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    Call to Service: the Longstanding Tradition at Jesuit High Schools across the Nation

    Call+to+Service%3A+the+Longstanding+Tradition+at+Jesuit+High+Schools+across+the+Nation

    An epidemic has been rapidly spreading through Jesuit high schools in every state.  This unstoppable contagion targets a wide range of people, especially the less fortunate.  What is this infectious disease?

    This epidemic is not an illness, like you might think, but this idea is spreading like the common cold.  At Jesuit high schools around the country, campus ministers, administration, and teachers all emphasize the idea of  being “Men for Others. ” 

    While the catch phrase “Men for Others” is pretty common to those who attend Jesuit high schools, it’s not a given that all other Catholic high schools emphasize this tenet.  Jesuit high schools train their students to work not for themselves but for the betterment of others.

    The Jesuits have a long-standing tradition of serving others; it is at the core of everything they do.  Gonzaga is just one of many Jesuit schools that keep this tradition alive. For many Jesuit schools, service is part of the curriculum in forming “Men for Others.” 

    Gonzaga students in Los Angeles, preparing food for those in need.

    “We stress [being Men for Others] in everything we do,” stated John Hawkey, director of junior service projects at DeSmet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

    This Jesuit motto serves as a guideline for each school, as the schools work to incorporate it into their daily life around campus.  Many high schools, including Gonzaga, truly take the Jesuit trademark to heart. John Krambuhl, director of mission and ministry at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., explained.

    “[‘Men for Others’] is in our mission statement and the reason we exist as a school,” Krambuhl stated.

    Every Jesuit school offers a variety of service opportunities, including service trips, but Gonzaga has a unique service program.  With the McKenna Center on campus, Gonzaga students are given the rare chance to help the homeless, even during their lunch periods.  Students are also able to participate in McKenna’s Wagon, which delivers hot meals to various locations in DC, or play chess with boys from low-income areas in DC at the Washington Jesuit Academy.

    Students from Gonzaga tutored children in Apopka, Florida.

    Danielle Flood, assistant director of campus ministry at Gonzaga, discussed Gonzaga’s service program structure.

    “As an underclassman, you get to serve more locally, you get to know your own community well.  As you grow older and as you mature a little bit more, […] you feel ready to venture out and serve in different parts of the country,” Flood said.

    Gonzaga’s service program hasn’t always been as stellar as it is today.  In fact, it reached its current state after years of developing into a thorough list of service opportunities.

    Stephen Szolosi, director of campus ministry, said that service opportunities have grown “most because of the ways student groups have set up and put service opportunities in place. There are many more clubs that do service now, and the teams are so often more plugged into service opportunities, as well.”

    While Gonzaga currently only requires service during senior year, many Jesuit schools around the country have requirements for all four years.  Seniors at Gonzaga must complete 40 hours of service, 20 during the summer prior to the school year and 20 during the academic year.  Despite the absence of an underclassmen requirement, Gonzaga students of all years frequently go the extra mile in serving the community.

    Jesuit high schools traditionally serve a wide range of society’s marginalized, but who they serve varies based on where the school is located.  For example, because Washington, D.C. has such a high homeless population, Gonzaga provides students with many ways to reach out to those without a home.  In contrast, because Loyola High School of Los Angeles is surrounded by a large immigrant community, so their students focus heavily on assisting immigrants. Regis High School in New York is located near Rikers Island, home of New York’s most well-known prison, which allows students to play basketball with rehabilitating incarcerated people.

    Most Jesuit high schools offer immersion trips in addition to their regular local community service.  In comparison to other Jesuit high schools, Gonzaga offers an exceptional amount of domestic service trips, sending students all over the country to serve.  However, unlike other Jesuit high schools, Gonzaga does not offer as many international trips. Other Jesuit high schools offer trips to countries including Puerto Rico, Senegal, Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kenya, Belize and Nicaragua.

    Gonzaga’s Emmitsburg and McKenna Immersion trips are not included in the graph above.

    “I think that service and justice work is at the core of our identity as a Jesuit institution. It is a visible sign of who we are as a Jesuit Network of Schools across the United States and beyond,” stated Jesse Rodriguez, director of community service at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

    This notion is apparent at every Jesuit high school; social justice is an integral part of their identities. With the emphasis on service, Jesuit schools teach their students to recognize the problems of the real world, equipping their “Men for Others” with the tools to help those in need beyond high school.

    “Jesuits are meant to be a religious order that didn’t just sit in monasteries and pray all day, but they were a religious order meant to do work,” said Geoffrey Miller, Gonzaga religion teacher and former Provincial Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education for the Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus.

     

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