About CFJ

Background

The Center for FaithJustice (CFJ) inspires the next generation of leaders by creating programs to serve those in need and educate for justice in the Catholic tradition. Officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2008, our founders boldly envisioned an innovative approach to faith formation that would engage young people not only through intensive reflection and emphasis on catechesis but also ministry to those in need. This vision has evolved into the Center’s signature “WorX” programs – ServiceworX, JusticeworX, and LeaderworX – for youth and young adults from middle school through college, along with a number of other boutique and academic year experiences.

CFJ is approaching the end of its first official decade of nonprofit service, but the WorX programs actually extend back even further. Named for the biblical passage that inspired them, faith without works is dead (James 2:26), the WorX programs create a space for participants to engage in direct service to those in need and participate in complimentary prayer and reflection. In contrast to typical service learning, CFJ engenders in young people a deep understanding of systemic poverty and instills lifelong values of social justice through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching.

Since our founding, we have served more than 5,000 young adults through our intensive retreat-style service immersion experiences to impoverished areas, representing more than 150,000 cumulative hours of service. Those original program participants are now young professionals in the early stages of career, marriage, and family life; in fact, several of them currently serve on the Center’s Board of Trustees. Our alumni have gone on to become impressive servant leaders in many diverse fields ranging from international aid to corporate America to ordained ministry.

Read more about our Mission and History.

Board of Trustees

Graig P. Corveleyn, First American Title Company

Adam Day (Treasurer), Rutgers University, Department of the Treasury

Stephen DeMarco, Goldman Sachs

Thomas Hogan (Chairman), Retired, MetLife

Christine Rath, Community Volunteer

Sarah Jensen, Crown Media Family Networks

Séan Sanford (Founder), Director, Contemplative Leaders in Action

Deborah Seme (Secretary), Community Volunteer

Alexandra Varga, Center for Environmental Research and Sustainability

Past Trustees

Rocky Balsamo

John Bradley

Jim Burke

Erin Dolan

Michael Gomez

Aline Haynes

Laura Heil

Meghan Heil-Colarusso

Kenneth Likely

Dayna Pizzigoni Hanna

Helen Sanford

Polly Seitz

Michael Stewart

Terri Stolte

Mary Vanderhoof

Alumni & Partners

Thousands of people have participated in programs directed by the Center for FaithJustice over the years. Here is a sampling of just a few of those alumni and partners.

Alex Varga
Alex participated in a variety of Center for FaithJustice programs as a high school student as well as the LeaderworX program while in college. Years after those experiences, she looked back on the effect that those experiences had on her.

“The Center for FaithJustice programs made it so easy to connect — to my peers, to the people we were trying to help, to my faith.   Throughout the programs and the months after what I remember most is this incredible feeling — a mix of happiness, hope, purpose, empowerment, amongst many other emotions.  I remember that during those experiences, I really felt like myself, and it was the closest I ever felt to being the person that I want to be, and that my faith teaches me to be.

After I graduated from high school and moved on through college and my early adult life — while I continued to volunteer, attend church, develop connections with my peers, and pursue a career dedicated to helping promote environmental and social justice — finding the same connection was much more difficult.  And while I can say I am still struggling to find the meaning and purpose in my life and figure out who I am and where I want to be, I continuously draw on my earlier sense of self I discovered in the FaithJustice Programs.   I use the feeling as sort of a proxy for making decisions.  I know when I am doing something that gives me that same feeling as I had back then, that I am doing something right and I am being who I really am, and closer to who I want to be.”

In 2009, Alex earned a Masters of Science from Columbia University and is currently employed by the Center for Environmental Research and Sustainability.  She has served as a Team Leader on many of our Appalachian WorX programs and joined the Board of Trustees in 2015.

Rev. Hugo Medellin, C.M.
Hugo volunteered as part of the LeaderworX program in the summer of 2007 while in the Vincentian seminary.

“The energetic young people who formed the LeaderworX group were amazing. They proved themselves to be very dedicated and enthusiastic about social justice issues. As a Vincentian seminarian, I found very encouraging to spend a summer with all of them and I learned a lot from them.

Given my different culture and age, I, at first, felt a little distant. Additionally, because I was so zealously focused on social justice, I wanted to be serious all the time and to keep the focus on what I felt was important. Eventually, I realized more profoundly the wisdom contained in book of Ecclesiastes, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” So I learned to laugh. I laughed many times. Some of the most remarkable moments of laughter were at the work sites. For instance, in a daycare facility for mentally challenged people, one of the customers wanted a picture with me. After we took the first shot, I asked for another and he agreed. But this time he took off a helmet he used to wear all the time. Nobody dared to touch that helmet because he would not allow others to touch it, but I took the helmet and put it on. We shared a sweet laugh. There were many moments with a similar feeling of joy during that summer.

I think the JusticeworX and LeaderworX participants also learned from me. I was able to share the stories of my youth and my experience as an immigrant in this country. The other participants and I were able to learn from the differences in our histories, but were also given the opportunity to witness the commonality of our human experience. I felt welcomed as part of that community.”

Hugo Medellin is a member of the Congregation of the Mission. He received an M.A. in theology from The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in 2009 and is finishing his Masters of Divinity in that same institution. Hugo was ordained a Catholic priest in 2010.

Dr. Annie Soler
As a high school junior, Annie participated in a WorX program in the Appalachian area of eastern Kentucky. Shortly after that experience, she reflected on the week.

“During our week in Kentucky, we worked building houses for the poor with Habitat for Humanity. After working through the day on the housing site, we would walk to Hurley’s, a little store near by, in the evenings. One night, when my friends and I went in to buy cookie dough for a snack, the man who owned the store, Cassey, struck up a conversation with us. By the end of the night our entire team was sitting on the porch, discussing the problems of the world with him.

During those few hours we spent on the porch I discovered that I am not alone in the world. Even though I can do many things on my own, I am going to need some help along the way. The people that I was helping were helping me as well. Our program facilitators led me to understand that even though I can do many things on my own, I need others, as they need me.”

A year later, as a high school senior, Annie participated in another WorX program, this time to Tijuana, Mexico.

“In Mexico, I worked beside the poor on the same project. The opportunity to work with the poor brought me back to Mexico two more times, after my senior year of high school and again after my freshman year of college. This experience altered how I did any service in the future and adjusted my vision for what I want to do with my life.”

Annie earned a Doctorate in International and Multicultural Education with a Human Rights Emphasis at the University of San Francisco. Annie holds a B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Saint Joseph’s University. In 2007-2008, she served as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where she worked as the Outreach Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator and Summer Program Coordinator at the Mustard Seed School in Sacramento, California.  She currently serves as Campus Minister of Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, NJ and hosts many FaithJustice retreats with her students at the Center’s retreat spaces.

 

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