Justice Archive

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Words of Wisdom: Dr. Roger Bergman

Dr. Roger Bergman of the Justice and Peace Studies Department.

Dr. Roger Bergman of the Justice and Peace Studies Department.

I often tell my Creighton friends that if I had time to take extra majors beyond my double-major in journalism and theology, I would probably tack on a psychology major, along with justice and society, English, and social work. I’m kind of a dork.

The beauty of my theology major is that it gave me the chance to incorporate the things I love about the justice and society and social work majors into my course repertoire. I could take theology classes that emphasized Catholic Social Teaching or the application of spirituality into ministry work.

One such class like this was Dr. Bergman’s Christian Ethics of War and Peace class, which conveniently overlapped with both the theology and justice and peace studies majors. Perfect.

Dr. Bergman began the Justice and Peace Studies program in 1995. Because he dedicated his professional life to teaching students how to work for social justice in their communities and the world, and because of my interest in continuing with some kind of social justice work beyond Creighton, I decided Dr. Bergman would be a good person to ask for words of wisdom.

I walked into Dr. Bergman’s office out of breath after climbing the four flights of stairs in Creighton Hall at record pace (I was running late after leaving the CCSJ later than I expected). If he noticed, he didn’t say anything, but simply greeted me with a friendly smile and asked the question all seniors love and hate to answer: “What are you doing after graduation?”

After catching up for a few minutes, I expected Dr. Bergman to dive into his words of wisdom with something profoundly social-justice oriented. I was surprised when, instead, he started talking about the Ignatian Examen.

“Pay attention to your deepest promptings, your deepest desires,” Bergman said. “If you can get to that truth about yourself then that’s ninety percent of the battle. It’s a vocational question: Who are you in the world?”

When I asked Dr. Bergman how we can keep up this practice of reflection in the midst of pressures to be practical, to have everything figured out and be focused on being successful (not bad things, but they can be if they consume us), he pointed to the Examen. The Examen is a Jesuit mode of reflective praying through your day.

“I’m a big fan of the Examen as a way to look at where your spirit was in the day and how it met other people’s spirits, it’s a way to look at highs and lows,” Bergman said. “You find the one time/moment of the day when it seemed like something happened and you think about why it stands out to you, why it’s significant.”

Bergman pointed to Fr. Dennis Hamm, S.J.’s article “Rummaging for God: Praying Backwards Through Your Day” as an example of a good way to approach the Examen.

Having done the Examen for many years, Bergman believes that if you reflect and pray with it consistently over time, you can start to see patterns developing, patterns that tell you who you are and where you’re headed. Bergman emphasized the way the Examen can lead to greater self-knowledge and awareness of what it is we are truly called to do with our lives, and the importance of realizing this first before looking at logistical questions of careers.

“Once you’re centered in that discernment, you can move on to the practical stuff and it doesn’t seem so stressful,” Bergman said. “It doesn’t happen all at at once. Sometimes you have to tell those who are pressuring you to make practical decisions to give you a break.”

Along with promoting greater self-awareness and discernment, the Examen can also help you carry an attitude of attentiveness throughout the day and can even lead to praxis-focused reflection, Bergman explained.

Praxis is the act of reflecting on hard social injustices, asking questions about them and then acting on the energy those questions raise. In the CCSJ, we do this by asking “What?” “So what?” “Now what?” What is the issue I’ve just encountered? Why does it matter? What am I going to do about it now that I care about it?

“Without this kind of deeper reflection that the Examen creates, action might not be as well-grounded,” Bergman said about the intersection of the Examen and Praxis.

“I would to say to students, especially, that it’s not about what you do tomorrow or next week, it’s about what you do for a lifetime,” Bergman said. “It’s about forming yourself by the things you participate in.”

For those specifically interested in pursuing social justice work as a vocation, Bergman had a couple of quotes to share:

1) When sharing the story of a friend who lost her house for resisting taxes as a form of social disobedience to promote peace, Bergman passed along a phrase she still lives by: “Be of good cheer. It’s better than being bitter and resentful.”

