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MND grad ready to serve at XU

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With the help of fellow students, Sarah Ray, a recent graduate of Mount Notre Dame, helps deliver beds for those in need through St. Vincent de Paul. (courtesy photo)

from our June print issue:

By Eileen Connelly, OSU

Early in her tenure at Mount Notre Dame (MND), Sarah Ray discovered the joy of serving others. As she graduates, she’ll be carrying that joy into the future, continuing to put her faith into action and responding to those in need.

Ray, the daughter of Gary and Martha, is a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in West Chester. She chose MND for high school thanks to a cousin’s influence and a positive shadowing experience. “I loved the sense of community and sister- hood,” she explained.

Ray “fell in love” with service during freshman year after joining MND’s St. Vin- cent de Paul (SVDP) Conference, one of a handful of high school based-conferences in the Cincinnati area. Volunteering at the organization’s food pantry brought her in contact with some of the “the most amazing people. Hearing their stories and seeing the strength they have even during the most di cult times really moved me,” Ray said. Inspired to do more, Ray went on to lead the school’s conference, involving hundreds of other students and developing a model for other youth conferences. She has organized pantry visits, food drives, home visits with an adult Conference, and managed bed deliveries.

Leading the Christmas Giving Tree project was especially meaningful for Ray. Included with each delivery to a family in need were a collapsible tree, gift cards and a bag of groceries. Students delivered 50 trees during Ray’s junior year, and 100 last Christmas. She recalls the gratitude of a single mother of seven children who were jumping up down with excitement when they saw the tree. “She just wanted them to have a wonderful Christmas,” Ray said. “I was really touched by her love for them.” Ray has also participated in and led Urban Plunges, designed to teach students about Catholic Social Teaching, served as president of MND’s Big Sis Little Sis Club, mentored grade school girls and volunteered at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Impressed with her compassion for those in need, Todd Forman, director of com- munity service at MND, nominated Ray for last year’s Champions of Mercy Award, sponsored by Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio.

“Sarah exemplifies the love of Christ in so many ways,” Forman said. “She lets God’s light shine through her ever-present smile and her care and concern for others, particularly those dealing with di cult life situations. Sarah also leads by example and through personal invitation, encouraging others to experience the joy of serving others.”

“I was super excited and humbled by the award,” said Ray. “I’m grateful for the recognition it received for St. Vincent de Paul because I really love their mission.”

Ray will be attending Xavier University in the fall, majoring in biology and pre-med. She’ll also be participating in the school’s Community-Engaged Fellowship, which unites and empowers students to develop their passions for engaging others and affecting positive change through service. She hopes to combine her passions for service and medicine and eventually work with Doctors Without Borders or minister with a free clinic.

Ray is leaving MND with her faith deepened and a keen sense of the gifts she has received through her service to others. “I’ve seen Christ in those I’m blessed to haveserved, and I’ve learned that the smallest acts of kindness can make the biggest difference,” she said. “I want to continue to do whatever I can to be of service, showing others the power of kindness, lifting them up and making a difference in their lives.”

For information on joining or forming a high school St. Vincent de Paul chapter, visit svdpcincinnati.org. For information about Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, visit CCSWOH.org,. For informa- tion about Xavier University’s Community-Engaged Fellowship for incoming freshmen, visit Xavier.edu and search “fellowship.“

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