CSC Events

Saturday, May 19, 2018
Notre Dame Service Send-Off
Transcript of Remarks
 

Good afternoon! What a privilege to be here with you and your families on such a special weekend.

Being here is casting my memory back to my own commencement in 2009, which ended with me alone in a car on a six-hour road trip back to my parents' house. I was a wreck. I missed everything about this place. I remember that I played a Whitney Houston album on repeat and bawled the whole way home.

And then two months later, I began my year of service.

I volunteered with a residential group home called Mercy Home for Boys & Girls in Chicago, a Catholic agency run by the Archdiocese. I committed to practice simple living with an intentional community made up of myself and 13 other new college graduates. We lived onsite at the agency, in a thermometer-shaped apartment, and we served young boys and girls who lived there because their home environments were dangerous or unsustainable.

It was a really hard year. Buy me a drink sometime and I'll tell you all about the many things you get to learn about yourself when you share a living space with thirteen other people. But as challenging and enriching as living in community was, for me the hardest and best things I learned came from the people I served.

At Mercy Home I was assigned to work with the high-school-age boys. I had several boys on my caseload, which meant that I was their primary counselor and advocate. And I surprised myself by being pretty good at my job. I knew how to lay down boundaries, I wasn't easily intimidated, and it wasn't hard for me to connect with the guys. I would go home and listen to my community members talk about how they struggled in their programs and I would just sit back and tell myself that I was killin' the game.

But about halfway through my year I got a new guy on my caseload. He was a boy from Somalia named Abdi who was seeking asylum in the States. He was a really sweet young man who connected easily with the other staffers in my program, so I knew he'd see how hard I was rooting for him, how I was on his side, how awesome I thought he was and we’d be golden.

But I took him on a walk for our first meeting and he was very distant, almost incommunicative. I unleashed the full force of my considerable charm and I barely got a peep out of him. This happened for three days in a row.

Finally, I went to my coworker, Sam, and told him I was having trouble connecting with Abdi and I didn't have anything to write for my upcoming report. To my surprise, Sam started rattling off all kinds of things that Abdi had shared with him—remarkable details about his six-month journey all by himself from Somalia to South America and eventually his border crossing into this country. About the family that Abdi had left in—Somaliahis parents and siblings and the uncle who had paid to smuggle him out of the country after extreme violence struck his hometown. How Abdi’s faith was really important to him but he didn’t know how to practice it around the other guys in the program.

I couldn't believe it. All of the things I had been trying to drag out of Abdi for days he'd instead been sharing with Sam. When I asked Sam why Abdi wouldn't talk to me, Sam said that he felt uncomfortable with me because I'm a woman.

This was really hard for me to accept. I stewed on a feeling of rejection all night long. I thought about bringing it up to my community members, but I didn’t want them to think that I was suddenly struggling at my job.

The next day I confronted Abdi in the common room of our program. I told him that I had heard that women made him uncomfortable and that this personally offended me. I told him he'd never make it in this country if he couldn't understand that women were equal to men. I unloaded all of the half-formed feminist arguments I had in my arsenal before I ran out of breath. And as I was catching my breath to unload another volley, he tried to say something about how his practice of Islam had specific understandings of the roles of men and women . . . but before he could finish that statement, I had caught my breath again and launched into round two of my diatribe, which included me very angrily telling him that his Islam was wrong.

As you might imagine, my relationship with Abdi did not go anywhere productive. He shut down completely. From that point on, I had to lean on my coworkers to make sure that Abdi received the support and resources that he deserved, because he didn’t have any trust with me.

I'm sharing this story because in the years since that particular failure, I've come to understand three very important things about this kind of endeavor that I wish I understood better when I was sitting where you are.

But I'd first like to name a framework for understanding them, which is that completing a year or two of service may seem typical of a Notre Dame student, but is actually a fairly subversive and radical choice. Almost everything about how we are raised and educated in this country—even at a place like Notre Dame—is intended to turn us into producers and/or consumers within this society, not servants to its margins. We are told that if we produce or consume enough, that the world is ours to shape to our liking, that we are the protagonists of the human story. And our gift to the world, we are led to believe, is to help others overcome their problems by becoming more like us.

But service—in any of its many forms—invites us into a different relationship with our society, a relationship that I've come to understand and appreciate deeply for the ways in which it has transformed me as a person and shaped my career, and for the potential it has to also transform us, as a people.

So point number one: a year of service is about cooperation, not competition. Nobody wins, earns a superlative, or graduates summa cum laude from their year of service. There are no exams, commissions, or bonuses for volunteers. I failed to engage the counsel of my community members because in my mind, I was competing with them. But you will not be measured for individual success; you will instead be held accountable to your values and ideals, to the way in which you help shape and nurture your community. This requires a different kind of strength and intelligence than the one that gets us through college, the kind of strength and intelligence that practices trust and transparency, seeks companionship, and thrives on humility and generosity.

