Love in the Margins

12238495_928916137176185_3311178405578814399_oSeventeen Georgetown students representing three schools (MSB students, we’re still looking for you!), two Center for Social Justice vans and one bridge is one way to describe our journey to the 18th Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) held in early November. The Teach-In is an annual gathering of the Ignatian family: Jesuit universities, high schools including the Cristo Rey schools, parishioners, alumni and a larger community seeking to learn, reflect, pray, network and advocate together in solidarity for social justice. Last year was the 25th anniversary of the Salvadoran martyrs and my first IFTJ; this weekend was a whirlwind of holy boldness as the Ignatian family reflected on bridges. The IFTJ’s theme of Bridges is a deeper call for fraternal love – to cultivate and incarnate the Gospel.

IMG_9316Keynote speakers such as Sister Helen Prejean, Maureen O’Connell and Fr. James Martin, spoke on widening our embrace through compassion, love and hospitality. Over seventy-five breakout presenters expressed how they widen their embrace through their work in Breaking Down Islamophobia, Food Justice, Jesuit Just Employment Policy, Racial Wealth Gap, Just Peace in Syria and Iraq, Environmental Justice as rekindled by Pope Francis, Juvenile Justice System and many more organizations. Yet simply hearing their words cannot be a substitute for our responsibility to encounter others, to bridge our hearts and our actions. The IFTJ is an encounter to awaken to justice, a challenge for the Ignatian family to go to the margins – to stand, work and love in the margins.

12195131_928915380509594_4914203223134597718_oDuring his September visit, Pope Francis set an agenda for a renewed community of encounter and dialogue. He went to the marginalized as he gathered with the homeless at lunchtime in DC, the school children in East Harlem and the inmates and their families in Philadelphia. Pope Francis invokes a prayer storm and a performative storm. Bridges become performative structures of grace if we encounter the pain, the wounds and the brokenness of those on both sides of the bridge as well as on and under the bridge. The Teach-In remembers the Jesuits that went to the margins and lost their lives in the encounter. It is a gathering to pray that we open ourselves to a harvest of love where we work with and for justice.

Written by Ghipsel Cibrian, C’16