Service Learning

Zeal…expresses the virtue that actualizes the development of our minds and the cultivation of our hearts for the good of others. It is the passion to act upon what we have witnessed and learned in classrooms and in our experiences outside of them. In the words of Blessed Basil Moreau, “zeal is the great desire to make God known, loved, and served, and thus bring knowledge of salvation to others.” ~Rev. James B. King, C.S.C.

Our service learning programs at SJGS enable students to put faith in action. By engaging directly with the people they serve, students understand the Gospel’s truth that to love God, one must love his neighbor, particularly neighbors most in need.

Grade-Level Service Projects

Service learning at SJGS begins in our preschool and early childhood grades, where students begin with learning to serve others in their classroom, in the school, and at home. They also begin to participate in outreach initiatives with our parish’s St. Vincent de Paul food pantry as well as homebound parishioners. Beginning in third grade, each class adopts a local service learning project for the year, providing opportunities to learn about and support our neighbors with generosity of friendship, offerings, and prayer:

3rd Grade – St. Margaret’s House for Women

4th Grade – Holy Cross House Retired Priests & Brothers

5th Grade – Center for the Homeless Veteran’s Center

6th Grade – Hope Ministries

7th Grade – Christ Child Society

8th Grade – Individual Summons Service Projects

Throughout the year, as part of these grade level service learning projects, you will find SJGS students interacting with our neighbors, including visiting with and singing songs for retired sisters, playing games with veterans, and working in the food kitchen at Hope Ministries. A highlight from recent years: SJGS students were honored to be invited to attend the dedication ceremony of the new Robert L. Miller Sr. Veteran’s Center on Veteran’s Day in 2011. As part of the dedication ceremony, Fr. Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C., President Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, invited our 5th grade students to help him in the blessing of the building.

School-Wide Service Initiatives

As a school, students participate in other service initiatives throughout the year, supporting local organizations as well as members of our Saint Joseph Parish community who may need our prayers and support. One of our largest undertakings: it has become an annual tradition to particpate in the “Eric’s Promise” initiative at the St. Vincent de Paul center in our neighborhood. During Lent, students collect toiletry items to donate and, as a whole school community, we walk the many hundreds of offerings to SVdP during Holy Week.

Stories of Hope

Guest speakers from local organizations join us periodically to share stories of inspiration and hope with our students. Recent visitors have included speakers from Holy Cross Missions, Habitat for Humanity, St. Vincent de Paul, and the Center for the Homeless.

Faith In Action

Students also have opportunities to put faith in action by participating in causes supporting their faith, such as the March for Life in South Bend. It has become a tradition each January for peers from other local Catholic schools to join participating SJGS students in our church for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and prayer for life, before proceeding down the street to join other local marchers.

The goal for our service learning programs is that students will carry on, throughout their lives, a zeal for putting faith in action, most especially for those in need.