August 8, 2019 — The latest edition of the triennial Colloquium Building Communities of Justice and Hope was an amazing experience for the team of ten Loyola High School staff members who attended. Hosted at Loyola University Chicago’s beautiful Lakeshore campus, this four-day gathering of educators from schools across North America included meaningful opportunities for communal prayer and worship, inspiring keynote addresses, and a range of transformative experiential and interactive activities.
Each day, all Colloquium attendees gathered for a morning prayer service, followed by feature presentations by leaders from around the Jesuit Schools Network. As a highlight, our team was struck by Fr. Mike Gilson, SJ, who illuminated the conference theme “Building Communities of Justice and Hope” by exploring the four Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus:
Showing the Way to God Through the Spiritual Exercises
Walking With the Excluded
Journeying With Youth (toward hope-filled futures)
Caring for Our Common Home
Fr. Gilson urged educators to collaborate with one another in working through the difficulties that will no doubt be part of our work as it is guided by the preferences. Fr. Gilson asked schools to confront fears that arise during the change process by praying for the Holy Spirit to guide our work. He argued that through God’s grace, and by collaborating with our companions and persisting in our efforts, we will discern how to best listen to the Holy Spirit and align our work with God’s will. However, we don’t need to rush, for as Fr. Gilson also pointed out, “Slowly is the fastest way to get where you want to be.”
Other feature presenters included Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Fr. Tim Kesicki, SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, and Janet Sisler, Loyola University Chicago’s Vice President for Mission Integration.
Tonight we are blessed with the opportunity to welcome @jesuitschools and 500 of our Jesuit faculty/staff peers for dinner on their final night of the 2019 JSN Colloquium. This year’s theme? -“Building Communities of Justice and Hope.” #JesuitEducated #Colloquium19 #AMDG pic.twitter.com/mRKRpOUlGU— Loyola Academy (@LoyolaAcademy) June 27, 2019
Following each feature presentation, conference participants were offered several experiential learning opportunities, including visits to two of the four Jesuit secondary schools in the Chicago area: Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Loyola Academy. Attendees also chose to engage in one of three transformative learning experiences that were specially arranged for Colloquium: a First Nations blanket exercise, a Loyola University sustainability tour, and a Chicago neighbourhood walk.
In addition to these experiential learning opportunities, we also participated in a plethora of small group workshops offered by teachers from around the Jesuit Schools Network. Below are a few of the sessions that Loyola team members attended:
Ignatian Solidarity Network: Building a School Culture of Hospitality Toward Those Who Migrate
Evaluating the Faculty Evaluation Process
Digital Tools for the Math Classroom
Concussions: The Jesuit Way
Cura Personalis at its Best
How to Make the IPP Work
Good Grief: Helping Teens Navigate the Death of a Loved One
Improving Admissions Marketing
Different Gifts but the Same Spirit: Serving Students with Learning Disabilities
Differentiated Instruction in the S.S. Classroom
A Religious Psychological Profile of a Modern Student
Beyond formal sessions and meetings, there was also time for worship and fellowship. Daily mass was offered for those interested, and the entire group of Colloquium attendees had mass together in the beautiful Madonna Della Strada chapel, overlooking Lake Michigan on two occasions.
The large group also gathered nightly for “companionship” social time, and our delegation huddled intentionally twice over the course of the week: once with our fellow Canadians in attendance, from Winnipeg’s St. Paul’s High School, and Regina’s Mother Theresa Middle School; and once just with one another to discuss how what we were learning at Colloquium will mesh with the strategic changes planned for the near future back at Loyola.
St. Ignatius Church in Rogers Park - Chicago, the Lovely finish point for the Neighborhood Pilgrimage Walk during #Colloquium19 - what a good way for us to carry what we are learning to the city in which we are experiencing it! #RJLearns #RaiderJourneys pic.twitter.com/oq8pVnt0s6— Regis Jesuit HS (@RegisJesuitHS) June 26, 2019
All in all, Colloquium 2019 was a phenomenal experience for all involved. We returned to Montréal determined to continue to “Build Communities of Justice and Hope”, in light of the Apostolic Preferences, in the new school year and beyond.