellow students from New York, he said “it changed my perception of New York because most of the time on the internet, they make New York out to be a crazy land of pizza-lovers and rats…Something I could take away from this experience is that you should hear others’ words and opinions to make decisions because other people have different experiences in life and those experiences can lead others to…expand their knowledge.

For more information about how to expand your knowledge, network, and experiences regarding a faith that does justice through the Arrupe Leaders Summit, reach out to the program director, Erin Brown.

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

    Young people are blessed with a sense of justice. They need to be supported in their noble quest.


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