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Faculty members set example with service

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February 3, 2011

By Eileen Connelly

 

ARCHDIOCESE — Community service is expected of students at Catholic high schools, be it volunteering at a local social service agency or participating on a mission trip. High school faculty members are also putting their faith into action, modeling the Gospel call to service outside of the classroom setting.

At Mother of Mercy High School, a group of faculty and staff members prepare and serve a monthly meal at Epic House, a small assisted living facility near downtown Cincinnati. The relationship developed after an in-service day several years ago during which faculty and staff volunteered at various sites throughout the city.

“It energized us and people wanted to continue to do a project as a group,” explained Rose Koch, director of student services.

Faculty Service, Catholic Schools week
La Salle High School faculty, administrators and staff members participated in a day of service and reflection on Dec. 22. Pictured here is the group that volunteered at the Working in Neighborhoods site. (Courtesy photo)

Dick Bley, an assistant basketball coach at Mercy who also serves on the board of trustees at Epic House, proposed volunteering there. Once a month the Mercy community collects monetary donations and specific food items and several faculty and staff members prepare two meals for residents. One is prepared and served right away; the second is saved for a later date.

Koch said there are about two dozen faculty and staff members that are part of a core group that volunteer. Their family members sometimes join them, she said.

“I think a lot of why we do what do is because we want to show our students that we do what ask of them,” she explained. “It’s important for us to model that for them. One of the values emphasized by Catherine McAuley (foundress of the Sisters of Mercy) was service. This is the proverbial way of putting your money where your mouth is.”

It is in response to the Lasallian call to serve that Chris Winiarski, director of campus ministry at La Salle High School, initiated biennial days of service and reflection six years ago. Sixty-three La Salle teachers, administrators and staff participated in the most recent in-service day, held Dec. 22, with the theme of “Compassionate Action.”

The day started with a time of prayer and reflection, which included presentations by Vincent Brickweg, a senior at La Salle, and Kerrie Lech, a Spanish teacher, who shared what service means to them. The educators and staff were then dispersed to 12 social service agencies throughout Cincinnati to engage in direct service for several hours, Winiarksi said. These included Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, Mercy Franciscan Terrace, Working in Neighborhoods, Our Lady of the Woods and the Drop Inn Center.

“They were literally meeting the call of the Gospel to feed the hungry and visit those who are lonely,” said Winiarski.

After completing their outreach efforts, the volunteers returned to La Salle for a reflection based on the teachings of St. John Baptist de La Salle (founder of the Institute for the Brothers of the Christian Schools). In small groups, they discussed how their actions affected them both personally and as Lasallian educators, along with connecting them to their ministry in the classroom. The day ended with the celebration of Mass.

A significant connection for faculty, administrators and staff, said Winiarski, is rooted in the words of St. John Baptist de La Salle: “Example makes a much greater impression on the mind and heart than words.”

“In turn,” explained Winiarski, “we strive to develop every student into a servant leader, not only by our words, but through our actions. While many of our staff are engaged in serving learning with our students through the school year, this day of in-service provided us with the opportunity to join together as a Lasallian community in faith, service and leadership with the underserved of our community.”

 

Sister Eileen Connelly, OSU can be reached at: [email protected].

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