Regians on Thursday took a break from their academic studies to celebrate John Francis Regis Day, an initiative meant to inspire them to engage more deeply with contemporary social-justice issues. This year’s theme, “Immigration: Towards a More Just and Humane Future,” was suggested by six members of the senior class last fall.
“The story of immigration is the story of Regis,” wrote Luke Dolan ‘23, Luke Donoghue ‘23, Aidan Gouley ’23, Mac Healey ’23, Andrew Joel ‘23, Hugh Kane ’23, and Toby Platt ‘23 in their proposal, which noted that more than 40 percent of current students are sons of immigrants.
After a kickoff event in December, the JFR Committee has kept the school engaged with the topic through facilitated discussions during student advisement meetings and through assemblies featuring guest speakers.
This year for the first time students had the option to work on service projects outside of the school as part of John Francis Regis Day. Some Regians spent Thursday morning distributing food at St. Augustine Food Pantry, the St Francis Breadline, and the Washington Heights Food Pantry, while others helped Team TLC NYC provide food and clothing to migrants first arriving in New York City.
Meanwhile, back at Regis, other students participated in education and advocacy activities. Students could choose from talks by six speakers on such topics as the struggle of undocumented students in higher education and the violence and oppression in El Salvador that has led to mass migration. They also had the opportunity to watch documentaries or films on migration and asylum seekers.
“We have so many Regians that are already working with immigration organizations through Catalyst, senior service, or independently,” says Director of Social Justice Initiatives Owen Smith. “Today, students listened to stories and learned about immigration in a humanizing way outside of political and national debate.”
The day culminated with a talk by Fordham theology professor Leo Guardado, who discussed his own immigration story and his scholarship on “Theology of Sanctuary.” Guardado tied together the political and social activism required to advance issues of migration with Regians’ responsibility as Catholic men for others. “Let us imagine a communion of faith and feeling and struggling with and not against [migrants’] holy dreams of fiesta, and if not for themselves then fiesta for their kids or their childrens’ children,” said Guardado.