In honor of Seattle University’s Jesuit tradition, many share the belief that the desire for social justice transcends any boundaries or limitations. These Jesuit values will again be coming together in solidarity, as the third annual IgnatianQ conference will be hosted by Seattle University this Fri., Apr. 1 through Sun., Apr. 3.
Both student-run and student- focused, the Ignatian LGBTQ and Ally Conference brings together students, faculty and staff of Jesuit universities. The conference has been held previously at Fordham University and Georgetown University, respectively.
The student group in charge of putting together the conference include Maya Lall, Jamie Wipf, Calvin Garrett, Genna Cortese, Zeena Rivera and Ashton Corson. From submitting the bid for IgnatianQ 2016 to all the logistical details, the group has been hard at work to make this year’s conference a success.
This year, the conference’s theme focuses on the intersection of different identities and the overlap among marginalized groups. The weekend will be exploring the boundaries of sexuality, gender and spirituality and how they may affect and limit us all.
“I think that average people attending Jesuit universities forget that people who identify themselves with a spiritual background and as a queer and trans also exist,” Lall said. “I think it’s important to bring light to people whose identities are often left in the shadows in Jesuit education.”
The hope is that this year’s conference will have more conversation on trans identities, as previous conferences did not place a large focus on gender.
Rachel Doll O’Mahoney, Campus Minister for Faith Formation, and Bill McNamara, Campus Minister for Liturgical Music, served as advisers for the students.
“We had already been serving an advisory role on a committee called Campus Ministry’s Gender and Sexuality Programming committee, or GASP, so it was natural to fall into the adviser role,” Doll O’Mahoney said.
Georgetown’s student-led committee sent out the bid with a questionnaire to go through, and the team diligently filled it out with numerous amounts of Google document sharing, according to Doll O’Mahoney. Once the bid got accepted, all the logistical planning began with the start of fall quarter of this academic year.
“We had weekly meetings, but for fall quarter almost every meeting was exclusively about money,” Doll O’Mahoney said. “It got old really fast.”
With the help of numerous departments on campus, like the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Campus Ministry and the Student Government of Seattle University. Some of the tithe collections from the 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. masses at the Chapel of St. Ignatius were also utilized.
While other organizations in support of LGBTQ communities typically may have been asked to help with fundraising, the group refrained from doing since the conference was exclusively open to people a part of a Jesuit university, thus their affiliates and primary constituents would notbe welcome to attend. Instead, several organizations have been asked to help lead workshops.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Kathy Talvacchia, a theologian from New York University currently on sabbatical at Union Theological Seminary. Talvacchia has narrated her experience coming out as a lesbian woman and how the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola were a really important part in balancing her identity of being Catholic and queer.
“Being at a Jesuit university, that [experience] toes the line of official church teaching and healthy inquiry and respect for the human person and individual,” Doll O’Mahoney said. “We’re excited to have her speak.”
Numerous other workshops will be held throughout the weekend, some by esteemed members of our university. Sabina Neem, previous assistant director for OMA, will be leading a workshop about activism in university, while Czarina Ramsay, director of OMA, and Tammy Liddell, director of Campus Ministry, will be leading a workshop for student advisers.
The conference will be ending with a zen meditation led by Eddie Salazar on Sunday morning, as well as with an
art show in the chapel.
“When I heard about this conference, I jumped at the chance to go,” freshman Junior Perez said. “All anyone wants is to feel like they belong. I just want to see what they can tell me about finding my belonging when one part of me feels at war with another part of me.”
As the conference draws near, registration is quickly being filled up. Those interested in registering can fill out the online form found on the IgnatianQ’s Facebook page. Opportunities for volunteering are limited.
“I hope that ultimately people leave more free to be who they are and free to be with others where they are,” Doll O’Mahoney said. “ I want people to become better people.”
Vikki may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vikki Avancena is a junior biology major. She plays guitar and rants about silly, obscure things when words for essays and articles and life fail her. She loves awkward situations and smiles.