“It has long been held that the differentiating factor between Catholic schools and other independent or public schools is the focus on faith formation and a student’s spiritual and moral development,” says Dr. Jacob Conca, Head of School at Xaverian Brothers High School. “This is made manifest through theology classes, daily prayer, attendance at Masses, participation in the sacraments, and through pastoral counseling. At Xaverian, one of the essential ways we accomplish this is through service. I believe that our programs are unmatched in this area, particularly our Christian Senior Service program.”
Christian Senior Service (CSS) is Xaverian’s faith experience that is conducted during the last term of senior year, the pinnacle of a young man’s formation at the school. It allows seniors the opportunity to put their faith into action through service. Participating students are exempt from all classes (except Advanced Placement classes) during the fourth quarter of senior year. Instead of reporting to campus, they report to an approved service site where they spend their days working to benefit the community. Students are encouraged to see their service as a means to bring God’s love to those most in need. Throughout the experience, they meet regularly with a faculty mentor and journal daily to actively reflect on God’s presence in their lives and in the people they serve.
Last spring, 124 members of the Class of 2022 chose to participate and serve their community. “It always impresses me how many young men sign up for Christian Senior Service each year,” says Dr. Conca. He adds, “One might think these students are choosing the easy way out—skipping classes the last quarter of their high school career—but it’s the opposite. They’re already enrolled in college and could simply enjoy their last few months alongside their classmates, who they’ve learned and grown beside for the last four or six years. Instead of the known and the comfortable, these men choose the unknown. They put the needs of others ahead of their own as they embark on a journey in service of their community. It’s inspiring.”
In addition to CSS, Xaverian provides service opportunities for students of all ages, grades 7-12. Clubs like X-ACT, X-CEL, and XGE function throughout the year. X-ACT, Xaverian Community in Action, is a student organization that provides weekly opportunities for all members of the Xaverian community to become more involved in issues of peace, social justice, and service. Students and a faculty mentor travel to various local agencies to serve those in need. Whether it’s spending time with the elderly residents at Ellis Nursing Home or Benchmark Senior Living, helping to organize and deliver furniture with My Brother's Keeper, or tutoring students at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Boston, students have the opportunity to participate in direct service and develop a greater understanding of compassion and solidarity with those they meet.
X-CEL (Xaverian Community Encounters Life) is an urban immersion retreat program for members of the junior class. Participants spend three days during the school week living in Boston and ministering to a wide range of individuals within various social service agencies. XGE (Xaverian’s Global Encounter) are week-long service retreats offered during February and April breaks to destinations such as Durán, Ecuador; Tecate, Mexico; Camden, NJ; and Alderson, WV. Following formation meetings to prepare for the service experience and develop community with their fellow participants, students and faculty leaders spend their vacation serving others and reflecting on God’s presence in their daily life.
Service often plays a role in the school’s formal retreat programs, too. From the Xaverian Pilgrimage to Italy in which students perform service in Rome, to the weeklong summer Xaverian Leadership Institute (XLI) for rising seniors in which students serve the local community, Xaverian’s retreat programs help prepare young men as servant leaders. Additionally, all eighth grade students participate in a day-long service experience each year, volunteering at various agencies in the Boston area such as the Greater Boston Food Bank and Cradles to Crayons.
“We wholeheartedly believe that service work is essential to forming graduates who are not just well educated, but who are young men of strong moral character,” says Dr. Conca. He adds, “Our graduates are equipped with the skills, humility, and compassion necessary to be servant leaders in their communities, and we trust they will share their gifts with a world in need.”
Pictured here are Tristan Hyppolite ’22, Will Ferrara ’22, Jack Silva ’22, Owen Gunning ’22, and Aiden Rodriguez ’22 on their last day of participation in Christian Senior Service. These five young men all served at Saint John the Evangelist School in Canton.
Photo provided by Saint John the Evangelist School