The Theology of Healing Earth in Action Institute is funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment to help high school youth connect with sacred scripture and tradition, engage with a contemporary social justice issue, and to discern how their God-given gifts might bring justice and harmony to today’s world. The first Summer Institute was held in 2016.
At Loyola University Chicago, we have chosen to center our Institute around environmental sustainability utilizing Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ and Loyola’s e-textbook, Healing Earth.
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the THEA program is transitioning to a year-long Fellowship program for high school students for academic year 2021-2022. Depending on conditions of the pandemic, we plan to resume the Summer Institute in 2022.
The Summer Institute is a week-long intensive program while the Fellowship is a year-long program. Through both branches of THEA, high school students are immersed into social and environmental sustainability and vocational discernment.
Although the Summer Institute and Fellowship are related and are based on the same themes, the curriculums and programming are unique to each respective program. Students who complete the Fellowship could continue on to participate in the Summer Institute, although this is not a requirement.
The THEA Summer Institute and Fellowship programs incorporate all four Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus:
- Show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment
- Walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice
- Accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future
- Collaborate, with Gospel depth, for the protection and renewal of God’s Creation
Additionally, both branches of THEA incorporate Pope Francis’ seven-year Laudato Si’ goals.
The mission of the THEA Fellowship is for Fellows
- to develop an integral ecology foundation for social-ecological transformation using water issues and the Great Lakes as an avenue for discussion.
- to deepen an ecological spirituality that incorporates a religious vision of God’s creation and encourages greater contact with the natural world in a spirit of wonder, praise, joy, and gratitude.
- to foster reflection on the gifts that God has given them, and then to discern how to use those gifts to live a life that integrates an ecological spirituality and integral ecology.
We envision participants who use their God-given gifts to work for social-ecological transformation and to encounter God’s creation with a spirit of awe and wonder.