Inspired by the seven themes of social justice taught by the Catholic Church, 90 students from the eighth-grade class at St. Columban School went out into the community to serve others.
The students split up into groups to serve at six different service locations throughout Cincinnati. They went out to the Loveland Health Care Center, The Dragonfly Foundation, Free Store Food Bank, Crayons to Computers, Matthew 25: Ministries and InReturn during the daylong service project.
“One of the goals for our school is to live out the seven themes of social justice given to the Catholic Church through the Council of Catholic Bishops,” teacher Elizabeth Richardson said.
Richardson said her classroom is focused on learning the seven themes of Catholic Social teaching. Those students are learning the seven themes of life and dignity of the human person, call to family, community and participation, rights and responsibilities, option for the poor and vulnerable, dignity of work and the rights of workers, solidarity, and care for God’s creation. Taking the students out of the classroom and into the community is a valuable tool in teaching social lessons.
“They lived out the theme through this experience,” Richardson said. “It just gives them the opportunity to really live out the Gospel message, to get into it, to not just talk about it, but to walk it. They can say: I don’t just talk about my faith, I walk my faith.”
The students brought that faith alive visiting, and playing volleyball with residents at the Loveland Health Care Center. They walked their faith helping to assemble aid kits for kids and families stricken by cancer at the Dragonfly Foundation. One of the groups shared their walk of faith by helping to pack “Power Packs” of weekend food at the Free Store Food Bank. Another group helped show solidarity working together with Crayons to Computers to organize their store and warehouse merchandise.
“They learned to treat people with respect and dignity no matter where they come from, where they live, or what they do,” Richardson said.
The students helped Matthew 25: Ministries reach out by packaging hygiene products for the poor and vulnerable in Africa. At InReturn, an organization that assists people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, the St. Columban kids demonstrated the Life and Dignity of the human person along with Dignity of work helping the brain-injured workers with their jobs for the day. At the end of the day, they talked about where they went, and the effect it had on them.
“A lot of the kids did say it took them out of their comfort zone,” Richardson said. “They saw people are struggling in Cincinnati. We can live out the Gospel message in our own backyards.”
Richardson said it was an opportunity for the students to see first-hand giving time is just as important as giving money. While the day clearly left a strong impression on the students, they left a strong impression on the people they helped too.
“The representative from the Free Store Food Bank said they were one of the most hardworking groups she’s ever had,” said Richardson. “They exceeded her expectations.”
More about St. Columban School at: www.saintcolumbanschool.org.
More about the Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching at: www.usccb.org.