(Washington, D.C.) November 27, 2013 — More than 1,300 individuals connected with Jesuit institutions and the larger Catholic Church converged at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) from November 16-18, 2013, in Washington D.C.
Mary Small, Assistant Policy Director for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, provided attendees a policy update on humane immigration reform during a presentation Nov. 17. The teach-in concluded the next day with an Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, mobilizing hundreds of advocates for humane immigration reform, an increase to the federal minimum wage, and continued access to food assistance for U.S. families in need.
On Advocacy Day more than 800 people spoke with their legislators about humane comprehensive immigration reform, an increase to the federal minimum wage, and continued access to food assistance for U.S. families in need via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The IFTJ is a nationwide social justice conference sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network, a national social justice organization that works primarily with Jesuit universities, high schools, parishes, and other ministries throughout the United States. The 1,300+ crowd was the largest since the Teach-In moved to Washington, D.C. in 2010.
"Our generation is often thought to be disengaged and self-absorbed, but the fact that more than 1,300 individuals — mostly high school and college students — chose to spend a weekend engaging with social justice issues proves otherwise," said Erin Stabile, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Outreach Coordinator.
"It was great to take part again in an Ignatian Family Teach-In after serving in East Africa with Jesuit Refugee Service for the past three years. There was a lot of interest in JRS here," said Jesuit Father Kevin White of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.
"This year’s Teach-In came at a significant time for faith-based advocacy in our country," said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. "Not only were IFTJ participants moved by powerful presentations and prayer, but their advocacy on Capitol Hill made a difference. Now is the time for humane comprehensive immigration reform, greater respect for minimum-wage workers, and action in support of our most vulnerable neighbors."
"The Advocacy Day was especially important — helping our students to put their faith into action on behalf of others," said Fr. White.
"The Teach-In is a tremendous opportunity for people to learn, pray, and act for social justice," said Jesuit Father Thomas H. Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference, who celebrated the closing Teach-In Liturgy on Sunday, November 17.
"The Ignatian Solidarity Network's efforts to provide opportunities for those affiliated with Jesuit institutions to gather in this context is very important for our ministries around the country. I was deeply honored to celebrate the closing liturgy at this year's Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice."