Servant leadership shapes character at Xaverian
Xaverian's Christian Senior Service (CSS) program is an optional faith experience that has been offered during the last quarter of senior year for decades. The CSS program provides the unique opportunity for seniors in good academic standing to put their faith into action through service, and it has proven to be integral to the character formation of our graduates. Instead of attending classes, students serve in over 50 different agencies in the communities surrounding Xaverian for their final five weeks of school. CSS begins with each student meeting with a member of the campus ministry team to facilitate discernment. They are encouraged to see their service as a means to bring God's healing and love to those most in need. They then secure a service site and a site supervisor, and seek approval for their placement with Xaverian. Throughout their service experience, seniors engage in reflection through daily journaling, meetings with their faculty or staff mentor, and two mandatory evenings of prayer and small group sharing.
The Class of 2023 had a phenomenal showing, with 75 percent of students participating in Christian Senior Service last spring. This meant 124 young men from Xaverian were out serving the community every day during the final quarter of their senior year. Here are just a few of their stories.
DONALD HICKS '23
For Donald Hicks '23 (Boston), choosing the Animal Rescue League of Boston for his Christian Senior Service assignment was simple. It's close to home and he loves animals. He enjoyed taking the dogs out for walks and the more relaxing moments with the cats. As he says, "Each creature has its own unique personality and it is always interesting to get to understand them." Donald says the service experience strengthened his faith because, "It reminds me of how we were tasked by God to be stewards and be as such by defending and tending to the creations of God since they are all alive and have feelings . . . They deserve the respect that we give to one another."
NATHAN YOUNG '23
Nathan Young '23 (Foxborough) is pretty sure he wants to work in a fire house in some capacity, so it made sense for him to fulfill his Christian Senior Service assignment at the Foxborough Fire Department. He says he wanted to see what service to the community was really like from an emergency point of view. He quickly learned that the job of a firefighter isn't easy, and there is a lot to learn. "Going into the service, I thought that this job was easier than it actually is," he says. "Once you get to learn everything that needs to happen, the job becomes more complex."
Nathan says that this service experience helped to remind him of what's most important in life: "So many people are focused on the wrong things and it can get confusing. At the fire station, there is only one thing you focus on, and that is saving the lives of others." He adds that his service helped show him that there is a lot of good in his community and that faith in God is important. "I've realized that you never know what you are getting into on calls, so you have to have faith and trust in God."
JAMES ALLEN '23 and BARTHOLOMEW GLANCY '23
James Allen '23 (Dover) and Bartholomew Glancy '23 (Walpole) were two of six seniors who chose Benchmark Senior Living for their Christian Senior Service. It's right across the street from Xaverian, making it easy to be there to volunteer and also be on campus for AP classes. "I wanted to be able to add an extra spark in the elderly people's lives at Benchmark," says James. "The impact that I have on the residents is way more than I had anticipated, and they truly love having us Xaverian Hawks spend our time with them."
This service experience had an impact on Bart from the outset. On his very first day on the job, he met a resident who had recently lost her husband. "She broke down crying telling me this story and continued to tell me how God always has a plan for us; how even in the darkest moments of our lives we can always stay by his side and he will stay by ours," he says. "A few days later, I saw her again and she mentioned how happy she was to be able to share her faith with younger generations with similar beliefs. We shared a Hail Mary during our short interaction, which made my day and I'm sure hers as well."
ANTHONY BUSA '23
Anthony Busa's (Newton) Christian Senior Service work was close to home at his family's boxing gym, Nonantum Boxing Club. In addition to cleaning the gym and training some young athletes, Anthony and his classmates, Jeffrey Prophete '23 and Cole Perkosky '23, had the opportunity to work with people with Parkinson's disease who train in the gym to improve and maintain strength and mobility. According to Anthony, this part of his Christian Senior Service experience was very humbling. "One of the men in the group, Ben, has dementia and has a tremor in his leg. He struggles to maintain balance and often forgets about the workout at hand. Working through all of these things, he still is always smiling and always reminding me he was 'just like me' at one point in his life. Ben was a three-sport athlete in high school, and loved sports his whole life. I can relate to Ben. It shows me that no matter what unexpected or expected turns your life may take, there is no reason to give up."
COLE JETTE '23
Cole Jette '23 (Franklin) picked a solitary role for his Christian Senior Service -- he worked outside at Mount St. Mary Abbey, Wrentham, serving the nuns there by preparing the grounds for the warmer weather. He cleaned out flower beds, cut back trails through the woods that the sisters use, and did whatever landscaping chores he could find. He says that he asked to take the position at the Abbey because his father does a lot of work for the sisters, and he knew there was more to be done than the sisters could handle on their own. A happy byproduct for Cole was the atmosphere, and he notes how much he appreciated the opportunity to work at the Abbey because of how peaceful it is. Christian Senior Service is the culmination of a Xaverian education meant to inspire servant leadership, and Cole says he will take this lesson with him beyond Clapboardtree Street. "I will continue to be a servant leader after graduation by remembering that it's important to help others and to be grateful," he says.
MICHAEL SANTOS '23 and DANTE ANELLO '23
While playing with puppies might not seem like a traditionally selfless act, at Golden Opportunities for Independence (GOFI), three Xaverian seniors learned the importance of properly training service dogs for people with special needs. Daily tasks varied from cleaning up after the dogs and handling feedings, to working on scent training with local police. The hardest part, says Michael Santos '23 (Walpole), was when a dog didn't meet the unique special needs of a potential owner. That left the person waiting for another dog with the perfect skill set. The flip side, he says, is seeing a new owner's reaction when the pair are well-suited. "Whether it be someone with intellectual, physical, or medical disabilities, it's seeing them react to their new service animals that makes me feel as though I have done my service as a Christian. I want to show others that they are cared for and loved. They are always wanted and no matter what, they are no less than everyone else."
For Dante Anello '23 (Walpole), his service at GOFI was based on his love for animals but it developed into something more. "I've always loved dogs from when I was a child," says Dante, "but being surrounded by dogs and good people just reinforced my admiration for the animal/human connection." GOFI is reliant on many volunteers, and it's seeing others there dedicating their time that inspires Dante. "I'm seeing people volunteer who aren't obligated; they do it because they truly care. Seeing people who are so selfless helps me grow in my own faith and pushes me to be a better person."
JACK TUBMAN '23
Jack Tubman '23 (Bellingham) spent his Christian Senior Service working at Gilly's House, a sober recovery residence. He took the role, he says, because "it was a good opportunity to provide a sense of normalcy to people who have bigger problems to worry about." And he did that by taking care of the grounds around the property, and cleaning and organizing inside the house. Witnessing the daily lives of the men who are residents at Gilly's House was humbling for Jack. "I am extremely lucky to have a support system and many people who care about me," he says. "This experience has allowed me to realize that I should be so grateful for everything I have."
JACOB A. CONCA, PH.D., IS THE HEAD OF SCHOOL AT XAVERIAN BROTHERS HIGH SCHOOL IN WESTWOOD, MASSACHUSETTS.