WASHINGTON, D.C.—Jeannie Kirkhope and Michael Iafrate, co-coordinators of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, are among the presenters sharing a message of social justice at the 20th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The annual gathering, held this year from November 4-6 with an anticipated attendance of nearly 2,000 individuals, addresses timely social justice issues in the context of Catholic faith tradition—this year with a primary focus on racism and immigration.
Kirkhope will present a breakout session entitled Feedback from Appalachia: The Honeymoon is Over, exploring a “culture of encounter” in the context of volunteer groups visiting Appalachia. Iafrate, as an Ignatian Network Speaker, will, from the conference mainstage, speak on Taking our Place in the New Appalachian Story, sharing the message of The Telling Takes Us Home as it relates to Laudato Si’ and the Jesuit mission, presenting a Catholic approach of caring for our common home by thinking globally and acting locally.
Known as the largest annual Catholic social justice gathering in the U.S., the Teach-In attracts many young people ages 16-22, representing over 120 Jesuit and other Catholic universities, high schools, and parishes in the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico, and El Salvador.
The 2017 theme, Rowing Into the Deep: Magis Meets Justice, calls attendees to explore a more deeply authentic, courageous, generous, and compassionate response to the changing realities of our world.
Initiated in 1997 in Columbus, Georgia, the Teach-In commences yearly in mid-November to commemorate the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador. The six Jesuit priests and their two companions were murdered on November 16, 1989 for speaking out against the country’s tumultuous civil war. The Teach-In relocated from Georgia to Washington, D.C. in 2010 in response to the growing interest in legislative advocacy and accompanying educational opportunities.
On the morning of Monday, November 6, attendees will gather at Columbus Circle for a public witness, gathering with signs, banners, and voices to pray, listen to active advocates, and recommit to work for justice. The Teach-In then culminates with what is estimated to be the largest Catholic advocacy day of the year. Nearly 1,400 individuals will proceed to legislative advocacy meetings with members of Congress and their staffs on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to enact immigration and criminal justice reform.
Keynote speakers include Rev. Bryan Massingale, racial justice scholar and theology faculty at Fordham University, Maria Stephan, a senior advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, executive director of Pax Christi USA.
The Teach-In also offers more than 50 breakout sessions, presented by national and international speakers, including Fr. James Martin, S.J., bestselling author and editor-at-large at America Magazine; Joanna Williams, director of education and advocacy for Kino Border Initiative; and Maureen O’Connell, Ph.D., racial justice scholar, theology faculty at La Salle University, along with prominent student activists for immigration reform and racial justice.
The celebrant for the Teach-In liturgy on Sunday, November 5 is Rev. Mark Ravizza, S.J., a delegate from the California Province of the Society of Jesus’ General Congregation 36 and director of Jesuit Mission and Ministry at Casa Bayanihan at Ateneo de Manila in the Phillipines.
“For twenty years, the Teach-In has invited the Jesuit network and broader Catholic Church to reflect on the realities of injustice facing our country and global community,” says Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “This year’s Teach-In theme invites us to ‘row deeper’ into the realities of racial injustice, inhumane migration policies, and other challenges of our times.”
Livestream coverage of the Teach-In is available at: http://igsol.net/livestream
Kelly Swan, Director of Communications, Ignatian Solidarity Network