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Dear Members of the Prep Community,
This Sunday we entered into a new liturgical year with the start of the Advent season. These four weeks before Christmas are a time of quiet anticipation, of joy, and of preparation for Christ’s entrance into the world at Christmas. And in this hectic time of year, it can be difficult to settle into the silence of our hearts and prepare for Christ in the way that Advent asks of us. There’s so much to do, to cook, to buy, and to clean!
And, yet, what I think may be more difficult still this Advent is to focus on another theme of this liturgical season: hope. It seems like everywhere we look, every time we turn on the news, we see the ways pain, violence, and mistrust manifest in our country and in our world. Things seem so broken - is this the world Christ will enter in just a few weeks? How can we retain hope in this reality?
I would offer that hope is not something we simply have, but rather something we build, something we cultivate. Hope is active and not just wishful thinking. We can choose to walk with those who experience injustice, to open our hearts to the pain of this world, so that we know enough of it to be motivated to do something about it - that offers hope to those who go without. When we light the Advent wreath each week, we are lighting the flame of hope in our own communities. And we have an obligation to bring that light to others - using our own individual gifts and talents.
Here at Prep, we will be doing what we can in this Advent season to bring hope into our community through prayer, reflection, and service. Please see below for a list of activities that we will offer this year to cultivate Christ’s hope and peace in our own hearts so that we can share it with others.
Peace of Christ,
Saint Peter’s Prep Campus Ministry Advent Activities
Prayer and Liturgy
The entire Prep community will come together twice for liturgy during the Advent season - first, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), celebrated by Fr. Matt Cassidy, SJ. And then again on December 19, before we dismiss for Christmas break. That mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of Newark.
We will offer Reconciliation Services for Sophomores and Seniors during 2nd period and Community Period and on two days during Advent (Freshmen and Juniors will have this opportunity during Lent). Sophomores will participate on December 4 and seniors will participate December 18.
There are many Ignatian resources for prayer and reflection in this Advent season across the Internet. We suggest the following:
Advent Resources from IgnatianSpirituality.com - this site offers written and video reflections, along with practical ways to observe the holiness of the Advent season.
America Magazine is hosting an Advent series called “Advent with Pope Francis: Contemplation and Action.” You can sign up to have brief daily reflections delivered to you via text or email.
The online magazine Busted Halo is putting a digital spin on the traditional Advent calendar - offering daily Advent challenges (this one is particularly good for students!).
Service and Justice
Prep will host its fifth annual Fair Trade Christmas Sale from December 16-18 in the Mulry Lobby. Fairly traded handcrafts, coffee, chocolate will all be available for sale from 10:00am until 4pm each day. If you want to see some of what we’ll have available, please look at the catalog here.
As we do every year, Prep is participating in Catholic Charities’ Adopt a Family at Christmas Program. Each homeroom will be responsible for collecting money ($5-10 a student, typically) to buy gifts and a ShopRite giftcard for their individual. Members of each homeroom will shop together to choose gifts that suit their individual and his or her family. As a school community we will provide gifts and food for 45 people who wouldn’t otherwise receive gifts or have a full Christmas dinner. Gifts are due December 15. Members of Pax Christi will wrap all these gifts on Wednesday, December 18 at 6:00pm in O’Keefe Commons - parents are welcome!
If you are interested, please see this pamphlet from Educating for Justice on ways to simplify Christmas and make more intentional giving decisions.
From December 8-11, Kairos 35 will take place at Stella Maris Retreat House in Long Branch, NJ. We will have 34 retreatants from the Class of 2016, along with 7 senior leaders and 6 adult leaders. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!
Twenty-four members of the Class of 2017 will participate in their Sophomore Retreat from December 12-13 at Prep. They will serve members of our community who are in need this season at PERC Shelter, distribute food from the Prep Food Pantry to those in need, and visit residents at St. Ann’s Home for the Aged.
Lastly, members of the faculty and staff will participate in our own Advent Retreat December 6-7 led by Fr. Bob O’Hare, SJ at Jogues Retreat Center in Cornwall, NY.