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This past weekend eighteen Canisius students, 4 campus ministers, and 3 Canisius alumni attended the Ignatian Family Teach In in Washington D.C. along with hundreds of others from Jesuit high schools and universities across the country.  The Teach In is a social justice conference hosted by the Ignatian Solidarity Network to remember and honor the Jesuit martyrs that were killed in El Salvador years ago.  Students gained insight into various social justice issues by attending informational breakout sessions as well as hearing from a number of speakers.

Keynote speakers were impressive examples of how to live just lives into adulthood.  James Martin, S.J., author and editor of America Magazine, spoke about the importance of humor in all situations.  Sister Peggy O’Neil, Director of Center for Art and Peace in El Salvador, offered examples that demonstrate being in solidarity with those she serves.  Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs for Justice, informed attendees about the struggles faced by low-wage-earning workers.    Finally, Kyle Kramer, author of “A Time to Plant: Life Lessons in Work, Prayer & Dirt” shared his rewarding experience of committing to an ecologically responsible lifestyle.

On Monday, hundreds of attendees lobbied in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, the Minimum Wage Act, and increased access to food with SNAP on Capitol Hill.  Canisius students focused their lobbying efforts on comprehensive immigration reform and visited the offices of Representative Louise Slaughter, Representative Brian Higgins, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  Canisius students informed the representatives that the five main goals of any immigration legislation should be an accessible path to citizenship for undocumented residents, maintaining family unity, protection of workers’ rights, protecting the vulnerable and ensuring humane borders.  In general, the Buffalo and New York State representatives are in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.  At the moment, there are a lot of proposed bills being discussed in the house and one bill being discussed in the senate.  According to the senate staff, immigration legislation will likely not be altered until 2014.

Check out the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s website for more information about the Ignatian Family Teach In.