Keynote speaker Paul Farmer highlights Mission Week

Marquette’s annual Mission Week kicked off with a mass at Gesu Church and continues through Friday. The highlight of the week is keynote speaker Paul Farmer, whose address on world public health will take place at the Varsity Theatre at 4 p.m. today.

The Office of Mission and Ministry uses Mission Week to remind the Marquette community of its larger purpose as human beings, to serve during college years and cultivate a life of service, said Stephanie Russell, coordinator of Mission Week and vice president of the Office of Mission and Ministry.

Farmer will accentuate this purpose with his address entitled, “Imagine a More Just World: Partnering With the Poor.”

Farmer has traveled all over the world working with his colleagues at Partners In Health, an advocacy group which provides health and social services, to help transform medical care for countless poor individuals in the world.

Treating sufferers of HIV/AIDS and drug-resistant tuberculosis, Farmer began his mission to help the poor in Haiti and continued his journey around the world. He now concentrates on South Africa, working to transform the health care and treatment options available to the poor.

M. Therese Lysaught, an associate professor in the department of theology, said it is not only the positive and selfless acts that Farmer and his colleagues do that are important, but also how they do it.

“These transformations (in medical care) have come about … because Farmer and his colleagues took poor people seriously as people,” Lysaught said in an e-mail.  “They understand that they are real people.”

Russell, who has been in consistent contact with Farmer, reflected on Farmer’s positive influence, inspiration and personality in a positive light.

“For many, Dr. Farmer is an inspiration; he demonstrates faith and service in many meaningful ways,” Russell said.

Lysaught expanded on this, and said Farmer’s own religious practices are a motivation for her work.

“The fact that he takes the poor seriously is nothing other than a rigorous embodiment of the principle of human dignity,” Lysaught said. “He is unassuming, honest and gives a sense of paying almost complete attention.”

Following the address, Farmer will answer a panel of questions submitted by students and have a reception after the Q-and-A in the Alumni Memorial Union’s Monaghan Ballroom for all attendees.

Russell said Farmer will have a small private dinner with a few faculty and students to discuss further international health issues and service.

For the Weasler Auditorium simulcast, tickets to watch Farmer’s address still are available to Marquette students, faculty, staff and the general public in Brooks Lounge while supplies last. There is a limit of two per MarquetteCard. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.