St. Benedict’s Preparatory School, Newark, New Jersey

St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey, is well known in the city for being a powerhouse in excellence, leadership and community, and it’s apparent why — the school is run by its students, giving them a significant stake in their own formation and future.

On its website, the school explains that it gives students “tremendous responsibility and significant opportunity to serve as leaders in all aspects of school life — from facilitating school-wide meetings to running peer support groups.”

“Our mission is to be a sign of faith in this city. That’s the essential part of our life, to announce to others that God loves them the way they are,” said Father Edwin Leahy, headmaster of St. Benedict’s.

With an enrollment of almost 600 young men, St. Benedict’s welcomes students from all walks of life. Its student-led structure provides for a strong sense of unity in an otherwise diverse community.

“By living in love and community, our kids and adults work every day trying to be in unity, in communion with one another, in spite of our differences, and to love one another,” Father Leahy said. “And how do we love one another? As we are, accepting the other the way the other is so that somebody on the outside can see us and say, ‘Wow, how is that possible? It must be only possible because of their faith. I want that.’ ”

St. Benedict’s is operated by the Benedictine monks of Newark Abbey, and their Catholic influence has helped the school’s young men to strive for excellence of mind, work and faith. Under their guidance, St. Benedict’s graduates have gone on to study at several of the nation’s best schools, pursue successful careers, raise families and even enter religious life.

“That’s the purpose of Catholic schools,” Father Leahy said. “Catholic schools aren’t here just to teach algebra, to teach English; anyone can do that, and we do a lot of that. However, our principle purpose is to be a sign of faith where we are.”

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