Social justice is an area of concern for those interested in Ignatian spirituality. The early Jesuits often described their work as simply “helping souls.” The great Jesuit leader Pedro Arrupe updated this idea in the 20th century by calling those formed in Ignatian spirituality “men and women for others.” Both phrases express a deep commitment to social justice and a radical giving of oneself to others. Many organizations and colleges informed by Ignatian spirituality offer opportunities to work for social justice in the world today. Here we highlight some of the social justice work being done by Jesuits and their friends.
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) serves, accompanies, and defends the rights of refugees held in detention. JRS staff around the world visit people who have been deprived of their liberty simply for entering or remaining in a country or moving without authorization. JRS is concerned about the inadequate conditions in which refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants are being held in detention and their lack of access to proper procedures.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (JRS/USA) witnesses to the reality that God is present in human history, even in the most tragic experiences of persons driven from their homes by conflict, natural disaster, economic injustice, or violation of other human rights.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network facilitates and enhances the effectiveness of existing social justice and advocacy efforts that are currently present in Jesuit-affiliated high schools, universities and colleges, parishes, retreat centers, independent organizations, and lay individuals across the nation.
The Center of Concern is a faith-based organization working in collaboration with ecumenical and interfaith networks to bring a prophetic voice for social and economic justice to a global context.
The Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) provides men and women, aged 50 and greater, opportunities to serve others, to address social injustice, and to transform lives. IVC matches the talents of capable volunteers with the greatest social needs of our time.
The Jesuit Volunteer Corps is a national and international program operated by five regional offices. Thus local JVC staff can continue to understand community needs, retain regional ties, and provide strong personal and programmatic support to the volunteers. Jesuit Volunteers make a commitment to serve where the need is greatest, to work with people who are marginalized by society, and to live in apostolic community with other Jesuit Volunteers.
The primary purpose of the National Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility (NJCIR) is to advocate for and effect change in corporate behavior by coordinating shareholder advocacy initiatives at both the province and national levels.
“Iggy” (short for the Ignatian Social Ministry Database) was developed by Dr. Chris Huntley of Fairfield University and is hosted by the Jesuit Conference in Washington, D.C. It provides a listing of Jesuit and Ignatian-inspired social ministries in the United States.
In addition to working to advance social justice with national Jesuit ministries, different provinces work to help with local needs and issues.
The Jesuit Volunteer Corps works with other social service organizations to serve people who have the greatest need, especially those whose needs society often ignores.
The Kino Border Initiative “is the culmination of a three-year process of reflection, discernment and conversations along the Arizona–Mexico border about the reality of migration and the most urgent needs with respect to migration in general and for our Church in particular,” says Fr. Sean Carroll, SJ, of the California Province, Executive Director of the KBI.
Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training, and education.
Since 1997, Poder Learning Center has responded to the educational needs of immigrants in the primarily Latino areas of Pilsen/Little Village and Back of the Yards, on Chicago’s southwest side. In less than 10 years, 4,500 students have attended tuition-free classes through Poder. But with 20,000 new immigrants arriving annually, the need for Poder’s services has never been greater.
A remarkable Chicago-based Jesuit ministry which offers retreats to those who are homeless and seeking recovery, to help them find meaning and purpose as they reclaim their lives. The Ignatian Spirituality Project also trains the formerly homeless to assist in giving retreats.
Jesuit Volunteers in the Midwest work and live in inner-city environments, serving populations where the issues of poverty, hunger, homelessness, racism, drugs, abuse, unemployment, and lack of housing and quality education are prevalent.
The primary purpose of the Institute on Migration, Culture, and Ministry is to advance ministry with and on behalf of those who have found it necessary to leave their homelands and seek employment, shelter, and a more dignified life.
Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) St. Louis positions volunteers in grade schools, prison ministry, and in legislative advocacy on behalf of the poor.
Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) expanded to New England in 2009.
Jesuit Volunteer Corps serving in the East work and live in inner-city environments from North Carolina up to Maine with people from a wide range of ethnic and racial backgrounds. Poverty, homelessness, racism, addiction, abuse, unemployment, and lack of housing and quality education are prevalent.
The Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice seeks to shape social justice consciousness through education, and to take action on critical social problems confronting society. The Twomey Center acts as a catalyst for research and action on critical issues of workers’ rights, racism, poverty, and justice.
The Jesuit Social Research Institute (JSRI) exists to promote research, social analysis, theological reflection, and practical strategies for improving the social and economic conditions in the southern United States and in select parts of the Caribbean and Latin America, with a particular focus on issues of race, poverty, and migration.
The Centro Altagracia de Fe y Justicia is dedicated to putting faith into action, promoting social justice, through dynamic collaborations and needs-based initiatives, in service to the communities of Washington Heights and Inwood (New York).
