by SHANNON GLEBA, Editor
On Friday, April 20, Manhattan College will participate in The Catholic Campus and Advocacy for Justice conference at Iona College.
The idea for the conference was first presented to Lois Harr, director of campus ministry, by Carl Procario-Foley from Iona College’s Office of Mission and Ministry. Precario-Foley sent his proposal to MC in hopes of gaining support before presenting the idea for the conference to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
“Just about a year ago, [Procario-Foley] wrote and said he was going to write a little proposal for ACCU,” Harr said. “He had this idea for the Catholic Campus and Advocacy for Justice conference and he wrote and said it would be a stronger proposal if he had a couple other campus partners.”
After receiving more support from other colleges, the proposal was sent to the ACCU and approved for a grant in order to jumpstart the organization of the event.
In addition to Iona and MC working together to plan the conference, the College of Mount St. Vincent and St. John’s University were involved in orchestrating the event. The relationship between these colleges stems from the Lower Hudson Valley Catholic Colleges and University Consortium, which is a group of Catholic schools that work together to better their availability of resources and educational experiences.
Harr said, “So basically, it just grew out of relationships, and that’s why relationships are so important, because you can go in on things with other people.”
The inspiration for a conference like this came from the desire of the colleges’ campus ministers to encourage their students to participate in advocacy programs, in addition to direct service and fundraising.
MC’s Campus Minister, Conor Reidy, hopes the conference will spark an interest in advocacy on campus.
“It’s basically a conference that discusses social justice topics in the light of advocacy. So not just learning about these things, but learning about how we as adults, because these people who are in college are all 18 and can vote, can move to change policy by voting and by participating in the electoral process,” said Reidy. “We have all discussed that one thing we have seen lacking in the social justice and the social action movements on our college campuses was an understanding on the importance of advocacy.”
The conference will feature many speakers and activities in order to promote meaningful conversation among the college students attending.
According to the Manhattan College website, “This event is a wonderful opportunity for you to learn more about advocacy, discuss current social justice issues, and network with students from other area colleges interested in advocating for justice.”
The day’s keynote speaker will be Fr. Bryan Massingale, STD, professor of theology and social ethics at Fordham University. Reidy is confident that Massingale will be able to fully capture the participants’ attention.
“I love Fr. Bryan Massingale, I have heard him speak on several occasions and every time is more powerful than the last” said Reidy. “So, hearing him speak and his witness is incredibly powerful, moving, substantial and motivating.”
After the keynote speaker, those attend will have the chance to participate in two breakout sessions, from a choice of seven, to learn more about the necessity of advocacy in various settings.
Two professors from the Religious Studies Department at Manhattan College, Andrew Skotnicki, Ph.D, and Kevin Ahearn, Ph.D, will present during these sessions.
“Dr. Andrew Skotnicki will be doing a breakout session on restorative justice and prison reform. Dr. Kevin Ahearn will be doing a breakout session on Catholic campus organizing and our community organizing especially through Catholic groups.”
In addition, two of the other breakout groups will be run by the NETWORK group, which is the Catholic arm of the lobbying in Washington D.C that focuses on policy reform.
“One is on advocacy 101 and how to do advocacy, write letters to your representatives, how to call into your representatives, how to do site visits in Washington D.C, how to figure out the course of what happens in Washington D.C in terms of when a bill is being passed, what that means and how you can affect it,” said Reidy. “They are also going to do a breakout session on something called the racial wealth gap, and that’s a really interesting one.”
Both Harr and Reidy encourage Manhattan College students to sign up and participate in the conference. There is still time to sign up and those interested can reach out to Conor Reidy at firstname.lastname@example.org to fill out a Google Form to reserve a spot. The conference itself, as well as transportation, are free of charge for students.
In addition, there is an information about the conference is scheduled for April 18 at 4:00 p.m. in Miguel Hall’s Cornerstone.