The Urban Challenge is the cornerstone program sponsored by Romero Center Ministries. The Urban Challenge experience gives Catholics and other people of faith the opportunity to build bridges of understanding. We help confront issues that divide us—poverty, race, class—in a prayerful and constructive environment. In Urban Challenge, we combine volunteer service in the city of Camden with study and prayer. During the day, we work at a variety of work sites—in schools, with hot meals programs, at drop-in centers for persons infected with HIV/AIDS, at housing construction, and with several other agencies in Camden and Philadelphia. In the evening, we discuss urban poverty, social and economic justice, and reflect on our call, as disciples, to embrace a “preferential option for the poor.” We also tour the city and listen to people from the community tell their stories about living in Camden.
The Urban Challenge Program is an urban, service-learning, immersion experience rooted in the Catholic faith tradition. It offers a point of access to the lives and stories of the people of Camden, NJ, and its surrounding communities. The program is built upon four fundamental components: prayer, service, education and reflection (much in line with our own CFX cornerstones of prayer, service, simplicity, and community).
There are a limited number of spots for this trip ,which runs from a Thursday through a Sunday and is open to juniors and seniors. If you are accepted to CFX Mexico or Pine Ridge, you may still be eligible to participate in CFX Camden as well.
The typical day begins at 8 a.m., when all participants gather for morning prayer and reflection. From there, the students leave for their work sites between 9 and 9:30 a.m. and return to the Romero Center between 3 and 3:30 p.m. Upon their return, participants engage in a full afternoon and evening of activity and building community. We end the evening with reflection and prayer. We encourage participants to get as much rest as possible as we maintain a very ambitious schedule!
After submitting their online application, applicants will then go through a review process by a committee of faculty before being selected for the program. Once the participants have been selected, each student will be required to attend regular meetings. Each student will be expected to pay a $100 deposit up front. No fundraising is required for this trip and the total participant cost is $325. The $225 balance will be due at a later date. If you are selected for the program and you cannot participate for any reason, you must let Ms. McCann know ASAP and you will be placed on the wait list.
The cost covers transportation, lodging, programing and registration costs at the Romero Center, and most meals. (Students will be responsible for their own food purchases during the drive back and forth to Camden.)
The Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) offers high schools a faith-based service learning and immersion experience. The students live with and learn from the campesinos in the rural areas of the Dominican Republic. Some groups build latrines, while others paint and do various community services.
The group will spend the first few days of the trip in Santiago De Los Caballeros, learning about the history and culture of the Dominican Republic. After this the group will spend a few days and nights in the campo, or countryside, in a rural part of the country. Students and chaperones will be paired with host families and will spend the few days partaking in a service project and engaging with the community.
Applicants for the program must submit their online application before Thanksgiving (applications accepted on a rolling basis). The applicants will then go through a review process by a committee of faculty, staff, and administration before being selected for the program. Once the participants have been selected, each student will be required to attend regular meeting. Each student will be expected to pay a $350 deposit up front,in addition to raising additional money for air transportation and program fees through mandatory outside fundraising, anticipated to be approximately $750 (once final number is confirmed you will be notified). If you are selected for the program and you cannot participate for any reason, you must tell Ms. McCann ASAP and you will be placed on the wait list.
There is room for a group of 10-12 students to participate on the Dominican Republic trip. The trip typically runs during Holy Week.