By Analise Brower, Teacher and Coordinator of Mission and Spirituality
WJA kicked off the New Year by reflecting on inspiring models of justice during the month of January.
Decades ago, Pope Paul VI said that if we want peace, we must work for justice. At the Washington Jesuit Academy, we take this teaching to heart. Our students, our staff, and our community work together each day to build that peace, and to build that restorative justice, through our mission of education.
In Formation this month, we’ve turned our attention toward that pursuit of justice. Each week, we’ve studied different figures from the 20th century whose words and actions inspire us. Cesar Chavez, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Mahatma Gandhi are strong, diverse examples of the fight for justice in a complicated world.
Cesar Chavez has taught our students that no one, no matter their background or situation in life, is undeserving of fairness and equality. Dr. King reminds us that character can and should always trump appearance, and that true equity is worth the fight. Dorothy Day infuses our community with her message of love, for by sharing and showing love, we bring about God’s kingdom on earth. And Gandhi calls us to nonviolence and to reach consensus and relationship in a more radical, more caring, and more peaceful way.
Our students have shown deep maturity and understanding in learning about each of these role models. Fourth grader Erik Lopez and seventh grader Wilson Gonzalez spoke at a recent morning meeting about Day’s Catholic Worker movement. They challenged each student to apply her lesson of sharing love in community to their own families, their own neighborhoods, and their own lives. As Day once said, a “revolution of the heart” begins with each one of us, from our youngest fourth grade students to our oldest eighth grader on the edge of graduation.
Formation is a time where we step back as a community from the “hustle and bustle” of daily life at school. We reflect through the Jesuit Examen, asking God for guidance and help as we look back on our choices, our emotions, and our experiences each day. Then, through that prayerful, peaceful lens, we see more clearly what each week’s lessons can teach us. This month, we are forming our students, ourselves, and our WJA community to live in prayerful peace while working for a deeply-rooted, restorative justice, so that each young man might “learn to do good; seek justice; and reprove the ruthless” (Isaiah 1:17) in his daily life.