Isabella Taylor, Class of ‘22:
“In completing the Living the Faith Service hours, I have learned much about myself and others around me. Many times, the thought of doing something for others can be daunting. It can seem like a huge time commitment on our part, and something that is much bigger than ourselves. We may wonder whether or not we are really able to make a difference, and this can discourage many people from performing acts of service. I have found, however, that this daunting image is often not realistic when it comes to giving back to our communities.
While completing my service hours these past years, I have found that there are many opportunities for me to help others, even as a high school student. None of these require huge commitments, lots of experience, or even a lot of time. Giving service can be a simple, quick, and even fun activity that we do for others. To me, the Living the Faith Service hours means something beyond just a school requirement. It means being able to help out others, and to grow closer to my peers and those in my community in the process. It means being a part of something only possible through the combined effort of people who are willing to sacrifice in order to help others.
The Living the Faith Service hours have also helped me to grow in the virtue of generosity. I’ve become more open to helping others and sharing what I have with them, even if it is just an hour of my time. I learned that I enjoy watching the work that I do for others have an effect on them. I enjoy being able to see how I have made a difference in their lives and be able to meet and talk with those that I’m helping. I was able to do this during one of my favorite service projects, when I traveled to Chicago to help in a food pantry for a day. Not only did I enjoy the opportunity to help others in a different community than my own, I also gained an appreciation for everything that I had. I realized how lucky I was, and that I should use what I have to help those less fortunate than me.
The service hours that I’ve done now have laid a foundation for serving my community in the future. Completing these service hours now, as a high school student, has made me much more likely to accept opportunities for service in the future. It has given me an idea of how I can help my community, and what it really entails. This willingness to sacrifice a bit of time is really all that is needed, and this is something that is well worth sacrificing. I want to continue, in college and as an adult, to participate in service projects and opportunities because of what I’ve learned and gained while doing my service hours now. Overall, the Living the Faith Service hours have had a lifelong impact on me and encouraged me to use my gifts to help bring joy to others.”
Carly Bitler, Class of ‘22:
"'So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.’( John 15:12-13)
Entering high school is a very exciting and nerve-wracking experience. Our thoughts are consumed with football games, pep rallies, classes and school work, and what we want the next four years of our lives to look like. But through the thicket of countless notations and expectations of high school, we all too often lose sight of what is most important to us, and that is God. We neglect the teachings of our Lord and fail to do what He has asked of us, and instead tend to our own wants and desires before the will of God.
That was the problem I faced entering my freshmen year. I was consumed with thoughts and expectations of high school and what my plan was for the next four years of my life. My life was off kilter, and I was struggling to find balance between school, equestrian training, and living out my faith. Quite frankly, the service hour requirement was something that worried me. I was scared I would not be able to fulfill the required hours. My notion of what options we had as far as service hours was very narrow, and I found myself quite lost when looking for places to volunteer. For quite some time I was unsure of what I was supposed to do, and it wasn’t until I had an epiphany about what service meant for both me and my relationship with God.
Living in a society filled with empty grand gestures of service to only appear good in the eyes of those in the community, but not of the good of the people we’re there to serve, is all too common. And so our minds become warped to this notion of service, and we forget that service comes from the heart not to appear good in the eyes of others or to feel superior to those we are serving . It wasn’t until I let go of the world's idea of service that I was able to find places to volunteer at activities that I actually enjoyed doing, such as in classroom work with former teachers, and teaching beginner level kids about horses and riding. Once I began doing small acts of service to help people in their everyday life or teaching others, I started realizing who I actually was as a person. I have always been a quiet person who doesn't like to get out of their comfort zone much. But, I found when I get excited or really interested in something, it really motivates me and pushes me to become more active in things I feel so strongly about. I found that I also love teaching others, which is something I never thought would appeal or interest me, but as it turns out, I love it. And slowly through these small acts of service, my life found balance once again and found more of who I was. Yes, the initial thought of service hours can create some uneasy feelings, but the time and experiences, and the relationship you build with God, makes it all worth the while. Without service, I would have never discovered what I learned about myself nor would I have known the things I know now about God and the world we live in. Our world can be filled with empty gestures and those who don’t value the true meaning of service, but it is our job to bring light to others and to serve from our hearts.”
Molly Hergenrother, Class of ‘22:
I’ve gone to Catholic school my whole life. Beginning in kindergarten and up until now, my junior year at The High School of St. Thomas More, I’ve been surrounded by Catholic people and influences that have shaped me into the person I am today. Because of this, I’ve had the opportunity to serve God and our community through Service Hours since I was in junior high at St. Matthew Catholic School. The monthly service there helped me figure out how I wanted to earn my Hours at STM, and now that I’m in high school, Living the Faith and Service Hours have taught me the importance of loving how I serve God.
I started altar-serving at St. Matthew Catholic Church when I was in fifth grade, and I’ve enjoyed doing it ever since. Being on the altar has deepened my relationship with God because I get to be so close to Him when the bread and wine transform into His Body and Blood. I’ve also noticed that Mass can lose its impact on me because it has become a norm in my life, but serving has added another layer to this celebration of Christ and keeps me focused on Him.
Additionally, serving at St. Matthew’s has taught me leadership skills that I use as a House Leader at STM. I’ve mentored a few people a couple years younger than me on how to altar-serve, so I learned how to explain key ideas effectively and communicate during unexpected events to get everything running smoothly again through these Living the Faith Hours. Teaching other people and helping them understand something that I love has become a theme in my life that I’ll carry with me until I meet God face to face.
Coaching cheerleading at St. Matthew’s is the other main way I earn my Service Hours. I cheered there while I was in grade school, and I continue to cheer now at STM. I love cheerleading, so when I got the offer to be an assistant coach, I was beyond excited. I created cheers for my girls to learn, helped them at practices, taught them to stunt, and put together half-time routines to perform at basketball games. As an assistant coach, this volunteering was not only for Service Hours, but it was also my passion. It was easy to dedicate myself because I enjoyed it so much, and I hope my excitement inspired the girls to love what they do. These Hours reinforced my belief in teamwork, and they taught me about building a culture that everyone, both adults and students, can take pride in. I am so thankful for my fellow coaches, and they taught me how to keep our girls actively engaged and illustrated the dedication and support of our community.
Living the Faith and Service Hours has strengthened my ideas about leading and loving, and I am so excited to continue to serve God and others through volunteering in my church and community.
For Living the Faith Hours and Service Hours information please go to the "Students" tab or click on this link.