DAN GANNON/THE HOYA  Daniel Cardinali (SFS ’88) delivered the keynote at the IgnatianQ conference Sunday in the Healey Family Student Center.
Daniel Cardinali (SFS ’88) delivered the keynote at the IgnatianQ conference Sunday in the Healey Family Student Center.

President of the Communities in Schools network, Daniel Cardinali (SFS ’88), delivered a keynote address on sexual identity and the role of Jesuit values in LGBTQ issues at the second annual IgnatianQ conference on Sunday.

This past weekend, IgnatianQ hosted several guest lectures, panel discussions and workshops to promote dialogue on LGBTQ issues in the context of Catholic values.

Cardinali’s speech, which took place at the Healey Family Student Center, was entitled “How Jesuit Spirituality Unleashed a Gay Man’s Commitment to Social Justice.” Cardinali runs the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization, which serves more than 1.3 million disenfran-chised students each year.

Cardinali began the speech by addressing his own struggles in coming to terms with his sexuality as a young man in high school and in his early years of college.

“I broke a part of my identity and put my sexuality away, and focused on excelling in the world,” Cardinali said. “I was unable to respond to my sexuality, and I was constantly frustrated as I realized that school rewards those who are straight.”

After he graduated, Cardinali traveled to Nicaragua, where he gained experience working with impoverished rural communities. According to Cardinali, this experience prompted him to further seek enlightenment through social justice work.

Cardinali said that he became more conscious of his religious identity after his involvement with a Christian ministry in New York, where he witnessed the interactions between the members of the ministry and the community.

“I took care of the sick and sometimes sat with them for hours. I also met people in the commu-nity who gave [it] all away to support the efforts. When asked why, the person responded that ‘it’s the community’s ministry and I depend on them,’” Cardinali said. “This led me to see this connection of human dignity to the larger community [of] people who do not just focus on their own work or empire, but who allow the community to prosper with them. If you really love people and care about them, you give them opportunities to be who they are.”

Cardinali cited his three years of involvement in Jesuit community service as an experience that shaped his views on the role of Catholicism in the community.

“As a Jesuit, I was gifted with a set of opportunities to give back to the world. It prepared me for what I do now,” Cardinali said. “I realized that being gay and being Catholic … can go together, as long as we believe in the dignity of [the] human person. Overtime, we would be able … to have the courage that [it] takes to make changes.”

Towards the end of the talk, Cardinali shared with the audience his thoughts on finding self-identity and reconciling it with one’s religious roots.

“If you believe that God is in the world, and that he never abandons, it is our life journey to discover that. There are tools to discover that, and once we made that discovery, it will prepare us for the world in unimaginable ways,” Cardinali said.

IgnatianQ organizer and GU Pride President Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15), who helped bring the conference to Georgetown, said that Cardinali’s speech on his experiences can be very valuable to people facing similar struggles.

“He was wonderfully open, and free to reflect on that experience without any sort of censorship, which you really don’t get very much at all in LGBTQ work in the Catholic context, so I’m really grateful to have someone that has [as] unique [a] position as Dan,” Lloyd said. “It was obvious that his talk was both sharing narratives of bringing these two pieces of his identities together, but also counseling us to see how our pieces could fit together all and all.”

Samuel F. Boyne (SFS ’18), who attended the event, found it very meaningful for Georgetown to host a conference that focuses on LGBTQ issues within the Catholic community.

“I think that IgnatianQ was an essential event to host at Georgetown. As a school dedicated to educating its students on being men and women for others, the messages for which the conference stands for coincides with our Jesuit values,” Boyne said. “Specifically, as it is vital for students to come together in an environment like this to discuss the intersection of faith and the LGBTQ community, I think that the keynote speakers did an excellent job in setting the premise for thought on the development of this progress. Overall, the opportunity to speak openly about these issues is a definite step forward.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *