Mission Moment

BTLI wraps up the week up with a sunset sail on the Spirit of Buffalo

February 22, 2019


Pedro Arrupe, SJ, former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, called for graduates of Jesuit schools to be “educated for justice.” The Be the Light Youth Theology Institute (BTLI) at Canisius College seeks to extend this mission to high school students. 

Funded by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Be the Light began hosting an annual, week-long summer institute in 2016 for rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. BTLI’s mission is to deepen participants' understanding of issues of social justice and how faith informs approaches to them. The Institute specifically focuses on issues that arise in the urban setting surrounding Canisius. The goal for participants is that they become educated, empowered, and inspired to become future scholar-servant-leaders for justice in the Church and their communities. 


2019 BTLI participants, leaders and staff

Participants experience immersion opportunities, instruction in Catholic and Jesuit theology and philosophy, workshops, daily reflection, and community building, so they live “the faith that does justice” in what former Superior General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, called the “gritty reality” of the world. 

Co-director Darby Ratliff ’16 notes, “We ultimately hope to help students create a social justice-oriented project that can come to life in their communities.”


High school student Jabari Blodgett participates in a BTLI session

Margaret McCarthy, a 2018 Be the Light alumna said, “BTLI was a life-changing experience for me and others who experienced it! I met amazing people filled with love and a fiery passion for changing the world.”


Reflection takes place each night in Christ the King Chapel

For more information about the 2019 Be the Light Youth Theology Institute, which will be held July 21-27, please visit the Institute's website or contact co-directors, Darby Ratliff ’16 at ratliffd@canisius.edu or Stephen Chanderbhan, PhD, at chanders@canisius.edu.