Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice History

From the Gates of Ft. Benning to the Halls of Congress

The 1980s

The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador: The Source of Our Movement

Late 1980’s

Robert (Bob) Holstein, a former California Province Jesuit, begins conversations with Fr. Charlie Currie, S.J. (President of AJCU at the time) about the idea of an “Ignatian Teach-In for Justice.”


Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., Segundo Montes, S.J., Ignacio Martin-Baro, S.J., Juan Ramon Moreno, S.J., Armando Lopez, S.J., Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, S.J., Julia Elba Ramos, Celina Ramos, are killed at the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador. 19 of the 26 Salvadoran soldiers responsible for the murders received training at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA).

The power of the gathering is reflected in the action of going to the gates of Ft. Benning and protesting the tragedy of the death of the six Jesuits and their two women companions, but much greater is that when these students and members of the Ignatian family return home, they are committed to changing unjust structures.

Bob Holstein, founder of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice

The 1990s

A Growing Movement for Justice


A growing number of people hold vigil at the gates of Fr. Benning.  School of the Americas Watch (SOAWatch) is founded in 1990 and begins to organize the annual vigils.


The first Ignatian family gathering takes place at a hotel in Columbus, Georgia.


The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice takes up its home in “The Tent” which has since become the symbol of ISN. Sitting at the edge of the Chattahoochee River in downtown Columbus, rain or shine, the tent became an important part of the Jesuit institutions’ time in Georgia to protest the School of the Americas.

At the end of the Teach-In every year, the tent comes down and the question is, Where does this go from here?…Can the tent be expanded? Can it actually cover a larger venue? A larger venue and more powerful venue to respond to Pedro Arrupe’s challenges to become agents of change. To really attack the unjust structures of society. That’s a real, open question.

Bob Holstein, founder of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice

The 2000s

A Moving Tent


The Teach-In moves from the tent to the Columbus Convention Center. Over 3,000 people attend the Saturday Mass.


The Teach-In moves from GA to Washington, D.C., and engages the Ignatian family in new and exciting ways including legislative advocacy on Capitol Hill.


Nearly 1,200 people attend the Teach-In and over 800 individuals participate in 130 meetings in 60 different congressional offices on the final day of the Teach-In.


Watch the 2012 highlights video:


A record-breaking 1,700 people attend the Teach-In, and over 1,200 people head to Capitol Hill on advocacy day to advocate for immigration reform, environmental justice, and U.S. policy toward Central America. 

Watch the 2015 highlights video:


Energy continues to grow for IFTJ 2019. Will you be part of our history?

We talk about faith doing justice. This is a concrete expression of that justice dimension. ISN, through the various Teach-Ins, is a constant highlight for those of us in Ignatian and Jesuit ministries that what we are doing should have some fruit. That there’s a world out there, which needs change, which needs a different perspective to bring about justice.

Tom Smolich, S.J., former president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference

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