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By Educate Magis
Sep 3rd, 2019

In this interview Joe Parkes, S.J., Provincial Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education (PASE) for North East Province in the United States and his assistant Maura Toomb, share the challenges of training faculty, staff, and students for global citizenship in the schools of the region.

1.Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background in Jesuit Education, the Jesuit Community and your current role?

Joe: I am a Jersey-City-born son of Irish immigrants.  I met the Jesuits at St. Peter’s Prep (Class of 1962).  I entered the Society upon graduation.  For Regency I was assigned to the Ateneo de Manila High School to teach English, History and Religion (1969-1971).

After theology studies I served on the staff of America Magazine for five years, then was President of St. Peter’s Prep (1979-1986).

A three-year term as Socius (1986-1989) to the NY Provincial was followed by six years as Provincial (1990-1996).  During those nine years in Province administration, Micronesia (Xavier High School, Chuuk and Pohnpei Agricultural & Trade School), Puerto Rico (Colegio San Ignacio) and the Nigeria-Ghana Mission were under New York Province administration.  Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, was planned, built and opened during his years in the Province Office.

I served as President of Fordham Prep (1996-2004) and as founding President of Cristo Rey New York High School (2004-2018).  I am in my second year as PASE for the UNE & MAR Provinces.

In addition to his administrative positions, I have at various times served on the boards of Cheverus H.S., Loyola School (NYC), U of Detroit Jesuit H.S., Xavier H.S. (NYC) as well as St. Peter’s College, Fordham U and Georgetown U. I also served on the board of the Cristo Rey Network.

I have visited Jesuit schools in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay and Peru.

Maura: I serve as the Associate PASE for the UNE and MAR Provinces. I am beginning my fourth year in that role.  I was introduced to the Jesuits as an undergraduate at Loyola University Maryland – it was there that I was first introduced to the idea of global education, spending a semester abroad in Cork, Ireland, and traveling to El Salvador with Loyola’s Center for Community Service and Justice. After my time at Loyola, I spent a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in Bethel, Alaska.

I worked in Campus Ministry at Saint Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, NJ for seven years, traveling to places across the US with students each summer as a part of the service-immersion program. Additionally, I was blessed to spend time each summer with students at the Working Boys Center in Quito, Ecuador, a Jesuit ministry.

I have a Master’s degree in Religion and Religious Education from Fordham University and I am working toward an Ed.D at Creighton University. I sit on the Boards of Trustees at St. Ignatius School in the Bronx, and Saint Peter’s Prep.

2. What is your general opinion about action #12 (described below) and its impact on the successful achievement of the mission of the Society of Jesus?

The Delegates further commit to working with the schools’ leadership to oblige all faculty and staff be formed in global citizenship so that they can help students understand their future as global citizens.” – JESEDU-Rio2017

Global citizenship is not a new concept for the Jesuits; in fact, it is central to the mission and history of the Society.  The Society was approved in the fall of 1540, several months after St. Francis Xavier was sent packing on one day’s notice to head for India.  Some of the most famous words of the Jesuit Constitutions are:  “It is part of our vocation to go anywhere in the world where there is hope for God’s glory and the good of souls.”  This idea is lived out in the Fourth Vow that professed Jesuits make to accept any assignment anywhere in the world from the Pope.  As Jerome Nadal, SJ stated:  “The world is our home.”  So, training faculty, staff, and students for global citizenship is right up there with training them to make the daily examen or to use the discernment process when faced with big decisions – it is part and parcel of what St. Ignatius expected Jesuits and their apostolates to do, and what the Society desires of lay colleagues today.

3. Could you tell us how the implementation process of this action has been in your Province? What steps have you taken?

The implementation of educating students for global citizenship started on the East Coast even before JES-EDU Rio. The first international colloquium was hosted here, at BC High, in 2012, and many schools in our Provinces had committed to deepening the student experience of global education/citizenship even before JES-EDU Rio.  In particular, we have been blessed to have the Hyde Center at BC High, which was developed with the idea that it could serve schools throughout the Province – many of our East Coast schools have been able to partner with the Hyde Center on global immersion experiences.

After JES-EDU Rio gave us a formal charge, we organized the efforts of our schools on an East Coast Province level.  We started by discussing the Rio Action Steps with our Mission and Identity Directors at their annual meeting in February 2018.  Following that meeting, we decided to convene a few working groups in the summer of 2018 that would focus on the Rio Action Steps.  Our Global Education group met in June 2018 at the Hyde Center, and continued with virtual meetings throughout the 2018-19 school year.  In addition to collaboration on global issues, that group also tracked the use of Educate Magis in five of our schools.  Based on feedback from the Global Education Group and other school leaders, we have decided to host a Global Education cohort gathering for East Coast schools at Georgetown University in November 2019.

This work on the Province level has developed in order to support the robust work that was already being done in the schools.  To name just a few, Saint Peter’s Prep, Fordham Prep, and Fairfield Prep have created positions that oversee global education.  Canisius High School is in the middle of a capital campaign, part of which will fund a Center for Global Learning.  St. Ignatius Loyola Academy became a leader on Educate Magis after their President, John Ciccone, attended JES-EDU Rio.  BC High and Georgetown Prep have long been leaders in our Provinces on global education.  Lastly, close to 75% of our Province schools will send delegates to “II Colloquium JESEDU-Jogja 2020” which will take place in Jogjakarta, Indonesia in June-July.

4. What would you say are the main challenges in the implementation of this action? What would you advise other Schools/Provinces to consider before, during and after the implementation of this action?

The challenges to implementing Action Step #12 are twofold: first, each school has a different idea of what global citizenship entails; and secondly, schools have different resource levels to live out their commitment to global citizenship.  Some schools in our Provinces have been fortunate enough to develop positions committed to enhancing global education, while others are still trying to determine how to do that in a way that fits their school environment.  We are hopeful that the work of the Secretariat Global Task Force will unite schools’ efforts under one definition of Global Citizenship – doing so will help schools better support one another in their efforts.  And, as a common definition of global citizenship comes into practice, we believe that it will be easier for schools to define what is necessary to live out that commitment.

If we were to advise schools on what to consider when implementing Action Step #12, we would say: name what is already happening in your school that helps form global citizens; look to other schools in our Network to partner with; actively use the resources on Educate Magis; and ask for help from experts like Catharine Steffens at the Jesuit Schools Network.  The charge to form global citizens can seem intimidating, but in many cases, our schools are doing much of the work already – they don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  Rather, we need to share what is already being done, and collaborate in areas where it is not yet sharing.

5. Anything else you would like to add?

We believe that another reason global education has succeeded on the East Coast is that most of the Jesuits and many of the lay people who work in secondary and pre-secondary education in our Provinces have served in communities and cultures different than their own before coming to their schools.  A quick review of school leadership on the East Coast shows connections to places such as Paraguay, Micronesia, Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines, Belize, Jordan, Chile, and several European countries.  These faculty and staff members are, in effect, already global citizens, and they model for their colleagues and students what it means to be a global citizen.