Two Catholic high schools begin 2016 with senior service projects


“It’s awesome,” seniors serving at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis said of their first week of service. The two young men were anxious to meet and serve the poor and homeless that know help is available at St. Vincent’s, a parish known for its outreach.

Seniors are on hiatus from two of the Belleville diocesan Catholic high schools.

The first three weeks of January are set aside each year for seniors at Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville and Mater Dei Catholic High School in Breese to provide service to a community.

Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo has traditionally commissioned its seniors to do service in the spring.

This year is especially noteworthy because their service is being offered during the Jubilee Year of Mercy which began Dec. 8, 2015 when Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in Rome.

John Bouc, campus minister at Althoff visits as many of the sites as possible where the seniors serve.

“By its conclusion, our senior students will have performed well over 8,500 hours of service to everyone from children with cancer, to adults with autism to remote villagers in Honduras,” Bouc said.

One senior is serving at Doorways, an interfaith non-profit organization providing housing and related supportive services to people affected by HIV/AIDS.

Bouc said one of his 2006 students is now supervising the 2016 volunteer.

The 94 Althoff seniors are serving at 49 different  projects that include this diocese, St. Louis, Arizona, Florida and overseas in Korea and Honduras and conclude Jan. 22.

The 112 seniors at Mater Dei are serving at about 42 projects, two of them out of state, James Darr, campus minister, said. (More on Mater Dei in the next issue.)

“The senior service project is a valued treasure in all three Catholic high schools of the diocese,” Bouc said. And this year, these projects support the pope’s call for a Year of Mercy.