2) Along with this, Bergman shared a favorite Wendell Berry quote that speaks to staying positive in a world where so much work is needed: “Be cheerful, although you have considered all the facts.”

Finally, Bergman encouraged social justice workers to surround themselves with people of like commitments and goals.

“If [social justice work] becomes who who you are, than you can’t not do it,” Bergman said.

Bergman shared a quote with me from one of his former students, Holly Fuller (CU grad, ’03), that I think is appropriate to end with:

“It’s hard to be in solidarity with the poor but I can’t imagine not trying. If I don’t try then I am failing myself.”

Fun facts: Dr. Bergman has been a professor at Creighton for 25 years. If he could have one superpower of choice it would be that his knees were good enough to play basketball again.

 

Words of Wisdom is a blog series started by Student Coordinator Anna Ferguson, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. Each blog is an interview that poses the question to various faculty, staff, Jesuits and friends: If you had to give words of wisdom to someone, or if there was one phrase or sentence you think people should live by, would would that be?

 

 

 

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.

 

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Pedro Arrupe: An Exemplar We Can Relate To

pedro instaPedro Arrupe is the Jesuit that I know most about, thanks to Dr. Bergman, social justice exemplar himself. Arrupe’s relationship with God, and his relationship with people, is something that everyone can aspire to. Oftentimes social justice exemplars serve as these sort of out-of-this-world moral standards that are so obviously unachievable by the average person, but Arrupe is so much more human than that.

He suffered when those he was with suffered, he remained in solidarity to the fullest extent–to his fullest extent. Pedro Arrupe served some of his time Japan, which coincided with the beginning of World War II. He was accused of being a spy and thrown in jail. He witnessed an atomic bomb explosion and performed medical services on those injured during this attack. He saw the devastation humans were capable of committing, and in turn, committed himself to being a presence of light among those that were suffering.

Arrupe did all this in an extraordinarily relatable way–searching for the good in everyone and each moment, and keeping up a steady conversation with God. In reading excerpts about him–of which there are plenty- he remains an example easy to follow. A relatable social justice exemplar if there ever was one, placed in unexpected circumstances and delivering through prayer, patience and love–how easy is that?

 

Sage Ezell
CCSJ Student Coordinator
Class of 2015

 

 

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.

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Dorothy Stang, S.N.D: A Modern Martyr

Ian FallonDorothy Stang was a Sister of Notre Dame. She was born in the United States, but worked and served poor communities in Brazil from the late 1960’s to February 12th, 2005, when she was murdered. She worked to organize Brazilian peasant farmers through the Pastoral Land Commission, a group that “fights for the rights of rural workers and peasants, and defends land reforms in Brazil.” Her ministry was integrated between advocacy for the protection of the Amazon Rainforest and for the dignity of the peasants she was called to serve.

I think it is important to remember modern day martyrs. They, along with modern day prophets (one does not necessarily need to die to be a dedicated Christian, otherwise there wouldn’t be any of us left) serve as reminders that these identifiers – prophet and martyr – are not meant to be parts of history that stay in our history textbooks and classrooms. A reality that we do not always see in a university bubble is that people die for justice today. The examples set by Simon Peter, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or the Jesuits during the colonial conquest of the Americas are not given to us by the church so that we can put them on high, exalt them for being holy, and then go back to our daily lives. They are examples that are meant to be reflected upon within our own world. Indeed, if we let Peter stay in first century Israel, the Jesuits in the early colonial Americas, and Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany, they will have no effect on how we view our relationship to our world.

An appreciation of modern martyrs helps us to realize that there are pockets within our modernized country, and throughout the world, in which people are still dying for speaking truth to power. The world has not yet moved past poverty, starvation, and injustice; we just do not see them because we have organized systems that keep the poorest, most starving and broken people from our lives. People like Dorothy Stang inspire me, and should inspire all of us, to move outside of our comfort to find our call to act like Christ. When we go to the margins of our world, we find the reasons why people like her give their lives in the attempt to fight for justice.

For more information check out: http://www.sndohio.org/sister-dorothy/

Ian Fallon
Class of 2015
College of Arts and Sciences
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.

