From August 10-13, 2017, Seattle University will host the Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education Conference.
Keynote speakers include
Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC)
Rev. Bryan Massingale, professor at Fordham University and author specializing in social ethics, with teaching/research interests in the areas of racial justice, liberation theology, and Catholic Social Thought.
Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic organization promoting social justice in public policy.
Rev. Michael Garanzini, S.J., former president of Loyola University Chicago, and the Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus
Lent is a time of reflection on the Christian journey of discipleship. This year, several Catholic colleges and universities connected learning, praying, and taking action on justice issues to the traditional Lenten practices. As a way of reflecting on the signs of the times, traditional practices of fasting and walking the Stations of the Cross were transformed into experiences of solidarity with those who are marginalized. By offering justice-focused Lenten programming, Benedictine University, Assumption College, and Fordham University connected the observance of Lent with the social mission of the Church.
Over the past two years, Benedictine University has observed Lent through a weekly event called Feast Fridays. The program, sponsored by Benedictine University’s Campus Ministry, engaged students and staff in solidarity with those in need throughout the world. Feast Fridays began through a Global Solidarity Grant, a collaboration between ACCU and Catholic Relief Services that awards funding to Catholic colleges and universities to increase awareness of global injustice and expand student involvement in bringing about change. Each Feast Friday follows a common agenda: The luncheon starts with a CRS Rice Bowl Lenten prayer and then a CRS Kitchen Friday meal, a simple, meatless recipe similar to ones that people living in a country served by CRS commonly prepare and eat. During lunch, participants watch an episode of “A Story of Hope” a video series by CRS featuring the stories of those who have been aided by CRS. Afterward, the audience members reflect together on what they have just learned and how they are called to respond. Feast Fridays work to provide the community with a concrete way to journey through Lent in solidarity with brothers and sisters around the world, inviting the Benedictine community to feast spiritually while fasting physically.
For Benedictine, Feast Fridays created a platform for service and social justice to be discussed and experienced at the same time. The timing of the programming allows faculty and staff to attend, as well as students, building bridges within the entire community. Faculty member Cathy Stablein, commented, “Feast Fridays humbled me and several of my students as we experienced world poverty through taste. Prayers and short videos about Catholic Relief Services’ global service in selected countries gave us a lunchtime community as we scooped an inexpensive international cuisine of cornmeal, rice, lentils, red beans, and greens common to Laos, Colombia, Rwanda, and other countries to fill our ‘rice bowl.’ Water was our only beverage. These ‘feasts’ starkly reminded me of the need to give back, and the wealth of poverty I ignore.”
Feast Fridays were implemented as a way of living out Benedictine University’s Catholic identity. Carrie Roberts, director of campus ministry, connects the programming with that identity, saying, “Our university’s mission statement has a strong emphasis on caring for the other as inspired by the Catholic intellectual tradition. The Feast Friday program offers our BenU community a way to learn from the poor and marginalized and live in solidarity with them.” The pursuit of truth and justice, as drawn from the Catholic Benedictine tradition, is central to Feast Fridays.
Fordham University also addressed hunger and solidarity this Lent, connecting the practice of fasting to the larger issue of food insecurity through a SNAP Challenge. Students who took the one-day challenge were given one meal swipe, the equivalent of $5.70, to purchase food. As students fasted, they were reminded that many people live on that amount every day and challenged to move from sympathy to solidarity. As a follow-up to the day of fasting, the students were moved to action through a service project, preparing sandwiches for a local food pantry and community dining room. The event ended with soup and reflection on their experiences.
In addition to these events focused on food scarcity, the Fordham Office of Campus Ministry expanded its Lenten programming to other issues, including a Day of Penance for Institutional Racism, which featured an interfaith service and an opportunity for individual reconciliation. Students were also invited to learn about the experience of refugees in a Refugee Simulation. Using multimedia resources, students could “walk a mile” in refugees’ shoes on a simulated migrant journey. Following this simulation, the office hosted a film screening of “Salam Neighbor,” a documentary that features the stories of Syrian refugees.
