Saint Francis Xavier was one of Saint Ignatius Loyola’s first companions. The two met as students at the University of Paris where, in the midst of their studies, Ignatius shared with Xavier the Spiritual Exercises. Moved by this experience, Xavier joined Ignatius and five others, and founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Together, these first “companions” courageously ventured into the world with the words of Jesus sending them forth, “ignem mittere in terram,” “set fire upon the earth.”
Inspired by Xavier’s extraordinary example of encountering the world, preaching the gospel, and working for a more just society, the McQuaid Jesuit community annually celebrates our patron saint through the recognition of “Xavier Day.” The Feast of the Canonization of Saint Francis Xavier is March 12th, and Xavier Day is typically held on the Friday closest to this special feast. In March 2019, McQuaid Jesuit will be transitioning this event from one day to a full week to allow for a deeper examination of the topics we address.
The philosophy of Xavier Day is rooted in the experience of the saint. It is a day in which students leave the comforts of their physical classrooms to venture out and encounter the world in all its grandeur as well as in its struggles, and thus embrace “a faith that does justice.” Mr. Adam Baber, principal, has stated, “While we cannot all go to Japan or India as Xavier did, we can challenge our students to stretch themselves and expand their understandings of their world.”
The program for Xavier Day has been modeled on the Jesuit high school “social justice summit” experience. Jesuit high schools across the country sponsor similar opportunities, and these play an important role in achieving the goals set forth for Jesuit high school graduates: open to growth, intellectually competent, religious, loving and committed to doing justice. Recently, Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon focused on “Environmental Justice,” while Saint Xavier in Cincinnati, OH, reflected on “The Opportunity Gap.” About half of Jesuit high schools in the United States sponsor “social justice summits” where students may take time to reflect on their world and to consider how they are called to challenge injustice.
Xavier Day 2018
In 2018 our Xavier Day programming focused on the theme of Love Your Neighbor: Answering the Gospel Call to Welcome the Stranger specifically discussing refugees and migrants. Our keynote was delivered by Dr. Marvin McMickle (pictured to the right) from the Colgate School of Divinity here in Rochester. Dr. McMickle is an accomplished theologian, previously the pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1987 to 2011, the author of 15 books, and a regular contributor to various magazines and publications. In his address, Dr. McMickle told of his own experiences of facing discrimination during the mid-1900s made him feel like a migrant in his own country. He also focused on the many stories of refugees and migrants throughout the Bible and what our Christian response to those fleeing persecution should be.
In addition to Dr. McMickle, we were joined by various local nonprofits that work directly with migrants and refugees. Our speakers helped inform our students what makes someone a refugees or a migrant and they described some of the situations that force people to flee their homes.