"The values of the Church's social teaching must not be tangential and optional. They must be a core part of teaching and formation....Just as the social teaching of the Church is integral to Catholic faith, the social justice dimensions of teaching are integral to Catholic education and catechesis. They are an essential part of Catholic identity and formation."
Sharing Catholic Social Teaching, USCCB
Service learning allows students to link school-based knowledge with the experience of actively living the Gospel. It encourages students to take the teachings of Christ beyond the textbook, and by so doing, become actively engaged in their Christian faith. It helps them to become other-centered in a culture that focuses primarily on the self.
The National Society for Experiential Education defines service learning as "carefully monitored service experience in which a student has intentional learning goals and reflects actively on what he or she is learning throughout the experience."
Faith, justice and service are inseparable components to fulfilling the Gospel mission. Before his ascension into heaven in St. Matthew's Gospel, Jesus commands his apostles, "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19)." These are not empty words. Rather, it is the great commission that empowers and requires the faithful to perform acts of service, mercy, and compassion. The Father Ryan service learning program allows students to accept the responsibility of the great commission by becoming living examples of the Gospel with their actions and deeds. Therefore, to fulfill the mission of Father Ryan High School, students are expected to engage in service learning as part of their faith, emotional, educational, and personal development.
Students at Father Ryan will be asked to complete a set number of hours dedicated to service learning. Freshmen are required to perform 10 hours of service. Eight of these hours must be completed with a family member or a project dedicated to supporting the institution of family. Two hours can be completed at a Father Ryan sanctioned event, such as the Irish Service Corps. However, the final two hours can also be completed at an off sight placement under the supervision of a non-profit organization. Sophomores are required to complete 15 hours of service. A minimum of 10 hours must be completed with a peer. Juniors are required to complete 25 hours of service. A minimum of 15 hours must be in direct service to the poor or underprivileged. A student can count 10 hours of advocacy towards their hours. Advocacy, as defined by Father Ryan High School, means the intervention or acts on another's behalf to a person or group with authority.
- To make efforts to act justly in regards to poverty, oppression, and marginalization
- To instill in our students the responsibility to respond to the Gospel call of serving others
- To expose students to the range of service and the opportunities they have to apply their gifts
- To help guide students in the spiritual exercise of reflection, action, reflection
- To challenge students to use their classroom experiences and apply them to service
- To enhance and complement Father Ryan's curriculum by offering meaningful service and reflection opportunities
For service to become a learning experience and not an activity or a project, reflection must be an integral component to the experience. Therefore, Father Ryan employs a methodology of reflection, action, and reflection. It is a continual loop that ensures the cycle of action and reflection never breaks. The hope is that the student employs a continuous loop of reflection-action-reflection not just as a student at Father Ryan, but throughout their life. In so doing, the school will have helped create a Catholic community dedicated to serving the poor, sick, and underprivileged.
Process for Approving Service Learning Project
Students must submit an approval form to their theology teacher stating their service learning intentions. The forms must be signed by the parents and will be reviewed by the teachers. Based on their decision, students either proceed with the project or find an alternative. If approved and on completion of the project, a student must submit a reflection paper. If a student has multiple visits to the same site or project, only one reflection paper is due. The reflection paper must include how their classroom instruction was integrated into the project. Students are to hand in their approval paper and reflection paper or project to their theology teacher.
Completion of a Service Learning Project
When a student has completed his/her service-learning project, the student must have the supervisor at the project site sign the bottom of the Service Learning Completion Form. Parents and/or siblings cannot sign as the supervisor. All service-learning hours must be completed through a non-profit organization. The Service Learning Completion Form is to be submitted to the student's theology teacher before writing the reflection paper.
After a student has submitted the Service Learning Completion Form, he/she must write a reflection paper. Here are some guidelines for the paper:
1. The agency where the service was performed
2. How the service benefited the poor
3. How the service learning hours complimented what the student is learning in the classroom
4. The hardships the student witnessed of other people's experiences as a result of the service learning hours
5. Whether the student would return to the agency again
The reflection paper must be typed; however, the student's theology teacher determines the length of the paper. The minimum paper must be 350 words. In lieu of a paper, a theology teacher may allow a student to give a ten minute power point presentation on his/her service learning project.
Service vs. Charity
There is a distinction between acts of service and works of mercy. One of the goals stated in one of the previous sections requires students to become an agent of social change. Therefore, works of mercy, which is service or charity towards a neighbor or community in need, are employed as the only projects in service learning. The recipient of the service or advocacy must be a person in need. There are three types of service that will fulfill a student's requirement: direct service, indirect service, or advocacy. Direct service involves direct interaction with the community or the individual being served. Direct service often requires a long term commitment because it is relational in nature. Indirect service lacks interaction with the recipient of the service. For example, at a Habitat for Humanity work site a student may not interact with the recipient of the house. Finally, advocacy involves working to affect social change about the root cause of a community problem. In order for the hours to count, the service must be completed under supervision of a trained responsible adult. A student may not work independent of a non-profit, church, or a professional, and may not be his or her parent.
25 hours mandatory service
- 15 hours (or more) to be completed through direct service to the poor
- Unlike rising sophomores and freshman, hours cannot be completed during the summer
- 5 hours may be completed through advocacy (visiting state representatives on important issues, participation in the Pro Life march, letters to the editor, etc.)
- 5 hours may be completed through school-sponsored service projects
- Required participation in the Theology Speaker Series (2-year rotation)
15 hours mandatory service
- 10 hours (or more) with a peer in school-approved service opportunities
- 5 hours in opportunities chosen by the student
- 8 hours can be completed in service to the school
10 hours mandatory service
- 5 hours may be completed by students serving the high school
- Freshman are encouraged to complete the majoriy of their hours with a group
Athletes and Co-Curricular Activities
Students participating in an athletic sport or a co-curricular activity must complete the required number of hours.
Students are not permitted to miss practice, games, or activities in which they have made a commitment in order to complete service hours.
Read our Service Learning Bulletin Board for service opportunities.
- Students understand that they are members of the Father Ryan community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Students must act in accordance with the guidelines of Father Ryan High School outlined in the student handbook
- Students will uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church and promote the dignity of all peoples while serving at a placement
- Unless serving during the school day, students are not required to wear the Father Ryan uniform. However, students must dress appropriately when representing the school
- Students must notify their placement and their teacher if an unforeseen circumstance prevents them from completing an approved service project
Students will not be promoted to the subsequent grade without completion of their hours. If a student does not complete the hours, they are placed on probation and given one month during the summer break to finish hours. During the summer months, students must submit their reflection proposal and final reflection paper to the Dean of Campus Ministry and Student Life. If the hours are not completed during the summer, the student will be asked to withdraw from Father Ryan for a minimum of a semester.
Once the spring semester is complete, theology grades will not be changed. Therefore, if a student completes their hours in the summer, the hours will not be credited to the previous semester's grade.