Saint Philip Neri Club Update/Interview

Recently, the Saint Philip Neri Club awarded thirty-four of its members, along with the Governing Board members of the club, the 2021 New Jersey Governor’s Jefferson Award for Youth Group Service Leadership, which it had won in recognition of the significant impact that members have made in local communities to provide countless aid to relieve the suffering of those in strife. Following the mission statement of the club, that being to participate in the mission of the Church empowered by the Word of God and the Eucharist and to promote the dignity of all people across the globe, each member, whether new to the club or veterans of it, have contributed to the acclamations received by abiding by this foundation. Whether it be through the collection of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches each week or the multiple donation drives present throughout the school year, the members of this club are constantly driven to create a lasting impact on society. 

(Governing Board Members) (Image courtesy of Mrs. Michalski)

In light of this honor, I interviewed Patrick O’Neill, a Governing Board member of the club who was able to share some insight into the stature of this club and the influence it has on the Oratory community:

Given the Saint Philip Neri Club’s tremendous success this year, can you reflect on a particular event/activity that you remember being specifically impactful?

“I would say that a specific activity that was especially impactful was the peanut butter & jelly drives. When it started last school year during the height of the pandemic, when the less fortunate needed something like food, you saw how many people recognized how simple the need was, and the pb&j drive was something relatively easy that people were able to contribute to. That was a large reason as to why it was so successful and how it has continued into this school year. We are still remarkably contributing more than 600 sandwiches every week.”

The Governor’s Award is a very significant recognition that could only be awarded through direct and obvious impact on the community. Where have you seen this impact in the club?

“I would say that the place I have seen the most impact is not just in one specific area, but rather in just how many drives the club takes part in and organizes every year. In this school year alone, we have organized and participated in more than 20 drives; consistent participation in our community really makes you recognize and see the impact that you have.”

What is the best part of being a part of the Saint Philip Neri Club?

“My favorite thing about being a part of the Saint Philip Neri Club is getting to see exactly how much everyone in the club cares. All the different people who take initiative and lead different drives are incredible. Being able to see just how many people donate to every single drive, whether they are leading the club or not, is really awesome to see.”

If you were to convince someone to join the club, how would you do so?

“If someone was questioning whether or not to join the club, I would tell them to look around and see the impact of the club in the school community and outside. If you read the daily announcements, you see all the drives that the club is a part of. You can also see that it is one of the biggest clubs in the school. The club is so impactful and successful that it is something that, if you would want to become a part of, you will have a real impact on your community.”

Why do you think the club is so successful?

“I think that the club is so successful because it portrays a message that resonates with many people. The service that the club takes part in is so pervasive and important — it also isn’t all that difficult for one person to do — but when each person does their part, it makes a huge difference. We have so many people participating, making it much more impactful with each person doing their part.”

How do you hope to improve the club in the future?

“I hope to improve the club in the future by encouraging the younger members to come to Mrs. Michalski or any of the Governing Board members with their ideas. I know that when I was a freshman and sophomore in the club, I struggled to find my footing and where I could contribute. A lot of these members have really good ideas but aren’t sure how to bring these ideas up. They could contribute something really great to the club.”

I’d like to thank Pat for taking the time to conduct this interview, and also encourage anyone not already a part of the Saint Philip Neri Club to join, as the opportunities available are conducive to many memorable and fulfilling experiences.