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‘Not optimistic but hopeful’

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in Ireland is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, 2020. Coivd-19 restrictions may have curtailed ways of marking the occasion but according to the center’s new director Dr Kevin Hargaden, the work of the centre is developing and flourishing.

In this interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications, Kevin outlines the integrated policy work of the center in the areas of the environment, housing, prisons, and public health.

At the time of interview he was in local lockdown in his home in Maynooth in Co. Kildare and he begins the interview by telling Pat how that was working out for him.

But the topic quickly moves to an analysis of the spread of Covid-19 virus in meat plants, the treatment of migrant workers and the relationship between the spread of the Covid-19 virus, cheap food production and the exploitation of the environment worldwide, which he argues are all of a piece.

Kevin notes the challenges facing not just Ireland but the world in terms of work justice, ecology, and the rights of the poor. These challenges are highlighted and exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, he says.

Kevin describes the work of the centre at present, and his vision and that of the team, for the future. That vision is rooted in the overarching priorities of the Father General of the Jesuits worldwide – Fr Arturo Sosa.

His ‘universal apostolic preferences’ are what guide the policy document of the JCFJ, according to Kevin. He also outlines how Ignatian spirituality informs their work in the spirit of a ‘faith that does justice’ the Ignatian way.

“I am not optimistic about the future but I am hopeful,” says Kevin. As a Christian rooted in the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus, he trusts in the loving compassion of God and the innovative and tireless work of the Spirit. He sees the JCFJ’s mission as cooperating in that creative work of the Spirit.