By Henry McCollough
Eighteen Cubs and six faculty members travelled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for social justice at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice from Nov. 12-14. e annual event is organized by the Ignatian Solidarity Network and has honored the Jesuits and their companions who were martyred in El Salvador in 1989 for 19 years.
e faculty involved were foreign language teacher Jose Sustaita, Community Service Director Thomas Zeko, theology teacher Michael Shawver, social science teacher Jamal Adams, spanish teacher Ana De Castro and math teacher Andrew Mazur. Adams, DeCastro and Mazur all served as re ectionleaders; Shawver served as a spiritual director; Zeko served as Loyola’s ISN coordinator and Sustaita served as Loyola’s ISN Director.
The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice was broken up into different sections. First, many speakers, including the Rev. Fr. Greg Boyle ‘72, S.J., gave presentations on the problems and the solutions in communities throughout America.
Fr. Boyle was the keynote speaker and talked specifically about “Mercy in Action,” the theme of the teach-in. Loyla’s student delegates met with Los Angeles Congress representatives and discussed current issues. In preparation for their meetings, they familiarized themselves with committees that their representatives run. The delegates also researched the bills that their representatives have supported in the past.
Sophomore Lois Angelo said, “I had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Ted Lieu’s staff and Congresswoman Karen Bass’s staff. As a delegation, we had plenty of stories to present and questions to ask. Overall, I enjoyed meeting with the staff and better knowing what I can do as a high school student in order to assist my community.”
Leading up to the event, students met on Thursdays in Sustaita’s room to prepare for the trip by discussing legislative and social justice issues. The main issues of social justice in the event included immigration, Central American policy and environmental concerns.
According to Zeko, social justice is broken up between two “feet.” The first “foot” of social justice refers to service to the community. The second “foot” focuses on the systemic problems that can be solved through legislation.
Theology teacher Dr. Jesse Rodriguez said, “As a past participant, I learned that I am a member of the Ignatian Family whose mission is to learn how to become a person for others through advocacy and service.”
Junior Thomas Odahl, who chose to take part in the trip, said, “I am interested in politics and how different legislations intersect with the values of Christianity. Living out the implications of the gospel is an important aspect of being a Christian.” Odahl met with Representative Adam Schiff of the 28th congressional district and an aide to Representative Judy Chu. Odahl said, “I discussed the points that the Church advocated for on immigration. I also distinguished between charity and social justice.”
Registration for next years annual Ignatian Family Teach-in opens on May 1, and students who are interested are encouraged to sign up.