Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice has as its goal the leadership development and formation of young people for a life of peace and justice. We have found that the key to a successful youth development program is to be able to engage youth and inspire them to leadership through civic participation, while remaining attentive to their multiple developmental needs. Our goal for youth leadership is that it be geared towards activism and civic engagement. We work for the eventual rebuilding of this community in the South Bronx and molding leaders who are capable of leading change here and in the world.
The vision for YMPJ grew out of a long-standing relationship between our founder Alexie Torres-Fleming, a life-long resident of the community, and the youth group of a neighborhood parish. In the fall of 1992 an anti-drug rally organized by the parish's community action group resulted in an attempt of arson at the church. Young people responded by organizing a rally of 1200 residents. This pivotal community event provided the sparks for the first youth organizing movement within our community, the fruits of which was the opening of the neighborhood's first youth center, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, in 1994.
Our vision recognizes the developmental needs of young people, but also realizes the role of young people as essential stakeholders in their communities. We work to support the development of the minds and bodies of young members, never separate from the development of their spirits and their community. We are rooted in the six principles of Catholic social teaching: preferential option for the poor, the call to family, community and participation, the rights and responsibilities of the human person, the dignity of work and the rights of workers, the dignity of the human person, and solidarity with the poor.