Xavier's new Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice holds inaugural workshops to discuss Pope's 'Joy of the Gospel'

Event draws more than 80 attendees from the region | July 30, 2014

More than 80 people from across the city gathered at Xavier in July to take part in two workshops—one in English and one in Spanish—focusing on Pope Francis’ understanding of a universal call to discipleship, which is sparked in each person by means of encounter. The workshops were the first in a series of programs offered by the Xavier's newly created Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice.   

“We based the workshop sessions on the pope’s letter, 'The Joy of the Gospel,' which is really a beautiful document that speaks to our need to recover the depths of our humanity in light of what the pope calls the ‘globalization of indifference,’” says Gillian Ahlgren, founder of the Institute and co-facilitator of the workshops.   “In the document Pope Francis calls all of us to an ‘ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times’ because he sees that we are stuck in patterns of dehumanization that we have to reverse.”

Dan Hartnett, S.J., pastor of Bellarmine Chapel and adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy, also facilitated the workshop, contributing a careful review of the social and economic dimensions of the document, informed by decades of work with the marginalized in Peru.

Participants represented more than 20 different churches in the area, Catholic and Protestant.

“The workshop’s intent was to gather people for a careful consideration of the message of this document and to spark hopeful and challenging discussion,” Ahlgren says. “People left really energized by Pope Francis’ invitation to a whole new way of living together more thoughtfully, more compassionately, more justly. It’s what he calls ‘la mística de vivir juntos’—the mystical life that we share together.”

The program is being repeated in the fall. For more information about the workshop of other ISSJ events, contact the Institute at 513-745-2894 or visit www.xavier.edu/issj.