The 26th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice took place last week in Washington DC and a trio of young Viatorians were prominent participants.

Br. Peter Lamick and Br. Jhobany Orduz man a booth at the Ignatian Family Teach-In.

The Teach-In is the largest social justice gathering in the country. Its stated mission is to create a “space for prophetic voices for solidarity with the economically poor, the marginalized and the earth, who have an openness to an Ignatian approach to faith and justice.”

Its goal is to challenge, engage and inspire young people to be agents for justice and solidarity, and Viatorians on hand were happy to advance the cause.

For starters, Associate Jason Wilhite paired up with his former student at Saint Viator High School, Mary Rittle ’23, to lead a breakout session sponsored by the Catholic Climate Covenant. The gathering focused on mobilizing young people to advance climate change.

For the last two years, Jason has led students at Chicago-area Catholic high schools to organize a Catholic Climate Summit, held at Saint Viator. He worked with officials from the Catholic Climate Covenant and the Archdiocese of Chicago. Mary was one of the student leaders at both events and she now is a student at Loyola University Chicago, studying biology.

Marry Rittle with Associate Jason Wilhite

“As a Campus Minister, climate change was the number one issue I heard about from students over these last three years,” Jason said before the first summit, in 2022. “It’s awesome to be building this platform with youth — for youth — so we as a community can learn about the biggest climate problems and take concrete action to address them.”

The Viatorian Community stood out at the Teach-In, thanks to a booth manned by Br. Peter Lamick, CSV, and Br. Jhobany Orduz, CSV. Together they greeted visitors and shared some of the ways Viatorians work to advance social justice.

During a breakout session, sponsored by Catholic Theological Union, Br. Peter and Br. Jhobany participated in a networking lunch focused on culturally responsive ministry for justice. The session drew two dozen conference participants who shared stories about how CTU had prepared students for deeper engagement. Br. Jhobany is a current student at CTU studying toward the priesthood, while Br. Peter has taken continuing education courses there.

“Overall, just to see the emergence of young Viatorians,” Br. Peter said, “stepping up to address these contemporary issues, was rewarding.”

Mary Rittle, top, signs a banner at the Catholic Climate Summit last spring.

Jason continues to be passionate about drawing in more young people to make climate change a priority.

“Our job now is to continue raising up a community of people taking action to fight climate change,” he says. “I’m hopeful that within the Viatorian Community we will continue to be bold and courageous about this, that we can make Pope Francis’ vision for our earth’s future real through our schools and parishes.”