Gaudete: celebrating welcoming parishes, schools and communities

Fairfield College Preparatory School

Fairfield, Conn.

David Palmieri / August 10, 2022

Located on the campus of Fairfield University, Fairfield Prep is a Jesuit-sponsored private day school for boys in grades nine through 12. Educating more than 800 boys from 51 Connecticut towns, Fairfield Prep celebrates the diversity of their students, their talents and the richness they brings to their community.

The Students for Educational Excellence through Diversity (SEED) program has provided academic, cultural and social support to Fairfield Prep students over the past 35 years. Established in 1987, this program ensures that students representing all racial and ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic means and abilities can thrive in a supportive Jesuit high school community. Diversity initiatives, led by the school’s diversity director, have sought to ensure that all students and families can be offered an equitable experience while attending Fairfield Prep. 

REIGNS (Respect Education and Inclusion of Gay and Non-Binary Students) is one club that helps to promote diversity at Fairfield Prep. In 2017, the inclusion of REIGNS under the SEED program marked an expansion of the school’s commitment to welcome every student by respecting the dignity of each person and living out the Ignatian charism to walk with the excluded. 

Says recent Fairfield Prep alumnus Thomas Rudden, the founding member of REIGNS:

“I believe that REIGNS is an essential, open invitation for queer inclusion that confirms on an institutional level: ‘You are welcome here.’ REIGNS symbolically represents healing the relationship between LGBTQ youth and the Catholic Church, while physically providing a safe haven for queer students.

Our social instincts drive humanity to belong to something bigger than ourselves, whether that something is faith in the divine or trust in our community. Queer Catholic youth exemplify the intersection of these two types of belonging. REIGNS fosters a symbiotic relationship between LGBTQ youth and the church, practicing kinship instead of alienation.”

REIGNS meetings happen weekly and focus on exploring LGBTQ history, literature, or current events—always through the Ignatian practice of reflection and discernment. The club seeks to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues and nurture human dignity through respect for the unique expression of each person. These meetings are a safe place to promote diversity, inclusion and education.

David Palmieri

David Palmieri, a contributing writer for Outreach, teaches theology at a Catholic high school. He is a D.Min. candidate at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

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