Camden is often seen as a city that no one wants to visit. We at Xaverian challenge that notion and hold multiple overnight retreats in the city of Camden, NJ through the Romero Ministries Foundation.
Over the past six years, we’ve sent over ten groups to help those in need. Many of the students that participate often go to the local nursing home to just talk to those who feel a sense of loneliness, to show them that people still care about them. These students also help out at the food bank and local community centers.
Senior Louis Savoia '19 has participated in the Camden Retreat two times already and had this to say about it: “When I signed up for the first time I went to Camden, I was skeptical — skeptical that I’d have fun, skeptical that I’d get anything out of it, skeptical that I’d be able to speak highly about it in years to come. How wrong I was. So wrong that I signed up to participate in a second week-long excursion there a year later. Being able to work alongside my schoolmates, meet new friends and develop these relationships while also helping serve people that I’d never met before brought about a sense of respect for service, the community and my fellow students. And that respect led to an appreciation for the little things, because while I may have sacrificed that time at home, I gained a valuable week of lessons about humility and the importance of optimism.”
This weekend, we sent a small group to Camden and they just finished up their service. Karolina Palac '20 said this about her first time going to Camden: "My time at Camden was a truly impactful and memorable experience, during which I interacted with the community there in a very meaningful way. I met so many inspiring individuals and got to learn more about myself, my faith, and the true meaning of service."
Similarly, Gabriella Vitale '20 reflected: "My weekend in Camden has truly helped me to grow as a person and taught me how to show everyone love regardless of who they are, where they come from, and what they've been through. Although they experience very major hardships and injustices daily, the people of Camden are truly filled with hope and joy. Seeing these people, who are facing poverty along with other issues in their lives, to be so full of happiness and love for each other has helped me to stop finding joy in what I own – but to search for it in the people around me."
If you would like to experience this retreat, the Campus Ministry Department is setting up trips throughout the year. Come stop by the new Campus Ministry office next to the cafeteria and see what it is all about!