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Loyola University New Orleans theologian wins national award for essay writing

Loyola press release - June 13, 2016

A theologian helping to lead Loyola University New Orleans Office of Mission and Ministry received the Catholic Press Association’s top national award for essay writing. Alex Mikulich, assistant director of Mission and Ministry and a former research fellow with Loyola’s Jesuit Social Research Institute, won the CPA’s first place award for Best Essay Originating with a National Magazine or Newsletter. Winners were announced at the annual Catholic Media Conference on Saturday, June 3 in St. Louis.

Mikulich’s essay "Breathing Space," which appeared last fall in America magazine, considers the effect of institutional racism upon Jesuit higher education, where there is a mission of social justice and being "men and women for and with others." The article explores statistics facing private universities nationwide and calls on Jesuit institutions and social justice leaders to reflect and act upon the magis, a concept established by St. Ignatius Loyola meaning "the more."

The essay urges Jesuit institutions to act further on their beliefs in the universal good of human life and dignity and calls for institutions to engage in bold and engaging activities and to practice "robust commitment to both diversity and racial equality."
Mikulich’s essay raises a critical question: "How do we claim that we celebrate the fullness of human diversity if we are not passionate advocates for racial equality?" The author draws on three shared Jesuit values and goals to inform his argument: understanding "our place and composition" within our culture, society and world in order to create a "well-educated solidarity."

"The point is not to inflict guilt or shame. I write from a profound sense of love for Ignatian spirituality and the education that I obtained through 14 years of Jesuit education. If I, like many of my fellow Jesuit graduates, have been able to escape the bondage of unexamined racial assumptions and become critical of them, this is due in no small measure to the superior education that opened our intellectual, moral, religious and spiritual horizons for conversion. This is one of the basic, liberating goals of Jesuit education," Mikulich wrote.

Alex Mikulich, Ph.D., is co-author of "The Scandal of White Complicity in U.S. Hyper-Incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of White Resistance." A widely recognized authority on white privilege, Mikulich is working closely with Loyola’s new Interim Chief Diversity Officer to ensure that Loyola is taking all appropriate steps to create a truly just, inclusive, and welcoming campus. Likewise, he has been invited to give workshops on several sister campuses striving to ensure and implement benchmark practices.

Mikulich and his colleague and collaborator Jeannine Hill Fletcher, a theologian at Fordham University, will present work drawn from his award-winning essay at the upcoming Conference on Diversity and Equity sponsored by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities at Santa Clara University.

His essay can be found at http://americamagazine.org/issue/breathing-space.