MISSION AND MINISTRY | This November, 18 LMU students and staff from Campus Ministry and the Center for Service and Action traveled to Washington, D.C., for the 22nd annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. More than 2,000 participants from Jesuit institutions across the country joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network that brings together students, faculty and staff from Jesuit institutions to gather as members of the Ignatian family. In the context of social justice and solidarity to learn, they reflect, pray, network and advocate together in the heart of the nation’s political landscape.
Highlights of the gathering included a keynote talk by Peggy O’Neil, S.C., founder of Centro Arte para la Paz (Center of Arts for Peace), who spent more than 30 years in El Salvador; an evening memorial prayer service commemorating the Jesuits and other martyrs of El Salvador who lived out a “faith that does justice;” and break-out sessions on how to best advocate for justice.
Students also participated in an Advocacy Day to have their voices heard by making visits to legislative leaders on Capitol Hill. LMU students meet with staff in California Rep. Maxine Waters’ office and Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s office to advocate for immigration issues and to talk about DACA.
Gabriella Jeakle ’23, an English major from Seattle, attended the teach-in for the first time. After following the ISN for several years while she attended a Jesuit High School, she was excited for the opportunity to learn and to make a difference on Capitol Hill. “I look forward to opportunities like this,” Jeakle said. “And these are opportunities that would not be available to me if I were not at a school like LMU. It’s why I picked a Jesuit education for my college experience.”
One of the aspects Jeakle looked forward to the most was getting to hear the large-scale breakout session with James Martin, S.J. She also had the opportunity to meet him and introduce him on social media to give a shout out to the Lion community during the group’s behind the scenes social media takeover. Jeakle’s passion for politics has been growing since she worked for a congresswoman during high school. “I am really looking forward to the intersection of faith and politics because we tend to shy away from it,” Jeakle said. “We live in a society that is set up for your vote to be one of the most important things that we do, and it’s where justice happens.”
Saúl Rascón Salazar ’23 attended and spoke to the entire teach-in for the second time, having attended last year with his Jesuit high school. “My goal was to help people understand and advocate for all of the issues going on right now surrounding immigration,” Rascón Salazar said. “This is the first step in taking action on these issues. I’m hoping to bring back the energy of this delegation to campus to educate my peers on the at the teach-in we will be hosting in the spring semester.”
After attending and speaking last year, Rascón Salazar, an International Relations major from Phoenix, connected with a lot of people that he’s remained in contact with. “This year, it was exciting to reconvene with my friends from Jesuit high schools or connections I made last year and make new connections as well,” Rascón Salazar said. “It’s a really good space for people to realize how many people are in support and willing to take steps into a better future. And for students, in particular, it’s a great experience to practice professional development skills.”
For Rascón Salazar, the experience has put emphasis on his commitment to service and justice in his life by speaking about these issues publicly, and the ways this group can help other students put the Ignatian values into practice here on campus. “I want to bring these values into focus this spring and help students find ways to create tangible support and advocate, not just talking about it on social media.”
Joining Jeakle and Rascón Salazar on the trip were: seniors Nina DuBose and Camila De Pierola Casalino; junior Adriana Gomez; sophomore John Mauro; and first-year students Carolina Newton Gomez and Lizbeth Ramales Arango. Patrick Furlong and Alyssa Perez, staff members in CSA, were also invited to present at the teach-in. Last year, Furlong and Perez created a new model of engagement where students sponsored by CSA to attend the teach-in were asked to run a teach-in at LMU. Join these students and CSA at the annual Advocacy Teach-In held on-campus this spring. Check back for more details or to view all of CSA’s annual events here.
Campus Ministry sponsored four students to attend the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. This year, seniors Samantha Sepulveda, Jonathan Guerrero, Xavier Orozco, and junior Mikayla Gingrey-Osborne were accompanied by campus ministers John Flaherty, Jacob Blicharz, Maria Lai, C.S.J., and Eddie Siebert, S.J.