Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice
november 15-17, 2014
The History of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice
The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice was formally started in 2004. Informal gatherings had taken place previously in Columbus, GA at the School of the America Vigil/Protest. Jesuit students, faculty and Alumni went to Ft. Benning and attended all the events sponsored by the SOA Watch. The idea of gathering all the Jesuit Schools together was the idea of Robert Holstein of California. He had protested and spent six months in jail for “crossing the line.” He was a former Jesuit of the California Province and gathered some of his friends together to launch the Ignatian Solidarity Network which sponsors this teach-in among other conferences and workshops throughout the year. It caught fire and soon many Jesuit Colleges, Universities, high schools and other apostolates were attending the teach-in. Many speakers addressed the assembly including Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who started the vigil/protest in 1990 to protest the murders of the Jesuits in El Salvador. Sr. Helen Prejean, Martin Sheen, Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and student speakers from various schools also spoke. One of the major events was the Saturday night Mass that quickly attracted over three thousand people including the Ignatian Family. The goal was to be heard in the halls of Congress to stop the injustices committed by the training of international military in the ways of war. U.S.A. taxpayers were paying for this school mostly unbeknownst to them. These military were tracked and many were found to be the perpetrators of murders, disappearances and chaos in their home countries. The murders of the six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter at the Jesuit University in El Salvador were trained at this SOA or trained by those who had attended the school.
The 2014 Teach-In is remembering the 25th Anniversary of the murders of the Jesuits and their companions at the University in San Salvador.
Why do we go?
Jesuit Apostolates attempt to stand in solidarity with the poor. It is a gospel call and challenge. A great deal of planning goes into the teach-in. Featured speakers present facts and challenges to the assembly. Workshops are held and the gathering is educated about the various issues of injustice that affect the poor. The teach-in has addressed the DREAM ACT in Congress, the closing of the SOA/WHINSEC, the rights of workers, union organizers and so on. The immigration issue is a really hot item at the moment. Students from the various schools are invited to speak about their passions and dreams to help make the world a better place. Boston College is committed to such standards and encourages its family to live according to the principles of the gospel: love God and love our neighbor. The first delegation from BC went to Georgia in 1998 and has attended the SOA Protest and IFTJ ever since. The ISN Board of Directors thought that it was time to be present in Washington, DC and advocate in Congress, not only for the closing of the SOA/WHINSEC but also other issues of injustice that were harming many people and nations. And so, it happened in 2010, the teach-in met at Georgetown University. It was clearly arranged so as not to interfere with the SOA Watch vigil that continues in Georgia. This year the teach-in dates are November 15-17, 2014.
The teach-in begins on a Saturday afternoon and goes through until Sunday evening. There are keynote speakers, break out workshops and time for reflection and prayer. Mass is celebrated on Sunday. On Monday, the teach-in moves to Capitol Hill where there is a public witness event followed by participants meeting with members of Congress. Each group prepares meeting times before they go to Washington, DC.