Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Students respond to community needs with service

Published October 24, 2013

Area Catholic high schools have innovative ways for students to serve the community.

At St. Pius X High School, Atlanta, at the fourth annual Marathon of Mercy on Saturday, Oct. 26, more than 200 students will participate in various works of mercy projects designed to give back to the greater Atlanta community.

Students will be volunteering from 7 a.m. to noon at 19 organizations to perform works of mercy. For example, students can participate in “Project Linus” and make fleece blankets that are given to children in domestic violence situations. Another project is the “Lions Lighthouse” in which students will clean, sort and prepare used eyeglasses to be sent to Third World countries. The Wounded Warrior Project and Meals on Wheels are also options.

Gayle Ohrenberger, director of campus ministry, said, “We are excited to give back to the Atlanta community through the Marathon of Mercy. This opportunity helps us to embrace the call that Pope John Paul II gave young people to be lights to the world. We hope that this event continues to grow and bear great fruit.”

Works of mercy are part of the service requirement for the theology program and graduation from St. Pius X.

At Pinecrest Academy, Cumming, the campus ministry team launched “Ignite,” a program of Christian service designed specifically for its high school students, to help them develop servant leadership potential through projects focused on corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This is its second year.

“The establishment of a comprehensive program to train our seniors in organizing their own service projects began during the 2012-13 school year,” said Tom McCabe, Pinecrest campus ministry director. “We had 15 senior-run service projects, ranging from adoption of a low-income housing community, to hosting blanket and food drives, to organizing students to work at soup kitchens.”

This year there are 18 senior projects, including an Angola prison mission, a senior mission trip to Nicaragua, a “senior” prom for the elderly, and “royalty for a day” project, pampering children with special needs.

“Christ-like service is one of the most powerful ways to show youth the Gospel in action. In fact, taking part in Christian service can be life changing. It enables us to experience what it means to help people not because we want to be ‘nice,’ or because we expect to get something in return, but because of a genuine connection we feel. Sincere Christian service is when those we serve see Christ in us—and when we discover Christ in them,” said Melissa Foley, Ignite program coordinator.

At a school assembly, the seniors advocated for their Ignite projects. All the high school students selected a service project they’d most like to assist. Project teams were assembled, and students will track their programs throughout the school year. At the close, Ignite teams will present video documentaries of their projects at an event for parents and high school students.