Igniting Our Values
Igniting Our Values

March 11, Wednesday

Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice

Kevin Yonkers-Talz writes from El Salvador, where he and his wife, Trena, raise their four daughters and run Casa de la Solidaridad. In his reflection, Kevin connects an early transformative experience to his adult appropriation of a faith that does justice.


Scripture Readings

Sunday Readings - Week 3

EX 20:1-17
1 COR 1:22-25
JN 2:13-25



A procedural note: our reflections and prayers will refer to the Sunday readings for the week, not the daily readings.

Daily Reflection

Solidarity and the Service of Faith
by Kevin Yonkers-Talz

Twenty-four years ago, while I was a student at Fairfield University, Simon Harak, SJ, and Jim Hayes, SJ, organized a faith-based immersion experience for me and nine of my fellow classmates. We traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, to learn from the people and experience firsthand glimpses of the Jamaican reality. Throughout the experience, we consistently took time to pray together as a small faith community. I remember reflecting on the Gospels, the life of Jesus and on God’s presence in our lives.

I am most grateful for our time in Jamaica, which opened my eyes to some of the joys and struggles of our Jamaican host and was my introduction to the often-harsh realities of life in the developing world. I remember being touched by the love my host family parents had for their kids and shocked to learn that they could not afford to provide their children with three meals a day. Guided by Jim and Simon, my classmates and I were given the opportunity to reflect on and pray over these realities in community. Looking back, I see that these were the moments where I was encouraged to appropriate a faith that does justice.

My transformative experiences in Jamaica led me to my own vocation, accompanying U.S. students as they encounter the realities of life in El Salvador. For the last 15 years, Trena, my wife, and I have co-directed Casa de la Solidaridad, a study abroad opportunity in El Salvador for U.S. college students. Inspired by the UCA martyrs, Casa allows students to integrate direct immersion with the economic poor and rigorous academic study while living simply in community and intentionally fostering spirituality.

My prayer this Lent is that, as we wait in joyful hope of the resurrection, we remain mindful of so many who continue to be crucified in our world today and that we, like the UCA martyrs, can place ourselves in the path of suffering victims, while continuing to reflect on our faith.

Solidaridad y el servicio de fe
Por: Kevin Yonkers-Talz

Veinticuatro años atrás, cuando era estudiante de la Universidad Fairfield, Simon Harak, SJ, y Jim Hayes, SJ, organizaron una experiencia de inmersión con una base de fe, para mí y para nueve compañeros de clase. Viajamos a Kingston, Jamaica para aprender de la gente y experimentar de primera mano vislumbres de la realidad Jamaiquina. A través de la experiencia, consistentemente nos tomamos el tiempo de rezar juntos como una pequeña comunidad de fe. Recuerdo haber reflexionado sobre los Evangelios, la vida de Jesús y en la presencia de Dios en nuestras vidas.

Estoy muy agradecido por nuestro tiempo en Jamaica, que abrió mis ojos a las alegrías y a las luchas de nuestro anfitrión Jamaiquino y fue mi introducción a las, muy a menudo, crudas realidades de vida, en los países en vía de desarrollo del mundo. Recuerdo haberme sentido conmovido por el amor que los padres de la familia anfitriona tenían por sus hijos y el choque que me produjo saber que ellos no podían proveerle a sus hijos tres comidas al día. Guiado por Jim y Simon, mis compañeros y yo tuvimos la oportunidad de reflexionar y rezar en comunidad, por estas realidades. Mirando atrás, veo que estos fueron los momentos en los que fui alentado a apropiarme de la fe que hace justicia.

Mis transformadoras experiencias en Jamaica me llevaron a mi vocación, acompañando estudiantes de Estados Unidos en sus encuentros con la realidad de la vida en El Salvador. Por los últimos 15 años, Trena, mi esposa y yo, hemos dirigido juntos Casa de la Solidaridad, una oportunidad de estudios en El Salvador, para estudiantes de Colegio de los Estados Unidos. Inspirados por los mártires de UCA, Casa permite a los estudiantes, integrarse a una inmersión directa con la economía pobre y los estudios académicos rigurosos, viviendo muy simplemente en comunidad e intencionalmente fomentando la espiritualidad.

Mi oración en esta Cuaresma es, que mientras esperamos con alegre esperanza la resurrección, no nos olvidemos de todos los que continúan siendo crucificados en nuestro mundo de hoy. Y que, como los mártires de UCA, también nosotros podamos ponernos en el camino de las víctimas sufrientes, mientras continuamos reflexionando en nuestra fe.

Kevin Yonkers-Talz is immensely proud of his four daughters – Sophia (age 14), Grace (age 12), Hannah (age 10) and Emma (age 5) and absolutely loves being a father. He and his wife, Trena, co-founded Casa de la Solidaridad, Santa Clara University's study abroad program in El Salvador. They have been co-directing Casa for the last 15 years.


Holy Trinity,
we know you to be a community of three persons,
the source of all the love we share.
Help us today to see the world as you see it,
your beloved children
suffering from injustice and often intense alienation from
their brothers and sisters.
In your merciful love show us to ourselves;
help us to see that we are the family of the poor,
the forgotten,
and the lonely
and as family may our lives be changed into service.

R. Gonzalez


It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.
: Denise Levertov

Lent is a journey of evolving, creative reflection that inspires penance and gives new impetus to every aspect of our commitment to follow the Gospel. It is a journey of love, which opens the hearts of believers to our brothers and sisters and draws them to God. Jesus asks his disciples to live and to radiate charity; this new commandment of love represents the authoritative summation of the Decalogue entrusted by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Each day we encounter people who are hungry, thirsty or sick, people who are outcasts or migrants. During this season of Lent we are invited to pay greater heed to the suffering written on their faces, faces which challenge us to acknowledge the various aspects of poverty that continue in our time.
: Saint John Paul II

There is an interesting paradox here: by immersing ourselves in what we love, we find ourselves. We do not lose ourselves. One does not lose one’s identity by falling in love.
: Lukas Foss


Scene from TO THE WONDER (2012)

Moments musicaux Op. 94 D. 780: No.2 in A-Flat (F. Shubert/R. Lupu)

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