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Inaugural Campus Ministry Conference Ignites the Spark for Social Justice

July 20, 2021

The inaugural Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge Conference was held June 25-27 at St. John Fisher College, sponsored by the Office of Campus Ministry and the Basilian Fathers of Rochester. This year’s theme was Igniting the Spark for Social Justice.

2021 participants of the GDK Conference.

The GDK Conference is held to empower emerging leaders among rising high school juniors and seniors and introduce them to peers with similar interests and goals. Rooted in the College and Basilian motto of "Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge," the conference help participants develops skills and provides experiences to form them in ways that turn faith into action so that they can participate in building a more just society.

Five students from Fisher’s Peer Ministry team led the conference, assisted by the Campus Ministry staff, and 29 students from high schools across western New York participated.

The conference began Friday with an introduction to Catholic Social Teaching by Fr. Kevin Mannara, CSB, small group talks by Fisher students and administrators involved in service, as well as presentations by Alice Miller-Nation, director of the Franciscan Center for Social Concern at St. Bonaventure University, and Nora Bradbury-Haehl, author of The Freshman Survival Guide.

Attendees later participated in a poverty simulation led by Sean Ajluni, CSB, an intern for the Office of Campus Ministry.

Saturday was filled with visits to service sites including Bethany Catholic Worker House, Cameron Ministries, and the House of Mercy. Participant groups worked together to strategize ideas around structural changes to address the injustices they saw that would better provide service to those in need.

One conference participant said, “I learned many things about poverty and social justice, and the differences between charity and justice.”

The conference also included youth led prayer services and concluded with Sunday Mass in the Hermance Family Chapel of St. Basil the Great. Parents and school principals were invited to attend.

“We hope future GDK Conferences will continue to bring together like-minded students to pray, make new friends, experience a college environment, and be ignited with the spark to live lives of Christian service,” said Fr. Mannara.

Watch the 2021 GDK Conference Video