Romero Center Ministries commemorated their 11-year long partnership with Malvern at the 16th annual Romero lecture.
On March 17, Head of Christian Service Larry Legner accepted the “Good Seed, Good Soil” award from Romero Center Ministries on behalf of Malvern’s 11-year participation in the Urban Challenge.
Based in Camden, New Jersey, Romero Center Ministries “provides Catholic education and retreat experiences inspired by Archbishop Oscar Romero’s prophetic witness,” according to its website.
One of those retreat experiences is called Urban Challenge. For 3 days, junior Malvern students stay in Camden, one of the poorest cities in the United States, according to Legner.
“We give [the juniors] an experience to learn about other less fortunate people so they can realize on their own that they are people just like us only they were born into a different situation,” Legner said. “We try to educate the Malvern juniors through speakers and hands on experiences that we really have been blessed and because of that we have a moral obligation to use our gifts and talents to help God’s poor.”
Patrick Cashio, Executive Director of Romero Center Ministries, said that the “Good Seed, Good Soil” award is presented to schools who participate in the Urban Challenge program. He said Malvern was nominated this year because they have come the longest.
“[Malvern has] been a part of our mission, bringing in 1,300, 1,400 students in the past 15 years, which is a phenomenal accomplishment.” Cashio said. “We appreciate that partnership.”
William O’Neill MP’63 presented the award. He said that Legner has “transformed” the Malvern Christian service program with the integration of Urban Challenge.
“There was a time when there was no chance that we would be able to take all of the students out of school for a weekend,” O’Neill said. “But [Legner] pushed hard, and at some point in the transition, the school administration grasped the concept.”
The award was presented at the 16th annual Romero Lecture at Rutgers University. Teresa Reyes, one of the Urban challenge associates, explained what the night was all about.
“We have a topic that is a current issue, and we present a speaker who will elaborate on that,” Reyes said. “We want to recognize some of the individuals and organizations that support us in our mission.”
The speaker was Father William Byron, SJ, who talked about participation, one of the ten principles of Catholic social teaching, and how Catholics have a moral obligation to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
Legner said that he was honored to receive the award but stated the award was not for him.
“Out of all the groups who spend a weekend with them, [the Romero Center] chose Malvern to receive this honor,” Legner said. “The award is not for me but for all of us– the thousands of students and faculty who have spent time loving and sharing ourselves with the wonderful people of Camden, New Jersey.”