Photo by Janet Rausch
In 1900, a pioneering group of the Sisters of St. Joseph opened a school in La Grange Park on the foundation of four pillars: scholarship, service, spirit, and unity. While the school has grown from only fourteen students to the Nazareth Academy we know today, the foundation has not changed.
The Nazareth Academy community digs into its commitment to service and the Congregation of St. Joseph has done many remarkable acts of service, including bringing attention to immigration at the southern border, the environment, and climate change.
Another issue that the Sisters have been working hard to bring attention to is human trafficking. Academic Dean Sister Terry Middendorf explains that in their service, the Sisters work to bring awareness to hard and serious issues. “The goal is making people aware of where trafficking happens, how you can recognize it, how you can call attention to the possibility of it happening, and being there to protect people,” said Middendorf. “We are helping victims to open up and share their story, and aim to put an end to it.”
With the Sisters as inspiration, the student body at Nazareth takes service very seriously as well. Each year, students complete service hours and participate in a variety of service projects near and far. Nazareth’s commitment to service is one of the things that makes the school community and student body stand out as empathetic and well-rounded people.
Middendorf said, “Those habits that start early, just become ingrained in us.” Doing service can so easily become second nature, and you are not only helping others, you are helping yourself become a better person.
Art teacher Hannah Salsman is assisting with Campus Ministry this year and was pleasantly surprised to see how dedicated to service the students at Nazareth are. Salsman said, “Service to others is incredibly humbling, but also sets an expectation for you as an adult to keep pushing it further.”
Students at Nazareth have a great deal of privilege, including attending a private school with outstanding academics and athletics, great faculty and staff, and being set up for success after graduation. Giving back through service is a way to remind students that the world is bigger than their own experience.
Freshman Elisabeth Anos recognizes how much privilege she truly has and what she can do to put it to use. Anos said, “Service allows young adults to recognize the privilege they have. In realizing this, they can use their time to do work that benefits their communities and the people that have less than we do.”
Senior CeeCee Randle has been serving others for as long as she can remember. “Every year since I was four years old, I’ve done service. My family works with my community to collect toys for kids and new moms. And recently, I cleaned my elderly neighbor’s home for her when she could not.” Randle says service makes her feel good and she is committed to serve others for the rest of her life.
Freshman Grace Gray realizes how easy it is to make someone’s day just a little bit better by doing an act of service for them.“I think it is important because it makes us realize that even in your own community, there are so many things you can do that can impact so many other people.”
“I got into Young Community Changemakers this year,” said Junior Ashlynn Rodriguez. “Kids from area schools get together to discuss philanthropy and we get to award money to a non-profit organization that serves the community. It’s just a nice experience to help support the community.”
The Congregation of Saint Joseph has set the foundation of the importance of service and the entire Nazareth community is committed to making the world a better place through serving the dear neighbor near and far.