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CJ students continue to grow from immersion experience

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By Kary Ellen Berger

After spending a week serving in Cincinnati over the summer, Chaminade Julienne students Sophie Haws ‘20 and Elizabeth Murray ‘20 wanted to continue growing from their experience.

The pair was part of a group of four students who attended the Rooted in the Vine summer trip held by St. Vincent de Paul’s Ozanam Center in June 2018. After their week of serving and learning about homelessness in Cincinnati, students were presented with the opportunity to take part in the St. Julie Billiart Conference – a group where high school students can continue helping neighbors in need and social justice issues in the community throughout the school year.

“I decided to join the St. Julie Conference because of the trip we took to Cincinnati over the summer,” Haws said. “It had a tremendous impact on who I am and what I believe. I wanted to continue serving at the Ozanam Center so I decided that the St. Julie conference would be a good for me.” Murray added, “I am so proud to be a part of the St. Julie Conference and all of the amazing work that we do. I am also thankful that they have accepted Sophie and me with open arms.”

Conference members meet once a month for activities and service-based projects. “My favorite part of the conference is the people — both the people who I serve and those I serve alongside,” said Murray. “The conference has taught and allowed me to get to know those I am serving. I often leave service feeling so fulfilled when I take time to have a conversation and get to know those that I serve. I have also gotten the opportunity to get to know other high school students from the Cincinnati area who have the same passion for service that I do. It excites me and fills me with hope for the future to encounter others who are so full of Christ’s love and willing to share with everyone.”

Most recently, conference members helped with a toy drive as part of a Christmas celebration St. Vincent de Paul was sponsoring.

“So far, my favorite part of the conference has been the toy drive,” Haws reflect-ed. “Walking into a big room filled with brand new toys for those who can’t afford them creates a unique and fun atmosphere for workers and shoppers alike. Seeing the faces of excitement in the children and parents is a feeling that doesn’t come across often. Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year, so it’s nice to know that you are making a difference in someone’s holiday season.”

Both girls said being members of the St. Julie Conference has made a positive impact in their lives. “So far, I have gained an enlightened mindset on the way others live,” said Haws. “I have learned more about poverty, homelessness, gentrification, and community than I ever thought possible. I try to use this knowledge in my everyday life to remind myself that not everyone has the luxuries that I do.”

Murray agreed, “I have gained a so much insight to the social justice issues going on around us. I am learning simple ways to make a big difference in the community I live in. Educating ourselves on the injustices is the first step to fighting them. I have learned to look past the stigmas and implicit bias and get to know each person. This conference has taught me so much and really instilled in me a desire to go out and help others in any way that I can. I hope to continue to follow Christ’s call to service through this conference. I also hope to continue to gain an under-standing of the problems that I see and the things that can fix them.”

Elizabeth Murray, left, and Sophie Haws are still learning and growing from their immersion experience. (Courtesy Photo)
Elizabeth Murray, left, and Sophie Haws are still learning and growing from their immersion experience. (Courtesy Photo)
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