The Society of Jesus undertakes specific social ministries, like the establishment of interdisciplinary institutes for research, criticism, discernment, and public advocacy, and specific initiatives aimed at defending human rights, struggling for economic justice, alleviating need, protecting the environment, and building peace.
Northwest Jesuits currently work with Native American people on reservations in many parts of the Northwest and the Yup’ik and Cup’ik populations of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska.
The Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center promotes just structures in the church and in the world. IPJC is sponsored by 16 religious communities, including the Oregon Province Jesuits, and collaborates with Catholic, ecumenical, interfaith and other organizations in carrying out this mission.
Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest connects women and men with one or more years of volunteer service that focus on the core values of community, spirituality, simple living, and social and ecological justice. JVC Northwest provides opportunities for young, motivated individuals to reach out to persons living on the margins of society and vulnerable places throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Ignatian Associates are Catholic adults, married and single. Their spiritual formation is rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Following a two-year formation program, Ignatian Associates may accept an invitation to make public “Promises” of Simplicity of Life, Fidelity to the Gospel and to our Associate and Jesuit Companions, and Apostolic Availability.
Red Cloud offers volunteers a unique opportunity to work amid the Oglala Lakota, in some of the poorest counties of the United States. Red Cloud Indian School strives to provide an education that is a key requirement for a better future.
The Appalachia Volunteers Program is committed to working with the poverty stricken populous of the United States.
The 4 Boston program is committed to weekly community service promoting spirituality, community, and social justice.
The Ignatian Family Teach-In is an annual gathering that serves both to honor the Jesuits and other martyrs in El Salvador and to protest the activities of the U.S. military and government in the region.
In Boston College’s Urban Immersion program students engage in direct service with impoverished people, study some of the many issues confronting city-dwellers, and form a community of prayer and hope.
Canisius College Campus Ministry offers a variety of ways to become engaged in the pursuit of justice.
The Creighton Center for Service and Justice seeks to spark passion for truth and justice and nourish courage and lives of commitment.
The Creighton Center for Service and Justice provides student alerts and links on issues of peace, poverty and economic justice, immigration and refugees, and humanitarian relief agencies.
Social justice opportunities at Fairfield University include advocating for issues and participation in the Ignatian Family Teach-In/Vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia. Students also have the opportunity to volunteer at local soup kitchens, Best Buddies, or spring break service experiences.
For over 25 years, Hunger Cleanup has been a Fairfield tradition. 500 students, faculty, staff, and alumni join together to volunteer for a one-day serve-a-thon at 40-plus local agency sites in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Norwalk, and Stamford.
Fordham University Global Outreach teams are challenged to embrace and incorporate the program’s four pillars of community, spirituality, simple living/cultural immersion, and social justice, while fostering an ongoing commitment that embodies these values in the university, local, and global communities.
In order to advance justice and the common good, the Center for Social Justice promotes and integrates community-based research, teaching, and service by collaborating with diverse partners and communities.
The Center for Intercultural Education and Development’s goals are to empower people, promote greater mutual understanding, strengthen democratic values, and support sustainable development.
The Center for Peace and Security Studies is dedicated to examining the full range of political, economic, historical, cultural, and technological factors that influence global peace and security.
The mission of the Georgetown Law Center Clinical Program is to educate students in the practical art of lawyering while providing quality legal representation to under-represented individuals and organizations.
Georgetown Pro Bono and Community Service Programs are dedicated to the principle that members of the legal profession and those aspiring to enter the legal profession have a professional obligation to assist in providing quality legal services to individuals, groups, or causes that are under-represented in the legal system.
Holy Cross College
The Student Coalition on Homelessness and Housing (SCOHAH) is responsible for educating the Holy Cross College campus about hunger and poverty, advocating for the poor, and working directly through local housing groups and shelters to create affordable housing and end hunger and homelessness.
John Carroll University
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. (Jesuit University Students Together in Concerned Empowerment) strives to achieve sustaining social change through its experiences with and for others.
Le Moyne College
Le Moyne College Campus Ministry offers a number of opportunities for students to participate in social justice activities including Ignatian House, Habitat for Humanity, the Ignatian Family Weekend, and Alternative Break Programs.
Loyola College in Maryland
The Jamaican Experience allows participants to learn about the lives of and to be in solidarity with people who have been socially, economically, and/or politically marginalized.
The Center for Community Service and Justice engages students and the broader Loyola College in Maryland community in education through service for a just and equitable world. The Center is committed to collaboration with community partners and to involvement with people who are marginalized, especially those who are materially poor.
Loyola Marymount University
The mission of the Center for Service and Action is to educate and form men and women with and for others, especially with and for the disadvantaged and the oppressed. Through direct personal contact between students and the marginalized in service experiences, the Center for Service and Action fosters a solidarity with the poor that will lead to intellectual inquiry, moral reflection, and social action.