The second point is related. We must learn to look for stories of abundance rather than deprivation. The truth is that I went into my volunteer year expecting to help out, which is a polite way of saying that I thought I would help fix a problem I thought afflicted a community that I’d never even encountered. Let me say this one more time: I went into my volunteer year expecting to help out, which is just a polite way of saying I thought I could help fix a problem I had diagnosed in a community I’d never even encountered.

And this meant that when I ran into a problem with a person in that community, my instinct was to help him out by fixing what I decided was his problem. But in my hurry to correct what I experienced as Abdi's deprived understanding of gender, I missed out on encountering his courage, resilience, and the spiritual practices rooted in his deep faith that helped him endure a harrowing and painful migration journey.

The communities that you will serve may not look beautiful to your eyes, at first. They may indeed have prevailing public narratives of pain, struggle, poverty and violence, but more often than not that is the story that outsiders tell. Look instead for the stories of generosity, hope, courage, resilience, and faith that exist in abundance in communities at the margins.

And while we are talking about stories, my third point is actually an invitation, an invitation to be a particular kind of storyteller. I'm going to lean on my Notre Dame English degree to help articulate it. One last little lecture, but you're technically still in college so this is ok.

In literature, we’re all familiar with the concept of the protagonist, the main character of the story, and the antagonist, typically the villain or adversary. Less well-known is the concept of the deuteragonist—literally the second actor—the person in relationship with the main character. Sometimes the deuteragonist is reduced to a sidekick, but generally they get a fleshed out narrative as an important—but not the primary—character in the story.

I obviously wasn’t paying attention when they were teaching narrative tropes in college, because if I had I might have avoided making the mistake I made with Abdi. Going into my year of service, I believed on a deep gut level that this year had to be about me—a test of my experience, my aspirations, my gifts, what I had to offer. And because I internalized this, I made myself the protagonist of nearly every encounter I had at Mercy Home, and that meant that a lot of good people were often cast as antagonists. My community members were hard for me to get along with because they didn't try to understand my perspective. It was Abdi who had failed to connect with me, not the other way around.

I wish I had instead embraced the role of the deuteragonist and allowed my story to be encountered and told as a part of a bigger story. Being a secondary character is not an insult or consolation prize. It doesn’t mean that we are unworthy of being protagonists. Rather, accepting this role invites us to acknowledge that the world contains mysteries that we cannot resolve. That God has plans for us that are outside our ability to comprehend. It’s an opportunity for us to honestly assess our place in the story that is being told right now about all of us, about who we are as a people, as humans. And it’s actually kind of a relief, because eventually you may realize, as I did, that sometimes we’re just not great protagonists on our own.

My story isn't really all that interesting. But Abdi's was, if I could get my own ego out of the way long enough to hear it. The story of fourteen people trying to live together in a thermometer-shaped apartment—that's a good story. More than 100 brilliant graduates with the world at their fingertips who choose to live simply, among intentional communities, in service to the margins of human society—that's a hell of a story.

Congratulations, graduates. You have made a radical decision to live according to values and convictions that we are much deprived of in this world these days. You will rely upon and be accountable to the communities you are joining for the rest of your life. And your stories—as protagonists, antagonists, and deuteragonists—will shape what it means to be a Notre Dame graduate for many years after this one.

May God favor you with the Spirit of cooperation, grace abundantly, and an offering of humility.  

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Center for Social Concerns will host the fifth biennial Global Service Learning Summit from April 15–17 at the Notre Dame Conference Center. The theme of this year’s summit is Dignity and Justice in Global Service Learning and will bring together participants from both secular and faith-based institutions for critical dialogue on the values that underlie global service learning.

The summit will include discussion of the role of faith-based and secular institutions in supporting community and international development, civic and political engagement, democracy and human rights, and the religious and social formation of students as responsible global citizens.

Rachel Tomas Morgan, associate director and international engagement director at the Center for Social Concerns is lead organizer of the summit, which will host more than 300 college and university faculty and staff, non-governmental organization professionals, and researchers from 20 countries and five continents.

“Our hope in bringing this gathering to Notre Dame is to address a lacuna in the field by attracting faith-based institutions of higher education and religiously affiliated international development organizations that have been largely underrepresented in previous summits,” explains Tomas Morgan. “Such groups’ roles in development aid and provisions to the global poor have deep relevance and a long history.”  