Assumption College, a recipient of a 2016 Global Solidarity Grant, also created Lenten formation surrounding the issue of migration. Reflecting on Lent as a time for discipleship, the campus ministry office drew parallels to the journey of hope that migrants make. Images of migrants who have been served by Catholic Relief Services were displayed on a barren tree in the chapel sanctuary throughout Lent to remind the community of their solidarity with migrant brothers and sisters during Mass. Assumption College also hosted a screening of “The Vigil,” a film that follows a female immigrant, Gina, and fellow undocumented single mothers, Rosa and Maria, who live in fear of deportation. Gina becomes the leader of a vigil to create refuge for the immigrant community in the face of Arizona’s anti-immigration law, which takes her to the U.S. Supreme Court. Following the screening, director Jenny Alexander and film advisor on immigration Alexandra Piñeros Shields hosted a discussion for the campus.
The office of campus ministry at Assumption also incorporated the issue of migration into a monthly program called “Agape Latte,” an event that features various speakers discussing their faith journeys, inviting students to hear a new perspective while having a cup of coffee. March’s “Agape Latte” featured associate professor of Spanish Esteban Loustaunau, speaking on how he integrates his faith into his life within the context of his own immigration to the United States from Mexico. The annual Lenten Stations of the Cross also focused on migration. Participants journeyed around campus stopping at various locations to learn and pray.
In addition to programming focused on prayer and personal testimony, Assumption College held a “Teach-In” on migration to help students learn more about Catholic social thought as it relates to migration. Faculty members and CRS Student Ambassadors hosted sessions using the CRS Faculty Learning Commons, the “I am Migration” awareness campaign, and the CRS “CST 101” video series to help educate the campus community on migration. The Lenten campaign culminated with a Migration Walk, an interactive activity during which participants walked in the footsteps of a typical migrant through different stations around campus.
These Catholic institutions engaged in programming that focused deeply on social issues throughout Lent, conveying that an integral part of the Christian life is grappling with injustice in the world. Benedictine University and Fordham University connected fasting with hunger crises throughout the world, while Assumption College focused on the connection between a Lenten journey of discipleship and the journey of hope that migrants make. These examples show how Catholic colleges and universities use campus programs to promote a greater solidarity with those in need, as Lent reminds us of the need in each of us to grow closer to God.
Camilla MacKenzie is an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America and the Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities extends its congratulations to Fordham University for being the latest Catholic university to be designated a Fair Trade University! Fordham students have worked hard to create Students for Fair Trade (SFT), the official fair trade student organization at Fordham, and to incorporate fair trade products into daily life at the university.
SFT is a student-run club that promotes fair trade in business and consumption through education and advocacy. Through SFT, Fordham has been able not only to sell fair trade products at almost all of their restaurants and bookstores, but also to host employees of Alta Gracia, the only garment company in the global south to be certified for paying its workers a living wage.
Congratulations to Fordham for their great work in promoting fair trade!
This week, Fordham University will host a conference titled, “Building Good Economies: An Interdisciplinary Conference Celebrating Catholic Social Teaching at 125.” In a convergence of higher education scholars, prominent experts in Catholic Social Teaching, and more, the conference will explore themes of economic justice, environmental justice, public health, and the 2016 presidential race.
Many speakers from Catholic higher education will present, including:
Professor Juliet Schor of Boston College, who will be giving a talk titled, “Toward a New Economy: Time, Creativity and Community”.
The conference will take place Wednesday, April 20 to Friday, April 22, 2016 at the Fordham University Lincoln Center campus. Plenary sessions are free and open to the public. Register now to reserve a seat!
How does your college or university engage in dialogue on Catholic Social Teaching? Let us know!
Food for Thought Friday: In a recent America Magazine article, , author Alex Mikulich highlights how Jesuit colleges and universities can increase diversity and combat racism. He calls for greater diversity among student bodies and faculties and multicultural programming, noting that “The rationale for Jesuit institutions to develop bold initiatives for both diversity and racial equity are deeply rooted in Jesuit and Catholic values”. He calls for an “analysis of white privilege, power, and racism in the context of US history”, transformative training and practices to increase diversity in students, faculty, and staff, and liberation from intellectual, moral, human, and spiritual deformities caused by racism.