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Making Connections to Promote Justice

Kelly Sullivan
One of the reasons I love Creighton so much is because of its Jesuit focus of “the service of faith and the promotion of justice,” coming from the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in 1975. Through my classes and outside activities with the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), Campus Ministry, Cortina, and the Catholic Student Organization, I have had the opportunity to grow in my faith and discover how to live it out in my life. As I do service in the community, I am able to share this faith with the world.

The promotion of justice is a little harder to grasp, however, and can be a little scary. Am I called to speak out against injustice? Risk persecution in order to stand up for the poor and oppressed? My experience at Creighton has taught me that there are easy steps to take if you’re just beginning on this journey of justice and advocacy.

One thing I have found especially invaluable is building connections with other community organizers and groups fighting for justice in the area. The CCSJ already has strong relationships with many of these groups, and this past week I was able to attend two community meetings with the Omaha Together One Community (OTOC), Immigration Action Team, and the Nebraska Immigration Advocacy Alliance (NIAA).

Sometimes it is important to do your own actions on a college campus to engage students. Other times it is equally as valuable to grab ahold of what other people are planning and support their efforts, which may have a bigger impact than a student group can organize. It is also encouraging to know that there are other passionate people out there fighting for change as well.

Through these connections, both community and student group efforts are strengthened. The Migration Advocacy Group through the CCSJ has postcards asking U.S. Congressman, Representative Lee Terry, to support Comprehensive Immigration Reform. We want many postcards signed as possible before his visit to our campus later this month, and community groups are also helping this effort. To further this endeavor, OTOC will host a “faster” from the Fast4Families movement on February 17th. By participating in this, students have the opportunity to connect to a national movement for immigration reform.

For me, the possibility of change seems much more real when I am able to follow in the footsteps of advocates who have been working for years. They remind me that things don’t happen overnight, but the oppressed won’t stop marching on, so neither will we stop our fight for justice.


Kelly Sullivan
Class of 2014
College of Arts and Sciences
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.

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Post Grad Volunteer Discussion


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Is volunteering after graduation the right choice for you?

Find out! The Creighton Center for Service and Justice will be hosting a Tostadas Dinner Wednesday, February 12, 5:30-6:30pm in the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (Harper Center 2067). All students are welcome (seniors, sure, but also geared to younger students thinking about next steps after Creighton!)
Hear stories and ask questions of former volunteers from a variety of year-long post-graduate programs. Panelists will be able to address their own discernment process during senior year that led to post-grad volunteering, and be able to answer questions about topics including international versus domestic opportunities; taking care of finances while volunteering; the differences between programs that are and are not religiously based; and more.
This event (including tostadas) is FREE, but we’ll need an accurate count for food.
Please RSVP to Jeff Peak jeffpeak@creighton.edu or 402-280-1295 by 3 pm on Tuesday, February 11th if you plan to attend.
Please spread the word!

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OCTOBER 2013 E-news: Social-International Ministries

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Faith-Justice

Time is now for humane immigration advocacy: With the fiscal crisis behind us, the House needs to act soon on immigration or momentum will stall with the run-up to the 2014 elections. In short, NOW is our time to express support for comprehensive, family-based reform with an achievable pathway to citizenship. On Monday, November 18, over 800 advocates will gather at the U.S. Capitol for Ignatian Family Advocacy Day
. HUMANE IMMIGRATION REFORM and domestic poverty are this year’s focus issues. Please consider participating in the “10,000 Strong for Humane Immigration Reform” campaign. Campuses, parishes, ministries and communities can sign postcards to be brought to Capitol Hill on November 18. Click here to order cards and learn more.
For up-to-date advocacy notices on pending immigration legislation, visit Jesuit Advocates and/or the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.
On the Nov 13 Feast Day of Mother Cabrini, patron of immigrants, USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants campaign will promote a National Call-In Day to Congress expressing the simple message: “Support a path to citizenship and oppose the SAFE Act.” /// Periodic messages are encouraged and advocates need not be voter-registered to contact their respective legislators. In this way, youth and immigrants should be emboldened to add their voice.

