This past weekend, I was blessed to be able to make a 20 hour bus ride to Washington D.C. with 58 other members of the Creighton community to participate in the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ). This was my second experience with the IFTJ and it is an event that has been very impactful and formative in my college career.
For those of you who do not know much about the IFTJ, it is a conference held every year to commemorate the six Jesuits, their house keeper, and her daughter who were martyred on November 16, 1989 at the University of Central America in El Salvador. The Jesuits were working to create a more just community for the marginalized groups in El Salvador and the government did not like that. Due to this, Salvadoran soldiers who were trained by the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia murdered the Jesuits in a rather horrific manner. Thousands of members of the Jesuit community, of Jesuit high schools and colleges and other Jesuit apostolates come out to support this event every year and it is truly beautiful.
While my heart aches every time I hear about these events, I don’t think I was fully aware of the gravity of what the UCA martyrs did until this past weekend at the IFTJ. These men and women quite literally worked for justice until death. They were aware that they could die, but they did not let that stop them. They kept going. This hit me hard because I often question to what length I would go for justice.
Currently, I am weighing my post-graduate opportunities and I find myself saying things like, “I need a stipend” or, “I need help with loans,” and now I feel rather selfish. They were willing to give up their lives and I have only been willing to give my service conditionally when there shouldn’t be a condition placed on when justice for humanity is right. While I am still excited about post-graduate service, I now have a new framework for how I want to serve.
While on the IFTJ, I was able to attend many break-out sessions and advocate on Capitol Hill for issues that are important to me. I spent a lot of my time expanding my knowledge on issues relating to environmental justice and took that information to Senator Grassley’s office. I was advocating for the EPA power plan, which seeks to enforce carbon output regulations in order that only 30% of emissions will be carbon related by 2030. Naturally, Senator Grassley does not support this and I found myself having to bite my tongue in order to not become unprofessional. Overall it was a phenomenal learning experience and gives me more willpower to continue writing letters, making phone calls, and participating in visits with members of the House and Senate.
Overall, I still find the IFTJ to be beautiful. It provides an experience where I have never seen more passion, an experience where I can connect my faith to my passion, and an experience that gives vocational direction. I am proud to have gone, and I hope to rise up to the challenges I was given while there.
Class of 2015
CCSJ Student Coordinator
The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.