Ignatian Family Teach-In 2017 Hosts Over 1,400 in Washington, DC.

By Lucas Sharma, SJ

This past weekend marked the 20th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, organized by the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN). The theme of this year's Teach-In, "Rowing in the Deep," was inspired by the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus. The event was live-streamed courtesy of America Media. Video highlights can be viewed on ISN's website

Keynote speakers and other main stage speakers at the Teach-In challenged all participants to conversion and commitment in the fight for justice. For example, Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, called all to listen more attentively in the fight for racial justice: "An ally does not make excuses for stepping into and talking from his or her white privilege and from being hurtful. And for us persons of color, in order to heal from our internalized racial oppression, we need to stop pitting communities of color against each other.”

Similarly, Fr. Bryan Massingale, Professor of Social and Theological Ethics at Fordham University, invited all attendees to a reflection on the experience of the Class of 2018. Using the image of a graduating senior from high school or college, Massingale suggested that each of the four years have been plagued with racial tension and injustices:

When the class was freshman, in August was the year that Michael Brown Junior was killed in the Streets of Ferguson. That summer ignited a series of protests, epitomized by the slogan “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot.” When the class were sophomores, the 2015 Charleston church shooting happened. In their junior year, the presidential campaign leading contender began his journey to the White House talking about “Mexican racists,” building a wall, re-institution “stop and frisk,” and referring to “bad hombres.” And now, Class of 2018, in your senior year, the year you are supposed to celebrate being sprung, our nation deals with Charlottesville in scenes we haven’t seen since the Civil Rights Movement. We haven’t seen those scenes outside of the grainy black-and-white photos that your history teacher shows you.”

Suggesting that the Ignatian word Magis is perhaps the most subversive word in the Ignatian lexicon, Massingale called all at the Teach-In to join the relay race for truth and justice so that the work we do might be full of hope and challenge.

Other highlights during the Teach-In Saturday and Sunday included a prayer service to remember the El Salvador Martrys, break-out sessions with speakers including Simone Campbell, SSS, and James Martin, SJ, and the showing of the 2017 America Media Voices From the Margins film contest crowd favorite film made by Hannah Menakaya and Alysha Menakaya.

The Teach-In concluded on Monday with the annual advocacy day on Capitol Hill. Participants, informed about Jesuit Conference racial and criminal justice and immigration priorities took their knowledge to Congressional Leaders to model what a faith that does justice looks like.

Sr. Patricia challenged participants not to just see the advocacy day as a fad or way for instant gratification, but instead to cultivate a life-long practice and commitment to peace-building and racial justice so that all persons feel safe, welcomed, and accepted in our communities and our nation. Jesuit colleges and universities are uniquely challenged to take on this call – to be sanctuaries for truth and justice, and to promote a Gospel message that compels people to act for justice and the common good.

What ways do we need to instill right relationships, knowledge of truth and the common good, and create lifelong practices for justice in our students, our faculty and staff, our alumni, our benefactors, and our board members?

To learn more about the 2017 Ignatian Teach-In for Justice, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network website, Facebook, or Twitter page. Search on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #IFTJ. More information about the 2017 Advocacy Priorities of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States can be found on the Conference website.

The homepage cover photo is featured courtesy of David Romero, SJ.