Young Peacebuilders Gather at St. John Fisher University
Anchored by keynote speaker St. John Fisher University alumnus Dr. George Lopez ’72, an international expert on peace and justice, 25 rising high school junior and senior student leaders attended the second annual GDK Summer Student Leadership Conference “Building Pathways to Peace,” held in June on campus.
Centered on the motto of the University and the Basilian Fathers, “Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge,” the conference aims to introduce students to how peace and justice relate and function within that framework.
During their time on campus, students experienced skills sessions with Lopez, who is the conference organizer along with the Office of Campus Ministry at Fisher. A founding faculty member of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Lopez is a leading expert on economic sanctions, peacebuilding, and various peace-related issues. He credits the Basilian Fathers at Fisher as inspirations for his life’s work in peacebuilding.
The students also learned about restorative justice, and engaged in an interactive workshop with the Gandhi Institute of Rochester on creating peacemaking spaces in their own schools and communities. Fisher alumnus Deacon Kevin Carges ’82, one of the founders of Eight 4 World Hope, shared his organization’s experience bringing peace to the young people of Jamaica with the students. Eight 4 World Hope credits the Basilian Fathers at Fisher, especially Fr. Joe Trovato, CSB, as the inspiration for their founding.
The conference attendees resided on campus throughout their experience and enjoyed the athletic fields, Fisher Dining’s delicious fare, and visited the House of Mercy, Bethany House, and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester. Students from Detroit Catholic Central were also treated to a tour of the Basilian influence in Rochester, with visits to see the Aquinas Institute and St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish.
“I loved my time here. In the future I will grow as a leader,” one student wrote about their experience. Another remarked that the GDK conference was an opportunity to “learn independence and Basilian values as they relate to peace and justice.”
The Office of Campus Ministry has already begun planning for the summer 2023 GDK Summer Student Leadership Conference.