"The Mission of the Society of Jesus today as a religious order in the Catholic Church is the service of faith of which the promotion of justice is an essential element. It is a mission rooted in the belief that a new world community of justice, love and peace needs educated persons of competence, conscience and compassion, men and women who are ready to embrace and promote all that is fully human, who are committed to working for the freedom and dignity of all peoples, and who are willing to do so in cooperation with others equally dedicated to the reform of society and its structures…. It calls for persons, educated in faith and justice, who have a powerful and ever growing sense of how they can be effective advocates, agents and models of God's justice, love and peace within as well as beyond the ordinary opportunities of daily life and work."
Vincent J. Duminuco, S.J. Secretary of Education
Society of Jesus Ignatian Pedagogy, A Practical Approach
As important as it is to serve, to meet the immediate needs of people, it is of equal importance to assist our students in the process of social advocacy. Fr. Duminuco calls us to look "beyond the ordinary opportunities of daily life," and to look toward speaking out for people who can't speak for themselves. In that light, the St. John's Jesuit Christian Service department assists SJJ students in the process of the notion of systemic change-writing letters to Congressional representatives, attending protests as informed participants, providing awareness of social justice issues.
Consider the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (JRS/USA) which "affirms its mission to accompany, serve and defend the rights of these vulnerable and often forgotten people."
Social Justice Alliance
The aim of the Christian Service department is to raise, in students, awareness and sensitivity to the plight of others. Our desire is to develop students who are committed to doing justice in all aspects of their lives. The annual Awareness Week serves that need. Social Justice Alliance members select a topic on which the school focuses for a week. Activities and guest speakers are scheduled to explore all sides of an issue, and students decide for themselves if injustice is present. Past topics have included sweatshop labor, hunger, the School of the Americas and others. Other areas that have been given a focus include AIDS awareness and Oxfam America, which promotes self-help development programs related to hunger.
The Social Justice Alliance also sponsors a break the fast celebration at the end of Ramadan where our Islamic and Christian students celebrate their similarities by looking at the tradition of fasting in both faiths.
Additionally, the Social Justice Alliance sponsors two advocacy trips to Washington, D.C. The first is the Jesuit Teach-In which occurs in November, on the anniversary of the deaths of the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador. Students from Jesuit high schools and universities from all over the United States descend on our nation’s capital to continue the work of the Jesuit martyrs by advocating, in the light of Catholic Social Teaching, for those people who cannot speak for themselves. The second trip, the March for Life, occurs in January every year on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade; the U.S. Supreme Court case which legalized abortion. S.J.J. students, join with other Catholic high school students from Toledo, to speak out for the unborn and to lobby their representatives on many life issues.
"Thus education in Jesuit schools seeks to transform how youth look at themselves and other human beings, at social systems and societal structures, at the global community of humankind and the whole of natural creation. If truly successful, Jesuit education results ultimately in a radical transformation not only of the way in which people habitually think and act, but of the very way in which they live in the world, men and women of competence, conscience and compassion, seeking the greater good in terms of what can be done out of a faith commitment with justice to enhance the quality of peoples' lives, particularly among God's poor, oppressed and neglected."
Vincent J. Duminuco, S.J., Ignatian Pedagogy, A Practical Approach
At St. John's Jesuit, the Christian Service Department seeks to develop Men for Others. Meeting the needs of people by serving them directly is essential. But developing an inner sensitivity and awareness of social justice issues that students can serve indirectly-through letter writing campaigns, passive and active protests, and awareness weeks-is critical to the education of the Man for Others. We develop awareness and sensitivity not for the sake of awareness and sensitivity; rather the intent is, as Fr. Duminuco eloquently suggests above, to transform "not only…the way in which people habitually think and act, but of the very way in which they live in the world.”