On Thursday, Sept. 22, McDaniel hosted “The Inaugural Ira G. Zepp Jr. Memorial Lecture.” This is the first lecture held by the college in memory of Ira G. Zepp Jr., a professor of 51 years at McDaniel remembered for his deep passion for peace and his active answer to the call for social justice in his time. His most notable actions include marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement and teaching eye opening progressive classes dealing with sexuality, death, and racism at a time when such topics were not openly discussed.
“Ira was a fundamental figure in the history of the college” said Dr. Greg Alles about the former professor. “[The college] valued his soul and spirit and wants to preserve his legacy.”
The lecturer set to the task of preserving the legacy of Zepp’s passion for peace and social justice this year was Father Roy Bourgeois. Father Roy, head of the “School of the Americas Watch,” gave a lecture titled “The Struggle for Justice in Latin America.” In his lecture, he recounted past and current experiences working to try and close the School of the Americas in Latin America that is a US-funded training ground that teaches Latin American men the techniques employed by the US military in battle.
Father Roy’s speech also addressed an issue he is facing within the Catholic Church regarding the ordination of women into the priesthood and the repercussions he is dealing with for participating in a ceremony in which a woman was ordained as a priest. Though Father Roy is now facing the reality of possibly being excommunicated from his church because he participated in such a ceremony, he said that he could “not go against [his] own conscience.” He has decided that he is ready to accept his excommunication from the Catholic Church if the church decides to do so, but that he himself believes in equal rights for women.
The choice of Father Roy Bourgeois was well made by the Ira G. Zepp, Jr. Memorial Lectureship. Father Roy Bourgeois whole heartedly embodied the spirit of Ira G. Zepp, Jr. through his many applications of peace making and his deep passion for social justice throughout the world. The Ira G. Zepp, Jr. Memorial Lecture by Father Roy was a great way to begin what is sure to be a long history of lectures on peace and social justice honoring one of McDaniel’s finest faculty members and community leaders.