The first Youth 4 Others (Y4O) Social Justice Day of 2019 was held in Toronto on 25 April. It was the largest Y4O Day in the six years that CJI has been running the program. There were 85 students from Notre Dame, Monsignor Fraser, Monsignor Percy Johnson and St Mary’s secondary schools in the Greater Toronto Area as well as from Camp Ekon.
The theme of the Social Justice Day was Bridging Borders, a continuation of the topic used for the Y4O Day in Ancaster, Ontario, last November, when 70 students from 4 Hamilton-area secondary schools came together. The keynote speaker for that event was Fr Mario Serrano SJ of the Dominican Republic.
This time the keynote speaker was Emiliano Martínez, who recently came to Canada from Mexico together with his wife and son. He shared experiences of living and working in the border city of Juárez, where gang violence and insecurity are commonplace and where personal threats led to his family’s decision to claim refugee status in Canada. Emiliano’s story of courage and care for others in the process of crossing both literal and figurative borders provided a dramatic focus for the entire day. Later, Emiliano shared more of his story in a workshop.
Other workshop leaders of the day included Sr Petite Lao from the Philippines, Prossy Nambatya from Uganda, Fr Roshan Kiro SJ from India and three student leaders from St Mary’s Secondary School in Pickering, Ontario – Marissa De Cristofaro, Maddie Frechette and Alessandro Patlan. CJI is grateful to all of them for their support and willingness to engage with Y4O young people.
Another highpoint of this Y4O Day was a Skype conversation with Fr Ismael “Melo” Moreno SJ in Honduras, who explained what pushes people suffering human rights violations to leave Honduras and also what gives hope to those who remain behind to struggle for justice and peace. His testimony was a great example of what it means to be a person for others and, as Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ once said, to substitute love for self-interest.