Adam Russell Taylor, Lead of the Faith Initiative at the World Bank Group and former White House Fellow in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs and Public Engagement will give the opening keynote Sunday, April 15.

Dawn Michele Whitehead, Senior Director of Global Learning and Curricular Change for the Association of American Colleges and Universities will address the summit in a second keynote on Monday, April 16. Both keynotes will be free and open to the public.

​"We're delighted to host and participate in the fifth Global Service Learning Summit. It promises to make important contributions to the continuing conversation on the globalization of higher education," said Rev. Kevin Sandberg, C.S.C., acting executive director for the Center for Social Concerns.

Sponsors include the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Duke University, Georgetown University, globalsl.org, Haverford College, Northwestern University, and Quinnipiac University. Additional support comes from Campus Compact, Catholic Relief Services, Child Family Health International, Colorado State University-Pueblo, East Carolina University, Elon University, and Queens University of Charlotte.   

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies is sponsoring Adam Russell Taylor's keynote. Further support for the summit has been provided by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, College of Arts and Letters Henkels Lecture Series, Keough School for Global Affairs, Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, Notre Dame International, Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development, Notre Dame Research, and is part of the ND Forum 2017-18, “Going Global.”

Contact: Rachel Tomas Morgan, associate director and international engagement director, (574) 631-9404, rtomasmo@nd.edu

Monday, March 26, 2018

The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns will host “Five Years of Francis' Papacy: Prospects for Peace, the Poor, and the Planet,” a lecture and panel discussion on April 3, 2018 (Tuesday), at 4pm in the McKenna Hall Auditorium. The event will mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ papacy by exploring its major geopolitical, ecumenical, and cultural themes.  

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope on March 13, 2013, taking Francis as his papal name to signal a ministry that would share St. Francis of Assisi’s concern for the poor, the environment, and peace. Since then his papacy has been especially distinguished by its pastoral outreach, reorganization of the Vatican, and the central position it has accorded creation in Catholic social teaching.

The fifth anniversary of Francis’ papacy has prompted Catholic universities around the country (Georgetown, Fordham, Villanova, the University of Dallas) to hold events exploring its historical meaning and importance to the Church and the modern world.

“‘Five Years of Francis’ Papacy’ aims to join fifth anniversary conversations happening in other Catholic universities,” says Fr. Kevin Sandberg,C.S.C., acting executive director of the Center for Social Concerns. “But we want to focus more on the still unfolding promise of Francis’ papacy and our participation in it, instead of presuming a legacy. Any legacy of this papacy will be determined by our ability to address the tension between the center and the periphery of both Church and society.”

Bishop Robert McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego will give the opening lecture, "Seeing Through a New Lens: Pope Francis’ Quest on Behalf of Peace, Justice and Our Common Home," then join a panel featuring Anne Thompson, NBC News Correspondent; Julie Hanlon Rubio, Professor of Christian Ethics, Saint Louis University; and Anantanand Rambachan, Professor of Religion, Philosophy, and Asian Studies, St. Olaf College. Fr. Kevin Sandberg, C.S.C., acting executive director of the Center for Social Concerns, will serve as moderator.

The event is cosponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, Institute for Latino Studies, and Keough School of Global Affairs.

Contact: JP Shortall, director of communications and advancement, (574) 631-3209, jshortal@nd.edu

 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The University of Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns will sponsor “Beyond Mere Generalities: Applying Catholic Teaching in the Present Context,” a conference at the Notre Dame London Global Gateway, March 8–10. It will be the second gathering of the Applied Catholic Social Tradition Network, an international group of scholars focused on the application of Catholic social tradition (CST) to various social problems. The network first met in Rome in January 2017 and continues to expand its membership.

The idea for the network originated with Clemens Sedmak, professor of social ethics at the Keough School of Global Affairs and adviser in Catholic social tradition at the Center for Social Concerns, and Bill Purcell, associate director of Catholic social tradition at the Center for Social Concerns. The London conference is being organized in association with Fr. Jim Lies, C.S.C., director of Catholic initiatives and outreach of the London Global Gateway. 

This conference will build on the one in Rome by focusing on the relationship between the fundamental principles of Catholic social tradition and the complex realities of particular situations. As Sedmak said, “We want to ask what it means to translate the principles of CST into practices and judgments in real-world situations, and how realities on the ground challenge the fundamental principles of CST.”

The London conference is the second in what will be a series of conferences intended to engage the expertise of an international network of academics, religious and nonprofit professionals. Those in attendance will focus on fundamental and practical questions about the difference Catholic social tradition can make in concrete social situations, especially at the peripheries of society. The aim of the network is to respond to Pope Francis’ reminder in Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), “to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel.”

