Anthony Casella speaks with enthusiasm as he looks at the future of campus ministry at Iona Preparatory School in New Rochelle.
“We’re taking it to another level,” said the director of campus ministry at Iona Prep since 2011. “I’m continuing to challenge myself and challenge the students and the community to constantly improve and not hold back.”
Casella was in Geneva, Switzerland, for two weeks last month at a faith-based training program pertaining to human rights and advocacy. The 1997 graduate of Iona Prep was one of 12 Catholic educators chosen to attend the conference from the 200-plus Christian Brothers schools in the world. He was the only participant from the United States.
The conference was presented by Edmund Rice International, a nongovernmental organization that works on behalf of children and young people across the globe.
“It was an exceptional program,’’ Casella said. “We have an understanding of the problems around the world and have better knowledge now of how to address advocacy issues in our schools and throughout the world.
“Our focus was giving back. We’re shifting this to giving back and to being a part of the solution. How can we come up with ideas to solve problems? We’re not going to be the solution, but advocates to others, governments and petition politicians to spread the word. We have to be a voice to people in power.’’
Campus ministry at Iona Prep serves the community in many ways. Students volunteer at a local soup kitchen and food pantry, tutor inner-city children at the Don Bosco Boys and Girls Club in Port Chester and assist at the Adopt-A-Dog Shelter in Armonk with rehabilitating abused animals.
Iona Prep students have served outside the area, too. In 2012-2013, students traveled to New Orleans to assist in rebuilding the region after Hurricane Katrina.
“It’s not going to be about the number of hours but making a difference in the world and instilling in students you all have a responsibility to make the world a better place. We as disciples of Jesus Christ should all be doing that,’’ Casella said.