Name: Andrea Bonaccorsi
Schools Attended: Saint Ignatius College Prep, Marquette University (B.S.), and the University of Chicago (M.A.)
Profession: 7th Grade Language Arts and Reading Teacher at Chicago Jesuit Academy
How did you get involved with the Jesuits?
I first got involved with the Jesuits when I attended high school at Saint Ignatius College Prep. My experiences at Saint Ignatius, particularly participating in service-learning opportunities, had a profound influence on both my personal and professional life. Attending Saint Ignatius laid the foundations for my faith life and taught me the meaning of practicing faith in action.
How have the Jesuits impacted your life?
My career as an educator—and more specifically as an educator at Chicago Jesuit Academy (CJA)—was significantly impacted by my experiences as a student at Saint Ignatius and in the College of Education at Marquette University. As a student at Saint Ignatius, I had the opportunity to tutor at St. Procopius Elementary School in Chicago and enroll in a service immersion religion class taught by Mr. Timothy Mitchell. These initial experiences working in a classroom strengthened my interest in pursuing a career in education.
I learned about Chicago Jesuit Academy my senior year at Ignatius when CJA’s president, Mr. Matthew Lynch, addressed the student body as an Ignatian Values Day speaker. He spoke about CJA’s mission to provide full-scholarship education to lower and middle school young men on Chicago’s West Side who could not otherwise access a well-resourced, faith-based, college prep education. My previous service-learning experiences at Saint Ignatius informed my decision to learn more about Chicago Jesuit Academy’s community and students. After graduating, I began volunteering as a tutor at CJA from 2013-2015 during seasonal breaks from Marquette University. I saw what great care the school provided to each student. My education at Marquette University provided words to what I was witnessing—a group of people responding to a vocation.
I was introduced to theologian Frederick Buechner’s definition of vocation during my first week of undergraduate studies in Marquette University’s College of Education: the intersection of your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger. As I moved through my professional education, this definition was brought to life. I believe the work done at CJA, and many other schools, is an opportunity to confront some of the world’s hungers—racial and socioeconomic inequity, the academic achievement gap, and systemic and institutional racism, to name a few—in a way that is contextual and life-giving, maintains care for the whole individual, and is a step toward caring for the whole of society.
What have you learned from your involvement with the Jesuits?
I have learned that there are many, many people—including my coworkers, students, and former teachers—who generously share their own learning, leadership skills, compassion, and values with others in a way that brings the world so much hope.
What does Ignatian spirituality mean to you?
To me, Ignatian spirituality can be best expressed as loving service and what the Examen describes as seeking to find God in all things. Seeking to find God in all things brings great joy! We are all called to “be the difference” (Go Marquette!) by acting as persons for others.