ISSJ Director Featured in Piece on Pope Francis' 5th Year Anniversary

March 9, 2018


The Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice director, Dr. Gillian Ahlgren, was featured in a piece from the Jesuits website "Five Years Later: Changes under Pope Francis are Revealing his 'Jesuit DNA'" by William Bole. Check out the piece here!


From article **Gillian Ahlgren is another Catholic whose work has been reshaped by this papacy. A theology professor at Xavier University in Cincinnati, she has been struck by the quality and depth of Francis’ one-on-one interactions, even when he moves among throngs of pilgrims like the thousands who turn out for the regular papal audiences. Ahlgren has attended a few of those Vatican audiences, including one in which Francis worked his way to the far end of an immense hall to bless a small child, whose mother broke into tears.


“He communicates his soul, God’s spirit, in encounters,” Ahlgren says, and in his messages to audiences, “he helps you understand the Gospel encounters differently.” 


Gillian Ahlgren at the "Thirst for Peace" conference in Assisi in 2016. 


Inspired by Francis, Ahlgren and Xavier launched in 2014 the Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice. The institute immediately began holding full-day workshops in parishes and schools on Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), which presents his vision of evangelization and calls for “pastoral ministry in a missionary style,” less preoccupied with doctrinal rules than with Christian essentials such as mercy (another Francis keyword). The workshops in English and Spanish were primarily for church ministers, social workers and others in the nonprofit sector, aimed in part at helping them encounter the people they serve “in a deeply meaningful way,” Ahlgren says. Upwards of 3,000 people from both Catholic and Protestant congregations joined in those workshops and subsequent ones focusing on Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Francis’ 2015 encyclical on ecology.