2023 Seelos Grant: Reflections from the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice

Posted in: Alpha Sigma Nu

2023 Seelos Grant:  Reflections from the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice

Four Alpha Sigma Nu student members, along with Executive Director, Clara Dwyer, attended the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice in Washington, D.C. October 28-30th. They represent Jesuit institutions from the United States, Spain, and Peru.

The Teach-In is the largest annual Catholic social justice gathering in the United States. It is a place for members of the Ignatian family (Jesuit institutions and larger church) to be empowered, re-energized, inspired, challenged, and supported by a community that sees faith and justice integrally linked. The Teach-In has a rich history rooted in honoring the Jesuits and their companions who were martyred in El Salvador in 1989.

Below are some of the reflections our attendees shared after attending the Teach-In.

Pictured from left to right Jacobo Jurado Lara (Loyola Andalucia ’22), Marina Moreno Martin (Loyola Andalucia ’22), Clara Dwyer (Marquette ’19), Claudia Maria Gallo Prado (Universidad Del Pacifco ’22), and Matthew Querfeld (Fordham ’23)

What was the most memorable part of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for you?

Marina: This occasion marked my first time traveling to the United States. Given its location, both my colleague and I knew that, due to logistics, we were going to be the only people traveling from such a distant place to a destination with customs different from our own. This generated a slight uncertainty for us, but it was also one of the reasons why we decided to attend the conference. We wanted to understand how people of our age who share Ignatian values are working for justice around the world. My most memorable moment was undoubtedly the surprise encounter with friends who had been in my city this summer. 

This last summer, in collaboration with MAGIS Spain's pastoral work, I organized a volunteer event in my city to celebrate World Youth Day. The assignment of pilgrims was random, and to my surprise, a group of 30 people from all over the US arrived in Córdoba. It was an extraordinary experience, and together, we shared a beautiful and significant week. During the IFTJ, I had the opportunity to meet three of these people, and this meeting made me realize that, regardless of where I am, the Jesuit presence always brings us together. The fight for a fairer world unites people all over the world, and this encounter has given me a boost to believe it is possible, and to see that we can help each other, and justice will ultimately prevail.

How, if at all, did this advance your understanding of the Jesuit mission worldwide?

Claudia: I haven't shared a space like this before. The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice gave me the opportunity to listen more. This space allowed me to feel my faith more alive and focus on my purpose in the world.

Jacobo: This event has marked a turning point in the way I perceive the Jesuit mission worldwide. It has enabled me to comprehend the reach, possibilities, and impact of this global network.Throughout the event, I had the opportunity to acquaint myself with numerous organizations that had plans and projects through which they were making a positive impact on the world, thus fulfilling the Jesuits' mission.I was taken aback by the sheer number of young people who gathered to deliberate and reflect on how to address the significant challenges in today's world. Each of them aspired to lead a life distinct from the ordinary, aspiring to serve others through their actions. I must admit that I was truly inspired by this way of thinking.

What is the greatest takeaway for you as you go on to the next stages of your life? 

Marina: My university years are ending, and I am increasingly certain that I want to dedicate my life to serving others and fighting for a just world with equal opportunities for all. The biggest contribution of this conference has been the opportunity to connect with the Jesuit Refugee Service. I was fortunate because one of the speakers presenting their mission was Spanish! It was a great pleasure to meet a fellow countrywoman so far from home. As a student of International Relations, the field of humanitarian aid and migrations is the one that interests me the most in terms of my professional future. I was already familiar with JRS, but having the opportunity to see how they work in the USA and learn about the programs they offer for schools and universities is something I didn't expect to encounter. It has fascinated me and helped solidify the idea of what I want in my professional life.

How do you plan to stay involved and in touch with Alpha Sigma Nu?

Claudia: Alpha Sigma Nu is an important part of my life and my membership has allowed me to believe in myself. After attending the Teach-in, I can see that I am not the only one who feels it! I will continue to stay connected to the Jesuit mission and feel supported by the ASN community. 

Matthew: I am reminded of faith in action or contemplative action. In order to live my true life, I need to realize my passions, my thoughts, and my words. I can only realize these through acting upon them, igniting my intellect into action. IFTJ exposed me to a global community of people seeking justice by the guidance of Ignatian Spirituality. Ignatian Spirituality differs from other impetuses of social good because it is inextricably linked to faith and not to ulterior motives like tax reductions or brand perception. Social good and action become jointly constitutive of faith to the extent that social good and action will be evidence of faith to others. Others will see your faith, will follow your example, and seek to live a faith-filled life that is marked by action for social good

Pictured are Chris Kerr, Executive Director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and Clara Dwyer, ASN Executive Director.