Arrupe Week at Prep returns in March, an annual opportunity for the Prep community to explore a real-world issue through the lens of Church teachings on service and justice. This year’s topic will be Homelessness.
Following is an introductory message from Mr. John Dougherty, Prep’s Director of Campus Ministry and chair of the Arrupe Week planning committee.
Dear Prep community,
Next month, Saint Peter’s Prep will host our 22nd annual Arrupe Week, a week-long summit on faith and justice. Arrupe Week is named for Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the 28th Superior General of the Jesuits. Arrupe charged the religious order with its modern mission of forming “men and women for and with others.” The summit includes a community mass, a keynote address, a day of breakout presenters, curricular activities, and other opportunities to engage more deeply with the theme.
This year, Arrupe Week will focus on the issue of Homelessness. Homelessness as we understand it today has been a national issue since at least the 1870s. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual point-in-time study, on a single night in 2018 there were roughly 553,000 people experiencing homelessness in our country. About 36,000 of those people were unaccompanied youth (people under the age of 25, experiencing homelessness on their own). This was the second year in a row that the American homeless population grew.
As people of faith, educated for justice in the Ignatian model, these numbers should scandalize us. However, we also know how easy it is to ignore the homeless crisis. Of all of our Arrupe topics, homelessness is arguably the one that Prep students will encounter the most on a daily basis: on the train, at bus stops and Newark Penn, on the streets of Jersey City and their own hometowns. Often we are so used to the reality of homelessness in American cities, that the people experiencing it fade into the scenery, as unremarkable as fire hydrants or street signs. It becomes easy to believe that things have always been, and always will be, this way.
The Arrupe 2019 Planning Committee has several goals for this program. We want to help the Prep community understand the structural factors that contribute to homelessness, and ask the big questions about why it exists. We hope to provide opportunities to encounter the stories and experiences of people who are/have been homeless, in order to uphold their human dignity, to fight stigmas and stereotyping. Finally, we want to explore how our Catholic tradition calls us to address this issue, and challenges us to live differently in order to be in deeper solidarity with our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness.
Arrupe Week begins on Monday, March 11, with a keynote address by Jim White, executive director of Covenant House New Jersey. Covenant House is a national organization that works with youth experiencing homelessness (ages 18-21), providing housing, food, immediate crisis care, and a variety of other essential services. Prep will also host a Sleep Out with Covenant House on Friday, May 3. The week will culminate on Friday, March 15, with an all-school Arrupe Liturgy. Afterwards, students will engage in a day of breakout sessions and reflection. This year we will host 33 breakout presenters involved in addressing homelessness locally, including Hoboken mayor Ravinder Bhalla. Student registration for breakouts took place in homeroom this week (Thursday, February 21).
Additionally, we will hold a special Parent Event beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, featuring Robert Johnson, formerly homeless and now an educator with the Uniondale Public School system on Long Island. For years Mr. Johnson was a guest speaker on Prep’s old Sophomore Retreat, and many students, alumni, and staff can testify to his incredible story of faith and hope. You can RSVP for the event at this link.
We are looking forward to an engaging, and challenging, week. If you have any questions about Arrupe Week, please let me or a member of our 2019 planning committee know.
Peace of Christ,
Mr. John Dougherty
Director of Campus Ministry