Audrey and Tom Schwenger can accurately name the first moment they fell in love with the Prep. At the Open House in 2010, their son Michael ’16, a seventh-grader at the time, knew from the moment he arrived that he had found a home.
“He kept saying on the way home, ‘don’t you just love it,’” Audrey remembers fondly. “He felt it the moment he walked in and we have grown alongside him in our love for the place.”
The couple believes that the Prep’s mission is alive and well and it is an important part of why they feel so connected to the school. “I grew up Catholic but had little experience with the Jesuits or the Prep,” says Tom. “In our time there as parents and now as volunteers, we have seen first hand that the mission is lived day in and day out.”
Audrey remembers her first Parent-Teacher Conference when she felt that the teachers cared for Michael beyond the classroom. “We were told in elementary school that the nurturing was over when you get to high school,” Audrey says, “but I found that was not true when it came to the Prep. At the first back to school night I heard teachers dedicated to my son’s progress academically, of course, but also spiritually and personally. What more could you want for your child?”
The couple has been very active by supporting the school financially, focusing their efforts especially on areas involving the Church of the Gesu and the Office of Mission and Ministry. They have committed to support the For Others Forever campaign and have agreed to serve on the Campaign Committee.
“We were so glad to support For Others Forever,” Audrey says. “I think it’s really easy to take for granted all of the spaces that we use each day at the Prep and forget that they were all built because of someone’s generosity. Now that it needs to be updated, a new generation has to step up so it can be available for future generations.”
Tom adds that this impact of the campaign goes beyond just the Prep community. “The Prep is such a huge part of the city of Philadelphia so giving to the Prep is an important way for us to give back to the local community,” he says.
Recently, Audrey has taken her commitment to another level. After serving for years on the Mothers’ Club Liturgy Committee and volunteering in several efforts, she just completed her first year as a member of the Board of Trustees and will Chair the Mission and Identity Committee for the upcoming year. In addition, she was one of the adult chaperones on the recent service immersion trip to Puerto Rico.
“That trip was such a unique opportunity to experience the Jesuit mission in action,” she says. “I was so impressed by the students and colleagues with whom I served. The students were fully engaged, especially in interactions with others. It was an experience that I will never forget.”