Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Action: The Cornerstone of Jesuit Education

After reading the Kolvenbach speech, the component of Jesuit education that strikes me the most is action, without a doubt. In his speech, Kolvenbach stresses the important of action and its unity with teachings of the church and in our education system. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that he stresses action over dogma. Service for the marginalized in soceity is such a key component of Jesuit education, and schools throughout the country would simply not be as strong without it. The privileged population of Jesuit schools are called to reach out to the less fortunate that, more often than not, surround these schools. In order to promote justice, action must be taken. Kolvenbach writes, "Only a substantive justice can bring about the kinds of structural and attitudinal changes that are needed to uproot those sinful oppressive injustices that are a scandal against humanity and god. This sort of justice requires an action- oriented committment to the poor with a courageous personal option" (ii. The Promotion of Justice). Kolvenbach, on behalf of the Jesuit community, calls those involved with the order to take action immediately. The only way to truly express the Jesuit tradition is to reach out to the community both directly and sincerely. Rather than solely being staunch supporters of the dogmatic principles of faith, we should strive to act for others and reduce the crime, poverty, and other injustices that are a part of this world. Kolvenbach feels that it is our duty, not merely our right to alleviate the injustices around us. And he strongly feels that action, more specifically service, is the most genuine way to do so.

Compassion for others through action has been an integral part of my education here at Loyola. I am now volunteering at St. Mary's, which is located in a marginal area five minutes away from our beautiful campus. This school relies on Loyola students for help, and it is through our committment to service that this school even exists, which I find to be extremely flattering, and perfectly in tune with the Jesuit emphasis on action. The Jesuit dedication to action is perfectly illustrated in our partnership with this school, and it is through relationships such as this that our Jesuit identity is upheld. The kids and faculty at St. Mary's need volunteers to come consistently in order to held them accomplish important educational goals, and it is the duty of Loyola students to make sure that they are there for this on a regular basis for a variety of reasons. A majority of the children at this school do not have a stable home life, so it is very important for somebody to be there for them and the teachers as well. It is incredibly comforting to know that I am needed at this school, and that each week even just one child is looking forward to sharing time with me. On the other hand, it is nourshing for me both spiritually and emotionally to have a child to provide me with both obstacles and cultural enrichment. Working with these children is going to broaden my horizons, and it is also going to open the eyes of the children with whom I work each week. This ongoing mutual relationship is what makes service so valuable. What makes this experience even more enriching is the fact that I can go into my class and talk about the relationships that are built through service, as well as the challenges that I face from time to time. This connection between the outside world and the classroom is precisely what Jesuit education strives for and achieves, in my opinion. I am incredibly satisfied with my education here, and I feel that a critical reason for this is the strong emphasis on dedication to social change that can be found at this school. I am excited to share my experiences at St. Mary's as I journey through the semester there, and I am confident that it will continue to shape my identity as a student, human, Catholic, and citizen of this country.

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