Rev. Kevin Sandberg, C.S.C., acting executive director of the Center for Social Concerns, said that networks and conferences like this one are important for the center, for Notre Dame, for the Church and for the world. “When there’s a rare disease that no one medical field of specialization alone understands, it’s important to gather specialists from various fields to approach it. The CST network conferences gather people with various gifts and perspectives to approach challenging social problems that none of us alone understands completely or can remedy.”

The medical metaphor is apt. Pope Francis often refers to the Church as a “field hospital” that “welcomes all those wounded by life.” Purcell and Sedmak are using the metaphor to guide the work of the London conference, which will focus on the social wounds of our time.

Before coming to Notre Dame, Sedmak was the FD Maurice Professor for Moral Theology and Social Theology at King’s College London. He has held multiple positions at the University of Salzburg, serving as director of the Center for Ethics and Poverty Research and chair for epistemology and philosophy of religion. Sedmak also was president of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Ethics in Salzburg. He has recently written "A Church of the Poor: Pope Francis and the Transformation of Orthodoxy" (Orbis Books, 2016) and "The Capacity to be Displaced: Resilience, Mission, and Inner Strength" (Brill, 2017).

Purcell oversees the integration of Catholic social thought into the center's courses and programming. He also co-directs the interdisciplinary Minor in Catholic Social Tradition for the University and acts as a liaison for the center with national Catholic institutions that focus on justice education.

Contact: JP Shortall, director of communications and advancement, (575)631-3209, jshortal@nd.edu

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fr. Peter Henriot, S.J. recently spoke during a Peace Meals Lunch Discussion at the center on the subject of Pope Paul VI’s statement “if you want peace, work for justice.” Here are his remarks.

“If you want peace, work for justice!”

Fr. Peter Henriot, S.J.

I appreciate very much the invitation to be here this afternoon, since it brings back many wonderful memories. Almost fifty years ago I went to work at a new organisation called the Center of Concern in Washington, D.C. Founded by the United States Catholic Bishops and the international Jesuit Order, the Center undertook a task of research, education, and advocacy to promote the Church’s social teaching in the political and economic, cultural and religious structures at both national and international levels. It was an exciting time and a challenging task—today I suppose I would call it “awesome” (not a word I’m used to in Africa!). 

Surely one of our many successes at the Center of Concern was an imitation or repetition of sorts begun here on the campus of the University of Notre Dame—this well-developed and rightly recognised Center for Social Concerns. It was a privilege for me over the many years before I moved to Africa to collaborate in a variety of ways with a good friend, the founding director of the center, Fr. Don McNeill, and the vibrant and well-trained staff and students here. As you might imagine, I’m so very sorry to miss being with Don now during my return visit here to Notre Dame.

During my first year in Washington, D.C. at the Center of Concern, Pope Paul VI included in his Message for the Celebration of the Day of Peace (January 1, 1972) a sentence that would become famous in the annals of the church’s social teaching. That sentence captured both political truth and practical urgency—and became a popular saying included in artwork, bumper stickers, and song. “If you want peace, work for justice.”

“If you want peace, work for justice.” As many reflections and speeches have been offered, as many articles and books have been written, and as many programmes and institutions have been established—all stirred by this simple sentence—I don’t believe its full meaning and consequences have been understood, appreciated, or acted upon.     

Peace, we have been told many times, is not simply the absence of war and conflict, but the presence of harmony and fairness. Indeed, the presence of justice. It is not attitudinal as much as it is structural. And so when you here at the Center for Social Concerns have chosen “Living the Challenge of Peace” as your theme this year, you have opened up discussion much wider, much deeper, than might often prevail in a lot of political discussions today.

For my own contribution here on “Living the Challenge of Peace,” let me explore not so much the richness of the Church’s social teaching on this topic (yes, it may still be in too many places, but not here at Notre Dame, “our best kept secret”). Rather, let me speak more experientially about situations I have experienced that cry out for structural responses—for justice, if there is ever to be peace.

I speak from an African experience—surely limited in terms of time, places, involvements. Yes, 28 years in Zambia and Malawi: pastorally as a Jesuit Catholic priest, professionally as a development and political worker, personally as a learner of many new things. But it was enough of an experience, an enlightenment and a conversion, to make me saddened and angry last week to hear the President of my country unashamedly and unapologetically mispronounce the name of an African country and then go on unabashedly and unacceptably to praise his many friends who go to Africa “trying to get rich,” “spending a lot of money.” 

