The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is an annual conference held in honor of the six Jesuit priests and their companions who were martyred in El Salvador on November 16, 1989. To pay tribute to their legacy, students and educators gather in Washington, D.C. each year to learn and pray about social justice issues in the world. At the end of the conference, student groups travel to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and advocate for change.
For the sixteenth year, Brebeuf Jesuit sent a group of students and educators to participate in the experience. Participants heard powerful keynote speakers, attended breakout sessions about a variety of societal issues, and prepared for their visits with legislators on Capitol Hill.
Brebeuf students divided into three teams, and each team developed a focus for their Capitol Hill meetings. Groups met with staff members from the offices of Senator Joe Donnelly, Congresswoman Susan Brooks, and Congressman André Carson, and they developed researched arguments about comprehensive immigration reform and criminal justice reform.
The stage: The weekend before the midterm elections – Washington, D.C.
The hope: To inspire students to become advocates for societal change.
Evan Stella, Class of 2019
Before coming to Brebeuf, I knew little about the mission and history of the Jesuits, but I had always been vaguely aware of the work they have done around the world in the name of social justice. I had the opportunity this month to join other Brebeuf students in attending the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The conference gave me an opportunity to learn much more about the Jesuit identity and the order’s commitment to justice around the world.
At the conference, we heard from experts about systemic issues present in our society. For example, I attended sessions on climate change, immigration policy, and wealth inequality–though many more were offered. We learned possible root causes of these issues, who is affected by them, and what students can do combat these injustices. The conference culminated with preparation for a visit to a Congressperson’s office, where we had the opportunity to take action on a particular issue by voicing our concerns with our elected officials. I participated with a group of Brebeuf students in a meeting with the staff of Congressman André Carson from Indiana’s 7th District about systemic issues plaguing the criminal justice system here in Indiana and in the US as a whole.
The conference meant so much to me, as I began to feel a much stronger connection with the Jesuit mission and with the other students who were part of the experience. I was also a first-time voter in this year’s midterm elections, which were held the day after we returned from the conference, and I felt much more informed about many of the issues important to the election. Voting is extremely important, but the conference taught me that it is also vital to understand and engage with these social justice issues as students from a Jesuit institution.
Nathan Nouri, Class of 2019
The most impactful aspect of my experience at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice was being reminded of the fact that there is a human side to every issue. I heard a lot of passionate and emotional testimonies from people who are on the receiving end of all of the headlines we read on a daily basis.
We hear of injustice so often that I think most of us become desensitized to the fact that with every headline we read comes people who are personally affected. These people simply don’t have the luxury of distancing themselves from this injustice. Regardless of political affiliation or of any other divisive belief or trait, I think everyone would be better off if they took a second to care and to think of how horrible it must feel to be wronged and to experience injustice while the world looks on.
The future: Join us for a prayer service on Thursday, November 15 at 3:30 p.m. in the Brebeuf Chapel.
All are welcome to join the Brebeuf community as we celebrate the lives of the Salvadoran Jesuits and other martyrs, including Saint Oscar Romero, who lost their lives during the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s.