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Students, Faculty Attend Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice

From Saturday, November 6 to Monday, November 8, students, faculty, and staff learned, prayed, and reflected with over 30 speakers at this year’s Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) at Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C.

Each year, a Xavier contingent attends the gathering, which brings together more than 2,000 people in the context of social justice and solidarity to learn, reflect, pray, network, and advocate together. The event ends with an advocacy day of public witness.

“The Ignatian Family Teach In for Justice is always a place where my hope is renewed,” said Director of Campus Ministry Kaija DeWitt-Allen. “Seeing our own students learning, energized, networking, planning, and being inspired is a real gift. During our times checking in with each other during the weekend, I'm struck by how often I hear our students talk about how great it feels to meet other students who are also passionate about faith and justice. There's an energy to the weekend. And it's clear that God moves through that space.”

This year’s Teach-In consisted of three themes—reflection, reckoning, and kinship. Attendees had the opportunity to meet with individuals from Jesuit schools all over the country—allowing them to learn more and to explore avenues that further open them to growth.

“The Ignatian family Teach-In for Justice was an amazing, eye-opening experience that introduced me to like-minded high schoolers around the country, taught me innumerable lessons about faith and justice, and allowed me to put into practice the lessons I've learned as a Xavier student,” reflected Mason Mercier '23.

Across the weekend, attendees tackled a wide range of social justice issues and learned about their own personal calls to justice.

“This year’s Teach-In was a great experience and I think our students learned a lot about how we are called to engage with difficult social justice issues with an attitude of love and hope for the future,” said Director of Ignatian Service Programs Greg Stelzer '11. “It can sometimes be overwhelming to hear about the harsh realities of migration, climate change, and racism, but I think the keynote speakers and breakout sessions created a positive space to engage with these topics in a practical and hopeful way and are always rooted in the values of our faith.”

“I was proud to see our students interact with each other and with delegations from other schools as they went through the weekend. This was my fifth time attending IFTJ and, for me, it is always a meaningful time to connect with colleagues across the Jesuit network and remember that our work here at Xavier is part of something much bigger.”

And it is. Students new to IFTJ made connections across the Jesuit network—giving them insight into issues they will learn about throughout their Xavier careers.

“Being in DC for the Teach-In was a riveting experience, where I learned about others’ passion for activism and social justice,” said Emanuel Leclerc '25. “It was also a great bonding experience between a group of passion-driven students. It taught me a lot about the problems we are dealing with and how to deal with them in a loving way. It was a life changing experience I can’t wait to experience again, and I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend.”

The experience undoubtedly sparked change across the Jesuit network—leaving many students seeking more opportunities to commit to justice and to inspire positive social change.

“The Teach-In reminded me of how inspired young Jesuit students are around the country,” said Eddie Young '22. “I felt proud to be around like-minded individuals who were open to growth, intellectually competent, religious, committed to doing justice, and loving. The experience was truly eye-opening and I highly recommend it to every Xavier student who wants to answer the call to justice. I am upset I waited until my senior year to participate in the conference so I implore any underclassmen to take the risk and sign up next year—you will not regret it!”