As St. Joseph’s Prep celebrates Mission Month, the school focuses on community, service and advocacy. This year, the Prep partnered with the Gesu School, Girard College, Old St. Joseph’s Church, and other government agencies and nonprofit organizations to try and make a difference in gun violence by hosting and participating in two gun buyback events. In addition, our students offered their voices at the March for Our Lives gun violence prevention event in Harrisburg on Thursday, March 23.
Perhaps the most visible evidence of this endeavor is on display on the campus plaza as students set up the Memorial to the Lost on the campus lawn to honor victims of gun violence and their surviving families. Adorning the perimeter of the Prep’s lawn, the display, co-sponsored by the Gesu School and in partnership with Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence
, an organization seeking gun violence prevention, consists of 380 brightly colored t-shirts and the name and age of the victims of gun violence in Philadelphia during 2022.
Community members can experience in a tangible way the loss of life and disruption of lives that gun violence creates. Rev. Stephen Surovick, S.J., Senior Director of Mission and Ministry, sees the fruits of our labor as community members are sharing their stories and gratitude for the Memorial. In the spirit of Cura Urbi (care for our city), the Memorial has brought neighbors to our campus. One woman was seen rearranging some of the displayed t-shirts so that her fallen brothers could be together. A mother of a victim called the President’s Office to express her gratitude for including her son in the display. The Memorial to the Lost is a joyful representation of horrific acts.
Events planned to conclude Mission Month include a demonstration of melting old guns and forging them into garden tools. “By using weapons to make garden tools and other hand tools, we are creating a symbol for change . . . to dare to use our imaginations to change our impulse,” says Shane Claiborne of Raw Tools, who will meet with Prep classes on Friday, March 24.
Advocacy for peace and justice includes events centered on LGBTQ+ Awareness Week and Women’s History Month as well as Mass for the Feast of our patron, St. Joseph. Prep students are answering the call to serve the community, raise awareness and speak for those who cannot. These men for and with others conclude Mission Month by giving voice to the voiceless.