The relationship between the world’s poor, ecological degradation, and climate change has received renewed attention since the release of Laudato Si’. In a recent forum, Fordham University explored these topics and more.
On November 3, the University’s Center on Religion and Culture hosted a panel entitled: “Our Planet’s Keeper?: The Environment, the Poor, and the Struggle for Justice”. The forum engaged religious and secular perspectives on “the twin challenges of ecological devastation and global poverty”. The speakers included:
Óscar Andres Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; former president of Caritas Internationalis, a global confederation of Catholic humanitarian organizations.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University; special advisor on millennium development goals to the United Nations secretary-general.
Moderated by Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of Catholic Relief Services, the panel brought to the table essential insights into Catholic social teaching, environmental in justice, and the encyclical in general.
On Laudato Si’ and its potential to change the world, Sachs responded by citing a historic example of the political and perhaps life-saving power of Catholic social teaching. He reminded us of the impact that Pope John XXIII’s 1963 encyclical Pacem in terris had on former President John F. Kennedy, the Cold War, and international nuclear policy. Sachs cited the seemingly coincidental relationship between the publishing of the encyclical, JFK’s commencement speech on peace at American University, and the signing of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation:
“The encyclical played a fundamental role in shifting the world. And here we are today. It’s happening again.”
Cardinal Rodriguez spoke on Pope Francis’ authority on the matter of environmental injustice. In response to critiques that the pontiff should not meddle in political or scientific affairs he said:
“This is wrong. The encyclical talks about global warming in passing. Its main argument is that the earth is our common home. And every house needs maintenance—especially when we live in a house that is a little old.”
How is your campus engaging environmental justice? Let us know!
As Pope Francis continues his apostolic journey to the Americas this week, he will visit New York City, arriving Thursday evening, September 24 and departing Saturday morning, September 26.
As Our Holy Father gets ready to visit the most populous city in the United States, he is joined in preparation by the students, faculty, and staff at NYC’s only Jesuit university, Fordham University. As Pope Francis is a Jesuit, the spiritual connection between him and the University is powerful and evident in the activities in anticipation and celebration of his visit.
A week before the Pontiff’s visit, Fordham began their preparatory activities with a provocative panel discussion entitled, “None of his Business? Pope Francis on Climate Change and the Economy“. The event was a continuation of the overall conversation at Fordham on Pope Francis’ writing. The first event, which took place last December, was on the Pontiff’s debut encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium. For this year’s discussion, Fordham hosted Jo Confino of the Huffington Post, Hunter Lovins, green businessman and the author of Natural Capitalism, and Andrew Winston, founder of Winston Eco-Strategies and the author of Green Recovery. The panelists were brought together by one of Fordham’s own, Associate Professor Michael Pirson.
To continue their efforts in praying for Our Holy Father, the University held special Masses of Anticipation on Sunday, September 20, with one Mass at the University Church and the other at Lincoln Center.
The university’s schedule continues with live viewings of all the papal addresses and Masses during his visit to the Americas. On Thursday, September 24, the Fordham community is invited to watch the Pontiff’s address to Congress and to pray with him as he leads evening vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Friday, September 25 offers a chance for the community to watch live the papal address to the UN.
Similar to initiatives at the Catholic University of America, Fordham has decided to honor Pope Francis’ wishes for greater involvement in works of charity and social justice. To finish their week of preparing for and celebrating this historic apostolic visit, Fordham students are invited to join Habitat for Humanity’s Pope Francis House in Yonkers to help construct homes on Saturday, September 26.
Stay tuned to learn how other Catholic colleges are preparing for the Papal Visit!
#HigherEdWithPope: Catholic colleges and universities are greatly anticipating the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the United States, and several colleges will play a special role during the Papal Visit. This series highlights how certain Catholic colleges and universities are preparing for the Papal Visit, and how Catholic higher education lives out the vision of Pope Francis every day.