By Maureen Cromer
Every high school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore requires service from its graduates. While most volunteer through local homeless shelters, soup kitchens and ministries, some travel the country – or even overseas – to do so.
In addition to spreading the Gospel message, those students soak up other cultures and languages.
At St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis, Teresa Oliverio and Joshue “Paco” Servin have combined to serve more than 750 hours. Oliverio’s service has taken her from Massachusetts to New Mexico to the Caribbean. She describes her service as a calling.
“My service opportunities have allowed me to live my faith more actively and open my heart to those in need,” Oliverio said.
The senior is a frequent volunteer in local ministries and is active in Catholic HEART Workcamp, a service organization that travels to St. Croix and Grenada to restore homes, feed the hungry and bring the love and joy of Christ to those in need.
Servin, who grew up in poverty in California, was afforded a whole new perspective on life when given the opportunity to move to Annapolis.
“I’ve been on both sides of service,” Servin said, “and now that I have the opportunity to give back some of what I’ve received, I’m going to put my whole heart into it.”
While many spend spring break lounging at home or on a family getaway, Servin will travel to Haiti for his second international mission trip. He will build homes, minister to families in need and spread the joy of Christ throughout the local communities.
“They have nothing; it’s not like it is here,” Servin said. “They are so appreciative for what we do. Sometimes, a little game of soccer is all it takes to make them happy.”
Julia Edwards and Colin Green, meanwhile, share the same passion for service.
Edwards, a senior at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, and a few classmates will travel to Panama this Holy Week to build recreation centers. Edwards said she is more excited to work with the community, not for
Edwards said her enthusiasm for service is deeply rooted in working with the children at the Refugee Youth Project, a weekly service opportunity at Baltimore City Community College, where she tutors and encourages refugee children to reach their maximum potential.
“At NDP, we strive to serve the marginalized,” she said. “By serving those who need it most, I have become a more patient, compassionate person. We just have to remember, service is not a one-way street.”
Colin Green, a Loyola Blakefield senior, tends to a newly planted urban garden on a service trip to Camden, N.J. (Courtesy photo)
Colin Green, a senior at Loyola Blakefield, is another familiar face in Baltimore City service programs, but the 150 hours of service he’s logged includes many in Camden, N.J., where he and a group classmates spent a week building urban gardens, volunteering at soup kitchens and serving through ministry of presence at a homeless shelter.
“I’ve come to find a greater appreciation for the opportunities I have been given,” Green said of his time in Camden. “My family life, going to Loyola – not everyone gets that. I used to think service was just something you did. I never expected to get so much out it.”