November 9, 2016 — “If you want peace, work for justice." This weekend, over 1,800 young adults from Jesuit high schools, universities, parishes and other institutions will take that quote from Blessed Pope Paul VI to heart as they gather at the 19th Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network, in Washington, D.C.
An evening liturgy at the Ignatian Family Teach-In in 2014.
From November 12-14, participants will learn, reflect, pray, network and advocate in the spirit of the Teach-In theme, “Mercy in Action.” The theme will mark the closing days of Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy, inviting participants to “grow in a love which is courageous, generous and real.”
To be merciful means to grow in a love which is courageous, generous and real.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 2, 2016
Most attendees are young people ages 16-22, representing Jesuit and other Catholic institutions from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and El Salvador.
Over 1,600 people attended the Teach-In in 2015.
Originating in Columbus, Georgia, in 1997, the Teach-In is held annually in mid-November to commemorate the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador. The six Jesuit priests and their two companions were murdered on November 16, 1989, for speaking out against the country’s tumultuous civil war. The Teach-In relocated from Georgia to Washington, D.C., in 2010 in response to the growing interest in legislative advocacy and accompanying educational opportunities.
Keynote speakers this Saturday and Sunday include Sr. Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and nationally-recognized advocate for immigrants; Jesuit Father Greg Boyle, bestselling author and founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries; and Lisa Sharon Harper, author and Chief Church Engagement Officer at Sojourners.
An overflow crowd listens to Fr. Alejandro Olayo-Méndez, SJ, speak about immigration during a breakout session at the 2015 Ignatian Family Teach-In.
The Teach-In also offers more than 50 breakout sessions presented by national and international speakers on a range of social justice issues, including immigration, LGBTQ concerns, the Dakota Access Pipeline, refugees, human welfare policies, racial injustice and many more.
Among those slated to lead sessions are Jesuit Father James Martin, bestselling author and editor-at-large at America Magazine; and Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.
The celebrant for the Teach-In liturgy on Sunday, November 13 is Jesuit Father Gregory Chisholm, pastor in Harlem, New York, at St. Charles Borromeo Church and the Chapel of the Resurrection.
Canadian students attending the 2015 Ignatian Family Teach-In gather in front of the U.S. Capitol.
On the morning of Monday, November 14, participants will gather on Capitol Hill for a public witness, gathering with signs, banners, and voices to pray, listen to advocates, and recommit to work for justice.
The Teach-In will then culminate with what is estimated to be the largest Catholic advocacy day of the year. Nearly 1,400 individuals will proceed to legislative advocacy meetings with members of Congress and their staffs on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to enact immigration and criminal justice reform.
“The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice represents the future of our Church,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “Attendees, particularly young people, will be inspired to respond to Pope Francis’ call as people of mercy, striving to build a more just and sustainable world.”