To kick off the new school year, Saint Francis High School employees devoted a day to serving several schools in the Diocese of San Jose. Picking up paint rollers, installing a drip irrigation system, assembling furniture — faculty and staff members were more than willing to help local teachers and principals prepare their campuses for their first days of school.
The 169 volunteers from Saint Francis traveled in smaller groups to seven sites — Saint John Vianney, Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School, Sacred Heart Nativity, Saint Clare, Saint Justin, Resurrection and Saint Joseph — so that these schools, many of them hampered by limited resources, would be ready to welcome students.
Numerous projects at each school were completed that day. At Saint Justin, volunteers applied a fresh coat of paint to the playground mural, while at Sacred Heart Nativity, they stenciled motivational statements on the walls of the hallways. It was moving day at Cristo Rey, so Saint Francis employees helped teachers and staff move textbooks and furniture from the school’s temporary trailers into their new permanent classrooms and offices.
The schools were grateful to receive the extra help, and the Saint Francis volunteers were happy to make a difference for fellow educators. At Saint Joseph, volunteer crews were asked to resurface weather-beaten playground benches, and when social studies teacher Baron Cannon previewed the state of the benches prior to the service day and saw how they were untreated for many years, he knew he had to bring several tools from his own garage to give the benches the proper attention they needed. For Mr. Cannon, the school-wide service day was a meaningful way to not only reconnect with his love of working with his hands, but to also joyfully offer help for a need he did not know existed. The experience, he says, made him think of the poem attributed to Saint Teresa of Avila, in which she writes that we are Christ’s hands and feet on Earth.
“We are called to work in his stead by looking at others with compassion, walking to do good, and blessing all the world,” says Mr. Cannon, who also serves as summer school principal. “Well, I got a day to labor with my hands for others, and in carpentry, no less. What better way to work for the world in Jesus’ stead than that?”