St. Oscar Romero

"Aspire not to have more, but to be more... to give abundantly to others.”

Our Partners in Service

Service Learning

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.


  • 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

Service Learning Opportunities

List of 3 items.

  • Relay for Life

    For more than a decade, Father Ryan has led the largest per-capita Relay for Life in the nation. Collectively, these events have raised over $1 million for cancer research. 

    Held annually on a Saturday in late September or October, Father Ryan's Relay for Life is a pinnacle of the Father Ryan experience and a day that everyone in the community has come to look forward to. 

    Click here to learn more
  • Service Learning Requirements

    At Father Ryan, we have a specific service-learning curriculum that empowers students to serve those most in need through the Works of Mercy. It is important that students understand these expectations before completing service hours. If you are a current or future student and would like to learn the details of these requirements, please click the link below.

    View the Service Learning Requirements
  • Special Olympics

    Each Spring, Father Ryan partners with Special Olympics of Middle Tennessee to host this regional event where nearly 400 athletes compete. Students serve as volunteers for a day of athletic competition for those with special needs. Click the links below to see news coverage from last year's Special Olympics.

    News 4
    News Channel 5

Emily Phan '21 Wins Service Award

Congratulations to Emily Phan '21 for winning the prestigious Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Award for 2020 in the Direct Service category.

This is the second straight year that a Father Ryan student has won this award, as Emily follows Ella Delevante '20, who received the Direct Service Award last year.

Emily's commitment to The Little Pantry That Could and her dedication to serving others inspires us all. Read more about her work and view her video on receiving the award at

The Tennessee Register also profiled Emily's accomplishment. Click here to read the story

St. Vincent de Paul Service Society

Membership into the St. Vincent de Paul Service Society is conferred upon Junior and Senior students at Father Ryan High School who have completed at least 120 hours of service to the poor and marginalized through a corporal work of mercy. At least 40 of these hours must be with one organization, showing a depth of commitment and an ongoing relationship of solidarity that the student has built over time. Applications are available annually in March.

2019 Inductees

List of 29 items.

  • Emily Armstrong '19

    Emily has served with Relay for Life, Room In The Inn, Second Harvest Food Bank, Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society, Midtown Music Academy, March for Life, and the Alternative Spring Break service trip to Mepkin Abbey. Emily reflects on forming the ability to be in the present moment to serve when she writes, “When I was completely dedicated to the service, I found that I got more out of it. The problem was getting rid of the outside distractions. It was not until senior year that I was able to ignore the ditractions. I finally realized what my priorities should be. I really delved into creating relationships with people and trying to find the small acts of God in everything I do.”
  • Nicole Balmaceda '19

    Nicole has served with Relay for Life, March for Life, Safe Haven, Special Olympics, Nashville Rescue Mission, and especially Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In forming relationships at Nashville Rescue Mission and Vanderbilt, Nicole writes, “I volunteer once a week and for the most part, I would only meet people once and then never see them the following week. However, there were families who would spend weeks on end in the same halls. I became acquainted with them as I provided their toiletries each week. I conversed with them, asked how their loved ones were doing, and tried to express the utmost care and support through my words and the amount of cereal bars I could provide them. These relationships, whether they were fleeting or long-term, impacted the way I interacted with people at other organizations I served at such as Nashville Rescue Mission.”
  • Tessa Bellante '19

    Tessa served at Best Buddies, Cottage Cove, Hike for the Homeless, Harvest Hands Community Development, and the Relay for Life Committee. In reflecting in her time serving as a head for the Relay for Life Committee, Tessa writes: “I joined Relay for Life because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of my loved ones. Since being on the committee, I’ve never felt closer to them, even people like my grandmother who passed away when I was very young. I feel like I was able to develop a relationship with her and the rest of my family by honoring her memory by fighting for a cure.” Service connected Tessa with the communion of saints in a real way.
  • John Bottei '19

    John has served with the Relay for Life Committee and Loaves and Fishes of Catholic Charities, interned at Nations Ministry Center, and has attended the Bethlehem Farm and ASB service trips. John writes how serving at Nations Ministry Center changed him: “I remember one moment specifically on a field trip we took to a playground where, on the way back to the bus, he (a young boy named Moises) hung onto my arm for a while and asked me random questions. This showed me that he had really started trusting me, and I felt genuinely connected to him.” Later in John’s application he writes, “My relationship with him, along with a few other kids, allowed me to break down any borders in my mind of the separate-ness of refugees and immigrants from myself.”
  • Becky Catalano '19

