An Advent Reflection by Anne Lilly
St. Ignatius Parishioner / Justice & Peace Committee Member
I hope you are well in this season of Advent.
I am writing today to share my thoughts about Ignatian Family Teach-In For Justice, IFTJ, but before addressing that, a huge kudos to the Justice & Peace Committee for Tuesday’s Candidate Forum. Oh my! What a well-run event! I have to say, it was a bit odd to see these four candidates sitting right in front of the altar, but it was such a neat idea for the parish to host an event like that. I would echo what Brendan Cassidy said in his email- I think the civility shown by the candidates and the overall tenor was awesome.
So on to my primary reason for writing: I wanted to write to thank the St. Ignatius Parish for the opportunity to attend the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice on Nov 6th and 7th.
When we were at brunch/lunch on Sunday, the group was asked some questions that I wanted to respond to.
1. Am I invigorated?
Yes, I left IFTJ very invigorated! It was very heartwarming to be around so many like-minded Catholics and I came away with several lessons learned and strategies to continue to contemplate and work toward.
2. Where do I fit in?
I thought the whole event was really interesting. I have some Catholic friends, but the majority of my friends are from other denominations or other faiths or are not religious at all. I care deeply about social justice and being an ally to the marginalized and taking care of our common home. I share these passions with my friends, who range the religious spectrum. I’ve always seen these values as reflecting my faith, but it was at IFTJ that I saw A LOT of people who espouse the same values for the same reasons that I do!
I work at the School of Public Health at Hopkins doing public health research and quality improvement work with programs that serve pregnant people and families with young children. While I find my job rewarding; I do often find myself seeking direct service opportunities working with people directly. In the past, I’ve helped with Loaves and Fishes through St. Ignatius. For three years, I mentored a Latina high schooler through Adelante Latina. I was very excited to see that St. Ignatius would be supporting Afghans newly arrived to the US. I am hoping that opportunity to support them ends up panning out. Are there other opportunities for direct service through St. Ignatius?
3. Key Takeaways
I loved hearing Bryan Massingale speak in person. I have seen him on the news, but it was really neat to be in the room as he spoke. I loved what Father Massingale laid out as the challenge for white folks: 1. Task of conversion, building awareness of injustice and the privilege it confers; 2. Solidarity with people of color- being an ally without being dominating; and 3. Acting for justice and social transformation by using privilege to challenge privilege. I also really appreciated the example he gave of the Monopoly game that he had students in his class play. He explained that in this version of Monopoly, the middle-class white family started the game with $1500 and a middle class house; the black family started the game with $150 and a smaller house; and the rich white family started the game with $6000, a hotel, a vacation home, a railroad, a utility and the get out of jail free card. He recounted that one student who played the game as the black family wanted to stop playing part-way through, saying “Why should I play a game I can’t win?” As a former teacher, I loved that as not only an example of the profound value in learning through experience, but also as a sign of hope that a mindset was shifted and this student might have left the class seeing the world with more of an equity lens. I wasn’t aware that Father Massingale is openly gay. I admire him sharing his identity with the whole crowd at IFTJ. What bravery knowing there could be backlash from Church leadership!
I also attended two workshops, one called Principled Dialogue in a Divided Church and Nation and another called Transformative Conversations to Bridge Divides. Both focused on the value of trying to see where others are coming from and respecting their viewpoints before challenging what others think. They both spoke to the importance of listening and really listening to understand. I appreciated the civility and respect encouraged by both of these sessions. The Transformative Conversations session also had concrete steps one could take to talk about a challenging situation with a friend or family member, I thought that level of specificity was really helpful.
I know this is a lot! I just appreciated your questions and wanted to take some time to reflect on IFTJ and to share my thoughts with you. Also, I’m not sure if St. Ignatius as a parish funded our trip to IFTJ generally, or if a single donor in particular supported our attendance. I am happy to share this thank you note with the parish and others. I found the whole experience very worthwhile and am happy to express my gratitude to all the appropriate parties.
Peace Corps South Africa ’07-’09
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
~ Albert Schweitzer