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Through a keynote lecture, displays around campus, a parents’ evening, a school Mass, and breakout sessions, Arrupe Week 2019 gave the Prep community an opportunity to examine the problem of homelessness in-depth and from a number of perspectives.

This year’s keynote speaker was 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. Mr. White shared experiences from more than 30 years in this ministry, and the journey of faith he has experienced in working with some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Mr. White acknowledged that his work has sometimes forced him to face uncomfortable situations and realities in order to see the fundamental good in all people. But in encouraging the Prep community to do the same, he recalled the story of Jesus encouraging Peter to join him in walking on the water, noting that sometimes we are called to put our doubts aside and “step out of the boat.”

“We don’t always know the outcomes,” he said, “but we as men of faith don’t need outcomes. That’s God’s job. Our job is to step out in faith…to step out and act in love and courage. And the opportunities to do that are abounding.”

“We don’t always know the outcomes,” he said, “but we as men of faith don’t need outcomes. That’s God’s job. Our job is to step out in faith…to step out and act in love and courage. And the opportunities to do that are abounding.”


Robert Johnson addressed a gathering of Prep parents during Arrupe week

A parents’ evening during the week brought together about 20 Prep parents for dinner and discussion with Robert Johnson, an educator from Long Island who has previously experienced 17 years of homelessness. Representatives from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families were also on hand to share information about fostering and adoption – two paths out of homelessness for many young people.


The Friday of Arrupe Week began with Mass in the gym and continued with breakout sessions. During Mass, Tim Georgetti, ’19, a senior member of the Arrupe Week planning committee, offered a reflection on the connection between the season of Lent and the challenge to serve our brothers and sisters in need. He recalled his initial discomfort upon visiting the PARC shelter as a sophomore, as part of Prep’s Christian Service program, and how his assumptions and fears eroded as he interacted with the people at the shelter. Recalling Mr. White’s remarks, and looking ahead to the breakout sessions later that day, he told his fellow students this was their opportunity to “step out of the boat” or “at least dangle your feet over the side,” and come to a deeper understanding of homelessness and the people it affects. “We hope that by the end of the day, you will be ready to step out of the boat and help serve the homeless in your own personal way. Please take that step with me, because with faith in Christ, the water will always be fine.”


The Friday breakout sessions covered a range of topics in the areas of awareness, advocacy, and action. A full listing of the presenters along with summaries of the sessions can be found here.

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