Exchange Program Connects Austin Prep Students with Fellow Augustinian Schools

Exchange Program Connects Austin Prep Students with Fellow Augustinian Schools

The Patron of Austin Prep, St. Augustine is one of the most consequential and well-known saints in the history of the Church. Above all else, St. Augustine was a great teacher, and his teachings helped form the Augustinian approach to education as a journey, where students are engaged in communal life searching for truth, with all academic and spiritual experiences helping to transform the student.

The Augustinian tradition is an essential part of the Austin Prep experience, and in recent years Austin Prep has developed special programming unique to Austin Prep to deepen the school’s Augustinian connections.

Austin Prep recently participated in a student exchange with Malvern Prep, an Augustinian Catholic school located in the suburbs of Philadelphia. As members of the Augustinian Secondary Educational Association (ASEA), Austin Prep and Malvern Prep share a common heritage with eight other Augustinian schools in North America. ASEA was established by the North American Conference of Augustinian Provincials to foster unity, efficiency, and continued development within the Augustinian ministry of secondary education. The Association is a forum and vehicle for the sharing of resources, for the advancement of the Augustinian charism and values, for the promotion of secondary education as a vital and proper ministry of the Order, and for assuring authentic Augustinian identity in the schools.

Four Austin Prep students – Colin Walsh '25, Derek Langenau '26, Shane Miller '26, and Mark-Henry Novas '26 – spent a full week on Malvern Prep’s campus. The exchange provided the opportunity for students from both schools to learn from each other while forming bonds solidified and amplified by both school’s commitment to the Augustinian values of veritas, unitas, and caritas.

A highlight of the on-campus visit was when students joined together as an entire community on December 8th to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Before Mass began, Mark-Henry shared a reflection with Malvern Prep students. The Mass was celebrated by the Head of School Emeritus Fr. Donald Reilly, O.S.A. whose homily focused on Malvern Prep’s theme for the academic year: "Become What You Are Not Yet." His poignant remarks focused on the challenge inherent in that quote from Augustine because it calls upon us to live our ideals and move ever closer to fulfilling our promise as children of God.

In addition to shadowing host students and engaging with the 600 students who make Malvern Prep their home, Austin Prep students also worked on a service project by visiting an early childhood center for preschool children who are underserved, and found time to attend a Villanova University Women’s Basketball game (Villanova, as well as Merrimack College in North Andover, are the two higher education institutions sponsored by the Augustinians).

“I took the chance and was honored to represent my school here, in Philadelphia,” Mark-Henry said as a part of his reflection prior to Mass. “Throughout this week I’ve had the pleasure to get to know the welcoming community as well as help out with the children at St. Agnes. In typical Augustinian fashion, my friends and I have been made to feel a part of the Malvern Prep community this entire week.”

The exchange was the latest initiative to bring the Augustinian heritage to the forefront at Austin Prep. In September 2022, Austin Prep launched the Adeodatus program, named after St. Augustine’s son, which is a student-led program of interiority and reflection. The summer prior to that, Austin Prep’s Chapel of St. Augustine was completely renovated, with upgrades including – among other items – banners representing the other Augustinian secondary schools in North America, and the St. Augustine quote which is the center of the daily prayer at Austin Prep: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

The Austin Prep student ambassadors led the first exchange in the Augustinian network which will become a framework for other affiliates to engage in promoting Augustinian values through the friendships that form during student exchanges. Austin Prep is deeply grateful for their service to the school and for proudly representing the school community, and looks forward to hosting students from Malvern Prep this spring and students from other Augustinian schools in the near future.