Poverties and Jesuit Education

March 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

Next week, Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert (where I teach) is holding a Summit on Human Dignity. This year’s theme is “Education in the Margins.” Xavier’s summit will feature five keynote speakers that will speak to the entire community and more than 25 breakout sessions for students led by Xavier teachers and local experts. Speakers will explore a number of themes related to education and poverty, including imbalances in education, access to to schools and information across racial and socioeconomic groups, and initiatives to address the gaps.

Xavier is one of a few Jesuit schools who regularly host summits. Brophy Prep (Phoenix) commences its summit next week with a similar theme: the opportunity gap. A third Jesuit school in the California province, Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, will host a few events in the upcoming weeks for its justice summit. Bellarmine’s theme this year is restorative justice.

I think there are other Jesuit schools hosting similar events with similar themes. Obviously these events are very connected to the Catholic social justice tradition and Jesuit education: Christ lived in the margins. A few lines from a key document in Jesuit circles helps thread together all of these summits no matter their topics:

The world’s many ‘poverties’ represent thirsts that, ultimately, only he who is living water can assuage. Working for his Reign will often mean meeting material needs, but it will always mean much more, because human beings thirst at many levels; and Christ’s mission is directed to human beings. Faith and justice; it is never one without the other. Human beings need food, shelter, love, relationship, truth, meaning, promise, hope. Human beings need a future in which they can take hold of their full dignity; indeed they need an absolute future, a ‘great hope’ that exceeds every particular hope. All of these things are already present in the heart of Christ’s mission, which, as was particularly evident in his healing ministry, was always more than physical. In healing the leper, Jesus restored him to the community, gave him a sense of belonging. Our mission finds its inspiration in this ministry of Jesus. Following Jesus, we feel ourselves called not only to bring direct help to people in distress, but also to restore entire human persons in their integrity, reintegrating them in community and reconciling them with God.

General Congregation 35, Decree 2, paragraph 13

Prayers for Xavier, Brophy, Bellarmine and all other schools in their effort to inspire these reintegrations and reconciliations.

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