The Human Rights Coalition (HRC) is a group of Loyola Marymount University students that have united in their common concern for human rights all over the world.
Loyola University Chicago
The mission of Hunger Week at Loyola University Chicago is to cultivate compassion in the community by educating and raising funds while striving to stand in global solidarity with those who hunger.
Loyola4Chicago students work in service teams at various sites including work with children, teens, refugees, low-wage workers, and persons experiencing homelessness.
Loyola University New Orleans
Loyola University Community Action Program (LUCAP) volunteers serve in different ways, including feeding the homeless, tutoring learners of all ages, spending time with the elderly, attending protests, rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and sponsoring speakers and events for social justice.
The nature and dignity of the human person is today threatened on many sides. In the face of these threats to life, Loyola University New Orleans students, faculty, and staff come together for purposes of prayer, witness, and solidarity with the vulnerable.
Marquette University’s Service and Justice page has links for ministry and justice initiatives.
The Regis University Social Justice Committee works to enhance the awareness of the student body regarding social justice issues both domestically and abroad.
The Center for Service Learning at Rockhurst University helps students experience the service that is at the heart of Jesuit education. Through service we use the gifts we have developed and put them into action to transform the world.
Saint Louis University
The Emmet J. and Mary Martha Doerr Center for Social Justice Education and Research is an independently funded center within the Saint Louis University School of Social Work that promotes long-range solutions to social problems through education and research.
The Saint Louis University Office of Community Outreach operates in the Ignatian paradigm to provide students, faculty, and staff a variety of service opportunities that develop individuals into lifelong learners while they serve the community as a response to their faith.
Saint Peter’s College
In cooperation with the Office of Community Service and Service Learning, Saint Peter’s College Campus Ministry organizes Global Outreach service projects, domestic and abroad. Past destinations have included Mexico, Appalachia, Washington D.C., and Haiti. Activities also include the Hunger Banquet and the Ignatian Family Teach-In at the School of Americas.
Santa Clara University
The Arrupe Partnerships for Community-Based Learning create opportunities, through community placements in Santa Clara County, for active engagement, research, and service oriented toward questions of social justice.
The Center for Social Justice and Public Service provides Santa Clara students with a legal education that instills a commitment to social justice, public interest, and public service.
The Northern California Innocence Project works to create a more just and humane world through working to exonerate innocent prisoners and pursue legal reforms that address the causes and consequences of wrongful convictions.
Santa Clara University is dedicated to improving environmental sustainability, to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Seattle University Campus Ministry invites students to participate in social justice initiatives locally and nationwide, including the School of Americas Watch, Jesuit Refugee Services, and Global Exchange.
Soup with Substance gathers Seattle University students, faculty, and staff in a discussion about current social justice issues within the context of faith while sharing a simple meal of soup and bread.
Spring Hill College
Faith and Justice Formation at Spring Hill College outlines a variety of ways students can participate in faith and justice activities, including March for Life, Mardi Gras Break Immersion trips to Belize and Guatemala, and participating in the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice at the School of the Americas Protest.
St. Joseph’s University
Many opportunities are available for Saint Joseph’s University students to get involved in service and social justice.
University of Detroit Mercy
Each year a group of students and leaders travel to the School of the Americas Vigil / Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The Ignatian Family Teach-In (IFT) is an annual event marking the anniversary of the slain Jesuits and laywomen of El Salvador. During this gathering of the Ignatian family, participants reflect on our collective commitment to live “a faith that does justice” and rally around our Catholic call for peace.
The Peace and Social Justice Floor is a unique place on the University of Detroit Mercy campus to learn and grow in a community devoted to encountering issues of peace and social justice.
University of San Francisco
University Ministry’s Community Action program collaborates with a variety of other Bay Area non-profit agencies to provide students with opportunities to serve in their local community.
The Arrupe Immersion Program provides students with the opportunity to experience different cultures and socioeconomic environments, to witness firsthand the challenges faced by marginalized communities and to begin asking difficult questions.
The Justice Lecture Series brings speakers who are actively committed to promoting social change to the University of San Francisco campus.
University of Scranton
The University of Scranton Community Outreach Office allows students to meet, work with and develop relationships with people—other college student volunteers, community agency personnel, and the population they are serving.
University of Scranton international service trips provide opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to be immersed in cultures and experiences in developing countries of our world.
Wheeling Jesuit University
The Service for Social Action Center (SSAC) coordinates service and course-based service-learning activities for members of the Wheeling Jesuit University campus community.
The Eigel Center is a catalyst for Xavier University’s involvement in partnerships that advance learning and pursue social justice through practices of direct service, community building, and public policy advocacy.