During the last week of June, I had the pleasure and honour of attending the JSN Colloquium at Loyola University, Chicago. As a Partner, JSN had invited Educate Magis to attend and present at their Colloquium to give their teachers an opportunity to hear about Educate Magis, the new ways in which they can use global tools and resources, as well as how to engage in fruitful conversations and interactions within the global community.
The Colloquium is a triennial gathering of Ignatian educators from schools across the North American Network of Jesuit Schools – JSN – which gives Ignatian educators a chance to engage in meaningful conversation about a variety of issues and topics in Jesuit Education. An essential component to the Colloquium are the Ignatian Inquiry Sessions, where Ignatian educators have the opportunity to present effective teaching methodologies and outstanding programs to fellow educators. On this occasion over 500 educators came together for a wonderful programme centred around the theme of “Building Communities of Justice and Hope”.
The Colloquium began with a prayer, an inclusion activity and a warm welcome from Fr. Bill Muller SJ, Executive Director of JSN after a short video welcome by Fr. General. This set the tone for what was to be an inspiring and memorable few days, all wonderfully coordinated through the Colloquium App.
The first Keynote Presentation on Tuesday was by Fr. Mike Gilson, current Provincial Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education for the Jesuits West Province and soon to begin a new role as Socius of the same Province. The title of Mike’s Presentation was “Entrusted with Mission” as the mission of Jesus Christ is the foundation for building communities of justice and hope. Mike spoke about the importance of growing in our capacity to discern the movements of the Holy Spirit among us and invited us to reflect on how our faith, Ignatian tradition and partnership with one another might guide our conversations together throughout the Colloquium and beyond. Mike highlighted the Universal Apostolic Preferences as a lens through which to discern, something that came up several times throughout the week.
That afternoon we listened to a wonderful Panel Discussion on Women in Jesuit Education, based on research Dr. Kristin Cully had carried out and facilitated by Terra Caputo, Len Altilia SJ, Kristin Cupillari, Kent Hickey, Samantha Lehn, Temple Payne and Adria Renke. The Panel discussed some interesting questions such as ‘With a lens of gender, how have you experienced your own professional growth in your school’ and ‘How have you experiences the spoken and unspoken education we provide students around gender’?
On Wednesday we began with a Partners Session during which I spoke on behalf of Educate Magis, Matt Malone spoke on behalf of America Magazine and José Mesa on behalf of the Secretariat for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education in Rome. I was happy to share with the Colloquium Participants the story of Educate Magis, how the idea was born out of the Boston Colloquium in 2012 when the need to create a virtual space to connect Jesuit Schools worldwide was recognised and how the platform has developed since then by listening and responding to the needs of the community, and continuously growing in service of the Jesuit Mission.
We were then treated to a powerful and moving Keynote Presentation by Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder of the Homeboy Industries in L.A., the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Through moving personal stories of his work with gang members, Greg highlighted the importance of dismantling barriers that exclude, going to the margins and walking with the excluded, as one of the UAPs says. Through his talk Greg showed us how compassion, kindness and kinship are the tools to fight despair and decrease marginalization. He helped us to see that it is not about making a difference but about entering into a space with people to become one. Surely this is God’s dream.
We then had a choice of 4 wonderful Experiential Options:
- A Neighborhood Walk
- First Nation Blanket Exercise
- Slavery, History, Memory & Reconciliation
- Environmental Sustainability Tour
I chose the First Nation Blanket Exercise, an incredibly powerful participatory history lesson facilitated by Indigenous Elders from Canada. I learnt so much from this experience and would love for students in classrooms around the world to participate in something like this.
That afternoon Cristo Rey in Pilsen, Chicago had an open house and welcomed Colloquium participants to come and take a tour of the school.
On Thursday we began the day with a Keynote Presentation by Janet Sisler, Vice President for Mission Integration for Loyola University, the title of which was “Jesuit Schools: Incubators for Justice and Hope”. Janet spoke about using ‘Ignatian tools’ such as the Examen and Spiritual Exercises to build communities of justice and hope and that we need to start by examining ourselves and our own communities to see where we are at before we can move forward into something new and productive. She spoke about some of the ways in which Chicago’s Jesuit schools reinvented educational options for underserved populations, providing us with inspiration for a future where our schools embrace becoming incubators for justice and hope.
As well as these wonderful Keynote Presentation and other inspiring inputs, participants also had a long list of wonderful Ignatian Inquiry Sessions to choose from and could attend 3 of these sessions, 2 on Tuesday and one on Thursday. I was delighted to facilitate two of these Sessions, one on Global Citizenship Tools & Resources on Educate Magis and one on Connecting Students through Educate Magis.
After each of the Keynote Presentations I had the chance to interview one of the Colloquium participants to hear their thoughts and reflections on the presentation. We look forward to sharing these interviews soon.
I immensely enjoyed my time at the JSN Colloquium and look forward to working more closely with some of the teachers I met there.