Sadly, the official policy of the Trump administration has been largely to ignore the continent of Africa with its 54 countries and 1.2 billion people, other than to shut out some of those people coming here to the US as immigrants and refugees (surprisingly, including Chad in the announcement at the start of this week), to postpone ambassadorial and State Department appointments to Africa, to propose cuts in successful aid programs such as PEPFAR, to discourage beneficial trade arrangements, and to send troops to Somalia and sell weapons to Nigeria. 

But, in my brief remarks here this afternoon, I don’t intend to probe the Africa policy of the Government in office now in Washington, D.C. I want to turn attention or fine tune our thought about what “living the challenge of peace” means, especially as we take seriously the call: “If you want peace, work for justice!”

In a necessarily brief fashion, I turn my attention now to seven key instances of injustice occurring on the continent of Africa, violations of justice which undermine the possibilities, now and in the future, of peace. Remember, if you want peace, work for justice. I hope that in the discussion to follow my short presentation, you can challenge what I have to say or push my conclusions even further.

What are the challenges to justice on the continent, absences of political, economic, social, and cultural structures that are supportive of human dignity and progress?

Hunger—This is the situation most publicized and most tragic in its human consequences—well known right now in northeastern Nigeria, in Yemen, in South Sudan, in Somalia, in Ethiopia. (Perhaps less well known, but nonetheless a very real situation one year ago in the country I have recently come from, Malawi.) On the continent, an estimated 30 million people currently are experiencing alarming hunger, surviving only on what little they can find to eat. Much of the suffering is war-related or war-provoking; much is compounded by climatic conditions of both drought and flood.

To promote and preserve conditions of peace, the food crisis must be addressed. But is a policy of food aid and agricultural assistance justice-oriented? Yes, I believe it is, but only if it programmatically moves beyond charity to development. (To repeat that well-known phrase, “a hand up, not a hand out!”). That is justice-promoting, and that is peace-encouraging.

Demographic—People are Arica’s richest resource, but population pressures are creating more problems than helping to solve problems. Malawi, for example, is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. The 3% annual growth rate is very high. By 2050, the population is expected to hit 45 million, triple the current population, with a birthrate of five to six children per woman. 

Statistics like this are true in most African countries and this accounts for the findings in a recent United Nations report that by 2050 around 2.2 billion people could be added to the global population total and more than half of that growth will occur in Africa. There can be no peace in Africa if population stability is not worked for. And that requires justice in terms of treatment of women, education of youth, promotion of jobs, etc. And, I don’t hesitate to add, it requires a more honest and relevant pastoral approach to population issues that the Catholic Church currently demonstrates.

Climate Change—Within days of his inauguration, the administration of Donald Trump removed all mention of climate change from the White house website. And in the months since then, legislative and operational efforts to promote environmental protection of major and of minor detail has been systematically removed from U.S. governmental policies. I fear that this will remove environmental concerns from foreign policy concerns, from the concerns of international relations.

And this will have consequences on future peace in Africa. Why? Ecological justice in development terms requires hard policies relating to carbon emission, land and water programs, urbanization plans. Decisions taken today have consequences for tomorrow. No peace in our “common home” to use the simple but meaningful phrase of Pope Francis.

I have seen the consequences of climate change in Malawi in recent years, with the impact of drought mixed with flood, and consequent food shortages. Some of Malawi’s climate change is caused locally by deforestation, but much of it is caused by foreign carbon production. Sadly, one report comments: “It is a bitter irony that the countries that have done the least to cause climate change are going to suffer the most. Countries that have minuscule carbon footprints are going to be the first to suffer the consequences of flooding, drought, and displacement.”  

Refugees—Here with this topic I am tempted to turn upside-down the key phrase of my presentation, that wonderful quote of Pope Paul VI. We should say: “If you want justice, work for peace!” The UN Refugee Agency reports that almost 66 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2016—that’s a total bigger than the population of the United Kingdom. Over 12 million Africans are currently counted as internally displaced refugees, moving around in search of safety in their own countries. And more are moving to the Libyan shore and into the Mediterranean in hopes of a European home. (That photo of a small boy washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean shocked so many of us—he was Syrian, but he could easily have been Nigerian or Somalian, or Sudanese).

Over the years, I have worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service in UNHCR camps in Zambia and Malawi. And recently I have even met African refugees as I serve as a chaplain in the huge detention center run by ICE—Immigration and Customs Enforcement—in my home town of Tacoma. Refugees flee violence, refugees look for safety—peace and justice are intimately connected.

Trafficking—Closely related to the refugee issue but often with distinct drivers of economic promotion is the humanely degrading problem of trafficking. Young people, mostly women, are hoodwinked into believing a good job opportunity awaits them if they follow the lead, the luring invitation, of people with “connections” who offer education and jobs. Sadly, they become slaves, truly slaves, often hooked into sexual exploitation.

