“Discipleship at the crossroads” [Opinion]


(Gabriella Delprete)

The theme of the 2018 IFTJ, “discipleship at the crossroads,” invites listeners to take action and become advocates.

Gabriella Delprete, Managing Editor

“Social justice and immigration are not left or right wing issues. It’s not solely about Democrats versus Republicans. Immigration is a human issue, one that means something to everyone…there’s a world out there, which needs change, which needs a different perspective to bring about justice,” stated Tom Smolich, S.J., former president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference.

The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) invites members of the Ignatian family to come together annually for social justice and solidarity to learn, reflect, pray, network, and advocate together. “[The Teach-In] is a place where people are empowered, re-energized, inspired, challenged, and supported by a community that sees faith and justice integrally linked,” according to the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN), the hosts of the Teach-In. ISN is a national, nonprofit social justice network that works with Jesuit universities, high schools, parishes, and many other Catholic institutions and social justice organizations.

Members of the WJ community ventured to the nation’s capitol this year to attend the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.

Threatened by their teachings and ideology, government- sanctioned members of an army camp in El Salvador murdered six Jesuits and their companions who were missionaries in El Salvador in 1989. Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., Segundo Montes, S.J., Ignacio Martin-Baro, S.J., Juan Ramon Moreno, S.J., Armando Lopez, S.J., Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, S.J., Julia Elba Ramos, Celina Ramos, were martyred at the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador. In response, the first Ignatian family gathering took place in Columbus, Georgia, in 1996 to honor the ones lost in El Salvador and to inspire a call for action so another tragedy like that in 1989 does not happen again.

The theme of the 2018 IFTJ is “discipleship at the crossroads,” to interact as listeners and advocates. All are called to respond to Pope Francis’s invitation to “try to listen and be silent in order to make space for the beauty of God.”

I attended the 2018 Teach-In, which inspired me to seek more change and showed me that there is a large community of people who, like me, seek to remedy injustices in the world and continue to spread the teachings of St. Ignatius Loyola.

On the last day of the IFTJ, students had the opportunity to advocate to their state’s senators or members of the senators’ staffs. Students from WJ, St. Ignatius, St. Joe’s, and St. Ursula’s College met with Senator Brown’s staff to discuss immigration and mass incarceration reforms.

Immigration is a topic very near to my heart as both my grandparents on my father’s and mother’s side are immigrants. I believe in fighting for fair immigration polices, especially for those fleeing their countries. Exodus 22:21 states, “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner for you were once foreigners in Egypt.” Those words emphasize that, as stewards of God, we need to speak up and take action to improve the status of immigrants.

Students who went to the Teach-In in November continue to meet and are working to implement changes and help enhance the Walsh Jesuit community through social justice initiatives. One includes a Walsh Jesuit social media Instagram geared to inspire others to work to advocate for those without a voice.

As men and women for others, we are called to continue to advocate and fight for change for others who do not have a voice or the opportunities we have.