After moving out of the Bronx neighborhood where she grew up and finding a corporate job in Manhattan, Alexie Torres-Fleming decided it was time to return to the Bronx. She got involved in neighborhood issues, and in 1994 she founded Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. The community organizing group works on environmental and social issues. Last month the group celebrated one of its major successes—the opening of Concrete Plant Park, a seven-acre greenway in the South Bronx.
What people and institutions shaped you?
I was primarily shaped by the Franciscan fathers of Holy Cross parish in the South Bronx. I grew up very much grounded in Franciscan spirituality—especially with regard to simple living and the idea that church is not a place to hide and pray to make it into heaven, but a place where you learn to deal with the hell that so many people experience.