I had the chance to attend this past weekend’s Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice as a chaperone for my contingent from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School – Baltimore. Not only did I get a chance to remember the Martyrs of El Salvador and the many others who shed their blood for the poor, but I also came to see how the efforts of some a generation and world away continue to energize us from diverse backgrounds and times.
When looking to the past, I am so humbled by the witness of the martyrs. On Saturday morning – the 24th anniversary of the Salvadoran martyrs’ ultimate witness – I learned a little bit more about my Jesuit brothers. I learned that these men were, for lack of a more erudite term, total rockstars. These were men in their prime, conducting serious research, teaching cutting-edge theory, and administering structures of justice for the most marginalized. Their talent was so highly concentrated in one area that when they were cut down, their love of their people and desire for justice immediately dispersed throughout the world. No longer do these witnesses serve in a small Central American country; rather, they continue to serve, inspire, and motivate us seeking justice throughout the world.
As for the present moment, the weekend afforded me to be consoled and content as a Jesuit – a family so large and yet so closely-knit. I bumped into friends, colleagues, and fellow Jesuits. I made new contacts and excitedly bounced from group to group (I am an extrovert, after all). Further, the love and support I sensed emanated from a shared foundation and vision for the world. As one of our students put it, “It’s like everyone here attends the same school!”
Speaking of students, my gratitude of the past and my joy in the present gives me great hope for the future. I was off by myself scribbling notes down on my legal pad when three of our students came up to me with some grand ideas. They were inspired by one of the talks and realized that they learned of an issue that could hit close to home Baltimore. Our students came to me to process their experience and brainstorm for the future. Before I knew it, my legal pad was no longer my own but rather a homebase for the nascent planning of a student group to support victims of trafficking.
Will our students start this organization? Will they mobilize their fellow Cristo Rey Hornets for this worthy cause? I don’t know. What I do know is that, 24 years ago, the Salvadoran death squads thought their bullets could end a movement that sought the right relationship of different peoples. What I also know is that, 24 years later, teenagers from inner-city Baltimore have linked their hopes and energy to a movement that extends to uplift everyone from the barrios of San Salvador to employees of your local Wal-Marts to the West Bank and back to Charm City herself. Such global and generational solidarity is bulletproof.
The cover artwork is Mary Pimmell, this image and other examples of her artwork can be found here.