On 25 April, Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) hosted its fifth annual Youth 4 Others Day with a focus on social justice. Over 60 high school students and educators were present from Bishop Allen Academy, Blessed Cardinal Newman, Monsignor Percy Johnson, Notre Dame (Brampton), St Mary’s, St. Patrick’s and Camp Ekon. The theme of the day, “Journeying to Change,” invited students to consider how they could be agents of change. Stories of people who have worked for justice in different parts of the world were shared by several guests.
CJI Director Jenny Cafiso opened with a call to action, inviting participants to act for justice with their minds, hearts and feet. Jesuit scholastic Roshan Kiro spoke about how Fr Pedro Arrupe’s message of being “men and women for others” is still relevant today, after almost forty years.
Participants then had the opportunity to hear a deeply moving personal reflection on the crisis in Syria from keynote speaker Loae Almously. He came to Canada in 2015 from Syria, via Jordan, where he served as a volunteer with Jesuit Refugee Services. Mr Almously was an IT specialist in Syria and now works as a settlement counsellor, assisting refugees adjusting to life in Canada.
Workshop sessions were provided both in the morning and afternoon on a broad range of international social justice issues. Volunteer leaders included Loae Almously, Agustus Ekka SJ, Roshan Kiro SJ, Wydmarck Kwan, Miriam Lopez-Villegas and Manu Mathew SJ. Among the countries the workshops focused on were India, Nepal, Philippines and Syria. At the end of the day, students had a final opportunity for reflection through an interactive exercise facilitated by volunteer Chanelle Robinson.
A big thank you to the Mary Ward Centre for co-sponsoring this event, to all the schools for their attendance and to the speakers and workshop presenters for providing a truly enriching experience for the attendees! Thank you also to Dr Tim Sassen, Director of Global Partnerships and Communications at Jesuit Schools Network. Tim joined us for the day and also led a discussion with the educators in attendance.