As we have settled into the steady hum of another busy school year, I hope that the many responsibilities it brings are a source of joy rather than consternation. It is easy at times to reduce our days to the tasks we need to complete, with little regard for the purpose of the tasks. I am often reminded of this when I am asked a complicated or controversial question in class. Big questions like these can force me to fall behind or change my lesson plan, but I would be hard-pressed to find a better place to discuss them.
The same can be said of service. It is easy at times to reduce service to a mere requirement, whether that be given extrinsically (“I need x number of hours to fulfill my requirement for National Honor Society, a disciplinary measure I earned, etc.”) or intrinsically (“I need x number of hours so that I feel like a good person”). In either case, it is easy to miss the real reason we serve. It is not about hours, but rather about the people we meet, the ways we lend a hand, and the many experiential lessons in discipleship that we receive. This, by the way, is part of the reason that Saint Francis DeSales High School does not have a general requirement for service hours. All students are expected to participate in and reflect upon their service experiences through initiatives like Urban Plunge, our various charitable drives, and senior year’s Journey Project, but there is no mandated number of hours to be catalogued.
I saw this philosophy demonstrated wonderfully at our recent service fair. As it was our first time doing something of this nature, I experienced some trepidation as the day approached. I was worried that not many students would want to take the time during their busy days to stop by the fair. Thankfully, these worries proved to be without merit. Hundreds of our students kept the gymnasium packed during their lunch periods as they explored opportunities for service in our school and wider community. I am happy to say the fair was a great success, not just because of the great organizations we had visiting, but most importantly because of the outstanding level of student engagement.
Another exciting opportunity to serve has been extended to students and parents alike within our community through LifeCare Alliance, one of the participants in the fair. Among other things, LifeCare Alliance is responsible for the extensive Meals on Wheels services offered in Franklin County. This organization has extended an invitation to our community to partner with them by adopting a route near our school. In order to make this a reality, we need involvement from parents who would be willing to drive the route. The number of times a parent would drive the route would depend on the level of interest we have, but any help is deeply appreciated. Please reach out to me if you are interested!
Finally, I ask for your prayers for the success of our annual canned food drive, which will run from November 12-30. More information will certainly be coming home from our students, but such an important initiative cannot be successful without the prayerful support of our wonderful community. My prayer for you today is that you find joy in the tasks our Lord has given you today. May you come to see them as blessings rather than burdens, and may you never lose sight of the true goal of your work.
Friends of the Poor Walk sponsored by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
When: September 29 at 9am
Where: SFD Alumni Stadium
Click here to register for the event. If you cannot join us for the walk, but would like to make a donation, please send it to the main office, ATTN: SVDP - Friends of the Poor Walk.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jack Welsh, and I am the Director of Service at St. Francis DeSales High School. I am excited to have been offered the chance to take on this newly-created role as I continue my work as a member of the faculty in the Theology Department. I would like to take this opportunity to talk about how my role will fit into the bigger picture of who we are as a school.
In a recent conversation with Father Stash Dailey, an alumnus of SFD and a priest for the Diocese of Columbus, I gained a new appreciation of the impact that service has had on our school community. It is not an exaggeration to say that this school was built upon a foundation of service. Fr. Dailey related to me stories he had heard from older priests in the diocese, who would, as seminarians, come to the grounds of our future school after a long day of studies to clear rocks so that the bulldozers could operate. He spoke of the Franciscan Sisters of Stella Niagara, who would live in and teach at the school for many years, helping to lay bricks. This is not to mention the countless hours and dollars invested by the laity of the school community in order to get our building up and functioning.
Why was the process of building Saint Francis DeSales High School so community-driven? On a basic level, one can appreciate the fact that those who laid the foundation were hardly flush with cash. In this sense, the building of the school was a great demonstration of the faith of our community that the Lord would provide for our material needs. Digging a little deeper, I think this story also shows how truly foundational service is to our school school. It is a part of who we are.
As the Director of Service, my goal is to connect students at Saint Francis DeSales High School with opportunities to serve. Hopefully, in doing this, we can capture the spirit of service that lives deep within these walls. One way we will do this is by offering a service fair for our students on October 9th- keep an eye out for details! In addition, I will be working in conjunction with our faculty and staff to highlight the excellent work our students already do, by doing short video profiles to share with the wider community.
I invite you to check out our recently-updated service page on the school website, where you will find information about our program, service-related news, a calendar featuring service opportunities, and a link to descriptions of our service clubs.
If you are interested in learning more about service at Saint Francis DeSales High School, or are interested in partnering with us in giving students opportunities to serve, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Please pray for us as we begin the academic year with this exciting endeavor!