    Becky served with Nashville Dolphins, Room In The Inn, The Little Pantry That Could, Tri My Best Triathlon, and Preston Taylor Ministries. Becky writes of working with the children of Preston Taylor, “There were times when I lost my patience with the children, and the next day I would bring it up to Hannah (PTM staff). During those moments of reflection, she reminded me what my purpose was to these children most in need. I was there to make joy-filled friendships with each and every child who participated in the Arts and Media Camp.” Ashley Andrews of Preston Taylor Ministries recently wrote of Becky and her work with children, “Becky demonstrated great compassion. With great empathy, Becky connected with some of our hardest-to-reach students. Those having bad days often sought her out, finding comfort in her care. She asked questions and followed up with students who were having a hard time because of some things that happened over the summer.”
  • Rebecca Darke '20

    Rebecca has served with Relay for Life, March for Life, and has consistently served at Room In The Inn at Christ the King Church during the shelter season. She writes of the lasting relationships that can form quickly in serving: “One relationship that sticks out to me was with a man from Sudan, and we started to chat about soccer and the many hobbies that we had in common. He told me all about his childhood and the transition from the two countries and how God was a big part of his life. It truly amazed me how God is a part of everyone’s lives, no matter how trivial the situation may seem. He is always present. This relationship was short-lived, but the connection that we shared, even though we led very different lives, brings me so much joy just thinking about it.”
  • Isa Derrick '20

    In addition to on-campus service through Relay for Life and Special Olympics, Isa has dedicated an incredible amount of time, 150 hours, to Time to Rise, an organization that provides summer camp opportunities for at-risk kids.  Isa’s investment in this organization is tangible and impactful.  It is based in true solidarity.  She writes of the last day of camp, saying: “The emotions that I saw from the kids made me realize how much of an impact I had had on them.  The emotions I saw from myself made me realize how much of an impact these kids have had on me.”
  • Zoe Dillard '19

    Zoe served with The Little Pantry That Could, March for Life, Relay for Life, Shop with a Cop, Room In The Inn at St. Henry Church, and with Catholic Charities South Nashville Family Resource Center. Zoe was asked to serve as the temporary receptionist for the South Nashville Family Resource Center. She writes about her experience: “Through this position I had many conversations with people in the waiting room. I talked with one woman while she told me the story of how so many people in her life had died, her brother and fiancée were addicts, and she had been in an accident in which her car had been stolen.” She also writes on sacrifice in service, “Those providing service must sacrifice personal time and desires in order to serve, and those receiving the service must sacrifice pride and allow themselves to accept the help. While sacrifice is how it is seen on the surface and how someone new to service might view it, once you connect yourself to the people and things you are doing and form relationships, it is definitely not a sacrifice.”
  • Maggie Eidt '19

    Maggie served with Cottage Cove, Room In The Inn, Safe Haven, March for Life, Catholic Heart Work Camp, the Alternative Spring Break service trip to Mepkin Abbey, and served on the Relay for Life Committee. In serving at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, Maggie shared an experience in which sitting and eating dinner with the patients and the caregivers awaken her understanding of relationship in service. As co-chair of the 2018 Relay for Life committee Maggie shared with those at the Hope Lodge table that the goal was $200,000. In her conversation, Maggie found that the patients and caregivers were not concerned so much with the money because it is prayer and the service of others that cures.
  • Abigail Emberson '19

    Abigail has shown passion and dedication through many different service opportunities, including Relay for Life, Alternative Spring Break, and especially in working with children. At both Safe Haven and the West Nashville Dream Center, she has found great joy and gratitude. She writes: “There have been times where I am at my service placement, and I sit there, I stop and thank God for all the good he has brought me. These relationships give me a whole new mindset of love and passion. I am very proud of myself for wanting to volunteer every week, not just for the service hours but for the love I feel and happiness I receive.”
  • Mary Glaser '20

    Mary has given a substantial amount of her time to Preston Taylor Ministries! Mary writes of her experience with PTM: “I formed relationships with the directors and children I volunteer with. The kids there are always excited to see me, and they immediately start a game of tag or soccer when I walk in. After almost two years of volunteering with Preston Taylor Ministries, I have learned about many of the children’s personalities and lives, and I love hearing their stories about school and home life. During my internship in the summer, I grew closer to the children, and they began to rely on me.”
  • Madi Guay '19

    Madi’s service has taken her far from home – to South Carolina on Alternative Spring Break, to San Juan, Costa Rica and even to Haiti.  Her deep passion for mission trips connected her with the poorest of the poor in deep ways that challenged her.  Madi explained that “it was a huge challenge having to see the way people lived and how little they had, knowing how much I had back home.  I felt privileged and ashamed for all of the seemingly unnecessary things I had.”  Madi chose to recognize her own privilege and use it to build relationships on the margins of our world.
  • Mary Hampton Hayden '20

