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On A Mission

Seton Hall Prep-Serving the Community Locally and Abroad

Seton Hall Prep, or more simply, “The Prep”, is more than just a place of learning -- it is a place of service and they exemplify this through their generosity to their community and the world outside of it.  

The passion for giving back runs deep at SHP, and starts in the classroom. Students are required to take theology classes alongside their academic requirements, where they learn a more practical approach to faith.

When speaking to the Director of Campus Ministry, Sharon Rondinella, she described the school’s approach as having three prongs. The first is liturgy, or what you would think of as traditionally Catholic things, such as masses, prayers, or the receiving of sacraments. 

The second, community service, has shown itself in every facet of the school’s involvement with their local organizations. Just in the past month, SHP has hosted various meet-ups with the West Orange chapter of We’ve Got Friends, an organization that aims to provide kids, teens, and young adults with developmental disabilities a space to socialize and have fun. They would host soccer games, or invite members to watch the dress rehearsal of their school musical. 

SHP’s students also serve their school community. In a recent collaborative effort with West Orange High School, they successfully completed a park cleanup for Earth Day. Administration in Campus Ministry hope to expand this effort and clean up various sites around West Orange and other surrounding towns. 

The school has also partnered with Catholic Charities. Students bring in food and donations to school, where they are brought to people in need, such as the local St. Mary’s. 

Most notably, Seton Hall Prep demonstrates ministry through the third pillar:  their retreats. Since 2015, they have been offering trips to Guatemala for where they can put what they have learned into action. They also offer a sponsorship program for students who need it, as they aim to make this trip accessible for as many students as possible. Having partnered with Hope Of Life, participants stay on a compound for the duration of the week-long trip.

One of their earlier trips was to Zacapa, where over the course of four years, they were able to build both a soccer field and a house. In 2017, they arrived in Santa Rosalia on the heels of a new water installation. There, they remodeled a school, helping to paint and to build a computer room. This year they want to build a safe/reliably structured home for a grandma who is caring for her grandson.

“Just the bus ride [to the compound] is an eye-opening experience,” says the director. “The students see poverty they’ve never seen before.” 

This kind of culture shock is jarring, but it prepares them for the reality of mission work. They are not there for pleasure or to explore on their own -- the purpose of this trip is to give to others rather than yourself. Once students land and begin the ride to the compound, there is an “almost immediate” realization about the trip, and that it is not just a time to travel. 

When asked about the effects of the mission trip on students, we were pleased to hear that they have been myriad. The director describes the transformation that occurred with one of their sponsored students. Communicating with faculty through text, his responses went from short and succinct to a long message about how the trip had affected him, in which he showed a real passion for service. 

“[People] come to support the teams, but when it comes to just being a loving…faithful person, [students] need an outlet for that,” said the director of the mission trip. “I think Guatemala…opens their heart up to realize there are a lot more people [they] could be serving. Their world breaks open.”

Through this trip, she says that students learn about the differences between having, needing, and wanting something. She compares this to having multiple pairs of shoes: “When they… see they have five pairs of sneakers, they know they don't need all five.” They have them, but they don’t need them, and they can use the privilege they have to help better the world around them. Seeing the reality of the world they live in allows them to better appreciate what they have and how they can give to others. 

Not only does this have an impact on their experience as a student, but it prepares them for life outside of education. The school’s multi-pronged approach to service helps students to grow into strong adults grounded by faith. 

“You can see the compassion in these kid’s hearts that will grow throughout their life,” the director says. We can see it, too. 


"I think Guatemala…opens their heart up. Their world breaks open.”