Option for the Young = Option for the Poor: The younger you are the more likely you will be in poverty says the most recent data from the CCHD website Povertyusa.org
Click here for new USCCB Webinar addressing US Census poverty statistics and our Catholic response.
Related data from new census figures:
-One in Four Households with Children now report food hardship
-Striking it Richer: The top decile now accumulates 50.4% of national income, the highest since 1917 when this measure began
-Census Bureau Population Survey, Annual Social & Economic Supplements (graphbelow)

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World Food Day message: In a statement to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, Pope Francis said,”the waste of food is but one of the fruits of the throw away culture which often leads to sacrificing men and women to the idols of profit and consumption.” Click here for his full Oct 16 statement.

Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty:On Saturday November 9, the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty (CMN) will host a national conference at Catholic University (Washington, D.C.). Proceedings will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend.

Illuminating the Horizon of Hope is the theme of the November 16-18, Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. Keynotes include: Sarita Gupta (Jobs With Justice), Kyle Kramer (environmentalist), James Martin (America), Dan Misleh (Catholic Coalition on Climate Change), Peggy O’Neill (Centro Arte Para La Paz, El Salvador). The conference will also include Mass, prayer, networking sessions and break-out presentations facilitated by over 50 organizations in the lead-up to a Congressional Advocacy Day (see Immigration above).

International Solidarity

NEW Jesuit statement on migration/refugees by European, Middle East and African Provincials: Recognizing the recent Lampedusa tragedy and remembering the thousands who have died trying to reach Europe over the past 20 years, major superiors representing 6,000 Jesuits over two continents released this October 25 statement. “We believe this is a time of urgency for our societies in the face of this grave moral issue” and then they address six themes: Save Lives; Stop Arms supplies to Africa; Increase shared hospitality by receiving nations; Improve conditions for asylum seekers; Reject far-right populist rhetoric; and Cooperate with other people of good will. Are these not similar themes for us in the Americas?

New Kohima Report: The 2013 annual report by the North Eastern Social Research Centre (NESRC) is now available. NESRC is a work of the Kohima Jesuit Region, a unit now twinned with both Midwest provinces. NESRC conducts advocacy-oriented research on North East social issues such as displacement, conflict, bio-diversity, and tribal identity.

Africa’s Future and Our Future: Partnership not Charity: Click here for story, video and full text delivered by Eastern Africa Jesuit Provincial Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator at the October 21, 2013 Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture in London.

Honduras Delegation: Click here for photos and reflections by Luke Hansen, SJ regarding the recent Jesuit Conference-led delegation to visit Jesuit projects in Honduras including Radio Progreso and ERIC, a social center for reflection, investigation and communication. Honduras now has the highest murder rate in the world (86/100,000) and associated social unrest and decline which is the result of mining displacement/deregulation, narco-trafficking, and corruption/impunity.

PERU: Peace Prize 2013 to Jesuit Fr. Frederick Green: This award was established by the Peruvian Ministry for Women and Vulnerable Populations. Since his arrival in Peru, Fr Green has devoted himself to the social apostolate, mainly in the field of formation and education, always focusing on the less fortunate. For further information, click for English article or Spanish interview.

Ecology

Melting Ice, Mending Creation: A Catholic Approach to Climate Change is a free on-line study guide developed by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change

EcoJesuit comments on the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Click here for the article by José Ignacio García, S.J. which helps to synthesize the 2,000 page document written by 259 scientists from 39 countries. Fr Garcia closes by saying that lifestyle changes and civil society engagement are imperative. He also adds that adaptation to climate change will be real challenge, “we realize that the situation is very likely to change in a significant way. The challenge will be to adapt to new – and uneasier – conditions, a major challenge for individuals and communities.”
Separately, EcoJesuit also considers the practical question of what I must do to reduce my CO2-equivalent emissions.

Who is listening to the cry of the earth? is explored by the Toronto-based Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice October 2013 issue.

Vatican Hosts Mining CEOs for Day of Reflection: Story by participant and economist Josep Mària Serrano, SJ.

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