John Carroll University’s annual Ignatian Heritage Week will focus on sustainability this year.
The celebration, entitled “Healing a Broken World,” is named after a recent Jesuit document on ecology. The Task Force on Jesuit Mission and Ecology compiled the document in 2010.
Events on campus will take place from Sunday, Jan. 25 through Friday, Jan. 30.
“The Jesuits are very committed to caring for the environment and see our schools as playing a critical role in doing that,” said Vice President for University Mission and Identity Edward Peck.
The editorial section of the document states, “The Church, and especially the two most recent Popes, have been insisting on the need for us to collaborate in the efforts to preserve the environment, and thus to protect creation and the poorest populations, who are those most threatened by the consequences of environmental degradation.”
Peck described another overlap between environmental and social justice.
“The places where we’re harming the environment the most tend to be where the poor live,” Peck said. “All people deserve access to clean water and to usable soil, and they deserve to be free from toxins in the environment.”
“We envision an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable university campus and community,” added Associate Vice President for Facilities and chair of the sustainability committee Carol Dietz.
Peck addressed why sustainability can be connected to the Jesuit tradition of social justice.
“A broad way of understanding justice is giving to one what one is due,” Peck explained. “So, environmental justice is giving the care and respect for the earth that it is due.”
This year’s Ignatian Heritage Week will kick off with the induction ceremony for Alpha Sigma Nu, the National Jesuit Honor Society. The ceremony will be on Sunday, Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in St. Francis Chapel.
Students from different religions will discuss the environment at the “Living the Mission Interfaith Student Panel: Caring for the Earth” on Monday, Jan. 26.
“I know some of the students on the sustainability committee will be participating in this interfaith student panel, where they can talk about what their religions are doing in terms of care for the earth,” said Dietz.
Student organizations, as well as faculty and staff, are invited to a community meeting entitled “Environmental Efforts and Possibilities at JCU.”
“What I would love is for different student groups to come and ask, ‘Well, what can we do?’” said Peck.
The meeting will take place on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. in the LSC Conference Room.
“Ignatian Heritage Week also reminds us that we’re part of a living tradition that makes moral demands on us and to which we contribute through our actions in the world,” said Peck.
Dietz described the relevance of sustainability in the world today.
“Whether it’s the Pope or other religious leaders, they all realize that we’re running out of time and we need to get everybody on board,” she said.
The editorial in the Jesuit document, “Healing a Broken World,” features a call to action. It states, “We need to confront our inner resistances and cast a grateful look on creation, letting our heart be touched by its wounded reality and making a strong personal and communal commitment to healing it.”
“We who utilize and are sustained by the earth have a moral obligation to care for the earth,” said Peck. “And that obligation is one of justice. We take from the earth. We should give back to the earth.”
“I think having a whole week dedicated to [sustainability] can really raise a lot of awareness,” sophomore Monica Angelotti, co-president of the Environmental Issues Group.
Angelotti emphasized the importance of being an environmentally conscious consumer. “If we don’t start doing that on a personal level, then nothing can change,” she said.
When asked what he hopes attendees will take away from the celebration, Peck said, “I really want people to say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that when you put your food tray on there, that all of that food gets ground up and compacted into a paste that becomes compost to grow other food,’” said Peck.
He continued, “I’d like people to have a personal challenge to do something to care better for the earth.”
“We need to do everything we can do to help remind people and discover anew how our heritage comes alive in this institution,” Peck said about the importance of celebrating Ignatian Heritage Week.