Students, staff and alumni at St. Peter’s Prep, in Jersey City, NJ, explored the fight against urban violence during Arrupe Week, a social justice summit that has taken place annually at St. Peter’s for the last 17 years.
The week gets its name from Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, the 28th superior general of the Society of Jesus, who is remembered for his staunch commitment to social justice.
Featured speakers and breakout sessions throughout engaged students and challenged them to live out the words of Fr. Arrupe, who urged individuals to be “men and women for others.”
Fr. Jeff Putthoff, SJ, the founder and director of Hopeworks ‘N Camden, served as keynote speaker. Hopeworks is an organization that helps underprivileged youth in Camden, NJ, break the cycle of poverty; his remarks focused the long-lasting repercussions of violence.
“When people get hurt, that’s one thing. But when we normalize it, when we actually don’t talk about it or we judge it, we actually contribute to the trauma,” said Fr. Putthoff.
“I wanted the kids to see beyond the shock value of violence and learn about the reality of it,” said Ms. Maura Toomb, the director of campus ministry at Saint Peter’s Prep and orchestrator of Arrupe week. “Violence is not just a person-to-person issue,” she continues. “It can affect whole communities, not just those who are hurt or killed.”
Students heard from a number of other speakers who are working to combat urban violence. Fr. Greg Chisholm, SJ, celebrated the opening Mass and delivered a homily focusing on how one man’s act of violence affected an entire community. Dr. Michael Gomez, ‘91, principal of Cristo Rey Philadelphia, spoke about the challenges of opening a school for students from inner city neighborhoods. Calvin Hart, Thomas Comey and Hugh J. Donaghue are all retired members of the Jersey City Police Department who talked about their experiences serving the public in individual break-out sessions. Richard Espinal, executive director of the Jesuit work, the Centro Altagracia de Fe y Justicia, presented a breakout session about post traumatic stress and youth. Click here to view a list of speakers.
“Arrupe week gives us the chance to do what our Catholic, Jesuit faith calls us to,” Ms. Toomb said. “Our students examined a complex issue of injustice, are thinking critically about our role in society and are finding ways to take action.”
Click here to listen to Fr. Chishom’s homily from the opening Mass.
Click here to listen to Fr. Putthoff’s keynote and view more photos.
Below is a video assembled by juniors Quinn Williamson and Richard Messina.