During their junior year at De Smet Jesuit, every student participates in a year-long service project. They serve the elderly, young children, individuals with disabilities and the disadvantaged at agencies across the St. Louis metropolitan area nearly every Monday afternoon from September through May. Volunteering at the same organization for an entire school year enables the students to develop strong relationships with the individuals they serve, and through periodic reflections, gain deeper insight into the personal growth they experience as a result.
On September 16, the De Smet Jesuit community gathered for the Missioning Mass, offering prayers and blessings to the junior class. “Through this experience, you put our mission into action,” said John Hawkey ’96, Theology Teacher and Junior Projects Coordinator. “Bring the best of yourselves as men for and with others every day to your work.”
“Today you are called to be disciples. You are going out to tell people they matter and remind them how deeply they matter to God. Pray for the ability to open yourselves to love these people,” said Fr. Jeff Harrison, S.J., during his homily.
Following Mass, members of the senior class offered advice and blessings for the juniors that were specific to the people they are serving. Roger Melton, who worked at an early childhood education center, shared, “There may be times where you are frustrated and want to give up or walk away, be patient. In the end all that patience will be worth it, you’ll make a lasting impact on the kids that you work with and memories that you will never forget”
Sebastian Martin spoke about his realization that the seemingly simple task of calling Bingo helped him develop meaningful relationships with the residents of the retirement community where he served. “I didn’t change the world by going to my junior project and you probably won’t either but I’m definitely sure that my classmates and I influenced the lives of everyone we served there, just by calling bingo, telling jokes, and meeting those we served with an open mind and an open ear,” he said. “My challenge to you is this: Strive to meet those you serve and form relationships with them, strive to be intentional in everything you do, strive to do more than what’s asked, because this is what it means to be a man for and with others.”
Read more on how our Juniors Prepare for Year-long Service.