For a thorough discussion of this problem and its effect in Africa, with the justice and peace issues closely revealed, I recommend the powerful article by Ben Traub in the April 13 issue of The New Yorker. A tragic account of a young girl moved from the poverty of Benin City, Nigeria to the Italian prostitution business.

Politics—Is “democracy” an African way? President-for-Life Kamuzu Banda of Malawi believed that a dictator who listened to some opinions could be more democratic than leaders chosen in so-called popular elections. We see these very days in so many places in Africa what a denial of electoral justice means for a destruction of peaceful situations. 

Surely the biggest challenge for this political justice and peace is how to secure democratic elections that can honestly facilitate transitions to new leaders. When President Obama addressed a meeting of the leaders of the African Union two years ago, he mischievously asked why African presidents needed so many terms to achieve their tasks. And Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (now “serving” his country for 37 years, since 1980) criticized Nelson Mandela of South Africa for being a terrible African leader who set the bad example of resigning after serving only one term in office.

Terrorism—The tragic linking of fundamentalist religious thought with politically and economically motivated military groups has brought great disruption and fear in many parts of Africa: Al Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya; Boko Haram in Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon; al Qaeda in Mali. I mention it here for our reflection because such terrorism is an immediate threat to both peace and justice. Many of you may know more than I do about this challenge to justice and peace.

For me, a moment of profound ministry for peace and for justice came last year when Pope Francis visited the war-torn Central African Republic and spent prayerful time in the besieged Muslim mosque in the center of the capital. He exposed himself to both physical risk and political criticism. In the event, he taught a widely watching world that indeed, if you want peace you must work for justice.

Well, there are surely many other items that link peace and justice in Africa today, in our own U.S. and in our wider world. With the seven issues I’ve briefly touched on here, I wanted to give some broader perspective and encourage some deeper thought. Personally, I must admit that I am a bit disappointed, if not ashamed, that I have lifted up primarily negative, problematic issues from the contemporary African scene. Africa is much more than negative issues. The strong energy for better development, the creative cultural dimensions, the positive growth of local church—so much more.  But the seven topics I’ve spoken about may hopefully stimulate some reflection, some commitment toward peace and justice. 

Peace issues surely fill our news and frighten us with irresponsible tweets. Justice issues challenge us to probe the meaning of sitting or kneeling or standing during the singing of our national Anthem.

You, my friends here at this Center for Social Concerns event, are fortunate to have an excellent academic and action center to stimulate wider reflection on the theme “Living the Challenge of Peace.” As you make that reflection, please keep in mind and heart the issues of Africa that may help you see the relevancy of the challenge: “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Thank you!

 

Peter Henriot, S.J. is a Jesuit educator, speaker and writer on social justice, social teaching of the Church and Africa. He worked in Zambia and Malawi since 1989, serving as director of the Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection (JCTR) in Lusaka from 1990 to 2010. JCTR assisted the local church and other groups in matters of political, economic and social justice concerns, through research, education, advocacy and consultation. Its work focused on constitutional reform, good governance, poverty eradication, debt cancellation, education for justice, theological reflection. Since 2011, Henriot has served as Director of Development of Loyola Jesuit Secondary School, Malawi, a co-educational boarding school in a poor rural area.

 

Monday, April 3, 2017

The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns held its biennial Catholic social tradition conference on March 23-25 at McKenna Hall. This year’s conference, “The Soul of Development: 50th Anniversary of Populorum Progressio,” brought together more than 80 international scholars and practitioners of Catholic social tradition to discuss the central themes of Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical, Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples).

The encyclical was important in the late 1960s for calling attention to the increasing marginalization of the poor in the developing world. Since then, it has provided the basis for the Catholic Church’s integral approach to human development. Pope Paul VI wrote in the encyclical that “development cannot be limited to mere economic growth. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every person and of all humanity.”

“The center has hosted the Catholic social tradition conference every other year since 2011, and it continues to grow both in size and importance,” said Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C., Leo and Arlene Hawk Director of the Center for Social Concerns. “Populorum Progressio is a seminal document; we’re happy with the productive conversation it generated this year.”

The conference opened Thursday evening with an original musical performance by a Notre Dame student ensemble. During the course of three days, there were five keynote addresses, more than 50 colloquium presentations and five workshops discussing the influence of the encyclical — and addressing themes such as economic justice, international development, solidarity with the poor, peace-building and globalization.

“This biennial conference remains one of the few events that gathers the best minds and practitioners of the Catholic social tradition so that the University of Notre Dame can be a place of engaged thinking with the Church,” said Bill Purcell, associate director of Catholic social tradition and practice at the Center for Social Concerns and organizer of the conference.

