Linwood, New Jersey                                    Spring 2004                                                       Page 1

Metanoia Week……
Teens Learn About Difficulties of Life in the Inner-City

Metanoia Week participants with Bro. David Graber, M.SS.CC.

    St. Augustine Prep School is located in rural south central New Jersey with students coming from six different counties.  Many students are financially privileged and have little or no experience of inner city life.
    Four years ago, during a faculty meeting, Fr. Paul, the school’s president, asked the faculty if anyone had any ideas that could motivate the sophomores in the importance of helping others especially those less fortunate than themselves.  Brother David Graber, M.SS.CC., a member of the faculty who  resides with the Camden Community of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, suggested a weeklong program that would allow the students to live and work in inner city Camden, New Jersey.  Camden ranks as one of the top three of the poorest cities in the entire nation.  The Missionaries have had a presence at Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parishes in Camden since 1958.
    The parish made their church hall available as living quarters for the project and the prep school's crew team donated $1,000 to purchase bunk beds for the students.  The sophomores, all boys, come in four groups of 30 students at a time, led by Brother David and one other teacher.  Now in its third full year, the program is called Metanoia Week.  Metanoia is a Greek word, which means to have a change of heart.  At the end of the week, it is hoped that the students will, in fact, have a change of heart in their understanding of the difficulties of the poor.

    Upon arrival into the city, the students are divided into "families" of four.  A brief outline of the difficulties that a poor family experiences is given and then the students are taken to a food market where each family only has $12 to spend on their food for all three meals the next day.  Upon returning from the store they put all of the food out on the floor and discuss what they purchased.  A lot of hot dogs, noodles, and chips with few, if any, fresh fruits and vegetables are purchased.  The students must prepare and ration their food out for three meals for that first full day.
    Each morning after a “family” leads the group in morning prayer and has breakfast, they break into modules and depart to many sites throughout the city to work.  There are five Catholic schools in the city where they assist teachers in math and reading tutoring, grading papers, and playing with the kids during recess.  Another popular module is assisting at two child day care centers.  Since many children in Camden lack a male role model at home, the sophomores become instant heroes and the very little children love to be held and read to during the daylong visits.  Other areas where the students work are the South Jersey Food Bank, sorting food; Public Works, where students assist crews in cleaning trash from alleys, abandoned houses, and vacant fields; and Frank’s Place, a half-way house operated by a local Lutheran Church.  This is the most shocking
place to work for the boys since
nearly all of the “clients” are

                      (continued on page 2)

Go to the Main Page
Read Another Newsletter

Go to the Next Page