Friday, February 5, 2010

Ignatian Colleagues Program: El Salvador Immersion Blog

The Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP) is a national program designed to educate and form administrators more deeply in Jesuit traditions so they may better articulate, adapt and advance Ignatian mission on their campuses. Saint Peter's Vice President for Advancement Mike Fazio is visiting El Salvador until February 12 as part of ICP. Mike is the first member of the administration at Saint Peter's College to participate in this program. Read below to learn about his immersion experiences and check back for frequent updates throughout his trip.

Greetings from El Salvador!

Over the course of the next eight days or so I will be posting my reflections about my experience in El Salvador as part of the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP). The program is made up of five integrated components designed to establish ongoing conversations through a menu of face-to-face cohort gatherings, online learning opportunities, an Ignatian retreat and an international immersion experience. I'm proud to represent Saint Peter's College in the inaugural Cohort 1. I am grateful to President Cornacchia for giving me this opportunity and to Mike Braden, S.J. for the many conversations in preparation for this trip. Most of all, I am thankful to my wife, Lauren, who I leave with two young children (and an impending snow storm!).

In the weeks leading up to this trip, countless people have asked me what I am going to do in El Salvador. What's it all about? Well...I'm not entirely sure just yet. This is not a community service experience. It's more of a holistic look at the entire Salvadoran struggle with injustice. We will visit Archbishop Oscar Romero's home and tomb; we will visit the Central American University (UCA) and bear witness to the place where six Jesuits and two women were assassinated on November 16, 1989; representatives from both ARENA and FMLN, the country's two politicial regimes, will address us; we will meet with the first feminist organization in El Salvador; and we will visit an organic coffee producing cooperative.

But in the end, what's the punchline? I guess I will have to let you know in 8 days. But here's my initial take. As a Jesuit institution, we must realize that we have a responsibility for being a force for faith and justice. As Fr. Charles Currie, S.J. said in a recent issue of Connections, "Can we teach, do research, and ignore immigrants and refugees, the homeless, those who are HIV-positive, the grave and complex problems of the economy, the growing gap between rich and poor, violence and ethnic hatred and pending environmental disasters, cities and families that can’t or don’t function?" As a college, our responsibility is to educate. But as a Jesuit college, our responsibility is to do even more.

I'm excited to be a part of this. I know my eyes will be opened more than they've ever been. I aim to bring my insights back to campus. But I also aim to bring these insights back to my children. They're a little young right now, but I want to ensure they have a world view that stretches beyond New Jersey's suburbs.

Well enough for now. Take care.

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