April 21, 2014 — The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) honored Jesuit Father James L. Connor for five decades of service with the Robert M. Holstein “Faith that Does Justice Award” on April 6. The award is given annually to someone who has demonstrated a significant commitment to social justice, grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.
The award’s namesake, the late Robert M. Holstein, was a former California Province Jesuit, labor lawyer, social justice advocate and a founder of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, the precursor to the ISN. An organization focusing on advocacy among students, alumni and other emerging leaders from Jesuit schools, parishes and ministries, the ISN educates its members on social justice issues and aims to foster a lifelong commitment to the “service of faith and the promotion of justice.”
One hundred people attended the award event for Fr. Connor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Fr. Connor concelebrated Mass with a number of his Jesuit friends, which was followed by an award brunch reception. In his homily, Fr. Connor thanked God for giving him many opportunities to promote social justice. “My heart has always been with social justice,” he said about the award.
Over the course of more than 50 years, Fr. Connor has served in many Jesuit ministries. His lifelong advocacy began while he was teaching at Loyola College Baltimore in the 1960s, where he organized student protests against racial segregation when Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed in Birmingham, Ala. He also served as Provincial of the Maryland Province Jesuits, president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference in Washington, D.C., and pastor of Holy Trinity Parish near Georgetown University. He directed the Woodstock Theological Center from 1987 until 2002 and served as the Provincial Assistant for Mission and Continuing Renewal for the Maryland Province Jesuits from 2003 until his move to Loyola University Maryland in 2009, where he currently teaches and offers retreats.
Fr. Connor was also a U.S. Jesuit representative to the 32nd and 34th Jesuit General Congregations in Rome. He played a significant role during the 34th Congregation, co-writing Decree 26 of the congregation’s document, which focused on the Jesuit way of proceeding in a changing society and church.
Previous “Robert M. Holstein: Faith that Does Justice Award” winners include Jesuit Father Charlie Currie, former president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; Jesuit Father Steven Privett, president of the University of San Francisco; Jesuit Father Donald MacMillan, campus minister at Boston College; and Sister Helen Prejean, anti-death penalty activist.
[Source: Ignatian Solidarity Network]