RELIGIOUS STUDIES: All students are enrolled in Religion courses. Activities coordinated with religious studies include communal prayer, liturgies, celebrations of major Church feasts, retreats for all classes, and Christian service. The service program is an opportunity to apply the teachings of the Gospel and the Church to real-life situations. Service projects include service to their families at home for Freshmen, service at school for Sophomores, and service in church or civic communities for Juniors, and service as an extension of their co-curricular activities for Seniors. As part of the total school program, these activities require the participation of all students and the cooperation of parents.
The first thing for us is the realization that we are the fruit of that Divine Compassion ourselves —Msgr. Thomas Preston
CAMPUS MINISTRY is an extension of the religious studies program, providing the framework for “faith in action.” This practice of the mission of the school offers opportunities for Christian life experiences. Its purpose is to both provide and coordinate service and leadership programs within the context of communal responsibility and the experiences of religious faith, hope and filial love. It takes an active role in promoting themes of peace and justice for all. Outreach programs such as Youth for a United World, liturgies, other sacramental services, and retreats are components of Campus Ministry. Regardless of their religious affiliation, students are invited to volunteer their services to accomplish these purposes and/or participate in leadership and extended retreat programs associated with Campus Ministry.
GRADE-LEVEL RETREATS: Every year, students at each grade level attend a one-day retreat, held off-campus and led by members of the Religion Department. The retreat is organized around the year’s theme and deals with the spiritual growth and personal development of the students. Opportunity is provided for small and large group discussions, quiet reflection and liturgical celebration throughout the course of the day. Students consistently say that their retreats are a welcome break from daily stresses and a way to seek common bond with their classmates.
EMMAUS RETREAT PROGRAM: Emmaus is a Catholic retreat program that is open to Preston Juniors and Seniors of all faiths. It provides its participants the opportunity to reconnect with what matters and share their faith journeys in a loving community. Time is set aside for personal reflection on one's life, one's world and one's God. Under the guidance of our Campus Minister and experienced faculty members, students spend two days and two nights at the Retreat Center on the RDC’s Good Counsel campus in White Plains. Each retreat is all about discovery. Students realize how God is truly active in their lives, how special and unique each student is to others, and how those around them need their unique talents and gifts. Through the Emmaus experience, participants build valuable relationships through friendship, encouragement, prayer and their personal connection to God.
FORMAL LITURGIES: Prestonites gather together to celebrate the Liturgy of the Mass on a regular basis. The school year kicks off on a positive note with the school-wide Mass of the Holy Spirit in September. Likewise, Mass is offered on Holy Days when school is in session (e.g., the Feast of All Saints on Nov. 1 and Ascension Thursday in May). Mass is incorporated into our celebration of Christmas and Easter as well. Finally, we are fortunate to have priests from our local parishes who come in to say Mass in our chapel on Wednesday mornings before school begins.
COMMUNAL PRAYER SERVICES: Every month, the student body, faculty and staff gather in the gymnasium for a communal prayer service conducted by members of the Religion Department in conjunction with Campus Ministry. These prayer services are based on the chosen theme for the year (e.g., The Beatitudes, The Principles of Catholic Social Teaching, etc.) and focus on one facet of this theme through prayer, a reading from the Bible and a reflection. At certain times of the year, communal prayer reflects on the meaning of the season of Advent and the season of Lent as times of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.
CHRISTIAN SERVICE PROGRAMS: Service to others is at the heart of our mission. With this in mind, we have woven service into the life of the school. Freshmen are required to provide a minimum of 20 hours of service to their families. Sophomores provide a minimum of 20 hours of service to the school, and Juniors must provide a minimum of 40 hours of service to the larger community outside the school. Many students find such fulfillment in their service activities that they choose to continue their involvement voluntarily as Seniors. Students are also required to provide written reflections of their service and its effect on them as individuals. The program is supervised by the Religion Department. Service and community outreach are also central to many of the activities undertaken by school clubs and organizations, including Compassion Connection and the various Honor Societies.