As human beings, we “can only find ourselves through a sincere gift of self,” as St. John Paul II said. Giving of oneself through service is an opportunity to participate in the charity and servant leadership of Christ, and it brings students into an essential encounter with people from all walks of life. This exchange helps them recognize the dignity of all persons and better understand God, themselves, and others. Through outreach to people and communities in Nashville and beyond, students learn personal and civic responsibility and are transformed in ways they do not always expect. The goal at St. Cecilia is that service becomes a way of life, for by it our students become Christ’s hands and feet in the world.
Because service is one of the four pillars of a Dominican education, SCA students are asked to fulfill 20 hours of person-to-person service each year beginning in the sophomore year, for a total of 60 hours of service (although many students willingly undertake far more). Service work ranges from tutoring children and working at homeless shelters to fieldwork on various service trips. Each fall, SCA hosts an all-school service fair, where students can hear from over twenty community organizations and learn about how they can serve at an agency that fits their interests and gifts.
In addition to an annual dental mission trip to Haiti through the Be Happy Haiti organization founded by St. Cecilia graduates, students also help organize an annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) domestic service trip during spring break. Past ASB destinations have included South Bend, IN where students served at a Catholic Worker house; New Orleans, LA where students volunteered with Habitat for Humanity; New Jersey to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy; and Atlanta, GA for a week’s work with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.