Keynote speakers included Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines; Sean Callahan, president and CEO, Catholic Relief Services; Sister Ana Maria Pineda, associate professor of religious studies, Santa Clara University; Stephen J. Pope, professor of theology, Boston College; and Stefano Zamagni, professor of economics, University of Bologna.

Contact: Bill Purcell, Center for Social Concerns, 574-631-9473, wpurcell@nd.edu

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May 1st marked the 84th anniversary of the Catholic Worker newspaper, launched in New York City in the throes of the Great Depression. The paper featured articles that aimed, according to co-founder Dorothy Day, “to popularize and make known the encyclicals of the Popes in regard to social justice and the program put forth by the Church for the ‘reconstruction of the social order.’” Day​ believed art played an essential role in giving witness to injustice and imagining a new order, so the paper frequently featured art images in its pages​. The Quaker wood engraver, Fritz Eichenberg contributed illustrations to the paper for 40 years. “I felt honored that Dorothy Day wanted my work on the pages of The Catholic Worker,” reflects Eichenberg, "​a true witness that Art and Faith can go together.”

Th​e​ pairing of art and faith to animate the work of justice is taking root at the Center for Social Concerns. Not only do paintings and prints from studio art students line the walls of Geddes Hall, but a growing number of opportunities for creative expression are being offered through the Center’s courses and programs. Pedagogically, art provides a medium through which students can process their service-learning experiences beyond the verbal or analytical. Furthermore, encounters with people on the margins are fundamentally incarnate experiences, and art channels ideas into concrete images. 

This semester, the Center for Social Concerns launched Indivisible: Liberty and Justice for All, a juried art exhibit for undergraduates exploring social issues through painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, ceramic, mixed media, and design.  Specifically, students were asked to create pieces that reflected Pope Paul VI’s vision of a "community where all can live truly human lives, free from discrimination on account of race, religion or nationality, free from servitude to others or to natural forces." This vision is articulated in Populorum Progressio, the social encyclical framing this year’s Center theme, Solidarity: Soul of Development. 

In collaboration with the Department of Art, Art History and Design, the open call elicited nearly 60 submissions. 34 pieces were selected by Segura Arts Studio, including award winners, and the Snite Museum of Art hosted a one-night exhibit featuring these works. Whether capturing a current injustice or portraying a new vision of solidarity, this artwork explored immigration, race, gender, religion, the environment, incarceration,​ and other contemporary realities in which human dignity is threatened or enhanced. 150 visitors filled the Snite for an evening reception and exhibit on Thursday, April 27th. Co-sponsors included the Department of Art, Art History and Design, Office of the Provost, Segura Art Studio, and the ​Snite Museum of Art.

Art work featured in Indivisible: Liberty and Justice for All is now on display on the first and second floors of Geddes Hall. 

Contact: Michael Hebbeler, hebbeler.2@nd.edu

Monday, March 6, 2017

The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns will hold its biennial Catholic social tradition conference on March 23-25 at McKenna Hall. This year’s conference, “The Soul of Development: 50th Anniversary of Populorum Progressio,” will bring together more than 80 international scholars and practitioners of Catholic social tradition to discuss the central themes of Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical, Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples).

The encyclical was important in the late 1960s for calling attention to the increasing marginalization of the poor in the developing world. Since then, it has provided the basis for the Catholic Church’s integral approach to human development. Pope Paul VI wrote in the encyclical that “development cannot be limited to mere economic growth. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every person and of all humanity.”

“The center has hosted the Catholic social tradition conference every other year since 2011, and it continues to grow both in size and importance,” said Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C., Leo and Arlene Hawk Director of the Center for Social Concerns. “Populorum Progressio is a seminal document; we’re looking forward to the productive conversation it will generate.”

The conference will open Thursday evening with an original musical performance by a Notre Dame student ensemble. During the course of the three days, there will be five keynote addresses and more than 50 colloquium presentations and five workshops discussing the influence of the encyclical and  addressing themes such as economic justice, international development, solidarity with the poor, peace-building and globalization.

“This biennial conference remains one of the few events that gathers the best minds and practitioners of the Catholic social tradition so that the University of Notre Dame can be a place of engaged thinking with the Church,” said Bill Purcell, associate director of Catholic social tradition and practice at the Center for Social Concerns and organizer of the conference.

Keynote speakers will include Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines; Sean Callahan, president and CEO, Catholic Relief Services; Sister Ana Maria Pineda, associate professor of religious studies, Santa Clara University; Stephen J. Pope, professor of theology, Boston College; and Stefano Zamagni, professor of economics, University of Bologna. 

