Friday marks the beginning of my third trip to the Ignatian Family Teach-In. My last two Teach-Ins, and the trip to El Salvador they bookended, are the most meaningful experiences I’ve had while at Creighton. Being a witness to the world, along with thousands of my Ignatian brothers and sisters, strengthens my own resolve to change the world.
Every trip opens my eyes to the wider Jesuit community. Students from across the nation and the world come together, and as my friend Tim Nendick enjoys reiterating, to shout “Presente” with our lives. This year we will be advocating on Capitol Hill, calling on our elected officials to halt climate change, support education for all those living in our nation and close the School of Americas.
Last year I spent the Feat of St. Ignatius at the University of Central America, the site of the brutal murder of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her young daughter. Finding myself at place of such evil haunted me but my visit came full circle at the Teach-In four months later, sliding my cross into the fence at gates of Fort Benning. I was no longer a powerless figure in crime scene turned rose garden but instead an advocate for an end to the brutal actions committed in Latin American by my own government.
Fr. Jon Cortina did not die with the rest of his Jesuit community that night. The people of Guarjila warned him of the danger and prevented him from leaving the village. Last year my crossed bore the name of his village, “Guarjila.” It was not massacre site or the name of a famous or unknown martyr. It was a village that protected Fr. Cortina only to be eventually forced into a Honduran refugee camp. But in 1986 they decided to come back. In spite of the violence, the bombing and atrocities committed daily by the Salvadoran army, they returned home. I placed this cross in the fence at Fort Benning to bear witness to the destruction of this village but also its rebirth in the most hostile of conditions.
The Ignatian Family Teach-In renews my faith in humanity and its ability to liberate the world. Beginning this Friday I know that I will be challenged, educated and inspired in every facet of my life. I am once again blessed to be boarding the bus and accompanying our Creighton community, along with a number of Cortina residents, to Washington D.C.
Paz y Amor,
The Book I Write – Spoon
Walk On The Wild Side (Live) – Lou Reed
You Don’t Know Me – Ben Folds
Crystalized – The XX