    Mary Hampton served with Smithson Craighead Academy, Room In The Inn, March for Life, Hope Lodge, Relay for Life Committee, and the Alternative Spring Break service trip to Mepkin Abbey. In reflecting on her service Mary Hampton writes, “Hank, my adult leader for my small group that collected and sorted through the metal heap at the Abbey, is a true example of what it means to live out sainthood. No matter the work that lay ahead for us that day, he embraced every situation with full love and open-mindedness.” Mary Hampton also writes about being inspired by Amanda Fernandez, an employee of Room In The Inn, to be in conversation with the homeless and on this she writes, “I came to Room In The Inn thinking that they needed me, and I left that night knowing that I needed them.”
  • Delaney Herrmann '19

    Delaney has served through High Hopes Developmental Center, Special Olympics, Room In The Inn, Haiti Mission, Relay for Life Committee, and the Bethlehem Farm mission trip. Delaney writes of the challenges that service can confront us with: “During these service hours, I was often faced with nerves of how others would treat me. My mind was running in circles, worried that I would feel uncomfortable at my place of service. This was a useless thought because when I met the homeless men, the poor in West Virginia, the special needs children at High Hopes, and cancer survivors and fighters at Relay, I spoke to them like they were my best friends.”
  • Rachel Knapp '20

    Rachel has split her time serving between mission trips and serving locally.  In addition to attending the Servio Deo Mission Trip and twice serving on Alternative Spring Break, Rachel chose to spend her entire fall break 2018 serving at Smithson Craighead Academy, a charter school for at-risk kids.  Rachel built meaningful relationships with these students during her time there, saying that “it is very inspiring to go to this school and watch these children find joy in their day after hearing about their living situations at home.”
  • Mary Carson LePore '19

    Mary Carson served with a variety of organization including Abe’s Garden, Cottage Cove, People Loving Nashville, Safe Haven Family Shelter, Special Olympics, American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, and the Relay for Life Committee. Mary Carson poignantly finds God in everything when she writes about using her gifts in service, “I don’t want to sound cheesy or anything, but I just used the gift of God to help me serve. I knew that he was in each person I served, and I loved to look for him in everyone.”
  • Erin Mahoney '19

    Erin served at local non-profits such as Room In The Inn and with Relay for Life, and she spent many hours serving rural West Virginia through the Bethlehem Farm mission trip. Erin owns up to the reality of self versus the call to service in writing, “The work was grueling, and I missed Instragram quite a lot. I wanted to keep watching my Netflix shows and Facetime my mom. These were the selfish thoughts that plague me everyday, but I had never had to face them before this mission trip. The challenges I faced throughout those 80 hours of service were selfish and shallow, but they taught me the simplicity I should be striving for.”
  • Helen McCall '20

    Helen has served with Room In The Inn, Project Reflect, Relay for Life, March for Life, Ainsley’s Angels, The Mobile Food Pantry, and has had a constancy of time with Young Life Capernaum. In speaking of the challenges of working with young children she writes, “In some instances, I am in charge of enforcing the disciplinary actions. My instinct is wrap up this little first grader in a hug, but I have to work outside of my comfort zone so that he can learn from his mistakes.” And in teaching scripture to teens with disabilities, Helen writes, “Although I help give these kids Bible lessons, they teach me to appreciate the small moments in life and approach every situation with a smile on my face.”
  • Maddie McDaniel '22

    Maddie has served locally and abroad on mission trips. She has served through American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, Best Buddies, Room In The Inn at Holy Family Church, Outward Bound Costa Rica, Holy Family’s Servio Deo mission trip, and the Alternative Spring Break service trip to Mepkin Abbey. Maddie is also the only, and first ever, freshmen to be inducted into the St. Vincent de Paul Service Society. Maddie speaks of her gifts in serving, “I have always enjoyed helping others and doing service, so I would consider that a gift. I also have a very outgoing attitude which helps me connect with others, and it helps me get out there and grasp new opportunities so that I can get new experience and meet new people. I am also flexible and willing to change what I’m doing by doing different jobs every time I help.”
  • Kate McNeill '20

    Kate has given her time in service to a variety of non-profits including March for Life, Room In The Inn, Project Reflect, Young Life Capernaum, the Relay for Life Committee, and the Alternative Spring Break service trip to Mepkin Abbey. Kate writes of connecting with God in order to serve well: “Before each time I serve, I say a prayer to center myself with God… One of the biggest challenges I face while completing these hours was to re-center myself. It was easy to get sidetracked, forget why I was serving in the first place while completing my hours. However, I had to remind myself that the cause is always much greater than myself, and the service goes far beyond me or those serving me.”
  • Emma Pareigis '20