Full conference schedule

Contact: Bill Purcell, Center for Social Concerns, 574-631-9473, wpurcell@nd.edu

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The University of Notre Dame Center for Social Concerns will sponsor “Enacting Catholic Social Tradition: Making a Difference on the Ground,” a conference at the Notre Dame Global Gateway in Rome, January 12-14, 2017. It will be the first gathering of the Applied Catholic Social Tradition Network, an international group of scholars focused on the application of Catholic social tradition (CST) to various social problems.

The idea for the network originated with Bill Purcell, associate director, Catholic social tradition and practice at the Center for Social Concerns, and Clemens Sedmak, visiting professor of Catholic social tradition and community engagement at the Center for Social Concerns and the Keough School for Global Affairs. “There are many institutions interested in applying Catholic social teaching, and we would like to establish better connections for joint research in areas such as migration, ecological conversion, subsidiarity in different cultural settings, health care provision, and just wages,” says Sedmak.

Conference participants will explore fundamental and practical questions concerning the difference that Catholic social tradition can make in concrete social situations, especially at the peripheries of society. They want to respond to Pope Francis’ reminder in Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), “to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel.”

Purcell explains that conferences like this are important because they give Notre Dame a venue for addressing problems of concern to CST. “The network and conference use Notre Dame’s unique resources to engage scholars on questions of application,” he says, “because Catholic social tradition calls us to both thought and action for the sake of correcting injustices.”

The conference program includes talks by Helen Alford OP (Rome), “Enacting Catholic Social Tradition into the Future,” Johan Verstraeten (Louvain), “From Social Doctrine to Social Discernment,” and Michael Sherwin (Fribourg), “Catholic Healthcare from a Holistic Christian Perspective.”

Sedmak holds the F.D. Maurice Chair in Moral and Social Theology at King's College London and is the F.M. Schmölz Visiting Professor for Social Ethics at the University of Salzburg. He has been Director of the Center for Ethics and Poverty Research at the University of Salzburg since 2005, and President of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Ethics in Salzburg since 2008. He has recently published A Church of the Poor: Pope Francis and the Transformation of Orthodoxy (Orbis Books, 2016). 

Purcell oversees the integration of Catholic social thought into Center courses and programming. He also co-directs the interdisciplinary Minor in Catholic Social Tradition for the University and acts as a liaison for the Center with national Catholic institutions that focus on justice education.

Contact: Clemens Sedmak, 574-631-0199, csedmak1@nd.edu or Bill Purcell, 574-631-9473, wpurcell@nd.edu

 

A new cardinal, Archbishop Tobin, to speak at Notre Dame on refugees

Monday, October 10, 2016

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis, one of the three Americans named as cardinals by Pope Francis on Sunday (Oct. 9), will speak on “Welcoming the Stranger while Challenging the Fear” at 12:30 p.m. Friday (Oct. 14) in the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Center auditorium.

Archbishop Tobin was named cardinal along with Chicago archbishop Blaise Cupich and Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas. His elevation is widely regarded as reflective of Pope Francis’ concern for the plight of refugees worldwide. Last December, Archbishop Tobin was outspoken against Indiana Gov. Michael Pence, now the running mate of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, when Pence opposed the settling of Syrian refugees in the state. Pence later said he would not enforce his call to ban Syrian refugees one day after Archbishop Tobin announced a Syrian family had arrived in the Indianapolis archdiocese.

In his Notre Dame lecture, Archbishop Tobin will explore the imperative to assist refugees as a component of the moral tradition of the Catholic Church. He also will address the fear and anxiety often arising from the imperative of hospitality and suggest ways the Catholic community might address them. Archbishop Tobin will be joined by Ebrahim Moosa, professor of Islamic Studies in Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

The event is co-sponsored by Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights and Center for Social Concerns.

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Upcoming Events

January 2019

15
16
Information Session: Spring 2019 Social Concerns Seminars
Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - 4:00pm
17
Information Session: SSLP
Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 5:00pm to 5:30pm
23
2019 Social Concerns Fair
Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

March 2019

21
Pre-Conference Workshop: Restorative Justice on Catholic Campuses
Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 12:30pm to 4:00pm
21
2019 Catholic Social Tradition Conference
Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
22
2019 Catholic Social Tradition Conference
Friday, March 22, 2019 - 7:30am to 9:30pm
23
2019 Catholic Social Tradition Conference
Saturday, March 23, 2019 - 8:00am to 4:30pm

April 2019

05
Been & Seen Series
Friday, April 5, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

June 2019

04
Community Engagement Faculty Institute
Tuesday, June 4, 2019 (All day) to Thursday, June 6, 2019 (All day)