St. Anthony of Padua Students Lead Nation’s Only MLK Day of Community Organizing (And You’re Invited)

All over the country this coming Monday, hundreds of thousands of people will participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Community Service in honor of King’s legacy.

While King indeed talked about the importance of serving those in need, he spent his ministry leading an organized, nonviolent movement for civil rights. As someone confronted by the oppression of racism in the US, King walked with and empowered others who were also facing injustice.

His career was dedicated to standing up to systemic injustice, and working for structural change.

“On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act,” King said. “One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

There are few places where the edifice needs more restructuring than the City of Camden. It is consistently ranked among the poorest and most dangerous cities in the country.

But a group of students from Camden’s St. Anthony of Padua School have been taking King’s message to heart the past few years, meeting with local officials in attempt to make the park next to their school a safer, cleaner place.

The Von Nieda Task Force presents their work  at the annual Romero Lecture last March.

The Von Nieda Task Force presents their work at the annual Romero Lecture last March.

On Monday, this group, the Student Leaders’ Von Nieda Park Task Force, will welcome about 50-80 7th-10th graders from throughout the city and suburbs to attend the nation’s only MLK Day of Community Organizing. (To learn more about faith-based community organizing in Camden, click here.)

You are also encouraged to attend! Some event details:

  • The day will begin at 10am and will include a skit by the Faith Tabernacle Youth Group and a walking tour of community organizing achievements in the Cramer Hill neighborhood of Camden, where St. Anthony is located.
  • The highlight of the day is a youth-led meeting with officials at 1:30pm.  Members of the School Board, Sean Brown and Ray Lamboy, will address Camden public school issues while  Freeholder Ian Leonard and Shahid Rana from Cooper’s Ferry Community Development will address park safety issues. The day will end at 3:00 pm.
  • Location: St. Anthony of Padua Church at 2818 River Rd, Camden, NJ 08105

Hope to see you there. Make Monday a day on, not a day off.



One comment

  1. Roseann Quinn, SSJ

    Thanks, Mike. What a good way to spend MLK day and to experience, up close, some of the good things happening for children locally.

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