St. Aloysius Gonzaga is a school that offers students a caring environment while letting them know that they will not be alone after graduation. Most schools see their students through to graduation and wish them well but that is as far as they go. St Al’s is unique because it requires that every student to graduate do six months of community service before they can go on to their perspective college or university. The school is currently sponsoring 250 graduates to continue their education at a higher level and has graduated over 600 students.
Graduates work in a variety of different fields for their community service, some as close as the St. Al’s bursar office or local library, while others care for people who are differently abled, ill, or in orphanages. The graduates are often faced with difficult situations in their places of work. St. Al’s guides them through their service by having mentors meet with graduates in small groups every Friday to discuss how they have been of service and how they have been served in return. The mentors lead the groups in prayer and reflection while helping the students handle the challenges that they face at work and home.
The school’s motto is “to learn, to love, and to serve”, based on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s teachings that emphasized the need to do service and reflect. The graduate program at St. Aloysius helps the graduates to have a real work experience before they go on to higher education, as well as offering them a support system after they leave school. The six months of service is a chance for the students to give back what they have received while learning what it truly means to be men and women for and with others.
The official motto for the Jesuit Order is Ad maiorem dei gloriam, which translates to “for the greater glory of God.” St. Ignatius of Loyola wanted Jesuit members to go “out and set the world on fire”, and that’s what the students at St. Aloysius are being taught through their actions. The six months of real world experience these students receive while serving their community is essential to their education of the world at large. Volunteering allows the students to engage with Ignatius’ teachings in a way they never could in the classroom.