Giving back is a fundamental part of an Academy education.
As an expression of the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph, education at St. Joseph’s Academy emphasizes the importance of relationships with the dear neighbor. The service component of our curriculum is one way we encourage our students to express God’s love and answer the call to service and discipleship within our school community and in the context of the broader world.
Archbishop John Michael Miller, former secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education at the Vatican in Rome, said a Catholic education “should awaken in students a genuine passion for justice and a desire to be moral and responsible citizens of the world.”
The Academy’s four-year service program explores enriching opportunities in service to others. Each year, students are asked to complete hours in a specific field of service. The service program is a complement to the charism theme for each academic year.
Through service, students meet and identify with others so that all may be one. The connections made with suffering, impoverished and marginalized people allow students the chance to reflect on their personal dignity and what it means in the context of the human family. They grow in awareness of themselves and become increasingly connected with all God’s creation
Every student completes 10 hours of service in the specified area and 5 or 10 hours (depending on grade level) in a Christian service in an area of their choosing. Students are required to complete 70 community service hours to graduate.
- Freshmen must complete 15 total hours: 10 in elderly care or environmental concerns and 5 in a Christian service of their choice
- Sophomores must complete 15 total hours: 10 in child development, education or literacy and 5 in a Christian service of their choice
- Juniors must complete 20 total hours: 10 devoted to individuals with special needs or in a healthcare field and 10 in a Christian service of their choice
- Seniors must complete 20 total hours: 10 in fields related to hunger, poverty and homelessness and 10 in a Christian service of their choice
The goal of the SJA mission trip program is to provide an encounter with Christ in the poor that leads to conversion and propels students to a life of service in local communities. In order to foster an encounter with Christ in the poor that we serve, students are immersed in prayer and the sacraments during the experience, and relational service is prioritized. After a mission trip experience, students are challenged to take what they’ve learned and invest it in meeting the needs of the Baton Rouge community.
SJA students are afforded the opportunity to participate in a variety of mission trips each year. Among the service immersion trips offered are St. Anne’s Mission (Klagetoh, Arizona); Nicaragua; Puerto Rico; CSJ/SSJ Leadership Conference (Cleveland, Ohio); SHINE (various cities); Alive in You (various cities); CrossRoads Ministry (Louisville, Kentucky); and several experiences in Baton Rouge.
Serving Our Community
Here at home, SJA students partner each spring with Catholic and Episcopal high schools to build a house as part of the annual Habitat for Humanity Albermarle Youth Build. The three schools have worked with Habitat for Humanity’s Youth Build since 2001.
During the Christmas season, students, faculty and staff come together to brighten the holidays for less fortunate members of the Baton Rouge community. Dozens of families are adopted each year through the Catholic Charities’ Community Comes Together for Christmas program. Other groups that benefit from the generosity of the SJA community are Myriam’s House, Bishop Ott Shelter, St. Vincent de Paul Sweet Dreams, Boys Hope Girls Hope, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and elderly citizens in need.
Throughout the school year, SJA continues its mission to help fight hunger in Baton Rouge by providing brown bag lunches – or Sticker Sacks – to St. Vincent de Paul every Tuesday. Since the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, members of the SJA community have made between 200 and 250 sacks each Tuesday.
Commitment to Service
The Academy’s commitment to serving the dear neighbor inspires students through opportunities to serve locally, around our country and throughout our world. In 2020-2021, our students completed 24,959 hours of service in spite of limited opportunities because of the pandemic. One hundred twenty-five seniors went above and beyond the required service hours during each of their four years at SJA.