Childhood Summer Gifts

Posted on: September 20th, 2012
As the school year begins and summer slips away, my mind drifts to one of my favorite summer memories – camp.  The Oratory Religion Camp was a summer-must that provided us Barry kids with all that we needed:  community, light-hearted fun, learning, creativity, and a healthy dose of risk and distance from creature comforts.

Little would I have imagined it then, but these childhood summer gifts resonate with my understanding of social justice in my work at Loyola today.  Community, a light heart, learning, creativity and healthy risk are essential to Loyola’s commitment to social justice.

Community:  Relationships are vital in the work of social justice for any of us.  Connections with the people most in need and conversations with peers and mentors add meaning, challenge and energy to justice efforts.

A Light Heart:  The journey of justice will undoubtedly include difficulty, especially as we deepen our understanding of injustice.  The joy of simple pleasures can ease these burdens and remind us of the ultimate good toward which we strive.

Learning:  Loyola is first and foremost a place of learning.  Whether in the classroom or beyond, we must seek truth, engage in critical inquiry and form intellectual positions that support the common good.

Creativity:  A gift of St. Ignatius is the invitation to let the spirit work within us through creativity.  A fresh year brings new knowledge, opportunity and need that challenge us to new thinking, being and acting.

Healthy Risk:  Both our cognitive and emotional intelligence is challenged by immersing ourselves in the injustices of the world.  We must risk the confusion of head and heart if we are truly open to the spirit of change for justice.

My role in Loyola’s office for Community Service and Action is to support students in exploring how they can contribute to and learn from the local community through active membership within it.  Whether in volunteering with a non-profit organization or by developing an informed position about an advocacy issue, students deepen their learning by engaging the world.  Continuously, I find that these five gifts I have named above support and challenge them in their journeys.

Loyola students are not alone in the call to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the globe.  Faculty, staff and administrators must support students in this endeavor and must be willing to be people of justice, as well.

My hope is that all Loyola community members be open to whatever gifts they need in order to be people of and for justice in our world.  We are surrounded by gifts, if only we take the time to receive them.  Once we do, we are immediately challenged to use them in support of the common good for all the world.

Megan Barry
Director, Community Service and Action

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