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What Service Means at St. Michael’s College School

March 31, 2023
Dr. Robert Fantilli '94, Teacher, Christian and Community Service Lead
What Service Means at SMCS | Students volunteering

Unique to St. Michael’s College School is the experience of the Basilian priestly ministry of education and evangelization in the classroom in addition to the roles they fill in administration and on the Boards of Directors. Not surprisingly, the founders of the Congregation of St. Basil chose theologian St. Basil the Great as their patron who was, among other well-known accomplishments, a champion of orthodoxy who took special care of the poor and underprivileged.

The school strongly believes that community involvement encourages students to appreciate the goodness inherent in Christ’s call to discipleship for all. We aim to inspire young men to have the discipline to make service a priority, and we pray that through meaningful involvement, they are granted the knowledge that as Christ is the vine and we are the branches, we are one body, created to live in community. As such, it is our mission to educate young men in goodness, discipline, and knowledge for a life of leadership and service in faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

At St. Michael’s, service is one of the pillars upon which we build the next generation of leaders. Our community partners, including parents, alumni, charitable organizations, and businesses are stakeholders in the processes of leadership and character formation for our young men. By offering fruitful service opportunities, these partners allow our students to engage locally with global impact.

What Service Means at SMCS | Students collecting donations from shoebox drive

Business, service, historical, and language-focused travel opportunities, leadership camps, food, clothing, and sport-related drives, music-based long-term care support, milk bag mat weaving, and Christmas outreach initiatives are just a few of the ways in which the young men of St. Michael’s connect with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Community service is one of the prerequisites to earning an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. At St. Michael’s, we view this as an opportunity for our young men to answer the call to discipleship. Each year, Grades 9 and 10 students must complete a minimum of 20 hours of service.

The true ripple effect of service is often immeasurable as is the spiritual resonance for those that actively seek opportunities to serve the less fortunate. It is for this reason that we at St. Michael’s challenge our senior students to fulfill an additional 20 hours of Christian service. In the spirit of the corporal works of mercy, Grade 11 students engage in service initiatives with a specific focus on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick while supporting our charitable community partners, including Canadian Food for Children, Good Shepherd Ministries, Out of the Cold Holy Rosary Chapter, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Milk Bags Unlimited, and Music Share.

The focus on the corporal works of mercy stems from Jesus’ teaching on the Mount of Olives:

What Service Means at SMCS | Students in the Milk Bag Mat club

“For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me… Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” – Matthew 25: 36-40

It is our goal to plant within our graduates an intrinsic desire and commitment to share the blessings they have been given. As active members of their community, students are empowered to make the connection between blessing and responsibility, effective citizens and disciples of Christ. The Great Commission for believers is to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19. Being the hands and feet of Christ for the less fortunate is a partial fulfillment of this commission and underpins the emphasis of the Christian service requirement in Grade 11 on the corporal works of mercy.

As Dr. Simone (co-founder, Canadian Food for Children) often states: “Empty stomachs have no ears.” Thus, it is in providing for our brothers and sisters in Christ that we bear witness to His goodness. This knowledge serves to motivate our young men to commit themselves to new, meaningful, and hands-on initiatives. Finally, we challenge students to have the discipline to seek out and set a plan to satisfy their service requirement in a respectful, timely, and responsible manner.