By Eduardo Landa, Staff Writer
On Monday, February 3, Arturo Marcelino Sosa Abascal, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, visited Loyola High School, 1901 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA.
Verbum Dei and Loyola, the only Jesuit high schools in Los Angeles, partnered to represent Jesuit education. Campus Ministry selected six seniors from each school to participate in a discussion with Sosa, who is also known as Father General.
Verbum Dei was represented by Jayden Brownlee, Jason Guardado, Justin Funez, Eduardo Landa, Tyon James, and Ty’Jon James.
Father General visited from Spain in order to get a sense of how Jesuit Education forms young men at Verbum Dei and Loyola. His focus was on the history of race relations in Los Angeles as it speaks to the experience of students at these high schools, but also all students affected by Jesuit Education.
Discussion topics included: brotherhood, academic challenges of being a high school student in the 21st century, how Jesuit schools shape the spirituality of young men, co-curriculars, the Work Study Program Verbum Dei offers, and how students learn to be involved in social justice.
“We are one of two high schools that are speaking to Fr. General directly on this trip,” said Eddie Vieyra, senior theology teacher/Campus Ministry Assistant/Musical Director. “It is an honor for Verbum Dei to be part of the conversation. I think it’s a privilege for our students to speak of their own experiences to him.”
Leading up to Father General’s visit, students from both schools shared their excitement.
“I think partnering with Verbum Dei brings diversity to the table,” said Loyola senior Diego Flores. “Students from both schools have lived different lives, yet are united through the same Jesuit values and morals.”
“Being able to vocalize my academic experience at a Jesuit High School is imperative, especially when relaying that to an individual like Fr. General,” said Verbum Dei senior, Tyon James. “All of what we vocalize has the power to [create] change for the better in hopes of providing a positive and fulfilling Jesuit education.”
“I feel honored to represent Loyola in this event,” said Loyola senior Oscar Garcia. “It is very exciting to showcase the values that Loyola has taught us to be men for and with others and to live out the Ignatian values of service through our actions and not just words.”
“I am excited to be a part of something great,” said Verbum Dei senior Jason Guardado. “I am a bit nervous, but with the preparation that we are receiving, it makes me feel like everything will go well. It also [validates] me because I have an important role in representing Verb.”
Staff from both Loyola and Verbum Dei witnessed the students present their unique and dynamic ideas.
“The biggest takeaway from the Father General visit was how wonderfully well-spoken and thoughtful the Verb students were,” said Molly Fruland, Campus Ministry/ College Guidance Assistant. “They were able to work with the Loyola students for the representation of Jesuit students and for the greater glory of God.”
“The absolute greatest joy of participating in this project was being a part of watching our two groups grow into one team,” said Jamal Adams, Director of Equity and Inclusion of Loyola High School. “Seeing the team interact and come up with the ideas, stay flexible when we would change something, and step up to whatever was needed, was the personification of ‘Men with and for others.’ The camaraderie that was established in the project will forever be a part of my heart and mind.”
Students gained new insight on how to exhibit their new knowledge, not only in their schools, but also in the real world.
“After presenting to [Father General], I felt immensely relieved and honored on how well the entire group of students executed their Jesuit educated experiences,” said Loyola senior Henry Knight.
“From this unique experience, I realized the impact that a Jesuit education can have on a group of young men,” said Verb senior Justin Funez. “[We came] together and represented what being men with and for others means, in our local and global communities.”
“Before meeting Father General I was extremely nervous,” said Loyola senior Jack Koenig. “I believed the ideas I had produced were inadequate. However, as I stepped up and began to speak, I felt as though my anxiousness disappeared allowing me to convey my experiences confidently and effectively. All around, Father General does not act excessive or intense, but rather more accepting and humble which adds to his friendly attitude.
“I enjoyed being a part of intellectual and like-minded individuals,” said senior Ty’Jon James. “Sharing my perspective from athletics and having the opportunity to talk to Father General will be something I will always remember.”
“My favorite part of the day was being able to present in front of Father General with my Verb and Loyola brothers,” said Verb senior Jayden Brownlee. “We were able to feel [accomplished] because of our preparation and I admired the honor behind the presentation as well.”
“Meeting Father General was a truly blessed experience,” said Loyola senior Christian Zada. “I was lucky enough to be placed next to him during our lunch, so getting to talk to him, listen to his deep wisdom, and insight was a once in a lifetime experience.”