    In addition to various local service, Emma has given much of her time in service to Preston Taylor Ministries and Obras Sociales Del Hermano Pedro mission trip to Guatemala. Emma writes of the importance of finding the time to serve others for community: “The first time I volunteered with PTM I did not know anyone, but I spent time talking with the kids and really bonded with them and felt a sense of community. I have continuously volunteered there and been able to see how the kids have grown. I love being able to be part of that growth and to help them be successful.”
  • Emily Phan '21

    Emily participated with Relay for Life and has given an abundance of time, energy, and service to The Little Pantry That Could. She writes of her love for The Little Pantry That Could, “Every person who goes to the Pantry gets something out of it; the people who shop get the food they need, and the volunteers experience firsthand the benefits they were given by God in life.” Emily reflects deeper on the importance of relationship while serving at the Pantry: “Talking to the other volunteers and hearing the reasons they are there show me how volunteering is beneficial to both parties, and how it affects me by increasing the compassion I have for others. Talking with the people who come to the pantry for help extends my worldview and teaches me to be grateful for the things I have.”
  • Abigail Poteet '21

    Abigail has served nearly 250 hours with the Heimerdinger Foundation, a non-profit that provides healthy meals for cancer patients. She writes of dedicating this amount of time to one non-profit: “Every month, a client comes in to tell us about their fight with cancer and the bravery these people show is enlightening and inspiring. Coming in every week and seeing all sorts of different people – happy ones, sad ones, those who have just added a new family member, those who have just lost one – it creates an environment off trust.”
  • Drew Sloan '19

    In addition to various local service, Drew has dedicated his time to a Catholic Heart Workcamp Mission Trip and especially to Relay for Life, serving as co-chair in 2018.  Drew developed deep relationships through his service, not only with his fellow Relay for Life committee members but also with cancer survivors and the homeless.  Speaking of the relationships he formed, Drew explained: “these friends were what kept me coming back.  I enjoying learning more about their stories and just getting to know them.  Most of the people I served were very open and would share their stories.”  
  • Emma Standley '22

    Emma devoted time to Room In The Inn, Nashville International Center for Empowerment, Relay for Life, Bethlehem Farm mission trip, and the Alternative Spring Break service trip to Mepkin Abbey. Emma writes of the importance of relationship during the mission trips, “The relationships I made have given me confidence in myself. I would not trade these experiences and friendships for anything. Also, I formed relationships with some of the summer servants at Bethlehem Farms who were very welcoming. I got to have many conversations with some of these people about faith and the future.”
  • Cassie Tull '20

    Cassie served with Metro Parks Disabilities Program, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Room In The Inn, American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, and on the Relay for Life Committee. On the challenges in serving, Cassie writes: “Another challenge I have found serving at Hope Lodge or for the American Cancer Society is the fact that you might form those relationships with cancer patients, and you want to see them soon, but a part of you does not want to them soon, because that would mean they need another round of treatment because the last round was not enough. It can be emotional, because they mean so much to me, and I can’t solve every problem.”
  • Elizabeth Wehby '19

    Elizabeth served at Marth O’Bryan Center, Cottage Cove, Special Olympics, and on the Relay for Life Committee as Head of Sponsorship. Elizabeth speaks on working with many and the complexities that arise to do good together, “That dynamic made me realize how truly good people are. We all had our differences outside of the committee, but we all had one thing in common – we hated cancer.”
  • Erin Weiland '19

    Erin has served through many different organizations during her time at Father Ryan. In addition to attending Bethlehem Farm two times and participating in Alternative Spring Break, Erin has also served locally at The Little Pantry That Could and Cottage Cove. Erin’s faith has grown tremendously through service. She explains: “Whenever I do direct service, I can always feel God’s presence in the people I am helping. These people are such amazing influences in my life, and I feel like I have learned so much about who I want to be in the future through them.” Erin will pursue her passion of serving others as she studies nursing in college.
  • Marty Ree Zylstra '20

    Marty Ree has served with the Divine Ministries mission trip, Irish Firebirds, and in a consistent nature with Saddle Up! In Marty Ree’s application she reflects in-depth on the role of the Gospel in service: “The Gospel tells us to ‘serve a living God’ and that’s exactly what I am doing. I see God in Neally every week and that’s why I go. I saw God in every grain of dirt I washed off a child’s feet in Uganda because there is so much love wherever they walk. I think that is the entire theme of the Gospel; God is everywhere and in everything.”