The following article was contributed by Chris Cosentino, President at St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown, MD.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stew-ards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Since its inception, service to and in the community has been a key component of Catholic education. While it is important for Cath-olic schools to offer a rigorous academic program, everything we do must be centered in our Catholic Identity. Catholic schools guide students along their faith journey and help them come to truly live out the Gospel message by “doing for the least of these.”
When students participate in service projects they are able to demonstrate the values held by our Catholic faith. They learn their world is bigger than them and that God has called each of us to follow the example of Jesus. During the Last Supper Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and says to them, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 On his Apostolic Visit to the United States in 2015 Pope Francis told the priests he visited with that when he looked at their shoes they should not be clean and polished. Instead they should be scuffed and dirty because they need to be working directly with the faithful. That mes-sage holds just as true for Catholic school personnel and the students they serve.
Like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Katharine Drexel, St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Neumann to name a few, we have plenty of role models to remind us of the importance to offer service to those in need. These are shining examples for what we are called to do as disciples of Jesus. These examples are not just for our students; administrators, faculty and staff are also called to volunteer as well. Service projects are also a wonderful time to collaborate with students’ fami-lies.
Our students are our best ambassadors. Allowing them to go out beyond their schools and offer service not only reminds everyone of the value Catholic education has to offer, it allows all of us to “Celebrate our Community.”
A central aspect of Catholic education is learning the importance of service to others. When students take part in service activities they demonstrate the values and faith gained through Catholic education.