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 complete 15 or more hours: 10 in elderly care or environmental concerns and 5 in a Christian service of their choice
- Sophomores complete 15 or more hours: 10 in child development, education or literacy and 5 in a Christian service of their choice
- Juniors complete 20 or more hours: 10 devoted to individuals with special needs or in a healthcare field and 10 in a Christian service of their choice
- Seniors complete 20 or more hours: 10 in fields related to hunger, poverty and homelessness and 10 in a Christian service of their choice
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.
In the spring of 2018, the Congregation of St. Joseph hosted Serve with the Sisters, inviting the Academy community to serve the dear neighbor at a variety of venues throughout Baton Rouge. Hearts United: CSJ Service Day celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of the new congregation from seven formerly independent communities. Sisters, CSJ Associates, SJA faculty/staff, students and parents spent the day at several volunteer sites, including St. Vincent de Paul’s Bishop Ott Sweet Dreams Shelter, the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and THRIVE Academy.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Sisters' arrival in Baton Rouge, members of the school community joined Sisters and lay associates on October 6, 2018, in performing acts of service in the Baton Rouge community. Students, alumnae, parents and friends of SJA served at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Students also planned and contributed to a drive collecting critically needed feminine hygiene products and diapers for Catholic Charities of Baton Rouge.
For questions regarding SJA’s mission trips, please contact:
Kathleen Peek Evans
Mary Kay Alford
Assistant Campus Minister
For questions regarding the annual service program and local service and outreach, please contact:
Sister Chris Pologa
Pastoral Care Minister
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 2019-2020, our students completed 39,435 hours of service during this shortened school year. One hundred twelve seniors dedicated 50 or more hours of service during each of their four years at SJA.